The Graphic Novel Renaissance Isn’t Only Due to COVID-19

The Graphic Novel Renaissance Isn’t Only Due to COVID-19

If you love reading a graphic novel, odds you have been turning the pages more in the past few months. Ever since COVID-19 has bound us all in our homes, we are searching for things to pass the time.

For geckaphiles, it seems that answer has been in front of our noses. And they have been collecting dust on the bookshelf this entire time.

The graphic novel market is doing great, but not all because of COVID-19
Source: Shutterstock

According to the market research firm, NPD Group, graphic novel sales in North American bookstores are up 42% in Q2 (July – September 2020).

In that time, more than 4 million graphic novels were sold in bookstores, a 142% spike from last quarter. And the biggest beneficiary of this plague and mass interest in nerd reading has been Manga.

This is primarily due to the popularity of Manga lite and graphic novels like “My Hero Academia“. NPD says the Manga category within graphic novels made up nearly 3/4 of that overall growth last quarter.

In fact, Manga is doing better than all other superhero graphic novels combined. There is a 25% year-over-year growth in the category. Meanwhile, superhero graphic novels and comics have declined a little by 11%.

So, why…

Who’s the Manga?

The Manga graphic novel is the reason for a reading renaissance since COVID-19.
Source: VIZ Media

For those who aren’t the most dedicated of Manga fans, this should surprise no one. That includes even the most ardent CBM fans or comic readers. This escalation of Manga and anime has been going on for a while.

According to Statista, graphic novel enthusiasts saw this spiking last year.

Just when you wanted to debate Marvel vs. DC for the 1000th time, here comes news that should shut that down quickly. Japan’s anime, comics, and games (ACG) franchises are considered among the best in the world. They are extremely popular in China, making them desirable takeover targets for global geek conglomerates like Tencent.

So, what’s the big deal in Manga stateside?

“The United States has traditionally been the dominant exporter of culture around the world. However, here we have a big wave of imported culture that is finding a hungry and growing audience­—one that is adventurous and willing to take on new experiences like reading these books from right to left, like the original Japanese versions.”

Kristen McLean, books industry analyst for NPD, 2019

Sure, lately, we have all been couped-up and bored like a Kardashian in a Mensa club meeting. Yet, interest in Manga isn’t anything new. Well, at one time it was, which is why the steady incline has kept growing.

Geckaphiles around the world take to different tastes, namely the new ones capturing the eye of pop-culture. “If they like, surely I’m missing out.”

Then came Netflix, Hulu, and Crunchyroll to help feed that appetite, and people have never looked back. People like the great Jim Lee don’t need to worry, the voracious quest of reading hasn’t died.

It’s just they’re reading something different. Regretfully, it took a global pandemic for the rest of us to figure it out.

Who knows? That is a contest we need to see in The Comic Colosseum. Stay tuned to see if our emcee in the nerd dojo allows us to find out…

Featured Image Courtesy: Kraemer Family Library, University of Colorado (COSP)

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I write for a living, among other things in the digital journalism and analytics universe. So I'm a little like a nerd unicorn. But no bronies. Move along.
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