17+ Comic Book Statistics to Leave Your Nerdy Friends Awestruck
Updated · May 20, 2023
With every day that passes, the world seems to resemble a dystopian novel more and more. But all is not lost (yet).
On its best days, the world seems like it’s just one step away from a fantastic comic book narrative where your bestie is harboring a hidden superpower. In fact, little would it surprise us if a large purple-skinned man waved at us with a gem-encrusted glove.
Seriously—weirder things have happened.
Today’s specialty article features a pinch of light-hearted humor, a couple of drops of surprising comic industry info, and a steady stream of intriguing comic book statistics.
Come with us and behold the hot collection of facts and trivia that the comic book world has to offer.
Compelling Comic Book Stats for 2022 (Editor’s Choice)
- Roughly, 6% of US Millennials indulge in comic book reading every month.
- The Library of Congress hosts more than 100,000 comic books, which means it has the largest comic book collection in the world.
- In 1992, the graphic novel “Maus” won a Pulitzer Prize. It’s the only one that has received that accolade to date.
- The top three most expensive comics cost more than $1 million.
- Axel Asher acts as the gatekeeper between the Marvel and DC universes.
- Elvis Presley had a fanboy crush on Captain Marvel, Jr., and his hairstyle might have been inspired by the hero’s hairdo.
- Superheroes aren’t quite so popular anymore—new juvenile titles are taking bookstores by storm, accounting for 41% of all comic and graphic novel sales.
- COVID-19 hit the comic book industry, too—2020 recorded a 37% loss.
- The global comic book industry is worth more than $9.21 billion.
Comic Book Facts
Even if you’re not the biggest comic book fan, “The Astonishing X-Men,” “Justice League,” and the “New Avengers” are sure to ring a bell. After all, they rank among the most famous comic books of all time. And they have movies, so that should help, too.
But back to the matter at hand, do you know how it all started?
When did comics start taking off?
Which characters do fans adore, and which ones do they hate to love?
Let’s find out.
1. Care for some time-traveling? Let’s go back to the beginning.
(Source: National Museum of American History)
It’s not easy to tread the grounds of comic book history. You could argue that their origins go all the way back to when our hairy ancestors painted cave walls. Or when ancient civilizations depicted murals on temples and strange letterings on papyrus.
Officially, though, comic books started gaining popularity in the 30s. Although, back then, they were more like funny newspaper tidbits and not the comic books we know and love today.
2. The first comic book was about journalistic sensationalism.
“The Yellow Kid in McFadden’s Flat” was the first title to officially identify itself as a “comic book.” It was initially published in the UK in 1987.
However, some believe that the rightful claimant to the title of The First Comic Ever is “Action Comics” (1938), which first introduced Superman into our world.
And speaking of our beloved Kryptonian, should we dive into some DC Comics fun facts?
Let’s do it.
3. Once upon a time, Superman was worth less than $150.
In 1938, back when the Man of Steel could only leap over tall buildings instead of soaring at super speed, DC Comics purchased the rights to Kal-El and his fictional universe for a mere $130. Talk about profitable investments.
Fun fact: In the 70s, Muhammad Ali defeated Superman. Superman’s excuse? He wasn’t using his superpowers, otherwise, he would have put up a real fight.
4. Are we seeing triple? Or does the Joker suffer from a tripolar disorder?
In reality, if we hold to mainstream DC Comic facts, there is more than one Joker—there are three, to be precise.
In one episode, Batman asked the Mobius Chair (which, as you know, holds all the answers in the universe) about the identity behind the creepy, smiley-painted face. Mobius conceded that there are three separate incarnations of the batty trickster (pun intended).
5. Batman and Robin have a pet.
We’ve all seen the sleeky Batmobile in various refurbishments. There’s the Batcave, the Batsuit, the Batsignal and—since the eponymous show in 2019—the Batwoman. But how many people know about the Bat-cow, saved and co-parented by Batman and Robin?
Rest assured, the animal is quite well now, quietly grazing away at Wayne Manor.
6. Are all top comic book characters on the goody-two-shoes team? Certainly not.
Naturally, the likes of Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, Iron Man, and Wonder Woman are the first to come to mind whenever comic books come up. But fans are also attracted to flawed protagonists and vile anti-heroes.
