Before we reveal some of the impressive graphic novel stats that every aspiring illustrator and/or storyboard artist should know, it’ll help to clarify just what is a ‘graphic novel’.
Except that’s not so easy. Wikipedia even says “the term is not strictly defined” and “…the exact definition of a graphic novel is debated…”. Other definitions include: “a novel in the form of comic strips.” (Dictionary.com) and “a fictional story that is presented in comic-strip format and published as a book” (Merriam-Webster).
For our purposes, a graphic novel can be any story that has more than one chapter ( similar to the difference between a short story and a novella or novel) and is told through a combination of sequential drawings and words. However there are rare examples of terrific graphic novels that don’t fit this description: one is told completely through sequential drawings with no words at all, another is a sequence of one sequential drawing chapter followed by a written chapter. Sometimes a sequence of individual comic books is published over time as a continuous story and is later published as a graphic novel.
In general graphic novels are a story in book form that is largely told through the use of illustrations, like “This One Summer”, written by Mariko Tamaki and illustrated by Jillian Tamaki.
That said, take a look at some of the graphic novel stats listed below. They show, in a world of increasing digital animations and illustrations, that traditional forms of the art are not only still used, they are thriving. Even if you want to be a purely digital animator or illustrator, learning more about about ‘pen and paper’ techniques will add a new dimension to your work.
Graphic Novel Stats
Total graphic novel sales in the U.S. and Canada in 2016 (comichron.com)
16% – 23% – 16%
The growth in graphic novel sales in 2014, 2015 and 2016 respectively, to a total of $405 million in 2016. The graphic novel category is considered one of the biggest growth categories in all book publishing. (comichron.com)
The First Graphic Novel to Receive the U.S. National Book Award
Released in March 2016, “March: Book 3” became the first ever graphic novel to receive the National Book Award. A story about the Civil Rights movement in the U.S., every installment of the March Trilogy, written by John Lewis and Andrew Aydi and illustrated by Nate Powell, held the top three spots in the New York Times Graphic Novel Bestseller list for six weeks. (Wikipedia)
Six of the Top 10 Grossing Films of 2014 Were Based on a Graphic Novel
Have you seen “Guardians of the Galaxy”; “Transformers: Age of Extinction”; “X-Men: Days of Future Passed”; “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”; “The Amazing Spiderman”; and “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”? All of them are based on graphic novels. (CNBC.com)
Graphic Novels Boost Library Circulation
As traditional libraries continue to redefine themselves in an online, on-demand world, graphic novels are a welcome area of growth.
“In our library it’s (graphic novels) 3% of the collection and 30% of our circulation,” says Esther Keller, a New York school media specialist. (publishersweekly.com)
The number of graphic novels sold in 2017 (comicsbeat.com)
Number of copies sold of the #1 selling graphic book of 2017, “Wimpy Kid #12: The Getaway” by Jeff Kinney. (comicsbeat.com)
Wide Employment Horizons
In addition to jobs as illustrators for graphic novels, those who learn traditional illustrating have success in finding job opportunities in gaming, animation, digital graphics, graphic facilitation, advertising and marketing.