1 in 4 Books Sold in France Are Comics

From Book Riot:

While we primarily focus on stateside bookish news, we thought some recent news on France’s reading habits was pretty interesting. According to the data from market research company GfK, 1 in 4 books sold in the country are comics.

France’s affection for comics isn’t a recent thing — it is the home of immensely popular comics like Asterix and The Adventures of Tintin, after all — but comics did get a boost because of a couple recent things. For one, the onset of the pandemic saw that more people stayed home, allowing for more reading time.

There was also a measure implemented recently called the Culture Pass. With it, French teens were allotted €300 ($367) to spend on things like museum trips, instruments, and yes, comics.

Still, publishing industry people like Marie Parisot, the marketing and commercial director of Dargaud, didn’t think the increased interest would last this long, “We didn’t expect this phenomenon after lockdown was lifted. Everyone was worried people would stay at home, turned in on themselves.”

Comics’ enduring popularity in France can be attributed to a number of things, like the country’s vast number of independent bookstores (which equals the number in the US and the UK combined).

Link to the rest at Book Riot

11 thoughts on “1 in 4 Books Sold in France Are Comics”

  1. My project to stoke a love of reading in my niece and nephews continue apace. The American comics scene has gone off the rails, so I’ve been looking into manga and bandes dessinées. I’ve been curious about BDs ever since I heard the French still “do” science fantasy, e.g., Valerian & Laureline. For the younger readers I found some BDs that look promising: Thorgal and Yoko Tsuno. Per wikipedia Thorgal is: a fantasy adventure incorporating elements of Norse mythology, the legend of Atlantis as well as science fiction and horror.

    Yoko Tsuno is a science fantasy, a “Nancy Drew in space” from what I can tell. The description at Amazon: Besides being pretty, intelligent and courageous, Yoko Tsuno is an electronics engineer. This specialization draws her and friends Pol and Vic into adventures that cross the border between fantasy and science fiction. Yoko crosses the globe and travels through time and space; but no matter where her exploits take her, the young girl always remains faithful to herself, never forgetting values such as loyalty, friendship and respect for life.

    For older readers I also see the French like Conan; they have “The Cimmerian.” It’s definitely not for younger kids.

    If anyone is curious, I found a promising list of BDs to check out: Discover the Top 34 Must-Read French Comic Books or B.D. for Every Comic Enthusiast.

    • You could try the back list.
      Depending on their age and tastes, there’s dozens of series and mini-series from the 80’s to the aughts that will do the job. Most avaiable digitally.

      They range from POWER PACK and AMETHYST (original Mishkinh/Cohn/Colon series 1983), ATARI FORCE (don’t laugh), MICRONAUTS (ditto), LEGION OF SUPERHEROES (Shooter and Levitz era, plus WAID/Peyer run), STAR SPANGLED-KID/STARGIRL, to the Byrne MAN OF STEEL, Kesel&Kesel HAWK&DOVE and HAWKWORLD minis plus the followups, Robinson’s STARMAN (5 stars!), NEXUS (ditto), GROO, STRIKE FORCE MORITURI, the Perez WONDER WOMAN, BATMAN YEAR ONE, JUSTICE LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL (Giffen DeMatteis run), ASTRO CITY, to pretty much *everything* from VERTIGO as they get older (SANDMAN, HELLBLAZER, FABLES, BOOKS OF MAGIC, etc etc.) Plenty of good runs, often with clear begining and end points, where writer and artist just meshed to produce a classic.

      Depending on tastes, select runs of THOR, DAREDEVIL, X-MEN, BATMAN, AQUAMAN, GREEN LANTERN and JSA (the entire Johns runs on both). Other second and third tier character runs remain memorable over the decades.

      The dividing line at DC was the purchase of WILDSTORM and move to LA, at Marvel 2015.
      Both have been going in circles with occasional good runs promptly ended as the creatives move on. In both cases the problem is that in the quest for new/different versions that might appeal to Hollywood both companies have forgotten the readers. Oftentimes the charsacters no longer resemble themselves.

      And of course there are the regular out-of continuity special projects like SUPERMAN: SECRET IDENTITY (11/10), ATLANTIS CHRONICLES (Peter David/Esteban Maroto), KINGDOM COME, WATCHMEN, MARVELS, and on and on. The field pretty much peaked in the 1985-2010 era as the comics moved from newstand focus to comics shops and compikation trade paperbacks.

      Take a stroll through a comic shop and check out the back issues and trades. If it’s old and available in trade or digital its usually worth a look. Newer stuff, by definition: suspect.

        • I was looking for that one but I forgot the name! Thanks. In the modern era (post 2015), the ones who’ve gone indie seem more likely to have the good stuff.

      • Take a stroll through a comic shop and check out the back issues and trades.

        There is no comic book shop in my vicinity, which is the #1 reason I never got into them as a kid. To put this in perspective, as a kid I literally thought the Simpsons had made up the concept of a comic book store via the Comic Book Guy character. Do not laugh, but the only comic I ever saw — very occasionally — was the comic for Tandy Computers that Dad or my youngest uncle would get after a trip to Radio Shack. That is, until college, when I worked for my school’s interlibrary loan department and I kept sending copies of “Preacher” to someone named Kevin at the Chicago Public Library.