After all, what could make a character more likable than a proclivity to human passions and errors?
Fascist-leaning Judge Dredd, conflicted Magneto, and the frustrated Hulk losing self-control are all prime examples of unforgettable characters that don’t quite fit into a black-and-white narrative.
7. Michael Jackson nearly became a comic book tycoon.
This is probably one of those obscure Marvel Comic facts that even hardcore fans would gape at.
The King of Pop was apparently unsatisfied with his high-ranking music titles back in the 90s, and wanted to become a superhero. Specifically, he wanted to play Spider-Man on the big screen.
Perhaps his most desperate attempt to make it happen was trying (and failing) to buy Marvel Comics just so he could get bitten by a radioactive spider on-screen.
Sadly, as we can all attest, his childhood dream never came true.
8. Vintage is never out of style.
Comic books number in the tens of thousands by now. But there is an allure to vintage comic books that die-hard fanboys and fangirls cannot resist.
If you’re on the market for vintage, then definitely consider “The Amazing Spider Man #39” from 1966 (in which the Green Goblin makes his first cameo) and “Batman #313” from 1979 (where we see Tim Fox, Batman’s successor).
9. For the same price, you can choose between a comic book, a crystal piano, or an Aston Martin Valkyrie
The most valuable comic book remains the first edition of “Action Comics”—the one that may or may not be the first proper comic book to come into existence.
From 10 cents apiece in 1938 to $3.2 million in 2022, this title is the best thing since sliced bread for true fans.
If we’re not talking original, unique, or hard-to-find vintage editions, though, you’ll most likely sell an average comic book for $2.99. More valuable (but still average) issues could earn you $3.99-$4.99.
Comic Book Readers
Are you positively curious about the nature and habits of your fellow readers?
You’re more than welcome to savor our curated collection of comic book stats below.
10. Only 25% of US Boomers read comics.
And, to their eternal shame, only 1% of the generation that grew up in the Silver Age of comic books (1956-1970) leaf through these titles regularly anymore.
Also, according to comic book demographics, 6% of the 18-34 age cohort in the US read comic books every month, but 48% of them have never even opened one once in their lives.
Fun fact: 59% of the total US population has never flipped through a comic book.
11. People in the US like comics well enough, but the Asian market loves them.
(Source: National Day)
Despite the lack of clear metrics on comic book readers by country, experts put India at the top, followed by Thailand and China.
Surprisingly, neither Japan nor the US make it to the top three, despite the former being one of the largest comic book markets in the world, and despite the latter being the home country of the two most prominent names in the industry—Marvel and DC Comics.
12. With female protagonists on the rise, female readers flock to the comic book universe.
(Source: Fortune Business Insights)
Although there are no new official stats on the distribution of comic book readers by gender, it’s safe to assume that men still buy and read more comics than women.
This might have to do with the prevalence of male authors in the industry. For instance, 86.3% of writers and 61.5% of editors of DC publications are men. So, gender-skewed content is pretty much unavoidable—unintentional as it may be.
That said, women are slowly taking over traditionally male hobbies. The female player base of Dungeons and Dragons doubled in the last decade, not to mention that a significant number of women are now using streaming services to show off their gaming skills.
13. Straight white male superheroes are over-represented—and readers know it.
(Source: The Valhalla)
Torn at the ethical crossroads of introducing more diversity and not disrupting original storylines, Marvel sucks at both.
So far, the publisher’s preferred approach has been to take some of the most popular comic characters and put a “diversity” mask on them. In other words, women and POC are getting more protagonist roles, but their characters are annoyingly powerful, lack depth, and seem fake or, at the very least, forced into the position.
Unsurprisingly, old-school fans are almost as unimpressed as the young readers who’d love to see well-represented diversity in superhero comics. Bottom line: sales are dropping for Marvel titles.
Comic Book Sales Statistics
It’s no secret that DC and Marvel’s profits have skyrocketed to billions of dollars due to comics, films, and merch. But exactly how lucrative is the comic book business?
We at Hosting Tribunal did our research and will tell you all about it.
14. Is the comic book industry dying? In all honesty, no.
(Source: Will Be Told)
That said, single-issue printed comics have witnessed a drop in sales—and a steep one at that. We’re talking about a 19.7% decrease in 2020.
