Allie Brosh’s debut book Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened came out earlier this week, and it’s selling very well. I took a snapshot of Amazon sales on Wednesday and just now. On Wednesday it was the #5 book over all, and it’s still the #8 book over all, indicating a steady stream of sales. (Amazon tagged it as the best book of the month.)
I’m told that at a Wednesday night signing, Brosh signed for more than three hours, in front of a packed, SRO room, sketching in everyone’s book. Already a huge internet phenomenon, Brosh’s highly personal and hilarious stories speak directly to a huge audience of women and men who are still trying to figure things out—unlike Beat commenters who have EVERYTHING FIGURED OUT IN DETAIL AND AREN’T AFRAID TO LET EVERYONE ELSE KNOW IT.
I’ve already seen some traditional comics outlets questioning whether this is a book of “comics” or not—and of course there are long stretches of prose, accompanied by what are definitely cartoons. (I asked a Brosh fan of my acquaintance about the question of whether Brosh is a cartoonists or not and she literally snorted.) The drawings are crude, it must be said. In fact, they make Drabble look refined. But they reflect the personal nature of the work, the pain, occasional alienation, disappointment, and general flailing about that Brosh chronicles. Every young woman has felt like Brosh’s misshapen, wide-eyed squiggle at some time in their lives—myself included. It’s definitely comics. And you know what, comics industry, you need to embrace Allie Brosh as a cartoonist because, like I always say, DON’T DISTANCE YOURSELF FROM SUCCESS.
Also, when you click on Brosh’s Amazon page the most interesting thing is the “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought” listing. (Click for larger.)
The Oatmeal, Kate Beaton, Clare Belton. Today’s link is the XKCD book. Pretty clear indications of the ascendance of webcartoonists in the book reading (as opposed to fan) side of comics.
Anyway this is part of the wave of NEW READERS in comics. Part of why things are going so well right now. These are not your “pap pap” comics. Readers who are passionate about authors. I don’t expect anyone in the “comics-niscenti” end of things to ever accept Brosh as a cartoonist or to engage with her work. Luckily, that attitude doesn’t matter.
BONUS: long interview with Brosh at Mother Jones.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.