The second book of the award-winning graphic memoir by Congressman John Lewis, the next in a planned trilogy, arrives today.
Featured today in Entertainment Weekly ‘s “Shelf Life” column, the story notes that Book One, “took the world by surprise. Acclaimed by the comics press and social justice activists alike, it was an engaging and accessible work of nonfiction about one of the most important moments in American history.” It also a Coretta Scott King Honor Book, an ALA Notable Book, one of YALSA’s Top 10 Great Graphic Novels for Teens and was on multiple best books list for the year.
March: Book Two
Congressman John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell
Top Shelf; January 20, 2015
In a feature about the books on CNN in July, Lewis said he used the comic format because many in his generation in the ’60s were deeply inspired by a comic book called Martin Luther King Jr. and the Montgomery Story (watch the video to the end, for a story about libraries).
The book on many a comics readers’ mind in the next few weeks (and maybe all year) will be Scott McCloud’s The Sculptor (Macmillan/First Second, Feb. 3), a massive 496 page graphic novel that Cory Doctorow called McCloud’s “magnum opus” back in April. Due out on February 3rd, it is the story of a washed up young artist who makes a deal with Death to create art that will be remembered – but he only gets to live 200 days to do so.
The comic book scene is buzzing with anticipation and Entertainment Weekly listed it as one of the “20 Books We’ll Read in 2015.” For advisors who need a bit of backstory, McCloud is a writer/artist that readers treasure for his nonfiction books (drawn, of course) explaining how comics work (Understanding Comics, Reinventing Comics, and Making Comics - all published by William Morrow). The Sculptor is his first graphic novel in over a decade and follows in the wake of his cult favorite title Zot! (which HarperCollins reprinted in 2008). McCloud discussed creating the book, which took five years, in USA Todaylast June, sharing that he wanted to make a book that was “an engrossing read — a page-turner from beginning to end.”
Macmillan offers a look at McCloud’s innovative page design, use of perspective, and his color palette of pale blues and deep blacks. First Second provides more images as well as a glimpse of the cover and the spine – showing just how big a book The Sculptor is.
Many libraries have yet to order it, in spite of glowing reviews and stars from library trade journals and the long-simmering publicity.
The next wave of readers clamoring for more graphic novels might not be the stereotypical teenage boy but his sister instead. The Wall Street Journal recently posted an article exploring the rise in female graphic novel authors and illustrators, a new focus on female characters, and the expansion of female readers. Not only have graphic novel sales grown, “outpacing the overall trade-book market” according to the article, it seems, at least in part, that women are behind those figures, expanding the market and changing the graphic novel landscape.
The new attention might be behind the recent focus on female characters in superhero comics, a world long dominated by male figures. Not only has Wonder Woman gotten more attention in 2014, but She-Hulk, Ms. Marvel, Spider-Woman, and Batgirl all saw an increase in their profiles. In the TV world, Agent Carter makes the point as well.
Collection development and RA librarians seeking more examples might also consider This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki (First Second, 2014), How to Be Happy by Eleanor Davis (Fantagraphics, 2014), Through the Woods by Emily Carroll (Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2014; OverDrive Sample), and Gast by Carol Swain (Fantagraphics, 2014).
The graphic novel of the moment (and perhaps the year) is Richard McGuire’s Here (Random House/Pantheon, 12/9/14), an experimental, time-bending, tour de force that Chris Ware calls “a work of literature and art unlike any seen or read before” in his Guardian review. Ware knows what he is talking about, having re-created the comics scene in 2012 with Building Stories (Random House/Pantheon).
McGuire’s book floats through decades, centuries, millennia, as it highlights tiny moments in time, overlapping them in space so that readers see multiple events at once in the same location. The artwork is as compelling as the concept, precisely drawn, finely observed, and charmingly surprising at times.
Review after review after review lauds McGuire’s creation, which he has been working on for 25 years, all pointing out its significance and its place alongside the masterworks of Ware and Art Spiegelman.
Holds are building around the country, with some libraries yet to receive copies and some yet to purchase. Where copies are in circulation holds generally exceed a 3:1 ratio. As we posted earlier, McGuire’s book and work is also the subject of an exhibition at the Morgan library.
