Sun. Apr 21st, 2024

Comic Books Are Dead, But Manga Is Doing Great

By Baiting Irrelevance May22,2023
manga vs comic booksmanga vs comic books

Is Wokeness killing comic books? For many, this is the reason for the steady decline in comic book sales over the last few years. However, while comic book sales are declining, Japanese Manga thrives. The impact of comic books cannot be underestimated. It is a form of entertainment that dates back decades. It is profoundly popular in the Western world, and some of the best stories exist between those pages. However, for many, this is a dying medium.

Then, there is Japanese Manga. A medium that dates back further than comic books, Manga has existed for over two centuries and is more popular now than ever. While comic books struggle to find their footing outside the Western world, Manga is not facing those same challenges. They have taken the entire world by storm and are one of Japan’s most famous exports. The stories within Manga are deep and complex and resonate with many readers.

Comic books used to have that same effect on people. For many, that feeling is still there. Reading about what your favorite superhero is up to is always fun. However, we have seen a massive shift in this space within the last few decades. Right now, two companies are dominating the space. On the one hand, we have Marvel; on the other, we have DC. Disney and Warner Bros own the lion’s share of this market, and breaking into this space is extremely hard. While it is not impossible, competing with these giants is not easy. There is one question that we need to ask. Is comic books a dying medium?

Is Comic Books Dying?

The rise of comic books is easy to understand. It includes everything a child can dream of. The stories are captivating, and the artwork is breathtaking—every child dreams of becoming a superhero. It is not only a medium that kids can enjoy, though. Honestly, there are probably more adults reading comic books than children. However, this form of entertainment is no longer profitable to many writers. The reason for this decline is multilayered. We can start with the most apparent reason for the fall. Being a comic book reader is expensive.

This is not a cheap hobby to enjoy. A big reason why people want comics is for the artwork. However, producing these pieces of art is expensive. While you can still get away with cheap comic books, many mainstream stories demand high prices. As stated, though, things are more complicated than you might think. Although comic books are declining in specific spaces, the market still thrives. In the United States, 94 million comic books were sold in 2021 alone. It is worth noting that this was during covid. The year before, they sold 63 million copies, an all-time low.

The industry is still making over a billion dollars per year. Although there has been a decline in sales over the last two years, this decline is marginal. In 2022, the market dropped by 2%. However, you will find a nearly 50% reduction in some spaces. This decline, however, is primarily for in-store purposes. Just like video game stores, comic stores are dying out. With that said, just like video games are not dead, neither are comics. It simply moved online.

The Rise Of Manga

While comic books are doing fine, the same can be said for Japanese Manga. As the data shows currently, Manga owns 53% of the graphic novel market. By every measurement, Manga is booming compared to Western comic books. Manga has been consistently more popular than Marvel and DC comics for over a decade. Over 16 million copies of Manga were sold in the United States last year. In Frans, they sold over 47 million units. If you add the Japanese sales, Manga is the clear winner. Manga made 5 billion dollars last year, and this is over double that of comic books produced over the same period.

Comic Books Or Manga
Comic Books Or Manga

There are many reasons why people love to read Manga over comic books. Firstly, the choice stories are much more diverse. You can find a Manga story about everything. Comic books, on the other hand, are almost exclusively about superheroes. This is due to DC and Marvel’s dominance over the market. In the Indie scene, you will find a broader range of topics outside of superheroes. However, that range still pales in comparison to Manga. Another big reason why people are drawn to Manga is the price. It is simply less expensive than their comic books.

In addition to this, the stories are also much more complex. They have a slower pace and fit into each other better. While comics like Batman and Superman have many issues stretching over decades, these are usually different stories by different writers. Manga like Naruto and One Piece are more consistent. Both these sources of entertainment have their advantages. However, Manga in the Western world is more popular than comic books in Asia, and thus, Manga sales are better.

Is Wokeness To Blame

The overwhelming majority of comic books come from the United States. Within this country, they are deeply divided. They are also highly political. You can’t even make eye contact with someone without it being some political statement. Over the last few years, they have also become more socially aware. People refer to this as getting woke. This Wokeness is seeping into many forms of entertainment. This is especially true in Hollywood. Disney and Warner Bros are as Hollywood as you can get. Thus, DC and Marvel follow that same trend.

One Piece Manga
One Piece Manga

When your company is woke, the writers you hire will be woke, too. Wokeness in entertainment is alienating lots of people. Many feel that Wokeness is making its way into comic books. Whether it is true or not, I don’t know. I have not read enough comic books to make this determination. However, I have read plenty of opinions online. Many states that they stay away from comic books for this reason. The definition of Wokeness is very loosely defined. This definition is determined based on how liberal or conservative you are.

Both sides are getting worse as time goes by. Ideally, these sides should move closer to the middle. Unfortunately, many conservatives have gotten more extreme. For liberals, it is no different. They are also more extreme but in the opposite direction. All of this gets fueled by the media making up a culture war. Sadly, with both these extremes, it will carry over into entertainment. The same people being radicalized online are the same people writing our stories. The more extreme they get, the worse our stories are.


Sadly, none of this will change anytime soon. It will likely get worse as time goes on. All we can do is hope for better days. Luckily, the Indie scene is not beholden to this nonsense. There are advantages to both comic books and Manga. Both are currently doing great. However, one is pulling away from the other. As time goes by, this gap will only get bigger. One thing is clear. Both of these two mediums are going nowhere.

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