Graphic Novel Reporter, a resource site for book industry professionals, has released a list of “core” graphic novels that librarians and store owners should consider basics to carry. The list starts with a basic ten book list:
American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang
Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli
Blankets by Craig Thompson
Bone by Jeff Smith
The Book of Genesis Illustrated by R. Crumb
Fun Home by Alison Bechdel
The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman
The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
The Sandman Series by Neil Gaiman, et al.
Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons
Okay, that’s pretty basic and unassailable. And all proven best-sellers as well, so they are a good investment for anyone who’s on the fence wouldn’t be taking much of a risk here.
Next comes a list of 25 more books:
The Adventures of Tintin by Herge ￼
Alan’s War by Emmanuel Guibert
American Splendor by Harvey Pekar
American Widow by Alissa Torres and Sungyoon Choi
Black Hole by Charles Burns
Collected Essex County by Jeff Lemire ￼
The Contract with God Trilogy by Will Eisner ￼
The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller
David Boring by Daniel Clowes
The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For by Alison Bechdel
Epileptic by David B.
Far Arden by Kevin Cannon ￼
Footnotes in Gaza by Joe Sacco ￼
Ghost World by Daniel Clowes
Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth by Chris Ware
Our Cancer Year by Harvey Pekar, Joyce Brabner, and Frank Stack
The Photographer by Emmanuel Guibert and Didier Lefevre
The Preacher Series by Garth Ennis, Steve Dillon, et al. ￼
Queen & Country Series by Greg Rucka, et al.
Safe Area Gorazde by Joe Sacco
Stitches by David Small
Strangers in Paradise by Terry Moore
V for Vendetta by Alan Moore and David Lloyd
Y, the Last Man by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra
You’ll Never Know by C. Tyler
It’s surprising to see Kevin Cannon’s fine but very recent Far Arden enshrined with the comics that defined the Aughts here, and it isn’t the book we’d choose to represent this year’s stuff, but again, nearly everything here is time-tested and for a bookstore looking to start buying GNs, nothing on here would be much of a risk.
There’s also The Expanded List: 100 More, which sticks mostly to more of the same — mainstream fiction-y and recent historical non-fiction.
The most shocking things about the list is its recent vintage — so many of the cornerstones of the bookstore market have come out in recent years. The “legacy” books on it are Beanworld, Peanuts, Calvin and Hobbes, Concrete, Bloom County, Crisis on Infinite Earths, From Hell, Hellboy, It Was The War of the Trenches, The Killing Joke, Kingdom Come, Kings in Disguise, Love and Rockets, Pogo, 100 Bullets, Powers, Sin City, Tale of one Bad Rat, Transmetropolitan, West Coast Blues, Why I Hate Saturn, X-Men: The Dark Phoenix Saga, X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills, You Are There and Zot. … meaning 77% of the books on the list are from the last decade.
GNR president Carol Fitzgerald explains the rationale for the list:
“Since we started conceptualizing this site — and even more frequently since it launched in December 2008 — traditional booksellers have asked for guidance on what to buy for their stores,” said Carol Fitzgerald, President of TheBookReportNetwork.com, which publishes GraphicNovelReporter. “We see a keen interest from retailers in carrying more graphic novels in stores, but they are overwhelmed by the number of titles out there. Given the depth and breadth of our content, we saw an opportunity to provide these honed lists.”
These edited choices are divided into separate categories to help accommodate particular bookstores’ needs, based on both content and size: beginning with 10 books for those with very small spaces to allot to graphic works,followed by 25 and 100 more selections for those with more room. A nonfiction list is also included.
In the weeks ahead, GraphicNovelReporter.com will debut lists for the Teen and the Kids categories, two of the biggest categories in comics, as well as manga lists again broken out by demographic.
“This is by no means an exhaustive list, nor is it a best-of list. It’s a solid, core list for booksellers who want to branch out into comics selling and build a base,” added John Hogan, Editorial Director of GraphicNovelReporter. “Once they jump in, whether it’s with 10, 25, or 100 or more titles, they’ll quickly learn how strong this category can be for them and also will learn what is interesting to their customers.”
There’s no denying that this “core list” is a bit of a “bore list” that seems to have left off most of the adventurous and challenging books of recent years — no EXIT WOUNDS or SCOTT PILGRIM or BOTTOMLESS BELLYBUTTON, to name three critically acclaimed books of recent years? Instead everything is pretty safe and “current events” friendly. But as a list of books that comics clueless booksellers could safely order, it’s probably the sensible way to go. And on another note, it’s nice to see “Euro-comics” extended beyond Satrapi to include Guibert and Tardi and David B.
But moving beyond this, I’d like to see a “Challenging 50” list for book buyers who want to service their readers who like Danielewski or Calvino. Any nominations?
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.