Comic book shops are bullish on the industry, as revealed at the ComicsPRO Annual Membership Meeting, held this year in Atlanta, Ga.
Diamond Comics Distributors, the primary direct-market comic book distributor in North America, shared positive statistics with the retailers gathered for the meeting.
Diamond reported that comic sales increased by 16 percent in 2012 and graphic novel sales were up 13 percent. Also in the comic store specialty channel, merchandise sales were up 9 percent and total sales were up 14 percent over 2011. Diamond also reported a 1 percent increase in the overall number of stores.
The ComicsPRO board of directors elected a new president for the first time in the organization's eight-year history. Thomas Gaul, of Beach Ball Comics and Cornerstore Comics in Anaheim, Calif., will replace Joe Field, of Flying Colors Comics and Other Cool Stuff in Concord, Calif. Field, who was the originator of “Free Comic Book Day,” has been the president of the organization since its inception. Field, who remains on the board, did not seek another term as president.
Field struck a confident note in his closing remarks at the meeting.
“While it sure doesn't look like anything can take our market down, really the one thing that can is our own complacency,” he said. “If we're standing still, then we're losing ground. And I know from hearing from so many of you this week that you will not let that happen — to our own operations or to an important entity like ComicsPRO.”
Cindy Fournier, vice president of operations for Diamond Comic Distributors, was given the Industry Appreciation Award, for service to the comic book specialty market. The late Will Eisner was given the Memorial Industry Appreciation award by ComicsPRO.
Retailers, publishers and other attendees reported the meeting had a positive tone.
“I am always grateful for the opportunity to work with the amazing retailers who make the ComicsPRO meeting a useful and successful event,” said ComicsPRO Executive Director Amanda Emmert.
“The publishers and distributors who attend are ready to work on improving our industry, and together we set the tone of the upcoming year. We are looking for ways to build on the successes of 2012, and the ComicsPRO meeting was an excellent way to begin.”
Chris Powell, vice president of Retailer Services for Diamond Comics Distributors, gave the keynote address at the ComicsPRO meeting and spoke about the important place in culture the comic shop holds.
“It's where fans can go and be themselves without worrying that someone will make fun of them,” Powell said.
“It's the place where someone will be impressed by their homemade Wolverine claws or Captain Carrot costume. They can ‘geek out' with impunity, and be part of a community that will welcome them without reservation. They can be proud to be themselves.”