Kibbles ‘n’ Bits 6/13/16: How will comics target evolving readers?

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§ Nice Art: Supergirl fan art by Bilquis Evely.

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Evely is drawing Sugar & Spike for DC, as written by Keith Giffen and I may just need to check this out.

§ First Second, the graphic novel imprint at MacMillan, is profiled for its 10th year with lots of numbers and quotes:

First Second was founded as an imprint under Roaring Brook and released 12 titles in 2006. To mark its 10th anniversary, this year First Second will publish 24 titles and plans to publish as many as 40 titles in 2017, according to Siegel. Over the past 10 years, the imprint has published about 160 graphic titles of all kinds, including Vera Brosgol’s teen supernatural graphic fiction Anya’s Ghosts (which has sold more than 110,000 copies); George O’Connor’s the Olympians, a seven-book series on the Greek Gods (which has sold more than 450,000 copies total); and Alan’s War by French comics artist Emmanuel Gilbert, a graphic memoir of an American GI in WWII.


Adult books coming this fall from First Second include the first volume of Jason Shiga’s Demon and Box Brown’s Tetris, both something to look forward to.

§ Comics Experience is celebrating the one year anniversary of its Graphic Novel Club, a reading club that started as a revenue-raising response to San Francisco raising the minimum wage. It’s been a hit in all ways, as this video by owner Brian Hibbs reveals.

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§ La Borinqueña, a Puerto Rican superheroine, appeared as a float as this past weekend’s Puerto Rican Day Parade, here in NYC, although her comic doesn’t come out until the fall. La Borinqueña, who is actually college student Marisol Rios De La Luz, was created by Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez.

§ Some interesting issues were raised in this review of DC’s Rebirth comics by Chase Magnett. Although Magnett found the Rebirth one shot special severely bad, reading the cheaper ongoing titles, which are priced at $2.99, was a throwback pleasure:

To be entirely fair, sitting poolside with a good beer is already a very pleasurable experience, but I found the stack of DC Rebirth comics at my side enhanced rather than diminished that time. Nostalgia played a definite role. It has been a very long time since I was able to pick up superhero comics for $2.99 purely for the purpose of reading material. The aesthetic aspects of buying a floppy, sticking it in your pocket, then reading it wherever I found the time is something that connects directly to my formative years. Weighing down the stack of comics with that can of beer and folding the pages back to handle the breeze felt oddly rebellious and freeing. In this manner I was enjoying comics the same way I had more than a decade ago by grabbing a stack from the dollar bin and plowing through them cover to cover.


Whether cheaper comics with a $2.99 cover price actually make more money for stores by moving more units hasn’t really been proven one way or another, as far as I can tell, but it certainly feels like a positive move. With Marvel moving boldly into the $5.99 cover price, we’re getting back to the fundamental “satisfying chunk” law of diminishing returns: people will pay more for something if they enjoy it. To use the coffee cup analogy everyone is so fond of, my favorite indie coffee shop just raised the price of a large cold brew by a quarter to $4.25. It’s my favorite cold brew so I’ll gladly pay it. However, the $6 nitro cold brew at another shop is just too expensive to be more than an occasional treat, even if it does have the texture of a Guinness beer. If comics were really better–meaning good stories, good art, a satisfying chunk of story in whatever format you are buying–price wouldn’t be as much of a problem.

The other thing that this reminded me of is that a lot of the “younger readers” who got into comics because of media tie-ins, or the New 52, or manga, or whatever within the last decade, are reaching the point where religiously following comics series and buying the floppies isn’t as much fun as it once was. The storylines begin to cycle around, there’s a new #1 every six months, the same crises are coming back (Civil War II) and its a good jumping OFF point. This is just a natural part of the comic book cycle, and its why new readers have to be found on a regular basis. Marvel and DC both used to target evolving readers with more “mature” versions of the characters, like Max or Elseworlds or adultish-seeming “prestige format” books, but it seems everything has to “tie in” to the core line now. Scott Snyder’s All-Star Batman anthology with a rotating cast of artists including Jock, Sean Murphy, Tula Lotay, Declan Shalvey is more along the lines of a book for evolving readers. I suspect we may see more of these.

§ A report on Books With Pictures, the new comics shop in Portland, OR:

“We really want to be a space that feels welcoming to new readers,” says owner Katie Proctor, “that feels like a place where you can come in and not know what you want or know you saw a movie you liked and want to read books around that and get recommendations.” She calls it an explicitly inclusive space and points out gender-neutral restrooms. The store stocks just about the same titles you’d find in any other comic shop, but the displays have a decidedly less lurid feel. “Having a lot of content that contains female protagonists and protagonists of color — those are the kind of thing we’re attentive to in our stocking and our staffing,” Proctor says.

§ Here’s a charming report on free comic book day activities at the Joeten-Kiyu Public Library in Micronesia:

THE 3rd Annual Free Comic Book Day sponsored by Green Flash Comics and Joeten-Kiyu Public Library featured a comic/manga art contest, the first-ever trading card gaming clinic, and a “card fight.” The event was held on Saturday, June 11, 2016 at JKPL and featured performances by the Te Kanahau Nui Dance Group and Marianas High School’s Rhythm and Harmony under the direction of Paul Dujua. Of the seven entries for the comic/manga art contest, two were chosen winners.

In case you’re geographically challenged like me, and don’t know where Micronesia is, it’s very very far away from almost everything, but they have Free Comics Book Day.

§ Retailer Brian Hibbs again, with a piece from a week ago about creator responsibility in scheduling, with Scarlet by Bendis being a particularly egregious example:

Not that that retailer, no matter how wacky, didn’t kind of have a point of sorts — Bendis just took his “Scarlet” off the market for three years, then shipped two issues within two weeks of one another. That’s not anything but a “screw you” to the readership and the retailers buying non-returnable — comics that are three years late have their commercial prospects annihilated, and then to shove two issues out in two weeks? What kind of a person does that? Bendis, in fact, is the one guy who drastically abuses Final Order Cutoff more than anyone else — there are creator-owned comics of his that have been on FOC a dozen times or more before finally shipping (note the phrase “Final Order” in that construction?) propagating consumer confusion and poor data all along the chain.

§ Last night’s Game of Thrones set up everything, and next week’s episode is called “Battle of the Bastards” and here’s the trailer and don’t bother going to the laundromat, it’s too crowded because a lot of people just shit their pants.

Comments

  1. says

    Sugar & Spike is really rather excellent, though Sugar’s a wee bit TOO bad tempered … still, the art and story are superb, and mesh really well to make good, fun comics.

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