Graphic Novels/Comics

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.

Trigger Warning- Tom and Jerry and Amazon

10 October 2014

You can read about this on any number of sites, but here’s USA Today:

Viewers may now be thinking twice before they click “play” on the classic Warner Bros. cartoon, Tom and Jerry.

Amazon Prime Instant and iTunes have posted a disclaimer that warns users that the cat-and-mouse shorts, which ran from 1940 to 1957, “may depict some ethnic and racial prejudices that were once commonplace in American society.”

The warning continues: “Such depictions were wrong then and are wrong today.”

I have a confession to make. This is so before my time that when I first read the headline (in a different publication) I thought it was because it was a cat and a mouse… living together in sin…

Read the rest here.


From Comics to Novels

26 September 2014

From author Scott Peterson:

Chuck Dixon is recognized across the industry as the most prolific writer working in comics today. 

His résumé includes thousands of scripts for such iconic characters as Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, Iron Man, the Punisher, The Simpsons, SpongeBob SquarePants and GI Joe.

. . . .

Chuck was almost the first professional comic book writer I met. We worked together on (among many other things) Detective Comics, the flagship title of DC Comics, as well as the birthplace of the Batman. I talked to Chuck recently about moving from comics to novels.
So. Chuck. After 25 years as one of the most prolific comic book writers in the entire industry, writing not only the graphic novel adaptation of The Hobbit but also hundreds of stories for Batman, you’ve turned into a self-published novelist. 

Actually, I prefer “raconteur-at-large.”

Of course you do. What was the hardest part about transitioning to prose?
No artist!

What, if anything, was a pleasant surprise or change?
No artist!

Okay, some joking aside, I had to learn to write real descriptive stuff—actual wordsmithing to create a picture or environment in the reader’s head. In comic scripts I’m describing stuff for the artist to draw. It’s informal and sometimes repetitive. “Nightwing jumps again.” That won’t fly in prose. So I had to put more description in my work. Not too much at first. Then, when I realized I was twenty thousand words short of my contracted length, a whole lot more.

The most pleasant surprise was that novels aren’t like comics in that you don’t have to end on The Big Moment. You’re allowed a denouement. But I still allow myself only brief ones.

. . . .

Have you found that, now that you’re self-pubbing prose novels, you’re able to write stories you wouldn’t have been able to tell in comics? 

In comics I’ve always tried to hold myself to a PG rating, particularly with superhero stuff that attracts kids. And I’m not really into writing comics that have skeevy or gross-out imagery. My target audience there is a precocious ten-year-old. In prose I’m not as restrained. For my novels, my target is a felon doing hard time with limited choices in reading material. I can be more expletive-laden and what my wife likes to refer to as “frank” in my writing.

. . . .

How has self-publishing gone? Is it odd to be on your own?

It’s turned out not to be as scary as freelancing. With series work the more books I add to the series the more I earn. It’s like a reverse Ponzi scheme. With each new addition the earlier books sell more. The payments are monthly and add up to decent money annually. But I still have to put the work in. That’s never bothered me.

Link to the rest at Scott Peterson

Here’s a link to Scott Peterson’s books

and here’s a link to Chuck Dixon’s books

How Nicole Perlman Became the First Woman to Write a Marvel Movie

2 September 2014

From Time:

Nicole Perlman’s interest in space started early — and with the help of real-life rocket scientists. When she was growing up in Boulder, Colo., in what she calls “a very nerdy family,” her father would host a science-fiction book club that counted among its members many employees of the aeronautics companies based in the area. The rocket scientists would come to her house and discuss their favorite books; noticing her interest, her father bought the 15-year-old Perlman copies of physicist Richard Feynman’s two autobiographies.

That fateful gift started Perlman, now 33, on a path that led to her writing Guardians of the Galaxy, in theaters Aug. 1. The movie is Marvel’s big leap away from its more established superhero properties into the depths of outer space. It’s also the first movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to have a woman as a credited writer — but getting there wasn’t exactly easy.

. . . .

“[Science-fiction movies] are the kinds of movies I enjoy watching, much as I really enjoy history and science,” she recalls, “but I was noticing that I was having trouble convincing people, when I was pitching on projects, that I would be capable of doing this. There was a little bit of an attitude of, ‘Well, you’re a woman, you’re not writing romantic comedies, we’ll give you the Marie Curie biopic.’”

She kept trying. She pitched one company a project with a sample that they loved, but they told her that even though they appreciated her take on the article they had optioned they weren’t sure she could write the more action-heavy parts. “They kept saying, ‘This is a guy’s movie, you know, it’s really a guy’s movie.’ I didn’t want to say, ‘Are you saying a woman can’t write a guy’s movie?’” Perlman recalls. “What is a guy’s movie anyway? If you’re making a movie that’s just for one gender, what’s the point?’”