The taboo-breaking 2006 memoir in graphic novel format, Cancer Vixen by New Yorker cartoonist Marisa Acocella Marchetto (RH/Pantheon), is being set up at HBO for a series. Cate Blanchett will produce and star. Deadline reports that “the prospect of having the Oscar-winning actress in the lead role makes this a priority project. Blanchett has been sweet on the book for some time” (she bought the rights shortly after the book was published).
Marchetto survived her cancer and is now living in NYC with her husband, restaurateur Silvano Marchetto.
D.C. Comics made a splash during a Comic-Con panel yesterday when they announced that Neil Gaiman is returning to his classic comic series, The Sandman. He is planning a miniseries to explain why “Morpheus [was] so easily captured in The Sandman No. 1, and why he was returned from far away, exhausted beyond imagining, and dressed for war.” It will be released some time next year from the Vertigo imprint.
The day before, HarperCollins Children’s division announced that Gaiman has signed a deal for three novels and two picture books. On his blog, Gaiman writes that one of the picture books, Chu’s Day, illustrated by Adam Rex, is finished and will be released on Jan. 8th (9780062017819). He says it is “the first book I’ve ever written for really little kids. Ones who cannot read. Ones who can only just walk.” The second Chu book is written, but there is no release date yet.
Interior art below (Chu is on the far right; click on the image for a larger version):
The other three titles are middle-grade books, says Gaiman, “Fortunately, the Milk(already written), and the next Odd novel (started and plotted) and a mysterious book that I think I know what it is (not even started, won’t be for quite a while, and I think I know the setting but not the story)…”
He is also at work on a novel for adults, Lettie Hempstock’s Ocean, “which should be out in 2013 some time, although contracts aren’t signed.”
The Judge Dredd comics are getting the Hollywood treatment. It’s a classic series for good reason, so I hope the movie brings readers to the source. Unfortunately, it was made into a terrible movie in 1995, starring Sylvester Stallone and Rob Scheider.
The new movie, called Dredd, coming September 21, looks like it will be much better, because it stars Karl Urban, who always brings intelligence, and when necessary menace, to his varied roles. He has quite an acting challenge, since Dredd never goes without his helmet, which covers his eyes. Stallone opted to ignore this characteristic and ditched the helmet. Urban, however, believes the helmet is essential.
Also, Alex Garland wrote the script. He’s no stranger to thoughtful sci-fi given his novel (and the subsequent film) The Beach (Penguin/Riverhead, 1998) and his screenplay for Never Let Me Go, based on the Kazuo Ishiguro novel.
Hollywood is continually signing up comics, with the hopes that one of them will be the next Batman, if you’re aiming for gravitas, or Avengers, if you’re aiming for a lighter tone. The question for library buyers is whether the resulting movies (if they actually come about) will hook readers on the originals.
Most movie fans seem to be happy to enjoy the movie’s universe, with no interest in going beyond that experience. Part of the blame falls on the publishers, who issue lackluster tie-in comics and maintain the currently running series with no obvious ways in to the stories. I find myself sending the few eager readers back to the classics, to those that inspired the filmmakers, rather than the new releases.
In the case of Dredd, I will recommend the collected original series Judge Dredd: Case Files by John Wagner, with outstanding art by Brian Bolland. There are five collections (the fifth was published in June), beginning with:
AMC’s Walking Dead weekend marathon, capped by a preview of season 3 (coming in October) brought renewed attention to the Robert Kirkman comics that the series is based on.
Amazon’s sales rankings reveal that there are still newbies to the series. Compendium One rose to #62 from #180. A larger number of fans are looking for the latest in the series; The Walking Dead, Vol 16 rose from #61 to #44.
For more about Kirkman’s series, see EarlyWord Comics contributor Robin Brenner’s earlier post.
As we head toward Mother’s Day, a book about a decidedly non-Hallmark-card mother/daughter relationship, Alison Bechdel’s new graphic novel, Are You My Mother? A Comic Drama, is rising on Amazon’s sales rankings (currently at #29) in advance of its publication tomorrow.
Yesterday, we wrote that this year’s Super Bowl ads bring new twists; advertisers are using social media both to tease the ads and to make them interactive.
