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The Future of Fandoms Courtesy of the PBS Idea Channel

What is THE FUTURE of Fandoms? Excited, interested, and devoted to a piece of the world, fandoms have an ever growing presence and power in our culture. But how will that power morph in the coming decades? Will fans be able to control the media they celebrate? Will fan-created works and the argument of Fair Use alter copyright law? Will fandoms find a place in politics and government? Watch the episode, and let us know what you think!

PBS explores what we as fans might have in store for us.

Facebook Fandom Spotlight: How Do People Consume Comics?

It’s been over four months since looking at the Facebook Fandom stats of how people are consuming comics and how are they reading them? That issue came up again in a heated comment thread over at The Beat, so I felt it would be cool to check out how things might have changed, especially since Facebook has updated their reporting system.

I dipped into Facebook to see how and what individuals are consuming in the United States using only the main key words. So, for the comics stat, the terms are “comics” and “comic books,” for graphic novels the terms used are “graphic novel” and “graphic novels.” I didn’t include any specific titles or publishers, just the most basic terms.

As expected, the totals for each of the terms has grown a lot over this time period, increases I’ve seen in my monthly report and not shocking since Facebook’s update that began to return more data. Overall, more than 21 million new folks are in this report.

The changes in gender have been fascinating as well. In some cases the percentage of men has increased and others its decreased. Women still make up the majority of comic strip readers.

Check out the old and new stats below.

September 2013 Stats

comics consumption 9.23.13

February 2014 Stats

comics consumption 2.10.14

Facebook Fandom Spotlight: Indie/Small Press Comic Fans

Its been about 5 months since I did a Facebook Fandom Spotlight of Marvel and DC fans. For a while now, I’ve wanted to see how those two differ, and are similar, to fans of indie and small press comics. That’s the focus of today’s breakdown.

For this report I looked at comic book publisher likes that are not the big two or part of the big two. For this report, Vertigo, Zuda, Icon, are not included though they share similar comics as to other in this report. For this report, terms like IDW Publishing, BOOM! Studios, Fantagraphics were included. Manga was left out of this as well. A bonus is, there’s even more terms discovered through this that will be added to the main report. All together, 62 terms were used for this report.

Facebook Population: Over 2,000,000 in the United States

That’s about a sixth of the overall comic fandom population, though many terms are new, so it’ll be best to compare the two when next months comic fandom is reported on. It’s also about a sixth of Marvel fans but almost even of DC fans in size on Facebook.

Spanish speakers account for now 260,000 fans, 13.00% in the United States that falls behind the general comic fandom as well as that of Marvel and DC.

Gender and Age

Marvel fans on Facebook last time we reported broke down with a little over 75% being men and DC being about 69% men. We reported at the beginning of the month that 54.55% of general comic fans were men. Indie/Small Publishers seem to be where its at when it comes to gender parity, because men account for 54% of the population and women 46%. That’s some of the closest percentages we’ve seen when it comes to publishers.

Indie/Small Press Fans

indie fans gender 11.18.13

Here’s the gender as it breaks down with age. We see the expected increase of female fans, most likely due to how Facebook users skew to begin with.

Indie/Small Press Fans

indie fans gender age 11.18.13

Here’s the breakdown of age and gender for the group. We can see that the largest portion of the fans lies in the age of folks who grew up with the cartoon series and toys, those in their 20s and 30s.

Indie/Small Press Fans

inde gans gender age raw 11.18.13

Relationship Status

With a population that’s a bit older than the general, Marvel and DC fans, the indie small press fans are a bit more settled with a higher percentage engaged, in relationships or married. In relationships and married constitutes the majority of people with women making up the majority of married fans as well as those engaged.

Indie/Small Press Fans

indie fans relationship 11.18.13

And for those that like pie charts.

Indie/Small Press Fans

indie fans relationship pie chart 11.18.13

Education

With a population mostly of college age or just graduated, we see that when it comes to the education breakdown.

Indie/Small Press Fans

indie fans education 11.18.13

Gender Interest

Men interested in men has the highest percents when it comes to Marvel and DC fans, but for indie/small press fans the percentage of men interested in men and women interested in women is higher than the general comic fandom.

Indie/Small Press Fans

inde fans gender interest 11.18.13

That wraps up this edition. Join us next Monday for a new Fandom Spotlight!

