ATLANTA — There are more comic-book stores selling more comics, according to a report at the eighth-annual ComicsPRO members meeting.
Diamond Comic Distributors, the largest distributor of comics in North America and the exclusive distributor to comic shops of many of the top publishers, said the number of comics shops, as measured by their accounts, grew 3 percent in 2013.
“That’s a good number, and that’s a really good trend,” said Chris Powell, vice president of retailer services for Diamond Comics Distributors.
Comics were up 10 percent across the board, and graphic novels were up 6 percent. Diamond, as a whole, saw a 10 percent increase in sales, Powell reported.
ComicsPRO board President Thomas Gaul said the eighth-annual membership meeting of the organization was the highest-attended so far, and sponsorship for the meeting was sold out. Retailers received preview copies, variant covers and other comic-book merchandise from vendors looking to share their plans for 2014 in comic-book stores.
Comic-book creator Mark Waid, who became a partner in a retail comic shop in 2013, gave the keynote address. Waid also created the digital comics portal thrillbent.com.
“Stores, and brick and mortar, you guys are the face of comics,” Waid said. “You create that sense of community, that social aspect. There’s no substitute to having a curator in store. It’s something you guys do incredibly well, and that cannot be undervalued.”
Waid said he hopes print comics and digital comics will exist into the future in “a symbiotic relationship.”
“There is no attrition that we can chart between print and digital,” Waid said. “Yes, it’s happened in other media, and I can understand why that would be frightening, but so far, so good.”
Waid talked about what he’d learned in the past several months being part of a retail operation.
“If I’ve learned anything, it’s that (comic book) brick and mortar has nothing to worry about,” Waid said. “That sense of community that you guys create — the handselling, the market outreach that you guys have — I apologize, I underestimated that. I hope you’ll forgive me, and let me be part of your club.”
DC Entertainment announced it would release three weekly series in 2014. The previously announced “Batman: Eternal” and “The New 52: Future’s End” will be joined in October by a third title, as yet unrevealed.
Image Comics Publisher Eric Stephenson was named the recipient of ComicsPRO’s Industry Appreciation Award. The late DC Comics editor Julius Schwartz was named the recipient of the memorial award.