The failure of WaMu Minx pretty much took over the blogosphere yesterday. A few highlights:
§ Mariah Huehner, who worked on the initial Minx launch, has her own postmortem:
And I think a huge part of it is a lack of long term planning. It was always going to take time for this line to find the right combination to work, probably with various hiccups along the way. The fact that it wasn’t an overnight, break out star, shouldn’t be surprising to anyone. It’s not like YA fiction just suddenly became popular…it’s been growing for awhile. Decades, in fact. And it’s really the fact that many of them have become films recently that makes it seem more “sudden”. Same thing with Manga, which often had tv shows and movies that were already successful here. There’s no such thing as an overnight success, in my opinion, and expecting it in publishing doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. Minx was still going through a lot of growing pains and I’m truly sad it won’t be able to continue to evolve and grow.
§ Raina Telgemeier refutes a lot of what I was hearing yesterday: Minx going down doesn’t mean girls don’t want to read comics:
Girls do want to read comics. They email me and send me letters to say so. Their parents do the same. I meet them at comic conventions, libraries, bookstores, comic stores, schools, and via my friends. They find personal inspiration in comics. They decide to start their own publishing companies and draw their own comics. They look for comics about interesting topics (nothing unusual there), and comics about characters they can identify with. They want comics that are made for them. They need comics that are made just for them.
§ Chris Pearson at Comic Book Junction has an interesting look back at Acclaim’s 1997 attempt at a line for kids:
But if Acclaim Young Readers never made it into — or made an impact on — the book stores, in the Direct Market they were completely lost. Relegated to the bottom shelves, packed in with the “Kids Ghetto” of comic selections — or even worse, racked spine-out. Unlike the beefy mangas that would make such a splash less than ten years later, the spines on the Acclaim Young Readers line were extremely thin and nondescript. If they had the misfortune to be placed on store shelves like actual books –they were completely invisible & forgotten.
§ Katherine Farmar has a very long and insightful post which does heavy duty finger pointing, and compares the Japanese and American markets:
One of the ways in which the Japanese manga market differs from the American comics market is the degree to which Japanese publishers cater to their audiences’ whims. If there is a niche out there to be exploited, you can bet your ass there’s a Japanese manga publisher exploiting it. If there’s a bandwagon to jump on, they will jump feet first. This requires three things: firstly, a keen eye for trends; secondly, tight editorial control so that creators stick to their given mandate and are carefully sheparded through every stage of the process; and thirdly, a hotline from your audience — and, before you begin publishing, from your potential audience — so you know what they’re looking for and can gauge what works and what doesn’t.
I do think the American Big Two do a LOT of market research into what their audiences want, in some ways — more Green Lantern Corp., more Skrulls–but it doesn’t quite pay off the same way because the audience models are different. And I think some people go too far in comparing American reading habits to those of Japan: Japanese society accepts what we consider shocking and distasteful as light entertainment, and have far far different views of “letting off steam” than we do. Plus, they read on trains. You might as well say that having more long train rides in America will improve comics readership.
A few more links of note:
• PW story by Calvin Reid
• KadyMae, who has some interesting insights from the retail end of things.
• Kai-Ming Cha
• Leigh Walton
• Leigh Dragoon
• Richard Bruton
• Chris Butcher
• Randy Lander
• Johnny Bacardi
• Simon Jones
• Johanna Draper Carlson Part 2
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.