Sales of graphic novels and comic books are on the rise and have more than doubled in 2021.
It’s helping bookstores and comic book stores like Heroes and Villains on Broadway reach new heights.
Heroes and Villains has been a part of the Tucson comedy landscape for nearly two decades and offers three storefronts: comic books, vinyl records and games.
Comics director Malcolm Russell-Nelson says the comics “just have different kinds of storytelling.” And despite big blockbuster hits like “Spiderman: No Way Home” which came out late last year, Russell-Nelson says it’s not just these movies and TV shows that are driving growth.
“These characters kind of come out of those worlds. It deepens you. I think people come for the storytelling, really. Come for the experience. Just something that you couldn’t see on a screen.”
At the same time, Japanese comics called manga, collected in paper and hardback editions, are also experiencing a big sales boom. Over 24 million individual volumes sold last year, up 171% from 2020. This is partly due to the popularity of anime series that have become mainstream American hits like “Demon Slayer” and “My Hero Academy”. As anime becomes more popular than ever in the west, more and more people are turning to manga for their favorite franchises and series.
And with the growth of manga, Heroes and Villains has expanded its selection to twice what it was just a few months ago. The store also started selling anime-related items like statues and figurines of the characters.
Longtime customers like Joseph Martin say that even in these colorful comic book worlds, superhero stories can be told.
“In life, you know, we’re as strong as we can be, but sometimes we have things we can’t accomplish, so we need help from our friends, etc. And it’s the same with comics.”
Another client, Chris Bell, involves his two children.
“I love that it’s become so popular,” Bell says, “that I can share it with them. Like, when I was a kid, it wasn’t popular. I loved it but it was hard to find These were small, tiny stores that had to be found. These days, they can thrive. They can do well. It’s just nice.
Much like Superman or a member of the Joestar family, it looks like comic and manga sales will be strong and will continue to delight fans young and old for years to come.
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