Facebook Fandom Spotlight: Hasbro’s G.I. Joe

With it being Veteran’s Day, I felt it appropriate to look at another military inspired toyline, comic, cartoon and movie series, G.I. Joe for today’s Facebook Fandom Spotlight. For this report, we’ll also compare the results to a similar property, Transformers.

For this report, I looked at a lot of terms of characters, television shows, video games and comic book series titles. It’s a long, exhaustive list of 49 different terms.

Facebook Population: Over 1,600,000 in the United States

That’s a very small population compared to general comic fans or Transformers fans, both of which is 10 times the size of G.I. Joe fans. Something doesn’t seem to translate as far as social networking and community.

Spanish speakers account for now 220,000 fans, 13.75% in the United States that’s about about a full percentage point lower than Transformers.

Gender and Age

When it comes to the breakdown of men and women, Transformers fans are pretty much similar to the general comic fandom populace. Men account for 58.93%, slightly higher than comics and women make up 41.07%, slightly lower. G.I. Joe however is more heavily male dominated as I’d expect. Men account for 63.75% of fans and women account for 36.25%.

G.I. Joe Fans

gi joe gender 11.11.13

Here’s the gender as it breaks down with age. We see the expected increase of female fans, most likely due to how Facebook users skew to begin with.

G.I. Joe Fans

gi joe gender age 11.11.13

Here’s the breakdown of age and gender for the group. We can see that the largest portion of the fans lies in the age of folks who grew up with the cartoon series and toys, those in their 20s and 30s.

G.I. Joe Fans

gi joe gender age raw 11.11.13

Relationship Status

With a population that’s a bit older than Transformers fans, the percentage of those who are engaged, in relationships or married is higher for G.I. Joe fans.

G.I. Joe Fans

gi joe relationship 11.11.13

And for those that like pie charts.

G.I. Joe Fans

gi joe relationship pie chart 11.11.13

Education

With a population mostly of college age or just graduated, we see that when it comes to the education breakdown.

G.I. Joe Fans

gi joe education 11.11.13

Gender Interest

When it comes to same gender interest, G.I. Joe fans is lower than the general comic fandom, but similar to Transformers fans.

G.I. Joe Fans

gi joe gender interest 11.11.13

That wraps up this edition. Join us next Monday for a new Fandom Spotlight!

Facebook Fandom Spotlight: How Do People Consume Comics?

One of the biggest questions I got last week about how I come up with the Facebook Fandom stats is how people are consuming comics and how are they reading them? So, to answer at least some of those questions, I quickly dipped into Facebook to see how and what individuals are consuming in the United States using only the main key words. So, for the comics stat, the terms are “comics” and “comic books,” for graphic novels the terms used are “graphic novel” and “graphic novels.” I didn’t include any specific titles or publishers, just the most basic terms.

These results actually tells us two things. The result I get of 11 million general “comic” fans is mostly made up of these terms, though I don’t include webcomics or Sunday comics/comic strips. The next is, according to this, different genders consume comics differently. Women prefer comic strips and have a higher affinity for manga, men prefer trade paperbacks and digital comics.

comics consumption 9.23.13

Facebook Fandom Spotlight: The Comic Company Employees!

It’s Monday, which means it’s a new edition of Facebook Fandom Spotlight, where I break down the demographics of a particular group of fans. For this week I attempt to figure out who exactly is creating and delivering us out comic books. That’s right, I attempt to break down those employed in the comic book industry. We’ll compare this group to the greater comic fandom.

About a year ago, Marvel was looking to hire a new digital director. I felt I was qualified and applied by sending in my resume, but also running Facebook ads targeting Marvel employees. I went with that function including about a dozen companies I could find in the industry. This includes Marvel, DC, some shops and Diamond. It’s a very small sample, mostly made up of those who have marked themselves as employees of Marvel and DC.

Facebook Population: Over 2,220 in the United States

Spanish speakers account for now 240 individuals, 10.81% in the United States that’s about 3% lower than the general comic fandom.

Gender and Age

When it comes to gender and employment in the comic industry, we find a starker split between the breakdown between men and women when compared to general comic fandom. Men accounted for 69.37% compared to 58.62% and women account for 30.63% compared to  39.66%. This report is skewed as companies that have a good mix of men and women like IDW and BOOM!/Archaia aren’t included, nor are independent creators. Still, this shows a pretty wide gap.