. . . .

Perlman hopes that, despite reaching a gender milestone at Marvel, being “a woman writer” — as opposed to just “a writer” — is a time-limited thing. Of the attention being paid to comic-book Thor’s upcoming female incarnation and the new Miss Marvel (written by a friend of Perlman’s, G. Willow Wilson), Perlman says she sees why it’s important to pay attention to women making inroads in the comic-book world, herself included. But she hopes that attention is soon paid for other reasons. “I do still feel like it’s a little bit like, ‘Wow, it’s so crazy that a woman is doing this!’ I look forward to the time when it won’t be that crazy,” she says.

Link to the rest at Time and thanks to CG for the tip.

Light Novels Arrive in the U.S.—Again

1 September 2014

From Publishers Weekly:

In the North American publishing world, comics are comics and novels are novels. But if you peek into the manga section of your local bookstore, you might find a “light novel,” which, according to Leyla Aker, v-p publishing at Viz Media, “possesses elements of YA and genre fiction, combined with the uniquely Japanese element of the manga/anime connection.”

Light novels are Japanese prose works illustrated with manga-style drawings and are often adapted into manga and anime properties. While a few U.S. manga publishers dabbled in the books in the early 2000s, the category never quite took off. Now, Yen Press, Hachette Book Group’s graphic novel and manga line, has launched Yen On, a light novel imprint that will release at least 24 titles in 2015, and has plans to publish many more. Yen Press has already released several light novels, according to its publishing director Kurt Hassler, and, while its prose push is still young, he reported that results are promising.

. . . .

The term “light novels” was coined in Japan in the 1990s, but illustrated novels have been hot sellers with a devoted audience since the 1970s. The books are meant to be light entertainment: fast-paced serialized stories offered as inexpensive paperbacks. According to Japan’s Publishing Science Institute, light novels accounted for approximately 23.5% of the country’s general paperback sales in 2011. “Light novels are huge in Japan these days, and also in most countries in Asia,” observed Ju Youn Lee, senior editor at Yen Press. “In Korea, I think I would say that it’s even bigger than the manga market nowadays.”

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly and thanks to Eric for the tip.

How Amazon and Comixology betrayed comic book readers

3 May 2014

From Vox:

For the last two years, people have been buying comics like they do their music — in pajamas (optional), on a tablet, and mostly through a specific app called Comixology. Not unlike iTunes, Comixology allowed readers to search and buy comics with a flick of the finger, saving a trip to the brick and mortar store and (more importantly) possible embarrassment from looking like a comics newbie.

Comixology began showing its dominance in the app market place at the beginning of 2011. By September, it was in the top ten of the highest-grossing apps in the App store, and remained in that upper echelon for the next two years. In 2013, the company announced that it was the top-grossing non-game iPad app for the year. So it wasn’t a huge surprise when Amazon announced it was buying Comixology last month.

As with many acquisitions, neither company really spelled out what that meant for consumers.

. . . .

The Verge’s Adi Roberton was told by Comixology that the app would remain safe, even unchanged. Robertson reported:

A Comixology spokesperson confirmed that its brand and apps aren’t going away in the foreseeable future, saying that the companies would likely find ways to make Comixology and Kindle work better together.

On Saturday, users found that Amazon had gutted the app, killed one-touch buying, and in doing so, alienated publishers and rabid readers alike.

. . . .

Amazon’s changes mean buying a comic is now a tedious, multi-step process with logins, account creations, and is done through a web browser. The original app is now more or less just a fancy PDF reader for all the comics that clients have already purchased.

Link to the rest at Vox

PG claims little expertise in the world of apps, but understands this change (which applies to iPad and iPhone users only) is because Apple won’t allow apps sold through iTunes to implement in-app purchases unless those purchases pass through Apple, which takes 30% of the purchase price.

Amazon is not inclined to process content sales through Apple because of the 30% fee but also, more importantly (PG suspects), because Amazon generates a lot of additional sales based on the customer data it captures through direct sales. Apple doesn’t pass any customer data to the owners of apps (just like Amazon doesn’t pass any customer data to the people and business who sell direct on Amazon).

It’s an indication of how valuable customer data is to Amazon that it’s willing to irritate current Comixology purchasers with iPads by removing in-app purchasing.

At the risk of triggering an avalanche from Apple fanbois and fangurlz, PG humbly reminds them that Android tablets, including Amazon’s Kindle Fire, are very nice devices these days and typically cost a lot less than iPads.

PG seems to remember reading that the Fire HDX has a higher-res screen than the latest iPads which would seem to benefit comics readers.

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