While we all know that Amazon rankings are easily gamed and represent dozens not hundreds of copies sold, it’s worth noting that Chris Ware’s epic Building Stories is selling quite briskly on Amazon,firmly ensconced in the top 100 of all books.
It’s not the only “sorta comic” in the top 100— the new Wimpy Kid, which arrives in November, is at #6, and How to Tell if Your Cat is Plotting to Kill is #25, proveing that cartoon books about cats may complete the troika of unavoidability with death and taxes.
We don’t mean to in any way trivialize the magnitude of BUILDING STORIES’ artistic achievement—as close as you can come via art to immersion in another person’s existence— by hyping sales success, however it is heartening to see a book this profound and beautiful finding a healthy audience. We suspect it will be under many a Christmas Tree.
"I think early on I decided rightly or wrongly that comics sort of froze up as an artistic medium approximately with the advent of sound motion pictures in 1930s and 1940s. The genre in America solidified into this kind of adventure storytelling, and it wasn't until the 1960s, with cartoonists like Robert Crumb and Kim Deitch and Art Spiegelman, that they reinvented comics as a medium for actual human self-expression. There are other ways of getting at a sense of reality that had more to do with comics than the idea of a camera. Because comics are an inwardly turned thing. It's really a way of getting your memories out on the page. It's almost a way of making dreams real."
The Herald has a companion piece on the Graphic Novel Era which suggests comics have undergone “Hampsteadisation”—and we have no idea what that means. PAGING STEVE MORRIS. The piece is good for rounding up opinions from the UKs burgeoning indie scene of Blank Slate, No Brow and Self Made Hero:
“The audience is receptive to certain material heading more towards the biographical end of the comics spectrum,” he says, “which I find slightly disappointing because my conception of a grown-up comics audience is one that can read any form of comic.” (Then again, the memoristic strand – including titles such as Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis – is attracting female readers who were never really catered for in the 1980s.)
Penman was one of the founders of Forbidden Planet and still runs the company. He started Blank Slate in 2008 and since then he’s published books by the likes of Oli East, Darryl Cunningham and last year’s excellent portmanteau graphic novel Nelson. Blank Slate doesn’t make money, he says, but that was never the point.
Chris Ware is forging new ground there, too.
Both links via Forbidden Planet International
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.