Late 1996

• Marvel files for bankruptcy following a series of maneuvers by owner Ron Perelman to reorganize the company, marking a low point for comics publishing in North America.


• Tokyopop, then known as Mixx Magazine, translates Sailor Moon into English for the first time, introducing a huge audience of girls to manga.


• Viz starts to publish Pokémon Comics, tapping into the popularity of the TV show collectible card game.

• Marvel’s comeback begins with the launch of the Marvel Knights line, featuring gritty characters like Daredevil, Moon Knight, and Black Panther.


• Pantheon publishes Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth by Chris Ware to great acclaim and awards, including an ABA award, and, later the book was included in the Whitney Biennial.


• Tokyopop switches to publishing manga in the original Japanese right to left format, which ignites a surge in popularity.


Dav Pilkey publishes his first graphic novel. The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby, and it becomes a bestseller for Scholastic.


Diamond Book Distribution is founded, marking the extension of Diamond Comics distribution into the book trade. Kuo-Yu Liang named v-p of sales and marketing and heads DBD.

May 2002

• The first Free Comic Book Day is held.

June 2002

• The annual ALA conference holds a “Get Graphic with Your LIbrary” session that includes Neil Gaiman, Art Spiegelman, Colleen Doran, and Jeff Smith, kicking off growing interest in graphic novels and manga in libraries.

August 2002

• Japanese publishing giant Shuiesha acquires a stake in Viz Media, beginning a fruitful partnership for manga in the U.S.


• BISG approves new BISAC category for graphic novels.

• Joe Sacco’s The Fixer: A Story from Sarajevo kicks off a new wave of nonfiction comics, including such bestsellers as The 9/11 Report: A Graphic Adaptation in 2006.

• Pantheon publishes Persepolis, Part 1 as the war in Iraq rages, and it becomes a bestseller. Marjane Satrapi becomes one of the first female cartoonists to get mainstream fame.


• The Scholastic Graphix imprint is founded, with Jeff Smith’s fantasy Bone as its first big launch.

July 2005

PW launches PW Comics Week newsletter of comics news.


• Alison Bechdel’s pioneering queer memoir Fun Home is published and later named Time’s Book of the Year.

First Second launches, a dedicated graphic novel imprint at Macmillan, led by publisher Mark Siegel.

• Gene Luen Yang’s American Born Chinese is published and becomes the first graphic novel nominated for a National Book Award. It wins the Printz Prize for best teen book, another first.

June 2007

• ComiXology, a standalone site to sell digital comics, launches and soon becomes one of the top grossing apps on the iPad.

August 2008

Disney acquires Marvel for $4 billion, adding Spider-Man and Iron Man to Disney’s vast stable of characters.

September 2008

DC Comics reorganizes as DC Entertainment and longtime president Paul Levitz steps down, replaced by Diane Nelson.


• Japanese publisher Kodansha launches a line of manga in the U.S.

February 2010

Smile by Raina Telgemeier is published and becomes a bestseller, winning numerous awards, including multiple Eisner awards.


• PW Comics World launches More to Come podcast.

February 2011

• Borders files for bankruptcy, leading many manga publishers to shut down or downsize.

May 2012

• TCAF (the Toronto Comic Arts Festival) holds its first Librarian and Educators Day, bringing together creators, publishers, librarians, and educators for a day of targeted programming.


• The online webcomic portal Tapas launches, initially known as Comic Panda.

April 2014

• Amazon announces it has acquired ComiXology, price unknown.

July 2014

• Korean webcomic portal Webtoon launches globally as a desktop site
and mobile app.


March, Book 3 wins the 2016 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, the first graphic novel to be awarded an NBA.

August 2016

• The first Dog-Man book by Dav Pilkey is published, spinning out of his Captain Underpants series, and becoming an even bigger publishing phenomenon.

December 2017

• Dav Pilkey’s Dog Man and Cat Kid is published with a 1 million copy first printing, possibly the first graphic novel to hit that milestone.

June 2018

• The Graphic Novel and Comics Round Table is officially founded at the ALA as an interest group to increase the connection between libraries and graphic novels.

December 2018

• Scholastic announces 5 million copy first printing for Dog Man: Brawl of the Wild.

September 2019

• Raina Telgemeier’s Guts launches with a one-million copy print run, her first book to hit that milestone.

January 2020

New Kid by Jerry Craft wins the Newbery Award, the first graphic novel to win this prize.

Correction: several errors in an earlier version of this timeline have been corrected.