        You bring up Atari, which was my first game system (the 2600, I can still remember the commercial for it). If I get the Atari Force comic it will likely be for myself 🙂

        To be clear, I am interested and willing to buy back issues of American comics, especially if it’s in trade form***. I have all of the books in the Sandman series, which I am willing to part with when the kids get a little older (I notice there’s a special omnibus edition, so I will have an excuse to buy it). I’ll look at your recommendations because summer is approaching and I’m planning another “activity pack” for the niece and nephews.

        ***A while ago I was hearing complaints about how comics are formatted on Kindle. Is there still an issue, or has it been fixed now?

        • It depends on which Kindle, I suppose.
          I don’t bother with comics on the eink readers. On the 10″ tablets they read fine. You can zoom in on specific pages and panels.
          On PC, especially on a big monitor or a moderate one rotated portrait, excellent.
          If you go to the Prime Reads freebies you-ll find a few comics so you can use those as a test.

          The ATARI force involves two series. The first is fairly straight forward SF: human explorers looking for a new home for humanity because Earth is dying. The second is more action adventure superheroish. Both are good for all ages with superb art–Garcia Lopez. No more needs be said. Clean, expressive, and dynamic.


          The Original Amethyst series is basically SHAZAM for girls. Amy Winston is a princess from GEMWORLD, a world of magic ruled by a dozen magical houses aligned with gemstones. Evil Opal stages a coup and destroys House Amethyst with the only survivor being the infant princess, taken to the one place she will be safe, a world without open magic. She is adopted and grows up in a classic american suburb. 21 years later, on her birthday they come for her to lead her world to freedom. Only one problem: time runs slower on Earth, where she is 13. When she crosses over, she becomes an adult magic wielder. A perfect gateway drug to YA fantasies.

          Sadly DC or WB have never figured this out. Recent uses of the character are all wildly different and discordant. They did a series of cute animated shorts you can find on youtube but again, not the best treatment.

          If you’re buying for yourself the reading list may differ a bit. Start with the Wolfman/Perez TITANS. The Killing Joke. For sheer scope, CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTH’S launched the modern era of comics, both good and bad (the endless crossover events). CRISIS and LEGENDS did it right. the rest, not so much.

          For humor, Byrne’s SHE-HULK run and maybe AMBUSH BUG, for complex gray area drama, the Cary Bates CAPTAIN ATOM (not the newer tries), Ostrander’s SUICIDE SQUAD, Dixon’s AIRBOY, ROBIN, and BIRDS OF PREY runs, and more so Gail Simone’s first BIRDS OF PREY run. Her second run is fine but the first is way better. Estrogen laden action adventure. 😉

          Finally, do give the LSH a good look in both the Levitz/Ligtle era and the Waid/Peyer/Moyer run (anime inspired art, taking the characters back to day one). They’re not called the Legion for nothing. The GREAT DARKNESS SAGA is superb and the reboot’s WHITE TRIANGLE excellent. More recent runs are…uninspiring.

          You’ll notice the list is DC heavy. Their output has traditionally been SF heavy and they covered more genres than just superheroes. Lots of fantasy. ARION. SWORD OF SORCERY (Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser), ZATANNA. Horror: Swamp Thing, Spectre. Straight adventure: Human Target. The unknown soldier. Jonah Hex. Even classic Noir: Nathaniel Dusk. Cross genre: Weird Western, Weird War Storiesmp, the War that Time Forgot (WWII Marines vs Dinosaurs!)

          And if you can find them: SUGAR AND SPIKE, FOX AND CROW.

          DC has a subscription service (DC Universe Infinite) with all their back catalog 30,000+ volumes so it may give you a cheap start.

  2. Comics’ enduring popularity in France can be attributed to a number of things, like the country’s vast number of independent bookstores (which equals the number in the US and the UK combined).

    I’m wondering if it’s also the case that like the Japanese, the French did not think pictures = children, words = adults. Don’t know how the perception came to exist in America; I just remember how much attention “Spawn” got for being an animated cartoon aimed at adults. “The Flintstones” a few generations prior is the only other American cartoon show I know of aimed at adults.

    • Coud be as simple as both strains are niche and focused on the specific audience, much like US comics were before the 90’s bubble and getting Hollywoodized.

      Even before going DEI, they went off the rails thinking “billion dollar movie!” and tried to “reinvent for a new generation!” The result being material that drove off the old market without attracting a new one.

      • It is criminal what the modern-day Marvel writers did to that brand. The mangaka (manga writers) think of the anime versions of their stories as advertising for the manga. That makes sense. At the height of the MCU the comic writers decided, “And now Tony Stark is a teenaged girl! And now Thor’s girlfriend is Thor” (as if his name is a title), and other inanities.

        • XMEN destroys the universe almost weekly.
          I quit the first time, for the AGE OF APOCALYPSE.
          And don’t get me started on their time travel shennanigans.
          It got to the point Cable killed Cable. Another time they had the original teen XMEN in the present interacting with their adult selves.
          Too cute by half.

          Fact is, once Clairemont left, the franchise went off the rails.
          It did peak with GOD LOVES, MAN KILLS.
          No need to go further.

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