Graphic Novels/Comics

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

A Tale of Two TORS. Be Warned, I’m Annoyed

7 June 2015

From Girl Genius Adventures:

They are the best of publishers, they are the worst of publishers. It all depends on who you talk to. If you can.

Many know TOR books as a science fiction powerhouse. They publish best selling authors who love them to pieces, and well they should.

Then they publish us. This might be a surprise to many of our readers, as we have been self–publishing Girl Genius and other comical books for over thirty years. But, in fact, TOR is the publisher of the first Girl Genius Omnibus; Agatha Awakens. You see, TOR was thinking about starting up a line of science fiction graphic novels, and told us that they thought having a multiple Hugo Award winner as the launch title would be a nice touch.

We agreed, but had reservations, as we had been selling Girl Genius for over ten years at this point, and didn’t want them to be disappointed. We told them how many copies we’d sold, and they sat back, chuckling knowingly, and assured us that our entire sales history would be a nice warm up for their edition, and in fact, they very nicely allowed us to continue producing books in our current format, so we wouldn’t cheese off all the loyal readers who’d already invested the book shelf space in this format (We had been prepared to insist on this, as I know how much I hate it when a series jumps publishers and the bindings don’t match up. I have friends who think I worry about things like this too much, but then they never correctly sort the spoons in their utensil drawer, so what do they know), but to our pleasant surprise, we didn’t have to. Better and better.

. . . .

So then we asked when the paperback edition would come out, so we could promote that. Soon, we were told, first they wanted to assess the sales on the hardcover, so they could get an idea (based no doubt on some secret mega-publisher mystery math) on how high they should set the print run. Okay…so when do you want us to get you the files for the second omnibus? Because at that point, we could have had three of them out the door in as many months, and any noob to publishing can tell you that the way to build sales on a series is to keep the books coming.


I mean, nothing. I called my agent. “Hey, did I cross a line or something?”

No. In fact, they’re not responding to him, either.

. . . .

So after a year of this (yes, an entire year. We are Slow to Take Offense, here at Studio Foglio), I write to Mr. Hayden, asking him if our editor is dead, or just fired? This question surprises him, as he saw her in the office that morning. He seems sympathetic. We even have a face-to-face meeting at worldcon the next week where he explains that TOR just really doesn’t know how to sell graphic novels, and when someone takes on a job they don’t know how to do, they tend to just stick their fingers in their ears and hope that eventually, it goes away.

. . . .

Because our contract with TOR says we can’t publish “a competing product” for five years. Okay, what can we do about this? But now, Mr. Patrick Nielsen Hayden has apparently decided that we’re too much trouble.


No, seriously. You don’t want the series. You can’t sell it. We’ll even buy the remainder sitting in your warehouse. Talk to me. Talk to my agent. Prove you’re not dead or fired.


Link to the rest at Girl Genius Adventures and thanks to Ron for the tip.

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