About French webcomics market


I’m Sebastien Celimon. I’m currently a Freelance Advisor in Business Development. I’m a former Head of Digital at Glénat Publishing house and have 15 years of experience in the Publishing and Entertainment market as an editor, PR Consultant, Writer and Blogger.

This little report below is about the French webcomics’ market.

As you may know, the French call comics “bande-dessinée” or “BD” and it actually represents a wide range of contents: b&w graphic novels, manga-like series, 48 pages formatted hard cover books, pulp, Complete works… Every year, around 4.500 new BD are released and the market is very dynamic. BD is an old lady, 120 years old, but she continues to dance!
The Webcomics market is much younger though.

I use to separate two different forms to present it. In one hand there are the digitalized comics, i.e. the paper comics scanned and displayed onscreen, via dedicated applications like ComiXology. They all respect the very specific French legislation for Books, called « Loi Lang », named after Jack Lang, former Minister of Culture in the eighties. This law says Publishers set the prices of their books and contents and resellers cannot discount the prices, which helped the bookshops to remain very competitive in front of bigger players such as Supermarkets.

In the other hand there are the original digital creations, “la BD numérique” called “webcomics” in English or “webtoon” in Korean. These contents are designed specifically for digital-only purpose, and offer a different and sometimes broader user experience as some interactive effects could be inserted within. Some contents may look like video games or cartoons with special effects and motions.

The digitalized comics market is the only one which earns a significant market rise in terms of turnover. Only a dozen of online bookshops propose BD so far because the formats (picture instead of text, epubs or PDF) are not widespread. The main non specialized players are Amazon, Apple, Kobo, Google, Fnac and Numilog (French). The specialized ones are Izneo, ComiXology (but in French), BDBuzz, and Sequencity.

Newcomers are expected by the summer and the market eventually should reach around 15 to 17 players max.

It is quite difficult to have a comprehensive overview of this market in terms of shares and turnover as an independent survey doesn’t exist about them. The number of references available is around 13.000 to 15.000.

The original digital creations are way more interesting as they mix the web features with a specific comics narrative process. It also exists a wide range of forms and experiences, playing with the scroll, the overlaps and the overruns of the panels, the insert of sound, choice, infinite canvas, colors, visual effects and so on. One key artist on this field calls Balak who created some years ago “Turbomedia”, whom Marvel eyed up for developing their own digital comics.

There is no market economically speaking, even if some artists are able to earn significant amounts of money thanks to tips, crowd funding, advertising based on the audience or royalties. To mention some of the trendiest among them, visit Boulet (in English!) or Pénélope Bagieu. They started and reached fame like youtubers and their work is now partially published in paper form, earning them supplementary royalties.

I hope this small introduction is helpful. Feel free to contact me anytime to go into this topic in depth.


Sébastien Célimon


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