Graphic Novels/Comics

North American Comics Market Hits $1.085 Billion in 2016

16 July 2017

From Publishers Weekly:

Combined graphic novel and comics sales in North America grew 5% to $1.085 billion in 2016, a $55 million increase over the $1.03 billion reported last year.

. . . .

Led by the continuing sales growth of book-format graphic novels (which rose to $590 million, from $350 million in 2015), the $1.085 billion figure represents the combined sales of book-format graphic novels, traditional comics periodicals ($405 million), and digital download-to-own comics ($90 million).

. . . .

Milton Griepp, CEO of pop culture new site ICv2.com, cited the ongoing growth of graphic novels as key to the increase: “This represents growth in the broadest part of the market, where increased variety of content is being found by new audiences for comics, including kids and women.”

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly

Comics, the King of Libraries

14 May 2017

From Publishers Weekly:

Graphic novel collections have become a staple of libraries across North America. But with greater popularity comes greater scrutiny and new issues. As demand for graphic novels and comics grows—especially among younger patrons—attempts to censor and remove certain titles from library shelves are also increasing.

In addition, self-published graphic novels (which are often crowdfunded) and digitally published comics are becoming more popular. But libraries, bound by acquisitions guidelines that require validation of books’ quality (generally a review in a reputable trade or consumer publication) that is not often available for self-published works, are struggling to include them. And comics in digital formats—such as e-books, streamed comics, and webcomics—are also difficult for librarians to justify purchasing: despite the growing demand for these works, there are only a few library vendors—OverDrive and Hoopla Digital among them—that offer them to libraries.

. . . .

Book challenges—the term for a formal effort to remove a title—filed by parents who find certain works objectionable are a constant in libraries. The visual nature of graphic novels and their prevalence in library collections makes them a big target. “You might be willing to read something, but adding the pictures is still really scary for a lot of folks,” says Carol Tilley, associate professor in the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Thus it should come as no surprise that two graphic novels topped the American Library Association’s annual list of the most challenged books: This One Summer by Mariko and Jillian Tamaki and Drama by Raina Telgemeier. Both are acclaimed works by respected authors; however, that acclaim may have helped cause the problems. This One Summer, published by First Second, is marketed as a YA book for older teens. It deals with two girls on the cusp of adolescence who are learning about life and sexuality in an honest and nonexplicit manner. However, when it was named a Caldecott Honor book in 2015, some librarians and parents may have assumed it was for younger readers, despite the fact that it also won the Printz Prize for best YA novel.

“Most librarians buy all the Caldecott winners and they may not have been aware of the content,” says Robin Brenner, teen librarian at the Brookline (Mass.) Public Library. The confusion reflects the belief, still widely held in the U.S., that all comics are for children. “Everyone needs to be reminded that the Caldecott doesn’t always go to picture books for younger children,” she says.

James Larue, director of the ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom, confirms the rise in challenges to graphic novels. He notes that both This One Summer and Drama—which includes a subplot about two gay middle schoolers—deal with LGBTQ themes, and “that continues to be a concern for many who challenge books.”

Even acquiring and shelving conventionally published graphic novels for adults can pose problems. Big Hard Sex Criminals by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky collects a popular crime comedy series about a couple who can stop time when they have sex and use their powers to rob banks. The book is rated mature for explicit content. According to Larue, in the library where it was challenged, it was appropriately shelved in the adult section and clearly labeled as such. Larue suspects that, once again, parents assumed that “a book in the comics format is aimed at kids, even when it clearly isn’t.”

. . . .

Making it easier for libraries to offer digital comics is Hoopla, a digital streaming service providing a wide variety of content to public libraries. Hoopla Digital is the digital lending service of Midwest Tape; the service offered e-books, music, and movies when it launched in 2014 and added comics in 2015. Hoopla is currently available in 1,400 library systems and 5,600 branches across the U.S. and Canada.

When its comics service began, Hoopla offered only a small selection of DC comics and titles from independent comics publishers. Since then, “it’s grown by leaps and bounds,” according to Michael Manon, public relations and communications manager at Hoopla Digital. The service works with more than 70 publishers (including every major comics publishers except Marvel) and offers nearly 10,000 titles, including single-issue periodical comics, which are often a problem for libraries to carry because they are essentially magazines and not durable enough for circulation. Patrons of library systems using Hoopla can access the comics for free using their library cards.

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly

Marvel VP of Sales Blames Women and Diversity for Sales Slump

1 April 2017

From i09:

Marvel Comics aren’t doing well. Sales have declined, even as Marvel has pushed out every major event and crossover it can over the past two years. In a recent interview during the Marvel Retailer Summit, Marvel VP of Sales David Gabriel decided to ignore all the problems and criticism in order to place the blame on diversity.