This has encouraged retailers to start selling single-issues in anthologies, bundling together readers’ favorite characters or several publications.
15. In 2021, comic book sales went up by 2.3%.
Comic book statistics are crystal clear—sales are growing, even if it’s little by little. What does this growth look like in monetary terms?
Well, back in 2011, comic book sales in North America accounted for only $715 million. By 2020, the number had gone up to $1.28 billion. So, not bad.
16. The global comic book market is worth more than $9 billion.
In 2021, the market’s size reached $9.21 billion, which is a step up from 2020’s $8.49 billion. It’s not the most astounding growth to be sure, but it’s nothing to be scoffed at either.
Based on historical comic book statistics and current trends, projections say the market will hit above $12.81 billion by 2028.
17. The digital realm is rising from the ashes—if one could call $90 million “the ashes,” that is.
Digital comic book sales history is rife with ups and downs. But thanks to COVID-19, the digital industry experienced a resurgence.
After a three-year stalemate, digital sales finally reached $100 million in 2018, only to drop back to $90 million in 2019. Then 2020 came along and recorded an impressive $160 million for digital comic publications, raising both eyebrows and expectations.
Don’t hold your breath, though. Ebook statistics suggest that the spike in digital sales was just an abnormality and not the tip of an upcoming trend. Now that lockdowns aren’t in business anymore, revenue projections are much more conservative.
18. “X-Men” has sold more than 8,186,500 copies since it came out in 1991.
It is highly unlikely that the list of best-selling comic series of all time changes in 2022.
For a while now, “X-Men #1” has kept a hold of the best-selling title. The second place is reserved for “Star Wars #1,” which boasts 1,073,000 copies sold since it came out in 2015. And the bronze goes off to “Fantastic Four #60” (2002), which has sold over 752,699 copies.
Comics vs Manga
If this were a superpower showdown between Naruto and Superman, we’d be hard-pressed to take a side. But the world of comic book stats is harsh, and we can hear Superman’s heroic bones creaking.
By now, everyone knows why Clark Kent’s always wearing those dorky glasses, Batman’s secret identity is no longer all that secret, and Spider-Man is a spiderweb away from coming across as a parkour freak on steroids.
For some, Marvel and DC protagonists are stale, outdated, and exhausted despite the boosts delivered by Hollywood franchises. Could it be that mangas are the answer comic book readers were desperate for?
We’re thinking “yes.”
19. The core difference between comic books and manga is the visual styling.
Whereas comics’ pages are effulgent with color, manga books are black and white and should be read the Japanese way—i.e., from right to left.
Another difference is that, usually, the same person (a “mangaka”) writes and draws mangas, whereas comic books can bask in the shared creativity of multiple individuals.
Also, in manga chapters (especially in mainstream “shonen”) the reader accompanies the hero on a journey of internal transformation. Comic book protagonists, on the other hand, rarely change much.
20. With people around the world buying 24.4 million mangas in 2021, there’s no doubt that Japan is the new sheriff in town.
Comic book sales numbers pale before the manga madness machine. In 2019, the whole comic book market sold 15.5 million copies, which accounted for a mere 10% of total sales for the increasingly popular “Demon Slayer” manga.
Comparisons often exclude the insanely adored “My Hero Academia” superhero manga, which has circulated copies of 45 million so far in Japan alone.
So yes, we feel it’s safe to say that manga is outselling comics. Aggressively.
21. LINE Manga is the most popular comic app in Japan.
Given how addicted people are to their phones, it’s no surprise that mangas thrive in the digital world.
There are various competitors in the comic app industry—all fairly popular among manga readers, though some are more successful than others. LINE Manga, for instance, boasts a monthly revenue of around $30 million. Piccoma’s sales, on the other hand, surpass $41 million per month.
Now that all is said and done, are comic books still popular in 2022?
We dare say they are. Thousands of readers that grew up with these fairytale-like stories continue to cherish fond memories of their childhood heroes and leaf through the pages to relive old adventures.
Furthermore, new generations are coming. And they’re either growing to love those dusty-caped heroes or demanding new characters, new storylines, and brand new universes to fall in love with.
Whatever the case may be, comic book statistics show that people, young and old, are still plopping on comfy chairs and drawing inspiration from comic book pages.
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