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Graphic novels | Once again, Roz Chast’s Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? leads the BookScan list of the top-selling graphic novels in bookstores. Volumes one and two of March also did well on the February chart, placing third and fourth, respectively. All four volumes of Saga made the list, along with three volumes of The Walking Dead and, shockingly, just one of Attack on Titan. [ICv2]
Creators | Jeff Lemire began getting calls from Hollywood even before the first issue of his new series Descender, a collaboration with artist Dustin Nguyen, came out. But while they sold the film rights to Sony Pictures, Lemire is determined the comic will come first: “I think one of the biggest things that went into us choosing Sony [was], we made it very clear — and they were very receptive — that we were going to tell the comic book the way we wanted to tell the comic. Meaning, if in the comic we wanted to veer left and they wanted to go right with the movie, we could do that.” [Comic Riffs]
Last weekend, Todd Allen wrote at The Beat that he had spotted some Dark Horse comics on the newsstand at Books-A-Million, now the second-largest bookstore chain in the country. That piqued my interest, as newsstand sales have proved to be a challenge for most comics publishers for decades now, so I got in touch with Matt Parkinson, Dark Horse’s vice president of marketing, who answered some questions about the company’s newsstand sales at Books-A-Million and its used-book subsidiary 2nd & Charles.
Robot 6: First of all, what has Dark Horse’s newsstand presence been like in recent years?
Matt Parkinson: Since the early ’90s, Dark Horse had placed titles on the newsstand through various distributors. In recent years we only enjoyed strong sales if the comic had a blockbuster movie tied to it or some major media component. Ultimately, due to the reduction of available display space and the resulting decline in sales, we discontinued all newsstand distribution in fall 2014. We would consider returning to newsstand distribution if a title demonstrated mass-market appeal.
Graphic novels | ICv2 has the January graphic novel chart from Nielsen BookScan, which tracks sales in book channels. Roz Chast’s Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? tops the list, with the fourth volume of Saga coming in second, and the 22nd volume of The Walking Dead in third. The list is a bit different from previous months because the chart began including nonfiction graphic novels just last month, and going forward ICv2 will break the titles into three categories: superhero/genre, manga and “author” graphic novels. The retailer-oriented website throws in some interesting bits of analysis, including the fact that six of the Top 20 titles — including books No. 1 and 2 — had female creators or co-creators. [ICv2]
Awards | Longtime MAD Magazine cartoonist Mort Drucker has been named as the first recipient of the National Cartoonists Society’s Medal of Honor. [Comic Riffs]
Publishing | Portland, Oregon, will be the home base for Heavy Metal’s new line of comics, which was announced in October, following the company’s sale to David Boxenbaum and Jeff Krelitz. “I think it’s being closer to the talent,” Krelitz said. “If you wanted to be a painter in the early 20th century, you went to Paris. The comics line launches in March with the second season of Michael Moreci and Steve Seely’s Hoax Hunters. The company plans to be publishing eight original series by the end of this year and another 12 next year, building up to 50 in five years. “We’re positioning to be a premier publisher,” Krelitz said. [The Oregonian]
Passings | Editorial cartoonist R.K. Laxman, who maintained a running commentary on Indian politics for almost 60 years, has died at age 93. The younger brother of novelist R. K. Narayan, Laxman got his start illustrating his brother’s work as well as doing drawings for local newspapers. He became an editorial cartoonist for the Times of India around 1947, about the time India became an independent country, and stayed there until 2010. Laxman’s most famous creation was the Common Man, a character that stood in for the average Indian. As the official obituary in the Times of India said, “His Common Man, created in 1957, was the symbol of India’s ordinary people, their trials and tribulations, their little joys and sorrows, and the mess they found themselves in thanks to the political class and bureaucracy. But despite the sobering reality of this, there was never any rancour in Laxman’s cartoons. His humour was always delightful, and no one could hold a candle to his brushstrokes.” [Times of India]
