Publishers Weekly is the first out of the gate with its best of 2012 lists, with Chris Ware’s Building Stories (Pantheon), described as “unabashedly rooted in the pre-digital age,” leading its overall Top 10. Ware also designed and lettered the magazine’s cover (at right).
The six titles in the comics category are:
• My Friend Dahmer, by Derf Backderf (Abrams Graphic Arts)
• Are You My Mother?, by Alison Bechdel (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
• The Voyeurs, by Gabrielle Bell (Uncivilized Books)
• Wizzywig, by Ed Piskor (Top Shelf)
• Dotter of Her Father’s Eyes, by Mary and Bryan Talbot (Dark Horse)
Two graphic novels also make an appearance on the children’s fiction list: Hilda and the Midnight Giant, by Luke Pearson (Nobrow), and Drama, by Raina Telgemeier (Scholastic/Graphix).
With PW breaking the ice, that means the best-of lists should begin arriving at a fast and furious pace.
Best-seller lists are tricky things, because no one except the people who put them together knows what the numbers really are. Now Publishers Weekly is ripping off the veil and will publish the top 25 listings in the weekly BookScan sales charts with actual numbers attached. Heidi MacDonald explains what’s going on at The Beat; this week’s chart is free, but after that PW will put it behind a paywall.
This information is fascinating but comes with a couple of caveats. BookScan, which is a service provided by A.C. Nielsen, tracks books sold in bookstores, including Amazon but not including the direct market, mass-market stores such as Wal-Mart, book fairs, or sales to libraries. So when you look at the list, it’s useful to keep in mind that some books will do better in comics shops than bookstores, while for others, such as manga and graphic-novel memoirs, the opposite will be true. What’s more, BookScan doesn’t cover the whole market— Heidi says it captures 80 percent, but her commenters dispute that. In other words, the charts only give a piece of the picture, and it’s more accurate for some books than for others.
To me, the most interesting column is the last one, which shows the number of copies sold this year to date. My rough rule of thumb is that a book has to sell about 3,000 copies to break even, and by that measure, most of the non-superhero books are doing well (and the superhero ones are probably selling gangbusters in the direct market).
- Zahra’s Paradise, by Amir and Kahlil (First Second)
- Daytripper, by Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon (DC Comics/Vertigo)
- Hark! A Vagrant, by Kate Beaton (Drawn and Quarterly)
- The Influencing Machine: Brooke Gladstone on the Media, by Brooke Gladstone and Josh Neufeld (Norton)
- Love and Rockets: New Stories #4, by Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez (Fantagraphics)
- Infinite Kung Fu, by Kagan McLeod (Top Shelf)
- Finder: Voice, by Carla Speed McNeil (Dark Horse)
- Big Questions, by Anders Nilsen (Drawn and Quarterly)
- Farm 54, by Galit and Gilad Seliktar (Fanfare Ponent Mon)
- Habibi, by Craig Thompson (Pantheon)
A few different news items related to comic news outlets have come across my desk recently:
- According to the Wall Street Journal’s All Things Digital site, News Corp. is planning to spin off the pop culture/video game site IGN, and in anticipation will acquire another pop culture/video game site, UGO.com — both of which cover comics.
- Publishers Weekly Comic Week, the weekly email newsletter edited by The Beat’s Heidi MacDonald, is switching to a monthly frequency. Per a post from MacDonald and PW’s Calvin Reid: “Although we are changing the frequency of the newsletter, the change will not diminish our overall comics coverage. Publishers Weekly will continue to cover graphic novels and comics in the book industry and traditional comics industry, publishing news and feature stories through the PW website and PW Daily as well as in our new monthly graphic novel newsletter.”
- And finally, via press release, Co-Chief Pop Culture Editor of Wizard World Mike Cotton has announced his last day with the company was April 29. By my count, that leaves Senior Associate Producer Carlos Mejia as the last man standing on the now-digital magazine‘s in-house editorial staff.
On the heels of Amazon.com’s year-end list comes Publishers Weekly‘s rundown of the best comics of 2010. For those keeping track at home, Acme Novelty Library #20, Batwoman: Elegy and Xe’d Out are all two for two. Here’s the PW list:
• Acme Novelty Library #20, by Chris Ware (Drawn and Quarterly)
• AX: Alternative Manga, edited by Sean Michael Wilson and Mitsuhiru Asakawa (Top Shelf)
• Batwoman: Elegy, by Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III (DC Comics)
• Beasts of Burden: Animal Rites, by Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson (Dark Horse)
• Bodyworld, by Dash Shaw (Pantheon)
• Duncan the Wonder Dog, by Adam Hines (AdHouse Books)
• How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less, by Sarah Glidden (Vertigo)
• Weathercraft: A Frank Comic, by Jim Woodring (Fantagraphics)
• X’ed Out, by Charles Burns (Pantheon)
• Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty, by G. Neri and Randy DuBurke (Lee & Low)
Publishers Weekly has been purchased by one of its former publishers, continuing Reed Business Information’s sell-off of its trade publications.
The magazine, which covers the book industry, releases the PW Comics Week e-newsletter and, until recently, played host to The Beat. PW was bought by PWxyz, a company formed by George Slowik, who served as the magazine’s publisher in the 1980s and 1990s.
According to PW, the new owner will retain all employees and remain headquartered in New York City. Cevin Bryerman will continue as publisher, with Jim Milliot and Michael Coffey serving as co-editors.
Reed’s parent company, global-publishing giant Reed Elsevier, attempted to sell its entire magazine division in February 2008, but withdrew its plans when it couldn’t get its asking price. It tried again in July 2009 to unload the publications as a group, but eventually had to resort to selling them separately.
Just last month Reed sold Library Journal and School Library Journal to Ohio-based Media Source Inc. (the School Library Journal website plays host to the Good Comics for Kids blog). Reed still owns Variety, MarketCast, Tradeshow Week and numerous other trade magazines.
Reed Elsevier also owns Reed Exhibitions, which produces New York Comic Con, the New York Anime Expo, BookExpo America and the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo.