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UK graphic novels have bumper 2022 as Oseman, Miura and Smart take the lead

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Following another growth year for the category British book trade publication The Bookseller found Alice Oseman (Heartstopper), Kentaro Miura (Berserk), and Jamie Smart (Bunny vs. Monkey; Looshkin) were the three highest selling authors in the UK graphic novel space in 2022 in a recent report based on Nielson BookScan data.

UK 2022

While Alice Oseman and the late Kentaro Miura are likely familiar to readers in the US, Jamie Smart is less well-known. Smart is best known in the UK for his hilarious all-ages Bunny vs. Monkey and Looshkin series’ (first published in the Phoenix weekly comic) – all published by David Fickling Books. Easy to find and often sold alongside Dav Pilkey‘s Dog Man books in stores, in 2022 it seems Smart may have overtaken the dominance of Dog Man.

In the January 13 article (special thanks to Paul Gravett), The Bookseller said:

“The remarkable upward trajectory of graphic novels continued apace, with record years in both adult and children’s. Adult graphic novels cracked the £50m mark for the first time (£53.2m) in 2022. Manga led, with a 24% jump against 2021’s available figures, for a full-year £28.8m. Manga sold more through the TCM in 2022 than it did in the first 13 years of BookScan full market data (beginning in 2001).”

  Author TCM Value
1 Alice Oseman (Heartstopper) £6,605,300
2 Kentaro Miura (Berserk) £2,470,261
3 Jamie Smart (Bunny vs Monkey; Looshkin) £1,858,585
4 Dav Pilkey (Dog Man) £1,730,420
5 Hajime Isayama (Attack on Titan) £1,258,791
6 Kohei Horikoshi (My Hero Academia) £1,256,594
7 Junji Ito (horror manga including Uzumaki) £1,239,635
8 Tatsuki Fujimoto (Chainsaw Man) £1,167,589
9 Neil Gaiman (The Sandman) £1,114,975
10 Koyoharu Gotouge (Demon Slayer) £1,079,006

Note: Sales through Adult and Children’s Graphic Novel Categories

TCM, or Total Consumer Market, Value is derived from a sampling of 90% of retail points in the UK that sell books. These include large franchise British bookstores (Waterstones, WH Smiths, Daunt, Foyles etc.), large supermarkets (Asda, Tesco, Waitrose), Forbidden Planet, and several museum bookshops.

Based on the UK 2022 chart, manga holds six places in the top 10 but only the late Kentaro Miura’s mature manga series Berserk managed to break into the top five – likely his death in 2021 spurring new readers to start and old readers to return. The existence of the more expensive deluxe hardcover editions adding more income from each transaction over the regular editions of the now-41 volume series (both published by Dark Horse) probably also helped push up the TCM. In fact Miura’s Berserk Deluxe Edition Vol 1 was reportedly the only manga title to break the TCM £500,000 mark, with £627,000. According to The Bookseller/BookScan, only 24 manga titles were able to pass the £100,000 TCM mark.

Alice Oseman remains a runaway success with the YA LGBTQIA+ Heartstopper book series coming up on its final volume in 2023 and the debut of a Netflix adaptation in 2022 just further cementing her stratospheric rise in the charts. Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman TV adaptation likewise assisted his appearance in the 2022 top 10 but Oseman scored near six times his TCM value of £1,114,975.

As The Bookseller remarked,

”Alice Oseman had the best year ever for a graphic novelist full stop, with £6.6m of her £9.9m total coming through BookScan’s Children’s Comic Strip Fiction & Graphic Novels category. Oseman’s Heartstopper Vol 1 is now the top-selling graphic novel in a combined adult and children’s chart since BookScan records began—Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ classic Watchmen is second—while the other three in her series are at positions three, five and seven.”

Also in The Bookseller, there is another heartening thing from the UK 2022 stats  – kids are buying comics! (-or at least the Kids category is doing very, very well). The intake from the kids market for graphic novels has more than doubled over the previous year. Though it is remarked that the majority of the market is currently being held by only three authors:

“’Kids’ graphic novels’ TCM revenue jumped 167% on 2021’s comparable data and earned £12.2m for the full year; before 2021, its previous annual high was £2.7m. Unlike Manga, the category is top-heavy: the three children’s comics artists on this list—Oseman, Dav Pilkey and Jamie Smart—account for 79% of sales.’”

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