Archive for the ‘Graphic Books’ Category

RA Alert: Scott McCloud’s

Monday, January 19th, 2015

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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 Today last 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.

Graphic Novels Audience Expands

Monday, January 5th, 2015

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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.

Female writers and artists are certainly changing the scene, offering new stories, characters, and approaches. The WSJ article features Raina Telgemeier, creator of Smile (Graphix, 2010; OverDrive Sample) and Sisters (Graphix, 2014; OverDrive Sample) and mentions Roz Chast’s Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? (Bloomsbury USA, 2014; OverDrive Sample), a finalist for the National Book Award and on many best books lists.

More to Consider

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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).

Holds Alert: HERE
by Richard McGuire

Monday, December 29th, 2014

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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.

A Non-Hallmark Mother’s Day

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

New Yorker Cover, May 12The New Yorker “celebrates” the upcoming Mother’s Day in their own idiosyncratic way, with a cover story from Roz Chast’s new graphic memoir, Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? (Macmillan/Bloomsbury, May 6) in which she chronicles of the decline of her aging parents. Chast’s book is also reviewed in today’s NYT by Michiko Kakutanti, who says it is “by turns grim and absurd, deeply poignant and laugh-out-loud funny. ”

For more on Chast, take a look at the March New Yorker video profile (check out her variations on Ukranian Easter eggs!)


Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

978-0-375-71474-0The 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.

MARBLES On Morning Edition

Monday, November 26th, 2012

On NPR’s Morning Edition today, cartoonist Ellen Forney talks about her memoir of her own mental illness in the graphic novel Marbles. Several libraries are showing heavy holds on light ordering.

The book is also on the Washington Post‘s list of the ten best comics of 2012.

Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me: A Graphic Memoir
Ellen Forney
Retail Price: $20.00
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Gotham – (2012-11-06)
ISBN / EAN: 1592407323 / 9781592407323

The Neil Gaiman Pipeline

Friday, July 13th, 2012

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.”

DREDD Is Coming

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

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.

The Dredd trailer released recently and already there is talk of sequels.

Official Movie Site:

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:

Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files 01
John Wagner, Pat Mills
Retail Price: $19.99
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: 2000 AD – (2010-06-15)
ISBN / EAN: 1906735875 / 9781906735876

The individual titles are available on OverDrive.

Movie tie-in:

Dredd: Collecting: Dredd Vs Death, Kingdom of the Blind & The Final Cut
Gordon Rennie, David Bishop, Matthew Smith
Retail Price: $8.99
Mass Market Paperback: 704 pages
Publisher: Abaddon – (2012-07-31)
ISBN / EAN: 1781080771 / 9781781080771

Note: The titles in this collection are available individually from OverDrive

They Walk Again

Monday, July 9th, 2012

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.

The Walking Dead: Compendium One
Robert Kirkman
Retail Price: $59.99
Paperback: 1088 pages
Publisher: Image Comics – (2009-05-19)
ISBN / EAN: 1607060760 / 9781607060765


The Walking Dead, Vol. 16
Robert Kirkman
Retail Price: $14.99
Paperback: 136 pages
Publisher: Image Comics – (2012-06-19)
ISBN / EAN: 1607065592 / 9781607065593

Top Ten Graphic Memoirs

Friday, May 4th, 2012

To celebrate the release of Alison Bechdel’s Are You My Mother?, Time magazine offers a slide show of ten other “unforgettable autobiographical comics,” beginning with Art Spiegelman’s Maus.

Several libraries are showing heavy holds on Bechdel’s title.

Are You My Mother?: A Comic Drama
Alison Bechdel
Retail Price: $22.00
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt – (2012-05-01)
ISBN / EAN: 0618982507 / 9780618982509


Monday, April 30th, 2012

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.

It received an impassioned review in this week’s NYT BR and the author is interviewed in The Barnes and Noble Review/Salon.

