Dark Horse Comics’ Senior Director of Licensing Michael Gombos recently revealed that the publisher’s manga offerings makes up 66% of the company’s sales despite being only 1% of their output.

Berserk Vol. 38 (2017), Dark Horse Comics

During an appearance at San Diego Comic-Con as part of the “Found in Translation,” journalist Deb Aoki reported that Gombos relayed during the panel, “It’s important to remember that manga was made for Japanese readers. At Dark Horse Comics, manga is 1% of our output, but represents 66% of our sales.”

Deb Aoki Twitter

RELATED: Report: Berserk Manga Was Dark Horse Comics’ Top Property For Last Three Years

Gombos’ revelation comes after Embracer Group revealed that Kentaro Miura’s Berserk manga was the highest selling print property in 2019, 2020, and 2021 at Dark Horse Comics.

It was also the third most sold property in 2017 behind Zelda and Overwatch in 2017 and the fourth most sold property in 2018 behind Zelda, Super Mario, and World of Warcraft.

Embracer Group slide on top selling print franchises at Dark Horse Comics

Not only did they reveal that Berserk was their highest selling print property, but that it’s rise to the top of the charts also followed a trend where the company’s backlist sales began making up a plurality of its total sales.

In 2018, 50% of sales were initial sales compared to just shy of 30% being backlist sales. Backlist sales would increase to 37.5% in 2019 with frontlist sales declining to 35.7%. In 2020 backlist sales were making up 45% of the company’s sales while fronlist sales had declined to 27.9%.

Finally, in 2021 backlist sales were making up nearly half of all sales at 49% while frontlist sales had declined to 24.1%.

Berserk Vol. 11 (2006), Dark Horse Comics

RELATED: Dark Horse Comics Announces Long-Awaited Deluxe Hardcover Collections For ‘Trigun’ And ‘Trigun: Maximum’

Maybe an even more interesting statistic in the Embracer Group report was that sales at Things From Another World stores were pretty much flat between 2019 to 2021. The report notes that sales in 2019 came in at 2.3 million. It stayed flat in 2020 and had a slight increase in 2021 to 2.5 million.

While sales at Things From Another World were flat, sales at Dark Horse Digital did see a significant bump during the Covid-19 lockdowns. In 2018 and 2019 sales were flat at $3.4 million. It significantly increased to $5.5 million in 2020, and then declined to $4.3 million in 2021.

Embracer Group slide on Dark Horse Comics’ eCommerce Strategy

Another interesting statistic to look at given Dark Horse’s revelation that manga represents 66% of their sales is the fact that Berserk Deluxe Vol. 1 from Dark Horse Comics was only the 16th most sold manga title of 2022 as reported by NPD BookScan.

It was behind Chainsaw Man Vol. 1, Spy X Family Vol. 1, Demon Salyer: Kimetsu No Yaiba Vol. 1, Chainsaw Man Vol. 2, Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No Yaiba – Stories of Water and Flame, Jujutsu Kaise Vol. 0, My Hero Academia Vol. 1, Chainsaw Man Vol. 3, Chainsaw Man Vol. 4, Spy X Family Vol. 2, Chainsaw Man Vol. 10, Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No Yaiba Vol. 2, Jujutsu Kaisen Vol. 1, Chainsaw Man Vol. 9, and Chainsaw Man Vol. 11.

Berserk Deluxe Vol. 1 HC (2019), Dark Horse Comics

RELATED: Dark Horse Comics To Reprint ‘Hellsing’ Manga In Paperback With More Accurate Translations

When looking at ICv2’s ComicHub sales data the book took fourth place. The difference between the NPD BookScan data and the ComicHub data is that NPD BookScan “ollects weekly point-of-sale data on print books from over 16,000 locations including e-tailers, chains, mass merchandisers, independent bookstores, and more.  NPD BookScan covers approximately 85% of the U.S. trade print book market.”

ComicHub “tracks sales at stores selling American comics around the world.”

Chainsaw Man Vol. 1, My Hero Academia Vol. 1, and Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No Yaiba Vol. 1 were the only books to surpass Berserk Deluxe Vol. 1 on the ComicHub sales chart.

Mob Psycho 100 Vol. 1 (2018), Dark Horse Comics

Dark Horse Comics seems to recognize the value of manga as they are not only publishing Miura’s Berserk, but are also publishing ONE’s Mob Psycho 100, Sumito Oowara’s Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken!, Wataru Nadatani’s Cat + Gamer, Kohta Hirano’s Drifters and Hellsing as well as deluxe hardcover editions of Yasuhiro Nightow’s Trigun.

What do you make of this galling statistic that manga sales make up 66% of the company’s sales, but are only 1% of its ouput?

NEXT: Dark Horse To Publish Whoopi Goldberg Graphic Novel About A Menopausal Superhero




  • About The Author

    John F. Trent
    Founder and Editor-in-Chief

    John is the Editor-in-Chief here at Bounding Into Comics. He is a massive Washington Capitals fan, lover of history, and likes to dabble in economics and philosophy.