Graphic Novels in a Post-Direct Market World
This is the final installment of a look at the world of print comics in a world where the direct market implodes. Previous installments were the actual “Doomsday Scenario” and a look at formats that print comics might adopt online. This installment will look at graphic novels as more of an independent product than just collections of monthly printed comics.
We all know graphic novels and collected editions of monthly comics (we’ll just refer to them as TPBs for short) are a rapidly expanding category. As we look at a world where the direct market might cease to exist in the capacity we currently know it, the roles of graphic novels would also change.
First, let’s take a look at sales trends in graphic novels. Over in The Beat, Heidi MacDonald took a look at Diamond’s backlist for TPB’s. What do we find? Here’s the breakdown (throwing out Red Prophet, which was an incentive bonus):
Non-shared universe titles: 17 of 24 (We’ll ignore Sandman’s early involvement with the DCU here. And treat Watchmen as its own universe.)
Shared universe titles that aren’t a crossover: 6 – all Batman-related (popular movies do help)
Vertigo titles: 7… 9 if you count Watchmen as Vertigo
Independent titles: 8: all Walking Dead, except for one “The Boys” and one “Buffy The Vampire Slayer
Shared universe crossover titles: 1, Civil War
Now let’s look at the first week of the New York Times having “Graphic Stories” lists, some odd amalgam of comic shops and bookstore sales. With a top 10 for both hardcover and softcover, we find:
Non-shared universe titles: 7 of 20
Shared universe titles that aren’t a crossover: 9 of 20
Vertigo titles: 2 if you count editions of Watchmen, otherwise none.
Independent titles: 5, but only 1 Walking Dead (in hardcover, no less)
Shared universe crossover titles: 2, both Secret Invasion-related softcovers
What does this tell us? The NY Times list is going to be quick-hitters that are more recently released. Diamond’s going to be staying power. Be it long term or short term, crossovers aren’t dominating the charts like they do in the monthly books. You see a lot more action with the self-contained titles or shared universe titles that aren’t crossing over into several other monthly titles. You see a more level playing field between independents and DC and Marvel, especially if your name happens to be Robert Kirkman. Does this hold with BookScan? To a certain extent, yes. More so if you count something like 52 as a mostly self-contained series. The cross-over books pull in a little more traction as you drop lower on the chart, but Civil War is the only one that’s really dominant.
This does raise a question as to how well the monthly publishers are handling their crossover events, when it comes to collected editions. It used to be, the multi-title crossover TPBs were from 1990s Batman events. Knight Fall, Contagion, No Man’s Land and so forth. They’d go across Batman, Detective Comics, Shadow of the Bat and so forth. You’d have several volumes and you’d follow the chapters in sequence.
Somewhere along the line all this changed. Around the time that the massive crossover titles made their comeback, to be specific. DC recently owned up to a massive lapse in judgment by not including the Superman: Beyond mini-series in their Final Crisis hardcover. That mini-series only introduced the main (previously hidden) villain from the story’s closing pages. It will be reprinted in the TPB edition, but there are still a couple issues of Batman left out that would be useful to readers. Oh, and you can buy some other Final Crisis companion titled TPBs that may or may not enhance the story. Main author Grant Morrison has stated what’s considered cannon, and all except for the Batman bits will be in the TPB. It’s in not one TPB. No, it is in one TPB and the other TPBs don’t count. Is anybody thinking about the reader?
Pages: 1 2
- Robot 6 @ Comic Book Resources - Covering Comic Book News and Entertainment » Food or Comics | Money, comics and the economy