PUBLISHING: And the bestselling comic book for 2012 is...

AND A WALKER shall lead them.

To many fans, creatively, 2012 was the Year of Image Comics. On the 20th anniversary of its birth, the California-based company was unfurling great titles like “Saga” and “The Manhattan Projects,” the Eisner-winning “Chew”was as strong as ever, and “Fatale” and the Robert Kirkman-created “Thief of Thieves” were turning heads.

It was Kirkman’s omnipresent undead, however, who paced the entire year in comics sales.

That’s right, Kirkman and Tony Moore’s “The Walking Dead” was top dog on the comic-book charts — even ahead of a slew of Marvel titles — and also dominated the graphic-novel charts.

The 100th issue of “The Walking Dead” — published last July — “sold “almost 400,000 copies to comic-book specialty-market retailers worldwide,” Baltimore-based Diamond Comic Distributors told Comic Riffs on Tuesday.

The pivotal 100th issue, Diamond notes, featured covers from such big names as Bryan Hitch, Todd McFarlane, Ryan Ottley, Sean Phillips, Frank Quitely and Marc Silvestri.

The comic, of course, is boosted by the massive popularity of the AMC drama it spawned. Last December, nearly 11-million people watched the show’s midseason finale — as “TWD” became the most-watched ad-supported drama series in basic-cable history.

On the heels of the Image comic was Marvel’s 12-issue miniseries "Avengers vs. X-Men,” which helped the publisher land eight comics in the top 10.

According to Diamond, Marvel was the year’s top publisher with 34-percent of the retail market share for the year, and nearly 38-percent of the unit market share; it was followed by DC Entertainment (nearly 32-percent and 37-percent, respectively).

In the next tier were Image Comics (7.3-percent and 6.6-percent); IDW (5.6-percent and 4.4-percent); and Dark Horse Comics (4.8-percent and 3.8-percent).

Perhaps most vitally, Diamond reported that 2012 comic-book sales climbed nearly 15-percent and graphic-novel sales rose more than 14-percent over the previous year.

“2012 was a terrific year for comic books and graphic novels," Diamond CEO Steve Geppi said in a statement. “Our publishers did a tremendous job of creating compelling storylines that comic book fans wanted to see – from Marvel's “Avengers vs. X-Men” followed by its Marvel NOW! titles later in the year, to DC's powerful New 52 ongoing titles. Add in Dark Horse Comics' horror lineup, IDW's My Little Pony and Image Comics' creator-driven hits and it was quite a year.”

IDW's "My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic" #1 — which finished at No. 90 — was the only non-DC/Marvel issue other than “The Walking Dead” to finish in the top-100 comic books.

And in another measure of its dominance, seven “Walking Dead” books placed among the top-10 graphic novels for 2012.

 

Writer/artist/visual storyteller Michael Cavna is creator of the "Comic Riffs" column and graphic-novel reviewer for The Post's Book World. He relishes sharp-eyed satire in most any form.

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