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Comics Circulation Just Hit a 20-Year High

Comic books on market stall
Funnybooks. Photo: Image Source/Getty Images

The comics industry has undergone a pretty radical turnaround in the past three years. After a massive, speculator-bubble-induced sales spike in the early 1990s, the comics market crashed and publishers spent more than a decade in the wilderness, struggling to find their way again. But due to momentum that’s hard to pin down but is likely owed to the increasing dominance of comics adaptations at the box office, companies have found their footing — and a wider readership — again. In fact, circulation just hit its highest level in 20 years.

According to the industry’s leading sales analyst, John Jackson Miller of Comichron, the monopolistic comics distributor Diamond shipped 10.26 million copies of comic books and graphic novels to comic-book shops in August. That’s the biggest distribution month since December of 1996. What’s more, DC Comics had a 44.59 percent share in that circulation, which is remarkable because the company lagged behind eternal rival Marvel for nearly five years before clobbering the latter in July. DC’s ascendance continues, and they had the most-ordered comic of August with the first issue of their Harley Quinn reboot.

Unfortunately, there’s no nationwide measure of individual comics sales, so we can’t know how much the orders translated into actual readership, but retailer orders are a decent barometer of the industry’s health, and this is quite healthy news, indeed.