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Paperback Manga is taking over the world

MAY 13, 2021

American comics vs Manga, and who is obviously winning

The question at Comic Book Brain: why can't traditional comic books compete? from the trade publication Publishers Weekly, a trade magazine for booksellers, showed that the superhero-inspired manga My Hero Academia Vol. 27 by Kohei Horikoshi was the sixth best-selling book in the country in early April. Weekly print sales for My Hero jumped from 11,620 to 21,820 units over the course of five weeks and sold 70,985 units in total over that period of time. Titles like Tatsuki Fujimoto’s dark fantasy series Chainsaw Man Vol. 4 outpaced high-in-demand novels like the paperback version of Where the Crawdads Sing. Crawdads, for reference, was the number one selling novel for 2020 and sold roughly 1.8 million units, but it still couldn’t beat sales for either Chainsaw Man or My Hero Academia Vol. 27.

Series like Gege Akutami’s Jujutsu Kaisen are regularly on the bestsellers list for national book sellers like Barnes & Noble, though the retailer did not respond to Polygon with specific figures. This means that, at one point, Jujutsu Kaisen’s Gojo Satoru and his bloody fingers were on a list right next to Barnes & Noble’s other best sellers, like The Women of the Bible Speak: The Wisdom of 16 Women and Their Lessons for Today.

The article goes to to describe the record-breaking numbers that have followed in the wake of the manga title Demon Slayer and the success it has had, spawning an anime version that earned the streaming service Crunchyroll over $1.175 billion in fees.


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Which brings us back to the topic not in the Polygon article, which is why can't the big American comic book companies compete? This isn't a new question, this is decades old, and only becomes more glaringly devastating as manga continues its growth. The manga vs American comic books subject easily drifts into details about the differences, but the basics of both mediums are the same, because in fact they are both the very same medium, that is, the almost century old comic book medium.

In 2021 you'd think that Marvel and DC Comics, the longest-lived commercial purveyors of the medium in the gigantic reading market of the United States (and the world) would have an edge. But it doesn't, its the dead opposite. Why?

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Original page May 13, 2021