What we heard was that people didn’t want any more diversity. They didn’t want female characters out there. That’s what we heard, whether we believe that or not. I don’t know that that’s really true, but that’s what we saw in sales. We saw the sales of any character that was diverse, any character that was new, our female characters, anything that was not a core Marvel character, people were turning their nose up against. That was difficult for us because we had a lot of fresh, new, exciting ideas that we were trying to get out and nothing new really worked.

Gabriel later reached out to ICv2 and “clarified” his statement, adding that many of the individual characters like Miles Morales, Ms. Marvel, Spider-Gwen, and Moon Girl are popular, and won’t be going away anytime soon. It’s also important to note that this was in response to retailer concerns presented at the first day of the summit, so some other issues may not have have been discussed yet. And it looks like those sales slumps had been increasing for awhile, but were especially noticed as of fall 2016.

. . . .

During the discussion, retailers pointed out during the summit that the number of Marvel events, and the fact that they overlap, make it hard for fans to focus. Right now, for instance, there’s Secret Empire, which will bleed over with Generations, which starts this summer. In the past two years alone, there have been at least 12 events and crossovers. Events, in particular, have become more of a chore than a reward.

. . . .

Then you’ve got issue cost and audience retention. Nowadays, individual issues typically cost anywhere from $3.99 to $5.99 or more, making it harder for fans to want to buy— especially if you’re swapping out an established character for a version they aren’t familiar with. While chatting with retailers, Gabriel actually boasted that their sales almost tripled when they upped the Spider-Man book from $3.99 to $9.99, even though it didn’t bring in any new readers. It just made the current ones pay more money.

Finally, and this is a major one, there’s the problem of talent management. There’s been a steady decline in Marvel’s talent pool, because of better offers and independent retailers. One retailer mentioned at the summit that it’s especially hard to keep talented writers and artists when they can make creator-owned books at publishers like Image. Not only does it give them more flexibility to tell the stories they want, but they also keep way more of the revenue.

Link to the rest at i09

Japan’s Manga Market Grows 0.4% in 2016, Digital Sees 27.5% Increase

19 March 2017

From Anime News Network:

The All Japan Magazine and Book Publisher’s and Editor’s Association (AJPEA) released a report on February 24 that estimated that the combined physical and digital sales of the manga industry in Japan amounted to 445.4 billion yen (about US$3.91 billion) in 2016, a 0.4% growth compared to the previous year’s 443.7 billion yen (about US$3.89 billion). The combined sales of both physical and digital approach 2008’s 448.3 billion yen (about US$3.93 billion) total.

Sales of print manga volumes amounted to 194.7 billion yen (about US$1.71 billion) in 2016, a 7.4% decrease from the previous year, while sales of manga magazines amounted to 101.6 billion yen (about US$892 million), a 12.9% decrease from the previous year. The combined 296.3 billion yen (about US$2.60 billion) total of print sales of manga from both compiled book volumes and magazines saw a 9.3% decrease from last year. This the 15th year in a row to mark a decline in sales for manga’s print market. The print-only market is now about half of what it was in the mid-1990s.

However, sales of digital manga volumes amounted to 146 billion yen (about US$1.28 billion), a 27.1% increase from the previous year, while sales of digital manga magazines amounted to 3.1 billion yen (about US$27.24 million), a 55% increase from the previous year. The combined 149.1 billion yen (about US$1.31 billion) total of digital sales of manga from both compiled book volumes and magazines saw a 27.5% increase from last year.

Link to the rest at Anime News Network and thanks to Eugene for the tip.

Can Comic Books Last? Publishers’ Views On Future of Serialized Comics

8 March 2017

From Newsarama:

With the growth of digital comic books and the perception that audiences are “waiting for the trade,” it’s easy to buy into a doom-and-gloom attitude about the future of print comic books.

But according to the retailers and publishers Newsarama surveyed, as long as the industry corrects some of its current missteps, the best years of the serial format could lie ahead.

. . . .

“We’ve seen steady growth in all markets over the last four years,” said Filip Sablik, president of publishing and marketing for BOOM! Studios, citing growth in both digital and book sales. “In the direct market, since 2012, we’ve outpaced the industry average growth consistently every year and in fact have been the fastest growing top 10 publisher in those years.”

“We had our best year ever,” echoed Jesse James, owner of Jesse James Comics in Glendale, Ariz. “We had a double-digit increase in store and triple digit increase online.”

Yet some of the issues raised during our discussions concern industry-watchers, particularly the oversaturation of the market, with the number of titles being released at record high levels. Add that concern to the rising number of variants, and both retailers and publishers are aware that the numbers might not tell the whole story.

Randy Stradley, Dark Horse’s Vice President of Publishing described the biggest challenge facing the overall industry right now as “the sheer number of comics coming out within a given month” – something, he says, that can affect quality and, in turn, the value of comic books as entertainment.

