Sales of comics and graphic novels rose 62% in 2021 over 2020, according to a new joint estimate by ICv2's Milton Griepp and Comichron's John Jackson Miller. Total comics and graphic novel sales to consumers in 2021 in the U.S. and Canada were approximately $2.07 billion, the report found, a sales level that is 70% higher than sales in 2019, the last pre-pandemic year.
Consumer sales of graphic novels, driven by manga, jumped 76% in the year, to an estimated $1.47 billion, while sales of comics increased 53%, to $435 million. Sales of digital comics, which had a big gain in 2020, rose slightly in 2021, to $170 million.
The jump in graphic novel sales was accompanied by a boom in sales through bookstores. According to the report, sales in the book channel, which includes book fairs, jumped 81%, to $1.16 billion. Sales through comics stores rose 60% over 2021, to $705 million. Sales through comics stores had fallen in 2020 because of widespread store closures and distribution disruptions.
The increase in sales of comics in 2021 in comic stores came despite the release of fewer new titles compared to pre-pandemic years. "The comics shop market and the comic book format rebounded strongly, beating pre-pandemic unit and dollar sales numbers even with new release slates that had not yet returned to 2019 sizes," Miller said.
The analysis by Comichron and ICv2 was divided up between periodical comics, graphic novels, and digital download-to-own sales. All print figures are calculated based on the full retail price of books sold into the market, and do not account for discounting or markup. Digital sales do not include subscription-based "all you can read" services.