A good example of both trends just appeared on the interwebs; a teaser trailer for the longer Super Bowl teaser trailer (calling M. C. Escher!) of the movieJohn Carter (based on the first book in the classic series by Edgar Rice Burroughs). The interactive part is signaled by voice-over proclaiming, “For a chance to win tickets to next year’s Super Bowl, look for the exclusive code in the John Carter commercial at this year’s big game!” Viewers can then rush to their computers, pick up their tablets or smart phones to enter the code.
The movie arrives on March 9, with a wide range of tie-ins. Edgar Rice Burroughs’ classic pulp fiction John Carter series, also referred to as the Barsoom series, predates his Tarzan series, and was the basis of several graphic novels. The series began with A Princess of Mars, which was first published as a book in 1917 and is the basis for the movie.
There are numerous movie tie-ins (including coloring and activity books, indicating it’s expected to attract kids).
Disney Book Group is releasing a novelization, which also includes the original text of A Princess of Mars, for ages 13 and up.
Marv Wolfman, Chris Claremont, Peter Gillis, Bill Mantlo
Marvel – (2012-02-22)
ISBN / EAN:
0785159908 / 9780785159902
Disney Book Group is releasing collections of the original novels (the series is in the public domain, so there are several other editions as well as audio versions available. Ebook versions are available from OverDrive.)
How interested are readers in graphic novel adaptations of prose titles?
To consider this question, I looked at recent adaptations to see how well they circulate against my general graphic novel collections.
In my library’s adult collection of over 1,600 titles, none of the top 100 in terms of circulations are adaptations. At number 101, is Nancy Butler’s adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice. Equally popular isThe Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born, a series related to but not directly adapted from Stephen King’s popular prose series. Next up is Darwyn Cooke’s adaptation of Richard Parker’s Hunter. The Exile, Diana Gabaldon’s Outlanderspin-off graphic novel, R. Crumb’sBook of Genesis and Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake series rank in the middle range of popularity.
Adaptations of classics, including JinSeok Jeon’s One Thousand and One Nights and Gareth Hind’s The Odyssey stand on the list just after the far better known Anita Blake, showing that quality and appeal can compete admirably with name recognition.
The losers among adaptations? NBM’s Treasury of Murderseries, which is a shame considering the high quality of their adaptations. Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark Huntersseries is also a low performer. Interestingly, this is a series I continued to purchase because a reader specifically requested them. In my library, it has a small, but dedicated audience. The Dresden Files adaptations have also sat on the shelf, which is surprising considering how popular the novels are and how open many speculative readers are to trying out the graphic novel format.
On the teen side, there are a few that stand out. Anthony Horowitz’s Alex Rider, James Patterson’s Maximum Ride, Orson Scott Card’s Ender, and Ian Colfer’s Artemis Fowl adaptations all do tremendously well for the genre. Point Blank, from the Alex Rider series, is right near the top with original works Akira Toriyama’s Dragon Ball and Raina Telgemeier’s Smile.
The losers for younger readers include NBM’s often lovely adaptations of classic fairy tales including P. Craig Russell’s Fairy Tales of Oscar Wilde, the Anne Frank House authorized biography of Anne Frank, Ellen Schreiber’s Vampire Kisses, D. J. MacHale’s Merchant of Death, and Dean Koontz’sOdd Thomas adaptations. That New York Times multi-week best-selling adaptation of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight? The first volume ranks at #300 while the second volume has yet to be checked out.
What conclusions should we draw from all of this number crunching?
Just because a series is popular in prose does not mean you can slap together an adaptation into the graphic novel format with rushed art and lackluster attention to adapting dialog and have it succeed. I think many of those adaptations of popular series that have failed are simply poorly made graphic novels. Sometimes it’s the fault of a publisher pushing an adaptation too fast into production, and sometimes it just doesn’t gell in the graphic format.
Readers do not easily jump from one format to another. Some titles will be popular by sheer name recognition, and some will be as an engaging way to comprehend a difficult text (i.e. The Odyssey), but many popular prose titles aren’t going to attract graphic novel readers nor are they going to bring that title’s readers to the format. Unless both writing and art are really solid, any adaptation will never be as popular as original material in the medium.
Original material always circulates better, so I only collect adaptations if they are requested specifically by readers or if they are lauded in many a review from multiple sources. Adaptations make up around 3% of my adult collection, and thus far I see no great reason to change that percentage.
What have your experiences been? How much of your budget do you devote to collecting adaptations of prose in the graphic format?