Are You My Mother?: A Comic Drama
Alison Bechdel
Retail Price: $22.00
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt – (2012-05-01)
ISBN / EAN: 0618982507 / 9780618982509


Parenting Comic Lands on Indie Best Seller List

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

Here’s a great premise: “What if Darth Vader had a 4-year-old?” How would he handle potty time or bedtime stories? That’s the basis for Jeffrey Brown’s graphic novel  Darth Vader and Son (Chronicle), which debuts at #10 on the Indie Hardcover Nonfiction Best Seller list this week.

The author was recently interviewed in the L.A. Times and USA Today’s PopCandy blog said, “Something tells me Brown’s latest effort, Darth Vader and Son is going to be quite a hit.”

A few libraries own it in small quantities.

Darth Vader and Son (Star Wars (Chronicle))
Jeffrey Brown
Retail Price: $14.95
Hardcover: 64 pages
Publisher: Chronicle Books – (2012-04-18)
ISBN / EAN: 145210655X / 9781452106557

JOHN CARTER Plays the Super Bowl

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

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 movie John 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.

Clearly Disney is pulling out all the stops for John Carter. The first trailer had a “world premiere”  on Good Morning America, in early December.

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.

John Carter: The Movie Novelization: Also includes: A Princess of Mars
Stuart Moore, Edgar Rice Burroughs
Retail Price: $9.99
Paperback: 560 pages
Publisher: Disney Editions – (2012-02-07)
ISBN / EAN: 1423165586 / 9781423165583

Marvel is releasing a “prequel” (ages “13 to 99” — if you’re 100 or over, you’re out of luck),

John Carter: World Of Mars
Peter David
Retail Price: $14.99
Paperback: 112 pages
Publisher: Marvel – (2012-02-15)
ISBN / EAN: 0785160418 / 9780785160410

Plus a new graphic novel version (also ages “13 to 99”),

John Carter: A Princess of Mars (John Carter of Mars)
Roger Langridge
Retail Price: $14.99
Paperback: 120 pages
Publisher: Marvel – (2012-02-15)
ISBN / EAN: 0785160426 / 9780785160427

Aimed at collectors, Marvel is also releasing a pricey omnibus of various classic 1970’s graphic novels based on the series, (ages “13 to 99”),

John Carter, Warlord of Mars Omnibus
Marv Wolfman, Chris Claremont, Peter Gillis, Bill Mantlo
Retail Price: $99.99
Hardcover: 632 pages
Publisher: 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.)

Collected John Carter of Mars, The (A Princess of Mars, Gods of Mars, and Warlord of Mars)
Edgar Rice Burroughs
Retail Price: $16.99
Paperback: 768 pages
Publisher: Disney Editions – (2012-02-07)
ISBN / EAN: 1423154266 / 9781423154266

Other volumes in the series are:

Collected John Carter of Mars, The (Swords of Mars, Synthetic Men of Mars, Llana

Collected John Carter of Mars, The (Thuvia, Maid of Mars; The Chessmen of Mars

Disney is also realeasing an “art of the movie” tie-in,

Art of Disney John Carter, The (Introduction by Andrew Stanton / Afterword by Ryan Church): A Visual Journey
Josh Kushins
Retail Price: $50.00
Hardcover: 160 pages
Publisher: Disney Editions – (2012-03-06)
ISBN / EAN: 1423154924 / 9781423154921

Prose Adaptations. Yay? or Nay?

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

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 is The 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 Outlander spin-off graphic novel, R. Crumb’s Book 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 Murder series, which is a shame considering the high quality of their adaptations. Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark Hunters series 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’s Odd 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?

My thoughts:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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?

NYT Graphic Books Bestsellers – Infographic

Wednesday, December 28th, 2011

Created for Comics Alliance, as a year-end treat, I present to you the New York Times Graphic Books Bestseller list as an infographic:

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?

The obvious:

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.

To ponder:
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?