Comic Industry Employees

comic employees gender 9.23.13

When it comes to breaking down the age, the biggest issue is the sample size. The lowest return for results Facebook gives is 20 individuals. It won’t give counts lower than that. As age increases, the exact count gets shakier because of this with the breakdown eventually falling apart.

Comic Industry Employees

comic employees gender age 9.23.13

Here’s the breakdown of age and gender for the group. You can see where this breaks down. For those under the age of 21, I chalk that up to store employees and interns (the latter I can’t prove).

Comic Industry Employees

comic employees gender age raw 9.23.13

Relationship Status

When it comes to relationships, comic employees fair only a little bit better than general comic fans. Percentage wise, more are married than the general group.

Comic Industry Employees

comic employees relationship 9.23.13

And for those that like pie charts.

Comic Industry Employees

comic employees relationship pie chart 9.23.13

Education

As expected, the percentage of those that are “college grads” is much greater than the general comic fandom. Makes sense since this should mainly be employees.

Comic Industry Employees

comic employees education 9.23.13

Gender Interest

Compared to the general comic fandom, those with same gender interest is abysmally low. I marked the number as 20, since that’s the lowest number Facebook returns, but in reality it’s much lower than that.

Comic Industry Employees

comic employees gender interest 9.23.13

 

That wraps up this edition. Join us next Monday for a brand new Fandom Spotlight.

About Those Facebook Fan Studies. I Go More Into Detail on the “How”

Cross-posted at The Beat.

facebook logoTwo years and some months ago, I posted the first study of what Facebook told us about comic book fans. 45 or so posts later on the subject, I’m still gathering data with various breakdowns of not just comic fans but other fandoms as well. At Small Press Expo, I talked with Heidi MacDonald of The Beat about these types of statistics and mentioned what I’ve been doing when a discussion about studies and surveys began. While what I do isn’t perfect, it does give us an idea of the trends over a period of time. But as Heidi asked more questions, it was clear what I was doing might not be obvious to most folks, so she offered me a chance to go a bit more in depth about the topic over on her site, which I cross-posted here. Below covers how I get this information, but also why it’s important.

The reason I began this was simple, some comic “experts” were debating how many comic book fans existed in the United States, stating it was between 300,000 and 400,000 fans. While it’s impossible right now to get a proper survey done, like the Entertainment Software Association does every year for video games, there were data sets that existed that could be used to give a rough idea. Working in politics, I deal with data daily and use it to get candidates elected or advocate some issue. I decided to take what I learned in politics and apply it to the comic industry, hence this.

The Methodology (aka How the Hell I Do This)

The first study I did immediately blew that belief of 300 to 400,000 people out of the water. I quickly found over a million fans on Facebook in the United States alone (that took me just a few minutes to do). Since it was first done, the system I manipulate in Facebook has improved and evolved allowing me to expand my search and find even more individuals. The way I do all of this is Facebook’s advertising platform. Facebook isn’t just a social network, it’s a massive database of information, the information you provide when you put your location, age, gender, and your “likes.”

It’s those “likes” where I find the data I aggregate. Anyone can do this really and marketers do it every day delivering ads they think might be important to you. For instance, when I recently got engaged and changed my relationship status, I started to receive ads for tuxedo rentals and buying houses, my fiancé received ads for bridal dresses and wedding items.

What I do is compile a list of “likes” I think are relevant to the comic book industry and fans. I use terms like “comics,” “graphic novels,” and the names of numerous publishers among other terms. I stay away from characters or authors. Just because you like Superman or Neil Gaiman, doesn’t mean you like DC Comics or comics in general. Movies, television, and video games are kept separate as well. In all over 50 terms are used (I stopped counting a while ago) and I max out the number you can do in Facebook’s system.

Today, the terms I use regularly return over 11 million fans in the United States alone. At that 11 million mark, each term I add brings back less and less, showing a lot of overlap (Facebook tells you how many fans a term has before you add it, so you can figure that part out).  Even when I add characters names, like Superman, I max out at 22 million and have struggled to get higher than that.

The Flaws

Doctor Who Facebook Gender 9.16.13Obviously the first flaw is that this is based off of what people tell you, but so is a survey. A “like” does not equal someone who goes to comic shops, but I then retort and ask why they don’t. If someone is a “fan” and “like” Marvel or DC and not buying comics, it is a failure of this industry in not getting them to do so. They are fans, they are just not engaged. In the political flipside, this is the equivalent of my motivating someone to get out and vote. I do this type of work every day, it’s a pain in the ass, but it is possible.

