The Funnies Business

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A few links making the rounds related to the health of various sectors of the comics business.

§ In Boston, while book industry sales are “in freefall”, comics sales are strong enough to support new retail outlets:

They couldn’t find a single financial backer willing to risk a penny on a comic book store, but the pair knows something about their kind: namely, that comic book fans, who number more adults than kids these days, are serious about their reading material. Look no further than the man who posted a comment on the store’s Facebook page praising the recommendations of the “in-house sommelier.’’ Reed has faith that the business, which has seen heady peaks (hello, Stan Lee) and crushing lows (television nearly wiped it out half a century ago), is poised for another revival.

manga tankobon vs magazines 1 The Funnies Business

§ Meanwhile, in Japan as the above scary chart shows, this writer believes the manga industry is in “Dire straits.” In the above chart, magazines sales (red) are plunging, while tankōbon sales (blue) are flat:

The very notion that the health of a medium can be measured by the number of blockbusters it produces is itself increasingly obsolete – in music, books and other media, markets are increasingly centred on the so-called “long tail,” with modern distribution allowing vast numbers of niche titles to be economically supported where before only a few very popular titles could ever find commercial success. Having low or high sales is thus not a measure of how “good” a title is, but instead merely reflects the size of the particular niche a product serves.

§ Meanwhile, Canadian Business magazine salutes the success of Drawn & Quarterly:

While Oliveros is reluctant to claim credit, D&Q was pivotal in that transition. Its titles were lavishly, lovingly produced, and mainstream media outlets took breathless notice of this blurring of publishing boundaries. In 2004, The New York Times noted D&Q’s (along with its closest competitor, Seattle’s Fantagraphics’s) role in shaping the renaissance of the comic book form. Crossover success was concomitant: the titles started to appear in traditional bookstores where, suddenly, every self-respecting independent and chain devoted a section to graphic novels, and major publishing houses started getting into the game. D&Q’s fastest bestseller, Chester Brown’s Louis Riel, an improbable “comic strip biography” of the controversial 19th-century Métis leader, sold 10,000 copies in its first season, and to date has sold more than 36,000, more than most bestselling books in Canada. Publishers Weekly called it a “major achievement.”

Comments

  1. peter bangs says:

    Looking at my bookshelves D&Q make a pretty big appearance on there so I’m not suprised to hear this sort of thing is being written.

  2. “comics sommelier”… what a nice description!

    To paraphrase the wikipedia description:
    “A professional [comics] sommelier also works on the floor of the [bookstore] and is in direct contact with [bookstore] patrons. The [comics] sommelier has a responsibility to work within the taste preference and budget parameters of the patron.”

  3. Xenos says:

    It should also be noted that Boston already has a ton of good comic stores. The article didn’t even list all of them. So with an already crowded market, it’s nice to see there’s room for yet another one. It’s a bit out of the way for me, but it’s still good to know another shop in the area.

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