I am merely an anecdote

ICv2 reports “A Second bad Year in a Row for Manga,” noting a 20% drop in sales. This doesn’t reflect my personal experience, but we all know how irrelevant that is. Since it’s Saturday and I don’t want to start it off on too gloomy a note, I’ll quote the article’s marginally positive paragraph:

“In European markets where manga boomed before it hit it big here in the States, there was a post-boom drop-off, but sales then stabilized at a substantial level. Manga continues to dominate sales of graphic novels (in units) in bookstores.”

The report notes that “manga is now facing its own crisis created by the availability of free unlicensed scanlations on the Web,” and a Japanese publisher has spoken publicly on the subject. Over at Anime Vice, GodLen finds a message from Weekly Shonen Jump (Shueisha) to its readers:

“The unjust internet copies are deeply hurting the manga culture, mangakas’ rights, and even mangakas’ souls.”

Hardcore. It probably won’t have any impact, but… hardcore.

Update: ICv2 has rather drastically altered the portion of the report that covered scanlations:

“While comic retailers tell ICv2 that they believe scanlations (translations of scanned manga, which appear on the Web within days of their publication in Japan) are hurting their sales, the evidence is not conclusive. Scanlations were around through the growth of the manga market as well as its decline, and some feel that they actually increase the market for manga collections by creating greater exposure for new properties. While it may be true that more manga buyers are telling retailers that they’re reading online rather than buying, that may be due to economic conditions (they’re buying fewer titles over-all), or to the lack of a major hit that stimulates buying.”

Pirate booty

Over at Robot 6, Kevin Melrose notes that Eiichiro Oda’s splendid One Piece (Viz) has finally sailed into the waters of The New York Times Graphic Book Best Sellers list. I don’t really have anything to add, but I wanted to link to the story because it makes me happy.

March manga in the DM

I haven’t looked at manga numbers in the Direct Market in a while, so let’s see what happens when we extract the manga and manga-influenced work from ICv2’s Top 300 Graphic Novels Actual – March 2010, shall we?

(I hope that’s readable. Thanks to Dirk Deppey for the helpful suggestions on how to get a table into a blog post without plunging myself into coding hell.)

It’s not particularly surprising that Young C. Kim’s graphic-novel adaptation of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight (Yen Press) has been topping the Hardcover Graphic Books list over at The New York Times since its release, but it’s a little unexpected that it would crack the top ten in the Direct Market. Perhaps it was narrow-minded of me to assume that the property’s audience wouldn’t seek it out in local comic shops, or that local comic shops would be particularly inclined to carry it, or that there wasn’t much crossover audience between Twilight and your average comic-shop inventory.

Manga from Dark Horse continues to do well, and I’m pleased to see such a high ranking for the final volume of Naoki Urasawa’s Pluto (Viz). It’s also nice to see all five of last month’s volumes of Eichiro Oda’s One Piece (Viz) crack the top 100. It would have been nice to see higher rankings for the classic titles, but some of them came out late in the month, so maybe that’s the explanation.

Shopping spree

MOOM4.cover.qxd:Layout 1Helping people clean out their garage is not usually an enticing prospect, but Drawn & Quarterly has made it so with their Warehouse Sale for online shoppers. Bargains abound on great books like the following:

  • Yoshihiro Tatsumi’s fascinating autobiography, A Drifting Life, $17.98 compared to its cover price of $29.95 or Amazon at $19.77
  • All four volumes of Moomin: The Complete Tove Jansson Comic Strip, $11.97 each compared to their cover price of $19.95
  • Aya and Aya of Yop City, charming Ivory Coast soap opera from Marguerite Abouet and Clement Oubrerie, each for about half price at $9.97
  • Either the paperback ($8.97) or hardcover ($11.97) edition of Adrian Tomine’s Shortcomings, one of the very best comics about an emotionally stunted twenty-something loser, and that’s a huge category
  • There are lots of great discounts on some amazing comics. Go look.

    Friday nattering

    At The Beat, Heidi MacDonald rounds up the discussion of the New York Times Graphic Books Bestsellers list. I have to admit that I don’t really see why these lists are any more problematic or opaque in their methodology than any of the other sales rankings. I always assumed that the odd or counter-intuitive products that sometimes show up on the lists were more a function of the fact that there are 30 slots posted weekly than of the way the entrails came out of the goat or how the 30-sided die landed on Friday morning.

