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?
Go ahead, click on it, expand it (hit the plus sign to make it fill your computer screen), and take it all in. I’ll wait here.
Created by Wired’s Art Director Tim Leong, this slick representation of the entire year’s data compiled into an easily digestible chart allows us to take stock of the graphic novel market and assess how useful the NYT list is for librarians developing collections.
What did I notice?
Scott Pilgrim and The Walking Dead dominated the charts. Any library worth it’s salt already stocks these titles. Their continuing popularity also happily brought some sturdy new omnibus editions, in the case of The Walking Dead, which can be great when libraries need to catch up or replace tattered, well-loved paperbacks.
Take a good look at that bar graphic of superhero versus non-superhero titles. What does that mean? Are superheroes no longer so popular? Does the NYT list skew away from superheroes? Perhaps, but more likely, it shows that the market is diversifying and that mainstream comics are no longer defined by costumed vigilantes.
Five titles debuted at number one and then disappeared. All are popular titles in my library. They may not have had the juice to last on the official list but they’re still worthwhile additions to library collections.
The top ten publishers are lead by two small houses. Oni Press is #1 because of Scott Pilgrim. Image Comics, as publisher of The Walking Dead, comes in at #2. Oni has been considerate and understanding of libraries, plus they put out a lovely assortment of quality titles for all types of readers. Image has been more scattered, with an impenetrable website and they are just starting to court the library market. The appearance of Scholastic and Pantheon (RH) in the top ten indicates that traditional publishers have made inroads into the comics market.
The fact that only 16 titles were in the top spot points to the limitations of the list for collection development purposes. Once you’ve bought those 16, the list become repetitive.
What conclusions do you take away from this aggregation? What would you like to know from a year’s worth of data?
The premiere of the second season of AMC Network’s [corrected; we earlier referred to it as USA Network’s] Walking Dead drew a total of 11 million viewers and broke basic cable ratings in several demographics.
No surprise, then, that the various compilations of the source comics also rose on Amazon sales rankings. Leading the pack is the seventh volume which arrives tomorrow:
The NYT, among others, writes today about French singer Serge Gainsbourg, who was an icon in his native country from the ’60’s through his death in 1991. A new film about him, Serge Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life, opens this week.
NPR, however, focuses on the director, Joann Sfar, already well-known as an award-winning comics artist, because he “is as interesting as its subject.”
Although some stories claim the movie Serge Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life is based on a comic (it’s even listed that way in IMDB.com), Sfar says it is not, but that he applied “comic book techniques” to the live action movie,
I love [the] Russian way of storytelling, when you put strong picture close to other strong picture, and you expect the audience to do the job….a kind of montage way of editing a movie.
Gainsbourg may be less familiar to American audiences than Sfar. Some identify him only through his muse, Jane Birkin, the ’60’s British actress for whom the Hermes’ Birkin Bag was named (it’s the one Samantha lusted for on Sex and the City), or for the couple’s daughter, Charlotte Gainsbourg who stars with Kirsten Durst in the upcoming movie Melancholia.