Comic book sales on the rise, digital industry lags behind

With the success of comic book film adaptations like “The Avengers” and “The Walking Dead,” comic book sales have been on the rise for years.

According to ICv2, a trade magazine that covers geek culture for retailers, comic books have become a nearly billion dollar industry. Since 2009, when sales were at a steady $650 million annually, the print comic industry has steadily grown. But the digital industry lags behind.

Contrary to industries like newspaper or book publishing, digital comics aren’t decreasing the sales of single-issue print comics. According to a statement from Image Comics, “The Walking Dead” No. 163 is the highest ordered comic in 20 years with 730,000 copies already sold ahead of its Feb. 15 release.

“You can’t let friends borrow your tablet,” says Otto Zoller of Louisiana Double Play, a specialty comic book store on South Sherwood Forest Boulevard. “There’s a different quality with the texture of the paper and thumbing through the pages. It’s fun to read comic books.”

Louisiana Double Play is one of the last comic book stores in Baton Rouge. Zoller attributes its success to owner Robert Broussard. The store provides personal service to its customers, as well as offering silver and golden age comics, and it is the region’s largest retailer of specialty card games like “Magic: The Gathering.”

Those who started reading at a young age know the characters, their backstories and spin-offs, but film fans who want to discover the source material of blockbusters like “Guardians of the Galaxy,” find it difficult to find a starting point.

Older series like Marvel’s “Civil War” and “Infinity” or Image’s “The Walking Dead” are available in large volumes, which are essentially single issues combined into trade publications.

“What the companies will do is publish trade paperbacks, which are several issues in one binding,” Zoller said. “You can get the full story and see the character from the beginning.”

These novels offer complete stories in a simple format — it’s not necessary to read any prequels to understand what is going on.

Zoller acknowledges that the older series are harder to follow because larger companies, like Marvel and D.C. Comics, will take certain series in and out of print.

Newer characters like Marvel’s “Spider-Gwen” are easier to begin reading. “Spider-Gwen” is an ongoing series written by Jason Latour with art by Robbi Rodriguez. Readers can buy the first three graphic novels in this series or subscribe to Marvel Unlimited, a monthly subscription service which offers some of the library of Marvel Comics.

Characters like “Spider-Gwen” can branch out from their solo comics to join larger events in the Marvel universe, as Gwen did in last years’ “Spiderwomen.” These events can offer another easy way to learn more about the characters and insight into which series to begin reading.



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