There’s also a flaw in the data, period. The first being, those under the age of 13 are under counted due to privacy laws. This would be an issue in most cases though.

The second is, women generally make up the majority of Facebook users in the United States; globally that’s not the case (and in my global studies, I look at 22 total nations). However, that’s not as off as you’d think compared to the general population of the United States. Women in the US account for 50.8% of the population as of a 2012 estimate, for Facebook they account for 53.41%. If anything globally, they’re underrepresented making up 46.29% of the Facebook population but in the actual world, the percentage is very close to 50/50.

Often in studies we see the count of female fans increase so they’re the majority. I often contribute that to how the general Facebook user stats shake out. So, this should be kept in mind when looking at what I present.

So why does this matter?

Here’s the dark secret about politics, with a little bit of information, I can tell you how you’ll vote. By knowing your gender, education, and income, for examples, I can tell you what party you belong to and how you’ll vote. We also have massive databases going back years with that information too. We look at when you have voted to determine if you’ll vote in the future. If someone goes to the poll every primary and election and is doing so in Democratic primaries, I can probably count on them to keep doing so. That simplifies it all, but hopefully gives you an idea of where I’m going.

So, let’s take that logic and apply it to comics. I’ve talked about looking at customer differently in the past, and why data and databases are important, but here’s the simplest scenario. You have comic “A” which is enjoyed by men that are 30 years old primarily, and comic “B” that’s enjoyed by 30 year old women. If you wanted to find more buyers for comic “A,” you’d target 30 year old men and “B” target 30 year old women. To treat the audiences of these two comics as the same is a mistake and bad business.

I’ve shown that fandoms differ. Doctor Who fans are 50% female. Transformers fans are almost 59% male. Fans of female comic book characters are over 62% female! Fans of comics, and geek culture as a whole, is diverse with each niche’s make-up differing from the next. We need to wake up and realize this and use the knowledge and data that’s out there to our advantage, getting the right interests in front of the right people, sharing our love of our hobby.

Facebook Fandom Spotlight: Doctor Who Fans. 50% Women!

It’s Monday, which means it’s a new edition of Facebook Fandom Spotlight, where I break down the demographics of a particular group of fans. For this week, it’s a group of fans that has exploded over recent years, Doctor Who Fans! We’ll compare this group to the greater comic fandom.

For this report, I looked at a lot of terms of characters, television shows, video games and comic book series titles. It’s a long, exhaustive list primarily made up of the names of characters.

Facebook Population: Over 4,000,000 in the United States

That’s about one-third of the greater comic fandom.

Spanish speakers account for now 420,000 fans, 10.5% in the United States that’s about 3.5% lower than the general comic fandom.

Gender and Age

When it comes to the breakdown of men and women, Doctor Who fans is almost evenly split, a first among the fandoms we’ve looked at. Men account for 48.00% while women account for 50%. The last 2% haven’t listed their gender.

Doctor Who Fans

Doctor Who Facebook Gender 9.16.13

Here’s the gender as it breaks down with age. We see the expected increase of female fans as age increase, most likely due to how Facebook users skew to begin with. However, the helix like design for the rest is unexplained as men and women traded off back and forth which was the greater population depending on age.

Doctor Who Fans

Doctor Who Facebook Gender Age 9.16.13

Here’s the breakdown of age and gender for the group.

Doctor Who Fans

Doctor Who Facebook Gender Age Raw 9.16.13

Relationship Status

Compared to comic book fandom Doctor Who fans tend to be more married and percentage wise fewer are single. What’s interesting is men are the majority of the single fans.

Doctor Who Fans

Doctor Who Facebook Relationship 9.16.13

And for those that like pie charts.

Doctor Who Fans

Doctor Who Facebook Relationship Pie Chart 9.16.13

Education

Compared to general comic fandom, Doctor Who fans percentage wise are greater in number as far as “college grads” and “in college.”

Doctor Who Fans

Doctor Who Facebook Education 9.16.13

Gender Interest

When it comes to same gender interest, Doctor Who fans are more interested in the same gender.

Doctor Who Fans

Doctor Who Facebook Gender Interest 9.16.13

That wraps up this edition. Join us next Monday for a brand new Fandom Spotlight.

Facebook Fandom Spotlight: Transformers Fans

It’s Monday, which means it’s a new edition of Facebook Fandom Spotlight, where I break down the demographics of a particular group of fans. For this week, it’s a group of fans that spans toys, cartoons, comics and more, Transformers. We’ll compare this group to the greater comic fandom.

