The Comics Are All Right: Build Your Own Community

I began these articles last year to move some of the discussion surrounding the state of the comic industry away from “opinion” and “anecdotes” and towards facts and data. You can check out what I’ve written before but beyond looking at sales data, the goal is to also look at other data available such as analytics, Facebook demographics, and also talk to creators directly to see what does and doesn’t work.

For this new year, I felt it good to focus on at least one best practice for publishers and creators, building an email list and social networking presence, your own community. But, beyond just going over “how to’s’ as far as building a community or why it’s a good idea, I thought I’d take a different spin and see what we can learn from the data available and answer a question:

What’s the overlap of “fans” of publishers?

There’s no way to really figure out if the folks who purchase comics are loyal to one publisher, many publishers, or maybe a select few. “Sales” data reported is estimated sales from distributors to stores, we don’t know what stores sell directly to customers, whether it’s physical or digital sales.

So what can we look at to figure this out?

First, there’s Facebook data. Twice a month I report on data derived from Facebook looking at the demographics of those who “like” comics. But we can do more than just report on the age, we can also see how many people like two different pages, publisher a AND publisher b.

What I’ve done is look at the amount of US likes a publisher has (I’ve also included Amazon and comiXology because more on that below and why these particular publishers are explained as well) and then also looked at how many likes those two pages shared in the US. Below is the results in percent and I think the results are really interesting.


To read an example 61.90% of comiXology’s Facebook “likes” also “like” Amazon. We can see the percents vary greatly, but what stands out to me tis that the overlap is not as much as you think. This isn’t the same fans liking a bunch of different publishers, it’s clear that in same cases some publishers have really built a niche and audience all their own.

One data point is nice, what about two?

Well, this is how this thought exercise began. My day job is working in email and monitoring deliverability, trends, spam, really boring stuff. But, this also gives me access to see how email programs are performing (opens, clicks) and also how much email lists overlap! So, what do we see when it comes to email lists?


The above were chosen to start because they’re all publishers or platforms I regularly get email from and signed up for (I’m particularly fascinated by Amazon’s email program). So, at some point this will all expand, but you need to start somewhere. Amazon’s emails are impressive and they do at least one weekly email for fans of comics, that in particular is why I’ve watched them. But I digress…

What above represents is how many people are on each list. For example 38% of Valiant’s list is also on comiXology’s. Again, like Facebook we see that the overlap varies and that generally people aren’t signing up for everyone. Valiant’s percents are particularly high due to a smaller list size.

So what does this mean?

It means that each of these publishers have a captive and unique audience for them to talk to. They have people who clearly care about them to pitch their releases each and every week. It’s as simple as that. As a publisher, a creator, you should be doing everything to build your community, because from what we see above, that community is probably pretty unique and want to hear from you, and possibly just you!

So, here’s a resolution publishers and creators should be making this year, build your community! Then use it to sell some comics!