Manga Rises in USA as American Comic Sales Continue Sinking

Some more confirmations on how Japanese manga is doing better overseas and in the USA, while American comics continue their steep drops. The manga specialist Deb Aoki quoted a producer named Dallas Middaugh stating the following at this year’s Anime Expo:

“When I started in this biz, JP rights holders weren’t interested in markets outside of Japan – at most, int’l licensing was only 5-15% of their revenue. To them it was like sofa change.

“In 2015, I moved to manga publishing to anime. I was used to US book publishing, where books usually need 1-2 years in advance for licensing, marketing, production/translation. When I moved to Crunchyroll, we were lucky if [Japanese] anime production companies gave us a week lead time. At Crunchyroll, sometime[s] we got less than 24 hours notice before finding out we had the rights to an anime. This gave us barely any time to translate, & almost no time to properly promote the show. Why did JP rights holders wait so long? [because] it’s sofa change to them.

“In 2019, things have changed — the lead time has increased from 1 week to 1 month. Sometimes, we get 3, maybe 6 months lead time after hearing that we have rights to air an anime series. This gives us a better chance to sell and market anime.”

Aoki gave a few reasons why the rise in manga popularity:


This does call for asking – how can Japan raise the levels of their birthrate again? That’s something a mangaka might want to address in his/her next story, because it’s not a good thing at all they’re suffering from such a low birthrate. Here’s more quotings from Middaugh:

“In US, graphic novels are 2-5% of total publishing sales, of which 25% is manga. If you take kids comics out of the mix (Dog Boy, etc.), then manga = 50% of graphic novels sold in US.

“Meanwhile, in France, 25% of all books published are graphic novels/BD/manga, of which 50% is manga. This indicates potential for growth in the overseas market. […]”

“[Crunchyroll] now has 2 million paid subscribers & 60 million registered users. It took 10 years to get to 1 million subscribers, and only 2 years to double that number.”


And all this is in sharp contrast, again, to the USA market, where domestic stuff – mainly, but not limited to superhero fare – has kept falling steeply, due in no small part to all the identity politics now forced into the books. Of course, even books like Heroes in Crisis, where any political allegories may not be as obvious, have to count as contributing to failure, and so long as the overlords who haven’t been replaced are allowed to remain and the publishers are kept owned by conglomerates, that’s one of the reasons why they’re not bound to improve.

So does anybody in US industry want to take responsibility and show they’re willing to make improvements? Don’t bet on it. It’s already clear quite a few of the people involved will bearhug products they don’t care about until they’ve collapsed entirely, while manga keeps doing better.



Originally published here.

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Avi Green

Avi Green was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. He enjoyed reading comics when he was young, the first being Fantastic Four. He maintains a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy of facts. He considers himself a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. Follow him on his blog at Four Color Media Monitor or on Twitter at @avigreen1