For this report, I looked at a lot of terms of characters, television shows, video games and comic book series titles. It’s a long, exhaustive list primarily made up of the names of characters.

Facebook Population: Over 11,200,000 in the United States

That’s comparable to the greater comic book fandom, just a few hundred thousand short.

Spanish speakers account for now 1,620,000 fans, 14.46% in the United States that’s about 0.5% higher than the general comic fandom.

Gender and Age

When it comes to the breakdown of men and women, Transformers fans are pretty much similar to the general comic fandom populace. Men account for 58.93%, slightly higher than comics and women make up 41.07%, slightly lower.

Transformers Fans

transformers gender facebook 9.9.13

Here’s the gender as it breaks down with age. We see the expected increase of female fans, most likely due to how Facebook users skew to begin with.

Transformers Fans

transformers gender age facebook 9.9.13

Here’s the breakdown of age and gender for the group.

Transformers Fans

transformers gender age data facebook

Relationship Status

The number of people that are in relationships, married or engage make up the majority of this group with men and women married an almost 50/50 split. The overall amounts are exactly the same compared to comic fandom, how the genders break down is different.

Transformers Fans

transformers relationship facebook 9.9.13

And for those that like pie charts.

Transformers Fans

Education

Compared to general comic fandom, Transformers fans are more in college.

Transformers Fans

transformers education facebook 9.9.13

Gender Interest

When it comes to same gender interest, Transformers fans is lower than the general comic fandom.

Transformers Fans

transformers gender interest facebook 9.9.13

That wraps up this edition. Join us next Monday for a new Fandom Spotlight, Doctor Who fans!

Facebook Fandom Spotlight: Fans of Female Comic Characters

Yesterday was the first of the month, so our monthly spotlight on the general comic fandom was posted with the latest statistics. But, it’s Monday, which means we get a new Facebook Fandom Spotlight as well. This time I’m looking at who the fans are of female comic book characters.

For this report, I looked at a lot of terms of characters like Wonder Woman, Barbara Gordon, Catwoman, Ms. Marvel, Black Widow and more. In this case it was mostly character names, but in some instances a movie or a comic book series was included if it fit the theme. I went through numerous lists to get as many terms as possible, and the list used is long.

Facebook Population: Over 5,800,000 in the United States

That’s exactly half of the general comic populace.

Spanish speakers account for now 720,000 fans, 12.41% in the United States that’s slightly lower than the general comic populace by about 1%.

Gender and Age

The statistics are pretty amazing. Women are a clear majority making up 62.07% of the fandom, while male fans accounted for 37.93%. It’s clear women are the fans of female characters which could lead to the idea of spotlight more of the characters to draw in more of that readership.

Female Character Fans

female facebook gender 9.2.13

The percentage isn’t the only thing that’s a hell of a shift. Below is how gender breaks down as far as age. The general Facebook populace skews female which explains some of the below.

Comic Fans

comic gender age facebook 9.1.13

Female Character Fans

female facebook age gender 9.2.13

That’s a hell of a difference with men gaining slightly, and then eventually dropping percentage wise as age increases. I also found that the age range of 22-25 is exactly the same amount in this data set as it is the general comic populace.

The other thing I noticed is that the percentage of fans 17 and under is almost half that of the general comic fandom. It stands at 8.08% versus 15.26%. In fact those under 21 is lower percentage wise showing an older fandom. For publishers and companies focused on dollars, this might affect how they’d push these characters and what they could expect back in return if they did.

Female Character Fans

female facebook age gender raw 9.2.13

Relationship Status

The biggest difference here is the “married” percentage which is 6% points higher than the general comic populace, taken entirely from the “single” populace.

Female Character Fans

female facebook relationship 9.2.13

And for those that like pie charts.

Female Character Fans

female facebook relationship pie chart 9.2.13

Education

A slightly older population brings a higher percentage of those as “college grads” and we see exactly that.

Female Character Fans

female facebook education 9.2.13

Gender Interest

We also see an increase of same-gender interest in this population. “Men interested in men” is about .23% higher and “women interested in women” is a shocking 2.6% higher than the general comic fandom.

Female Character Fans

female facebook gender interest 9.2.13

That wraps up this edition. Join us next Monday for a new Fandom Spotlight!

Almost American
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