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Quote of the Day | Something to Smile about

Smile

“I don’t mean to suggest that there isn’t work to be done of course, but we’ve hit a point where the lie espoused by the industry gatekeepers, that ‘there isn’t an audience for kids comics’ or ‘there isn’t an audience for girls or womens comics’ has finally been put to rest. Oh, the gatekeepers hung onto it as long as they could, ‘webcomics aren’t comic books’ or ‘manga aren’t comics’ or whatever nonsense they dug up. They’re still espousing it to some degree or another–I particularly liked this article by Heidi MacDonald on why superhero publishers will never ‘get’ women–but it’s demonstrably false. Comics for kids sell now, the Lego Ninjago comic has a 425,000 copy first printing, a number that dwarfs most others in comics… and DC had that license at one point btw. Comics for girls (and boys) like Smile continue to sell very well. Despite the gleeful hand rubbing over the demise of manga, it still sells quite well, thanks. And the internet…? The internet is home to a fantastically diverse array of cartoonists either making their living or a significant chunk of it from the online serialization of their work–and they’re coming for print too. They are COMING FOR PRINT.”

–Comics retailer and blogger Chris Butcher, reacting to the news that Smile by Raina Telgemeier took the No. 1 spot on The New York Times’ bestselling graphic novels list, but also providing follow-up commentary on the essay by Heidi MacDonald that Brigid quoted earlier this week. It’s a great piece by Butcher; go read the whole thing.

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5 Comments

The notion that there’s no market for kids or woman’s comics really says to me that publishers for the most part, along with some retailers, don’t know how to sell the main product to consumers. They’re basically admitting failure of the most basic aspect of their job – selling comics.

When people talk about a shift in the industry, they’re referring to more non-Big Two comics selling at high numbers. While that’s true, I think the main shift through out the industry is that the creator will become the brand. The creator, whether working on a book at Image, or having a long running online newspaper strip/ webcomic series, or someone with a strong library of graphic novels to their name, or being the go-to man ( or woman) at either if the Big Two, will be not only the who, but the what that comics readers seek when looking to buy. We already have this as the default way that readers decide what to books to get.

The Boy With A Herve Villechaize Tattoo

July 28, 2012 at 12:12 pm

Thing with the big-two publishers kid oriented comics is that they tend to stay a certain course and stick to it too firmly. They either dumb it down to what THEY think kids can take, not realizing that as the old saying of kids being resilient is true in a number of other ways. Kids can take and comprehend a lot more than adults EVER give them credit for. Not saying that kid oriented comics should take a Watchmen/Authority/or Vertigo approach or anything, just that they shouldn’t be dumbed down as much as they tend to be. There ARE examples of comics that can cater to both kids and adults like Young Justice the comic book or the Justice League Unlimited comics that came when the Cartoon Network series was on that channel. Those stories were fun and inventive all-ages/general audiences tales that neither seemed dumbed down or over anyone’s heads.
They were fun and entertaining yarns. I found it rather disheartening the lack of marketing push behind them.
Imagine had DC done their tv commercial ads (which I STILL think they need to get out there more across more channels than what’s been done so far) for those comics and others when they were out.
Kids sitting at home on a Saturday watching Cartoon Network or whatever other station and suddenly seeing a tv ad for the Young Justice comics out today.
Kids who love the tv series would possibly be inclined to have their parents take them out to get them, if they were made more aware of it’s existence on a more regular basis.
This is an area that I’ve always believed DC AND Marvel (as well as other publishers that can afford to do so) need to get the ball rolling upon. More tv ads. Look, tv ads can sell cookies, soap, pizza, and disposable douche, THEY CAN SELL COMICS! ;)

As for women in comics, I’ve long felt that comics has been too much of a boy’s club for far too long.
It’s BEYOND high time that mentality was ousted in the industry. Comics DO need better and more thoughtful portrayals of women in their books, be it in superheroic tales, slice of life comics, mainstream or indie, women need a more enlightened depiction. One way of stepping toward that path is the need for more female fans (which has been more and more prevalent over the past roughly 5 years, give or take) and especially more female creators.
We need more and more females working in this industry, especially in regard to writers and artists. We need more Gail Simones, Marjorie Lius, and Nicola Scotts (Scott…who’s artwork I’ve become quite fond of in DC’s current Earth 2 title, by the way-she’s quickly become one of the artists whose work I look forward to enjoying month in and month out).

You mean more women working at the big two, and more kids reading the big two.

The industry is growing and diversifying nicely without them as the gatekeepers, just look at the topic of this post. Seriously, that’s an old, very wrong complaint. Let Marvel and DC just do what they’re doing. There are comics out there for everybody, made by everybody.

Sheesh. Shut up.

The high sales of the THANOS QUEST tpb is also more proof that all ages comics can and do sell really well to people of all ages. Many people have either forgotten or refuse to admit that the THANOS QUEST mini series was an all ages Code Approved comic.

I remember when people thought black-and-white comic books would never sell. People demanded color. (Yes, this was during when black-and-white comic strip collections routinely charted on the New York Times bestseller lists, circa 1985)

Smile has sold more than 200,000 copies as an original graphic novel. (I think I heard that number back in 2010. Can we get an update from Scholastic?)

Of the 30 copies available from the New York Public Library, six copies are available.
(Some commentators on their catalog have read it multiple times!)

It has won numerous reader awards sponsored by state library organizations. Not for graphic novels, but for ALL fiction. (Amulet is another frequent contender.)

Don’t be surprised if Scholastic reports a six-figure first printing for “Drama”, which goes on sale in September.

Remember: libraries are the other “direct market”. They order books, but don’t return them for credit.

How many libraries are there?
https://www.ala.org/ala/professionalresources/libfactsheets/alalibraryfactsheet01.cfm

9,225 public libraries (16,698 library buildings)
99,180 school libraries (and many of those schools have book fairs!)

Compared to an estimated 3,000 comics shops.
(Nothing against comics shops, but how many have an actual section for kids?)

Many libraries have to replace copies because they fall apart from circulating so much.

The crazy thing? The children’s book market is still growing and maturing. The big thing: non-fiction comics for kids. Think picture books, but the pictures are part of the narrative. Biography and history are common-place, but you’ve also got science books using narrators like Max Axiom to explain complex topics.

The really crazy thing? Everyone has a favorite book remembered from childhood. What happens when those books are graphic novels? When those books inspire kids to create new stories? Who will be the next Matt Groening? The next Eric Shanower?

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