“All publishers have the responsibility of exercising quality control for all their offerings,” Stradley said. “When they put their logo on the front cover, it is a stamp that this is the best they have to offer. I’m not so sure that everyone is toeing this line.”

. . . .

“Periodical comics tend to get the short shrift from publishers, yet in many specialty shops, like mine, sales of periodical comics account for as much as 50% of total sales,” Field said. “We regularly see schedules go off the rails. We rarely get creative teams staying on a title for extended runs anymore. I’d like to see more value packed into comic books including less decompressed storylines, more actual things happening in every single issue.”

Link to the rest at Newsarama and thanks to Shirl for the tip.

Jack Kirby is Still King!

12 February 2017

From ComicMix:

Years ago, when I was still somewhat new to the industry, I was working the First Comics booth at a Chicago Con along with my lovely wife, Kim Yale. A group of pros walked past me that included Julie Schwartz, the legendary DC editor, and Roz and Jack Kirby.

My jaw dropped and I started hyperventilating. Kim gave me a strange look.

“Pssst! Julie!” I whispered. I knew Julie from DC, at least somewhat. Ever affable, Julie came to the table.

“Whatcha want, kid?”

“Introduce me to the King!” Julie gave me a strange look.

“Whattaya talking about? It‘s just Jack. Come over and say hello.”

“No no no no no! I can’t! Don’t you understand?! He’s the King! Help a guy out, wouldja?”

Julie looked at me like I was demented, which I probably was. He just shook his head and said, “C’mon, kid.” I was still young enough to be called a kid… comparatively speaking.

Julie took me over to the group and made the intro and Jack Kirby shook my hand and said “Hi. Howareya.” I made noises resembling words. I think my voice cracked. Kim would later tell me that she watched her husband turn into a 14-year old boy, complete with zits a-poppin’.

I freely admit it. Jack Kirby was the King and, despite making my living in comics, I was still the fan-nerd I had always been.

And still am.

. . . .

Jack Kirby (1917-1994) was born in Brooklyn as Jacob Kurtzberg and got into the comics biz in the Thirties which was the dawn of comics. He took out time for World War II and then came back and worked for a number of different publishers.

What makes Jack Kirby the King? For me, it’s this.

  1. Imagination – The word “prodigious” comes to mind. So many concepts, so many characters, bear his mark. So many styles of stories. From the spires of Asgard to the weird distortions of the Negative Zone to the brutal cityscapes of Apokolips, to Ego the Living Planet, no one could top his visuals.
  2. Storytelling – His figures leaped off the page. The panels couldn’t contain the events on them. Even standing still, they vibrated with potential power. There was energy to burn on his pages. You felt them as much as you read them. You couldn’t read the story fast enough and when one issue was done you wanted the next one right now.
  3. Artistry – Okay, his anatomy was not always perfect. And every woman’s face looked the same. He was still one of the best ARTISTS that ever drew a comic because comics are about storytelling and no one beat Kirby as a storyteller.

. . . .

He and the other titans of his era invented comic books, for cryin’ out loud! Without the King, there is no Marvel Universe, let alone the Marvel Movie Universe! He created or co-created Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Ant-Man, Nick Fury, the Howling Commandos, S.H.I.E.L.D., the Avengers, Black Panther, the X-Men, the Inhumans, the Fantastic Four, Doctor Doom, Magneto, Loki, and the Hulk – among so many others… including Groot! At DC he created Darkseid, the whole New Gods, OMAC, Etrigan the Demon, Challengers of the Unknown (only one of the great titles in DC history), the Boy Commandos, The Guardian and gobs of others! And he did a whole posse of Westerns and co-created the genre of romance comics! He turned out three or more penciled books a month plus the occasional oversized Annual! My brain explodes!!!

Link to the rest at ComicMix

NY Times Removes Comics Bestseller Lists: Why This is a Problem

30 January 2017

From BookRiot:

When the New York Times bestseller lists for the week of February 5 went out this week, literary agent Charlie Olson noticed something odd: several of the usual categories of bestsellers were curiously absent. The only explanation was a brief message which noted that the Times had chosen to “eliminate a number of print but mostly online-only bestseller lists. In recent years, we introduced a number of new lists as an experiment, many of which are being discontinued.” Although the Times has not released an official list of the categories being cut, those on the chopping block so far appear to include middle grade ebooks, young adult ebooks, mass market paperbacks, and all three of the “Graphic Books” lists: graphic hardcover, graphic paperback, and manga. That’s right: in the eyes of the New York Times, graphic novels, comics, and manga no longer qualify as mainstream literary genres. (Let’s put aside for now the fact that comics are a storytelling medium, not a genre.)

Look, it’s literary gatekeeping. Let’s call it what it is.

. . . .

