Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
Lagging behind the rest of its list, Publishers Weekly has released its rundown of the best children’s books — split into fiction and nonfiction — which, unsurprisingly, includes a smattering of graphic novels. They are:
• Bad Machinery: The Case of the Team Spirit, by John Allison (Oni Press)
• Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant, by Tony Cliff (First Second)
• Boxers & Saints, by Gene Luen Yang (First Second)
• Relish: My Life in the Kitchen, by Lucy Knisley (First Second)
You’ll undoubtedly notice that three of the four books are from First Second, which, while it’s still early in the best-of season (sure, it’s a season), is off to a strong start: Relish and Boxers & Saints, along with Paul Pope’s Battling Boy, also made it onto the Amazon list, while Yang’s book(s) appears twice on PW’s best of 2013.
Shortlisted just last month for the National Book Award, Boxers & Saints is shaping up to be a strong contender for the big graphic novel of the year, too.
As usual, Publishers Weekly is the first out of the gate with its best-of-the-year lists — if tradition holds, Amazon’s should come along within the next couple of weeks — even if they are a little incomplete (the children’s fiction category is coming “very soon”).
The five titles in the comics category are:
• March Book One, by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell (Top Shelf)
• Today Is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life, by Ulli Lust (Fantagraphics)
• The Property, by Rutu Modan (Drawn & Quarterly)
• RASL, by Jeff Smith (Cartoon Books)
• Boxers and Saints, by Gene Luen Yang (First Second)
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).
A few different news items related to comic news outlets have come across my desk recently:
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.