    I guess what I’m saying is that just about all of these bestseller lists seem at least partly suspect, random, or susceptible to manipulation. With its greater frequency and wider scope, I at least find the Times lists suspect, random, and susceptible to manipulation in ways that are a little more interesting than the monthly versions.


    Has Barnes & Noble hired a new graphic novel buyer? I stopped at the local store during lunch yesterday and was surprised at the number of unusual suspects present on the shelves. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Gantz in a chain bookstore before.

    As a side note, have you ever been to a bookstore and seen a theoretically sealed-for-your-protection title that actually had its plastic wrap intact?


    This week’s episode of The Big Bang Theory was hilarious. Penny accompanied the geeks to a comic shop. I particularly loved the bit where she innocently tried to buy a Spider-Man comic for her nephew. I think they should do an episode where Sara Gilbert’s Leslie is revealed to be a hardcore fujoshi, adding another layer of conflict to her acrimonious relationship with Sheldon.


    I absolutely appreciate Bryan Fuller’s desire to finish the story he meant to tell in the wonderful Pushing Daisies. I don’t think many of the things that made the show so special will translate to a comics page, though. Comic timing and chemistry made up a huge chunk of the show’s appeal. I’d still buy them if they added those greeting-card chips that would allow me to hear Olive Snook bursting into song.

    (There used to be online comics featuring the characters, but ABC seems to have removed them.)

    Duly noted

    Tom Spurgeon points to a welcome development at The New York Times: new comics sales figures to further muddy the waters! Suck it, BookScan! You’re so last month. I think weekly lists will be very interesting indeed. Heck, they already are, seeing how seriously seinen-y seinen from Dark Horse muscled its way onto the manga list amidst all the Naruto. I also love how the Times at least kind of explains its methodology right out of the gate instead of treating it like some seven-herbs-and-spices trade secret.

    And, via Brigid Alverson, the School Library Journal delivers a report on the New York Comic-Con panel I would have most liked to attend.


    I hope ICv2 releases a little more information on how it calculated its 2008 graphic novel sales figures, because a 17% drop in manga sales? Ouch. And the development certainly demands more scrutiny than pointing the finger at those Twilight books.

    More bargains

    Another fine independent comics publisher is offering some discounts. Top Shelf has marked some items down and is offering free shipping on orders of $40 or more until Sunday, Dec. 14.

    As far as recommendations go, it’s hard to go wrong with Renée French or Andy Runton. Andy Hartzell’s Fox Bunny Funny is a terrific book for grown-ups, as is Lars Martinson’s Tonoharu. Aaron Reiner’s Spiral-Bound is a great choice for kids.

    See how easy it is to spend $40?

    I prefer 'extravaganza' to 'blowout'

    Oni Press is having a “Holiday Sales Extravaganza,” with all volume one graphic novels reduced 15 to 25% and free shipping on orders over $30. Orders must be placed by 2 p.m. PST Dec. 19, 2008, if you want them to arrive by Christmas.

    Oni publishes some terrific stuff, so I thought I’d list some of my favorite first volumes in case you were tempted but didn’t quite know where to start:

  • Black Metal by Rick Spears and Chuck BB: I reviewed the book here.
  • Courtney Crumrin: The Night Things by Ted Naifeh: Quirky supernatural adventure starring a pointedly antisocial heroine, which makes it right up my alley.
  • Maintenance by Jim Massey and Robbi Rodriguez: I reviewed the first issue here, and I continue to enjoy the series.
  • Polly and the Pirates by Ted Naifeh: I reviewed the first issue of the mini-series here, and loved the whole thing. When do we get the second volume?
  • Queen and Country: Operation Broken Ground by Greg Rucka, Steve Rolston and Stan Sakai: Smart stories starring grouchy British spies.
  • Salt Water Taffy: The Legend of Old Salty by Matthew Loux: I reviewed the book here.
  • Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life by Bryan Lee O’Malley: Chances are you own it already, but one never knows. I reviewed the book here.
  • Whiteout by Greg Rucka and Steve Lieber: A gritty mystery set at the bottom of the world, or the top, depending on your perspective.
  • Deep discounts

    Hey, Top Shelf is having its annual sale, offering some great books for $3.

    My strongest recommendation in the $3 category would be Andy Hartzell’s Fox Bunny Funny, a terrifically twisted allegory (which I reviewed here). While I didn’t enjoy Renée French’s Micrographica as much as I did The Ticking, $3 for a book by French? Please. You should be wearing a ski mask during that transaction. (And since you’re saving so much money, why not do yourself a favor and buy The Ticking as well?)