With bookstores closed due to the lockdown, some online stores like The Comic Book Store saw a growth of 5000 percent they say.
Bengaluru: Hundreds of paperback graphic novels lie stacked in the comic book aisle of the Blossom bookstore. Many writers and artists had to stop their production because stores were shut during the lock down. The comic industry before the lock down was going through a bad phase, but the pandemic came as a blessing in disguise. The online sales of comic books and graphic novels increased.
“My business grew to unimaginable heights. I never expected my business to skyrocket the way it did,” said Hamza, owner of The Comic Book Store. “I saw a 5000 percent year-on-year growth from June 2019 to June 2020,”he added.
However, that was not the case everywhere. “The sales during the lock down did go down by at least 60 percent. People were hesitant to come to the store and get books delivered even after the stores opened,” said Mukund, store manager at the Blossoms Bookstore at Church Street.
Shashank Rao, an avid comic book reader, said, “Before the lockdown started, I had lost touch with reading comic books, but having enough free time while working from home, I got back to reading them, and most of the books I read were bought from online stores.”
Readers had other options, too. They could read them online. Anish Talpade, an Indian comic artist, and creator of ‘The Mundane Life’ comic and ‘Endless’ manga, said, “Publishing work online was easier during the lockdown as the printing work takes much money, and that wasn’t possible at that time.” Online space gave artists to showcase their work. Publishing work online and adapting to subscription-based model worked well during the lockdown.
For some of the artists and writers, the sales didn’t immediately pick up , and they had to struggle for some time. But eventually, their work also started getting noticed. “It was a problem during the lockdown and for a month after the lockdown was lifted. But since then, the sales increased because there was no other medium. We have seen more queries. Since the couriers have opened up, sales have increased,” said Aniruddho Chakraborty, founder of Chariot Comics.
Aniruddho believes that a unifying publishing and distribution platform is needed to push the barriers for the comic industry. “Someone needs to come in and try to push the volumes for individual publishers. Like the US has Diamond distributors, the distributors of Marvel and DC comics, we also require that distribution network,” said Aniruddho. Indian comic artists are also not given enough space and opportunities to showcase their work.
“There is a need for a publication house that doesn’t restrict an individual’s ideas and creativity or at least gives them free space to express what they want to make a comic out of. This is the need of the hour,” said Anish Talpade on the need for a publication house.