Graphic novels | December’s Nielsen BookScan list of the Top 20 graphic novels sold through the book channels looks markedly different from previous months because it now includes nonfiction. That actually makes it a much more interesting chart, with Roz Chast’s memoir Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? taking the top spot, followed by the first two volumes of The Walking Dead Compendium, the fourth volume of Saga and the Oatmeal book The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances (which is apparently classified as nonfiction) showing up at No. 5. The chart, which tracks books sold in retail bookstores, some mass market stores and Amazon, also included a couple of much-hyped December debuts, the first collected volume of Ms. Marvel and Richard McGuire’s Here. [ICv2]
Political cartoons | In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo shootings, Zeidy David revisits the case of Palestinian cartoonist Mohammad Saba’aneh, who was arrested in Israel and held without charges for several months before being given a five-month sentence and a fine for “contact with a hostile organization” — a Jordanian publisher with whom he had discussed a possible book. [Mint Press News]
Retailing | The Books-A-Million retail chain reported significant growth in the last quarter, due in part to strong sales of manga and strategy games. “Sales in the graphic novel category … grew nicely on the strength of a significant resurgence in the interest in several manga series, particularly Attack on Titan,” CEO Terry Finley said in an earnings call. The chain’s sales increased 1.2 percent, and same-store sales were up 1.8 percent last quarter compared to the same quarter last year; by contrast, fiscal year 2013 sales were down by 9.4 percent from the previous year. [ICv2]
Creators | Jeff Lemire talks about his new graphic novel Teen Titans: Earth One, which reflects his love of Marv Wolfman and George Pérez’s The New Teen Titans: “I wanted a fresh and clean take on a teen super-team without having to rely on other heroes or continuity. So I gravitated to these unique teen characters Marv and George had created, and re-envisioned them through my own sensibilities along with artist Terry Dodson, who really helped them come to life.” [The Kindle Post]
Passings | Dr. George Slusser, co-founder of the University of California, Riversides’ renowned Eaton Collection of Science Fiction & Fantasy, passed away Tuesday at age 75. Curator emeritus and professor emeritus of comparative literature, Slusser expanded the Eaton holdings from 7,500 items to more than 300,000, making it the largest publicly accessible collection of science fiction and fantasy literature in the world. It encompasses novels, journals, manuscripts, comics and manga, fanzines and anime, and includes first editions of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Action Comics #1 and The Fantastic Four #1. “Over three decades, George Slusser built the Eaton Collection up from a small core of titles into the world-class archive that it is today,” Rob Latham, co-director of UC Riverside’s Science Fiction and Technoculture Studies program, said in a statement. “The field of science fiction scholarship owes him an incalculable debt.” [UC Riverside]
Graphic novels | Although BookScan’s September list of the bestselling graphic novels in bookstores is populated largely by old stalwarts — The Walking Dead, Attack on Titan, Saga, Watchmen — Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 1, the only Marvel title on the chart, clung to the Top 20 in its second month of release (although it slipped from No. 4. to No. 20). Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Seconds, meanwhile, climbed in its third month to No. 6. One new manga debuted at No. 12: Noragami, about a homeless god who does odd jobs as he tries to build up his reputation; the anime is already out, which probably gave it a boost. [ICv2]
Publishing | A television reporter pays a visit to the Last Gasp offices to talk about the Kickstarter recently launched by the longtime publisher of underground comics (and other quirky books). It’s worth a look just to see the owner’s amazing collection of oddities. [NBC Bay Area]
Retailing | Books-A-Million had a good second quarter, and CEO Terry Finley gives at least part of the credit to graphic novels: “We also saw strong growth in the graphic novel category, with continued success with titles related to AMC’s The Walking Dead series and a renewed interest in several manga series [that] drove sales increases.” And to boost that, the retail chain, which operates more than 250 stores nationwide, is planning Marvel promotions throughout September. [ICv2]
