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Will Free Comic Book Day, 'Avengers' boost comics industry?

May 04, 2012|By Tiffany Hsu
  • Marvel's movie "The Avengers," along with Free Comic Book Day, will make this weekend a very good one for the comics industry.
Marvel's movie "The Avengers," along with Free Comic… (Marvel )

Free Comic Book Day, what some call the fanboy answer to Christmas, is happening Saturday. "The Avengers," featuring some of the most popular characters in comic book lore, is already rampaging through theaters. It’s going to be a good weekend for nerds and the industry that serves them.

And about time too March was less than stunning for comic book retailers. Sales were down 5.9% from February in dollar terms and 2.1% in units. Compared with March 2011, dollar sales fell 2.6% while unit sales slumped 2%, according to Diamond Comic Distributors.

But the overall first quarter was better than the same period in 2011. Comic books enjoyed a 15.9% dollar boost while graphic novels saw a 3.3% jump. The industry is recovering from a recession-era slump that brought online piracy concerns, rising costs and changing consumer tastes.

The next few days should help matters even more. Free Comic Book Day, which has happened on the first Saturday in May for 10 years, will see more than 2,000 independent shops give away more than 3.5 million issues. That’s 800,000 more copies than last year. The giveaway will span 42 titles, including tales involving Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Transformers, Smurfs, Voltron and more.

Marvel dominates the retail comic book market, with a 36.2% share, followed by DC Comics with nearly 31%. Image Comics of the Walking Dead fame is next with a devilish 6.66%.

Meanwhile, Marvel’s "The Avengers" took in $18.7 million and counting in screenings after opening in the U.S. at midnight. The blockbuster, which is involves a cadre of fabled comic book characters such as Iron Man, the Hulk, Thor and Captain America, has already raked in $322.7 million worldwide and could amass nearly $600 million in global sales by Sunday.

Another Marvel superhero film, “The Amazing Spider Man,” will arrive in theaters July 3. And come mid-July, hordes of fans will swarm into San Diego for the annual Comic-Con event.


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