The booming market in sales and in cultural life, the precarity in which most authors operate, the difficulties in getting small publishing houses to continue, are the face and cross of the x-ray of the world of the vignette that reveals the waiting first. The White Book of Comics in Spain, which was presented yesterday to the Ministry of Culture of the Comics Sector, is an entity created in 2020 and composed of representatives from all areas of the sector.
With the Minister of Culture, Ernest Urtasun, and the Director General of Books, Comics and Reading, María José Gálvez, the Head of the Sector, Alejandro Casasola, attended, accompanied by the Vice President and Editorial Director of Norma, Oscar Valiente. The study, in which 650 specialists participated, which, as they point out, provides a “clear, honest and diverse picture” of the reality of a sector historically forgotten by public institutions. Valente noted that they are asking for aid of around 8% and 10% (now it is 5%), which will focus on specific general grants for creativity.
Valiente discovered a full summary full of numbers from the white paper that proves that comics are “one of the great assets of the Spanish publishing sector”, which is “more specific and specialized” and has four million readers over the age of 14 years.
“There are more than 1,000 active Spanish artists, 1,500 direct jobs, more than 300 comic translators, more than 50 specialized publishing companies, more than 300 that publish some comics annually, more than 150 self-publishers and fan publishers, more,” Valiente revealed. It includes 200 specialized libraries, 122 events that bring together 1.3 million visitors annually, 10 agents, 6 training centers, 4 university chairs, and more than 25 specialized associations and institutions.
He added that the sector reached “4,600 novels published in 2022 and 2023, achieving annual sales worth $130 million, considering that they represent between 7% and 8% of the weight of Spanish publishing, which coincides with what the consulting company GfK recently presented comic books.” It represents 8% of the turnover of the Spanish book industry and 10% of the units sold.” Of the total number of comics publishers in Spain, the Big Five represent 60% of publications, demonstrating the focus of the sector and the need to protect young people.
The truth about creators
“These numbers contradict another reality, which is the enormous difficulty that many artists face in practicing their craft in decent conditions,” Valente said. Only 21% of professionals indicated that all their income comes from comics, which most combine with illustration and design. Or teaching.
For 64% of authors, a comedian's income does not reach the minimum wage among professions, with 33% having a net annual income of less than €1,000. 51% receive less than €20,000 net per year and only 10% have received some institutional assistance in the past five years. It is clear from the data that only those working in the international market can make a living from comics.
Of the 1,033 Spanish creators whose works were published in 2022, only 221 were women, according to data provided by Tebosfera. “The number of female creators is still a very visible minority,” expressed yesterday the writer Sarah Gotabe, coordinator of the Sectoral Equality Group, who spoke about the increase in international female companies and asked what is missing in Spain to add to this growth.
In the white paper, the sector calls for eight key measures in addition to helping creativity: progress in the implementation of the artist statute, stipulation of a tax title and specific qualifications for authors, introduction of teaching courses, encouragement of comic book reading and increased presence in bookstores, protection against artificial intelligence and piracy, and protection of… Artistic and cultural heritage.
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