Monday, April 24, 2006

Graphic Novels

TCS Daily has an article about graphic novels. Among other things, it points out how much comic book readership has fallen. In 1945, half the country read comic books. Now, the top seller moved 140,000 copies. According to a talk by Steve Englehart, when he was writing in the 1970s, he was told that 200,000 sales was the magic number. If a comic sold fewer issues than that it was cancelled. That means that no comic book today is as successful as any 1970s title that wasn't cancelled.

Go back a decade to the height of the Silver Age and Superman and Batman could sell as many as a million copies.

This is one reason that comic cost so much. But then, the cost hurt sales.

According to the article, the solution to all of this is the graphic novel. These have a lower cover price and you get a complete story, something that most comics no longer do. In fact, many plot arcs are obviously produced as a serialized graphic novel.

Book stores are much more open to graphic novels. They don't expire like comics do so they get wider distribution.

Also, "graphic novel" doesn't carry the stigma that "comic book" does.

Is this the salvation of the industry? I don't know. Book stores themselves are being squeezed. Between Walmart and Amazon, traditional book stores have lost a lot of market share.

I will admit that I have re-read a few of my favorite story lines as graphic novels. Just trying to assemble the individual issues can be a pain otherwise.

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