Conventions | Salt Lake Comic Con co-founder Dan Farr is trying to measure how much money attendees are spending. In terms of hotel beds, at least, the convention seems to be dwarfed by trade shows, but with people coming to Salt Lake City from 48 states for the recent spinoff event FanXperience, that may be changing. Still, even in San Diego, attendees spend only about $600 per person; if Salt Lake attendees are similarly thrifty, the convention may not be a significant player in the Salt Lake City convention scene. [The Salt Lake Tribune]
Publishing | Seconds, by Scott Pilgrim creator Bryan Lee O’Malley, had an impressive debut, landing at No. 2 and No. 5 on the BookScan chart of graphic novels sold in the book channel in July. The book had a standard edition and a Barnes & Nobles exclusive. ICv2 reckons if there had been a single edition, Seconds would have topped the list; instead, the No. 1 spot went to the latest volume of Naruto. It was also a good month for DC Comics, which charted seven titles, six of which involve Batman.[ICv2]
Publishing | In an overview of the comics and graphic novel market, ICv2 reports direct market retailers are optimistic despite flat sales in the first half of the year. [ICv2]
Retailing | Shares of Barnes & Noble rose 5.5 percent Wednesday, to $21.69, following the announcement that the bookseller plans to split into two companies, one for its retail stores and the other for Nook Media. Barron’s suggests those plans could buoy stock prices for a while, as long as the company doesn’t change its mind (again) about the split. The magazine also notes the possibility that an outsider buyer could make a bid for the retail stores before the split takes place, leaving Barnes & Noble with the Nook, which will be combined with the company’s successful college-bookstore operations. [Barron’s]
Manga | Inspired by a line of T-shirts featuring the work of the manga artist Jiraiya, Guy Trebay talks to Anne Ishii and Chip Kidd about the popularity of hard-core gay manga, such as the work of Gengoroh Tagame, in the United States. [The New York Times]
Struggling bookseller Barnes & Noble announced a plan this morning to split its retail and Nook businesses into separate publicly traded companies.
“We believe we are now in a better position to begin in earnest those steps necessary to accomplish a separation of Nook Media and Barnes & Noble Retail,” CEO Michael P. Huseby said in a statement. “We have determined that these businesses will have the best chance of optimizing shareholder value if they are capitalized and operated separately We fully expect that our Retail and Nook Media businesses will continue to have long-term, successful business relationships with each other after separation.”
Retailing | Image Comics took seven of the Top 20 spots on Nielsen BookScan’s list of graphic novels sold in bookstores in May, with multiple volumes of Saga and The Walking Dead once again appearing, joined by the first collection of Sex Criminals. Kodansha Comics took six spots, with the most recent volume of Attack on Titan at the top of the chart, followed by the first volume. Four more volumes were scattered around the list. Legendary’s Godzilla movie tie-in, Godzilla: Awakening, placed at No. 3. [ICv2]
Legal | The Japanese legislature has moved forward with a bill that would criminalize possession of child pornography, which is expected to pass the Diet before it recesses on June 22. The new law would ban photos and videos made using real children but excludes manga and anime. [The Japan Times]
Having already conquered book charts with his bestselling Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, Jeff Kinney is now turning his attention to retailing.
According to The Associated Press, the author announced Friday at Book Expo America that he and his wife plan to convert an abandoned general store in Plainville, Massachusetts, where they live, into a bookstore. The town has a population of 8,264.
A blend of comics and prose, Diary of a Wimpy Kid has sold more than 115 million copies worldwide since its debut in April 2007.
Travel + Leisure offers an overview of what it dubs “America’s Best Comic Book Shops,” a collection that, like most any list, is sure to trigger a chorus of “Yeah, but what about –?” Most of the magazine’s selections will be familiar to most readers — Meltdown Comics, Heroes Aren’t Hard to Find and Midtown Comics, for instance — but at least a couple may strike you as “new.”
In its introduction, the magazine somewhat vaguely explains what lifts a store from run-of-the-mill to one of the best, saying “Style helps, as does a focused approach to stock” (these kinds of things are subjective; you can’t really expect a scientific formula).