The Comics Reporter’s series of “Holiday Interviews” continues with JHU Events coordinator and writer Vito Delsante:
Everyone always wonders about the rivalry between Midtown Comics and us, or Forbidden Planet and us. We three are the only ones that I know of in the city that do events other than Barnes & Noble or the Virgin mega-store. We’re the only three comics retailers that really do events. It’s one of those things where’s it’s not so cutthroat sometimes. But we’ve gotten wind of Midtown getting somebody and saying, “Hey, how come we aren’t getting this guy?” We’ll call up Marvel and go, “You have this guy going around and he’s been there four or five times, when are we going to get someone to do that?” I find myself utilizing MySpace a lot more often in that respect. Saying, “You haven’t been to Hanley’s in five years. We’d love to have you.” Put out open invitations to people. It’s starting to heat up a little bit in that now that New York’s got its convention. I think the clientele and fans and customer base are expecting to meet people a little more often than not.
Obviously with Minx we’re going after the teenaged girl who is not historically a comic book reader. We were looking at success that manga has had with attracting young women. We said, “Hey, we know there are teenaged girls reading manga. We also know there are teenaged girls that are reading books like Persepolis. We know that there are teenaged girls that read books like Sandman and some of Slave Labor’s stuff.” We also know that teenaged girls are adventurous readers, and read more than boys. So why don’t we come out with a line, really an alternate to manga, that deals with real girls in the real world, real stories, real situations. Give it that human touch with very strong protagonists and independent thinkers.
They all said “It’s a really wonderful idea. It’s beautifully executed.” Every single one of them was really impressed. “Oh, of course. It’s obvious. Comics for young kids. It’s really well done. [pause] We wish we could do it, but we can’t.” That was a surprise to me. I went to see every publisher in town at one point or another, kids book publishers, and consistently what they ended up saying was that they don’t have the means to start something new. So over and over again it was, “This isn’t what we do, and there’s no place for it in the bookstore.” Which is exactly where we were at 30 years ago when Art was submitting Maus to publishers. It wasn’t anything they were doing, and there wasn’t any place for it in the bookstore. One of the publishers I talked to felt they didn’t have the means to start a new category. Then they would start looking at my books and then they would say, “Maybe we can take this one and change it a bit and reincorporate it into a format that exists.” It wasn’t always the same one that they would pick. They didn’t want to start a new line of books.