Allie Brosh is probably the best selling cartoonist of the year

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Allie Brosh’s debut book Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened came out earlier this week, and it’s selling very well. I took a snapshot of Amazon sales on Wednesday and just now. On Wednesday it was the #5 book over all, and it’s still the #8 book over all, indicating a steady stream of sales. (Amazon tagged it as the best book of the month.)

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I’m told that at a Wednesday night signing, Brosh signed for more than three hours, in front of a packed, SRO room, sketching in everyone’s book. Already a huge internet phenomenon, Brosh’s highly personal and hilarious stories speak directly to a huge audience of women and men who are still trying to figure things out—unlike Beat commenters who have EVERYTHING FIGURED OUT IN DETAIL AND AREN’T AFRAID TO LET EVERYONE ELSE KNOW IT.

I’ve already seen some traditional comics outlets questioning whether this is a book of “comics” or not—and of course there are long stretches of prose, accompanied by what are definitely cartoons. (I asked a Brosh fan of my acquaintance about the question of whether Brosh is a cartoonists or not and she literally snorted.) The drawings are crude, it must be said. In fact, they make Drabble look refined. But they reflect the personal nature of the work, the pain, occasional alienation, disappointment, and general flailing about that Brosh chronicles. Every young woman has felt like Brosh’s misshapen, wide-eyed squiggle at some time in their lives—myself included. It’s definitely comics. And you know what, comics industry, you need to embrace Allie Brosh as a cartoonist because, like I always say, DON’T DISTANCE YOURSELF FROM SUCCESS.

Also, when you click on Brosh’s Amazon page the most interesting thing is the “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought” listing. (Click for larger.)
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The Oatmeal, Kate Beaton, Clare Belton. Today’s link is the XKCD book. Pretty clear indications of the ascendance of webcartoonists in the book reading (as opposed to fan) side of comics.

Anyway this is part of the wave of NEW READERS in comics. Part of why things are going so well right now. These are not your “pap pap” comics. Readers who are passionate about authors. I don’t expect anyone in the “comics-niscenti” end of things to ever accept Brosh as a cartoonist or to engage with her work. Luckily, that attitude doesn’t matter.

BONUS: long interview with Brosh at Mother Jones.

Comments

  1. Ralf Haring says:

    But … surely Asterix?

    “After months of anticipation, five million copies of Asterix and the Picts – the 35th instalment in the French comic series – were released in 15 countries and 23 languages.”

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/culturenews/10402176/New-Asterix-comic-book-released.html

  2. Torsten Adair says:

    Yup.
    Over on Google Plus, someone posted an angry letter at the disappointment over Marvel and DC, and how, as being the Big Two and the powers-that-be in the comics industry, they needed to do a better job.

    I tried to explain that they aren’t that big anymore (I even linked to the NY Times bestseller list, and my 2012 analyses), but I don’t think many see that.

    It used to be, there was a disconnect between comic strips and comic books. It seems that with greater success and greater participation, fandom now has enough of a population to create sub-communities.

    Me, I’m a generalist. I read “good comics”. I have my likes (non-fiction) and dislikes (artsy-fartsy CAF comics), but welcome everyone.

  3. jacob lyon goddard says:

    Good for her, I’m a big fan.

    I love that successful web cartoonists still see print as the goal.

  4. Now seems like a good time to remind folks that every Friday I do a Amazon Top 50 Comics round-up over at my blog. This week’s snapshot has Allie Brosh’s Hyperbole and a Half taking the top three spots with its paperback, Kindle & hardcover versions.

    As for Asterix, while it it likely to be the best-selling comic world-wide this year, it’s not that big of a seller here in the States. While it showed up on last week’s Amazon chart (twice, in its English & French editions), it was absent this week. For that matter, Asterix isn’t even the best-selling English edition of a French bandes dessinées at the moment; that honor belongs to Blue Is the Warmest Color (which is also outselling Asterix in Italy as well…)

    (Insert standard disclaimer about the danger of taking the sales ranking of one retailer and generalizing to the industry as whole…)

  5. Johnny Memeonic says:

    Her art reminds me of the Oatmeal. Any idea how many copies were sold? Kind of curious what the sales volume is right now for a book to get #1 in Comics and Graphic Novels.

  6. Couldn’t happen to a nicer (as far as one can tell from her work) person.

  7. This news makes me happy. Hyperbole and a Half is really funny and weird and interesting, and Brosh is unquestionably a fantastic cartoonist in my eyes.

  8. mario boon says:

    Good for her.
    Now if only there would be some genuine drawing ability displayed or is that an impediment to success? Snarky, i realise but still. It hurts to see art like that.

    Oh, and the first printing of Asterix in France, Belgium/Holland is already sold out.

  9. jacob lyon goddard says:

    She’s no draftsman (draftswoman?), but her comedy timing as a cartoonist is impeccable.

  10. Qualia says:

    Critiquing her “drawing ability” or lack thereof? REALLY?!?!!!
    FFS her crude scribbling is part of the charm. Good grief.
    She does an excellent job of conveying intent in those “crude”
    drawings.
    I’m so happy this book is finally out. My teenaged daughter and
    I have been having a custody battle over it.

  11. Jeff P says:

    “…unlike Beat commenters who have EVERYTHING FIGURED OUT IN DETAIL AND AREN’T AFRAID TO LET EVERYONE ELSE KNOW IT. ”

    So true, and for commenters EVERYWHERE.

  12. Cartoonist and Comic book artist are two very different things.

  13. “The drawings are crude, it must be said. In fact, they make Drabble look refined.”

    This misses one of the main points of cartooning, which is expressiveness. Her drawings are simple and rough, but they convey feelings and states of mind, that makes them good as cartoons. However, as good as she is, i don’t
    think she can be called a cartoonist, she’s more a writer of humorous prose who also does a few cartoons.

  14. “Cartoonist and Comic book artist are two very different things.”
    Tell that to Shannon Wheeler.

  15. If I see any more love spill out all over the place about Allie Brosh I’m going to stomp around like the ALOT! OK so Ms. Brosh is totally the “it girl” at the moment and I think she is funny in a friendly sociopathic sort of way and I’m glad for her and glad for other funny women out there. I just wish she didn’t kill spiders.

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  1. […] the list since it came out—it’s on the list twice because one is print and one is Kindle. I predicted this would be the best selling graphic novel of the year, and okay maybe it didn’t beat […]

  2. […] the list since it came out—it’s on the list twice because one is print and one is Kindle. I predicted this would be the best selling graphic novel of the year, and okay maybe it didn’t beat […]

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