Shuffling categories around to manipulate what does or doesn’t make the bestseller lists isn’t exactly a new trick for the Times. Back in the simpler, more innocent days of July 2000, the Times did something it hadn’t done in 15 years: it added a new category to its bestseller lists. The reason? Some upstart of a children’s book series was hogging three of the ten coveted spaces on the Fiction bestseller list. With a fourth book in this outrageously popular fantasy series about to be released, and preorder numbers indicating that a fourth slot on the Fiction list was about to be stolen, the Children’s Bestseller list was created. The series in question? Harry Potter. That’s right: J.K. Rowling posed so much of a literary threat to the Fiction Bestseller list that her bestselling series was relegated to its own special category before Goblet of Fire even hit shelves. (The story doesn’t even stop there – Harry Potter’s perpetual squatting on the Children’s Bestseller list eventually led the Times to shunt it off even further to the new Children’s Series list, because even in its own genre Harry Potter can’t catch a literary break.)

. . . .

The Times’ decision to cut the comics lists has already been questioned on social media by a number of comics creators, librarians, publishers, and other industry professionals. Reigning Graphic Paperback bestseller queen Raina Telgemeier exchanged concerned tweets with Pamela Paul about the decision, citing the list as a powerful tool for librarians looking for graphic novels and for creators, both new and established, seeking recognition and validation. Publisher’s Weekly indicated that the decision has caused a stir among comics publishers as well, who rely on the Times‘ bestseller list as a key benchmark of a comic’s success, both in-house and in their marketing process.

Link to the rest at BookRiot

Orders for comic books have hit a twenty year high

18 September 2016

From The Verge:

Propelled by DC’s Rebirth series, distributor Diamond Comics has shipped 10.26 million copies to comic book stores in North America this past August, according to industry analyst John Jackson Miller.

According to Miller, the figures for August were largely driven by DC Comics, which sold nine out of the ten bestselling issues, with Harley Quinn #1 as the top seller.

. . . .

10.26 million units is a significant figure, because the last time stores ordered in that volume was December 1996. In the following years, the industry faced some significant troubles, with its total market share dropping to $255 million in sales in 2000. Since then, it has dramatically rebounded, with an estimated $940 million in sales last year.

Vulture points to the huge number of comic book adaptations in theaters as a likely reason for the dramatic growth in sales in recent years.

Link to the rest at The Verge and thanks to Jan for the tip.

Debut author gets ‘six-figure advance’ for first ever picture book about a cat

9 April 2016

From The Mirror:

A first-time author has landed a new deal for a picture book about a cat – reported to be worth six figures.

Brendan Wenzel’s deal with Chronicle Books came following his treatment of They All Saw A Cat.

The deal includes this title and one other which is yet to be named.

They All Saw A Cat is the New York-based author and illustrator’s debut book, and offers animal-eye perspective of an cat who, in various guises, seems to be friendly or fierce, depending on the perspective of viewer.

Link to the rest at The Mirror and thanks to Meryl for the tip.

University of Alabama students self-publish and sell comic books

25 March 2016

From The Daily Orange:

While most students spent their Thanksgiving breaks with family, two seniors at the University of Alabama worked tirelessly at finishing a comic.

Kristofer Pearce and Ethan Jackson finished the comic, “Ghost Phase,” which was the first book for their new company, Dream Ink Comics, on Thanksgiving morning. Four months later, the book has taken off and is being sold in several stores across the United States.

Pearce, a new college production media major, and Jackson, an aerospace engineering major, met as freshmen and quickly realized they shared an interest in comics. Jackson’s primary interest was in the writing aspect and Pearce focused on the art.

“One day we just sat outside with a notepad throwing out ideas. It was a lot harder than we thought it would be. I sort of thought it would be like boom, bam, pow and done … comic,” Pearce said. “It was a continuous strand of why nots to get from one goal to another. We’d ask ourselves things like, ‘We created the character, why not keep going and make the story?’”

. . . .

“When we finally got done we were so proud of it. We wound up ordering like 80 printed books. Then we were left like, ‘Well, we each only need one copy, what do we do with the 78 other books?’” Pearce said.

Pearce had ties with an employee at Oxford Comics in Atlanta. He contacted the store, which became the first one to sell work from Dream Ink Comics. The book quickly sold out, and that’s when Pearce said they knew their business had potential to really succeed.

They now sell their comics in six different stores: Oxford Comics; Chicago Comics in Chicago; Kapow Comics in Sherwood, Arkansas; Forbidden Planet in New York City; The Comicshop in Vancouver; and The Comic Strip in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Liz Ray, the manager at The Comic Strip, said that although the store primarily sells vintage comics, it was excited at the opportunity to sell comics from local talent.

“Most people who come to the store have wanted to write, edit, draw or do something with comics before,” Ray said. “So, to see someone actually doing it is a huge thing. Especially someone from their hometown. That was the initial draw, but people read it and loved it.”

Link to the rest at The Daily Orange

Next Page »