Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

March 6, 2008

Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* the comics business news and analysis site proclaims that the number of graphic novels published in 2007 came in at 3314, an astounding 19 percent increase over the 2785 books released in 2006. One suspects that a lot of bandwagon publishing and, to be honest, hastily published and even outright cynically released shit, drove these numbers rather than an across the board swell that affected all categories, but it's only a suspicion. I mean, as much as there's been an increase in good work over the last few years, I didn't noticed 2007 being 20 percent better than 2006. As the much healthier European market has shown, publishing beyond the capacity of the market to present work to the public can do more harm than good, limiting good work to a briefer exposure to the marketplace and dooming a lot of work that lacks an easy hook by which it might find an immediate niche.

* here's a thoughtful article on the relationship between South African cartoonists and the country's political leaders.

image* there are probably a couple of important distinctions to be made about Richard and Wendy Pini taking their Elfquest material on-line and Carla Speed McNeill and/or Phil and Kaja Foglio previously and successfully taking their respective works on-line. The first is that the Foglios and McNeill were outright poorly served by the comic book Direct Market of comics and hobby shops, while the Pinis were at one time well-served by that market but are no longer finding as rich a reward for their publications there. The second is that the Foglio/McNeill model drives readers towards current work released in trade form directly related to the on-line material, where the Elfquest material being put on-line is a few decades old and drives people to a greater awareness of that material, which has been around in multiple trade formats for years. I think it's a slightly different thing. Could Elfquest gain in similar fashion by reaching new readers that might be interested in older or newer material in trade form? Sure. Are there other ways a property can gain via exposure that's as good as driving them to new publications? Of course. I just think the differences are part of the story, too.

* this humorous article on chasing book thieves asserts that graphic novels -- any graphic novels -- are among the prime targets for larceny. I'm sort of amazed that anyone wants any book enough to steal one.

* ComicMix interviews Peter David and Jae Lee at a signing for the midnight release of the new Stephen King/Marvel Dark Tower series. It doesn't exactly look like a madhouse, but there are more people on hand than I would have guessed. Here's another store report.

* Rolling Stone has nice words for Ed Brubaker's Captain America. The weird thing about the article is that it sets out to explain the title's particular political relevance, Brubaker denies that there's any specific relevance, and the whole thing ends up being positive anyway.

* I continue to be fascinated by this not-comics story, another memoir being found full of lies, as 1) comics memoirs are popular enough it seems to me a risk that eventually someone fakes a comics memoir, and 2) art comics traditionally offers less editorial support to its authors than publishing houses do to theirs, so I think they'd be vulnerable to something like this. Reading the latest complaints makes me wonder if the entire book publishing infrastructure isn't poorly suited for the demands of 21st century publishing, the same way that the current market favors certain publishing set-ups in comics.

* congratulations to Rocketship for being named New York's best comics store by New York magazine!

* refresh my memory -- was any part of the Naruto Nation promotional effort last Fall the goal of increased readership for the trades when they went back to once-per-month releases? Because the latest chart seems to suggest that the Naruto books didn't immediately gain in terms first-week sales on a new book despite the much-ballyhooed new starting point. I know that wasn't the only goal -- selling a lot of Naruto all at once and avoiding a decline during an relatively unpopular stretch of the material were goals for sure -- but I honestly can't remember if Viz thought they'd see a significant boost in post-Nation trade sales.

* finally, here's a major profile of the great Justin Green.
posted 5:30 pm PST | Permalink

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