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
Kevin Church
Johnny Bacardi
Simon Jones
Johanna Draper Carlson Part 2


  1. what about the possibility that some of the stories/artwork were not very good?

    i saw the bound galley edition which contained 6-8 different stories and i would say only a third of them were even readable. the rest “looked” like amateur hour.

  2. Just as manga created an explosion of interest in graphic novels among bookstores, Harry Potter did the same with Young Adult books. (Yes, I know they’re shelved in juvie… but when you factor in the tone, plus the fans, it’s a young adult phenomenon.) The problem with Young Adult books are… a lot of young adults read up. They read Stephen King, or Harlequin romances, or Kerouac. Also, the reading levels are so scattered in the age group, that there are many titles in the Kid’s section which appeal to teens (and adults). A YA book, generally speaking, has adult situations that help a teen reader cope, and a somewhat happy ending. (Many fans of fantasy and science fiction delve into YA fantasy because the stories are not as dark and dismal.) I don’t think manga has that problem-solving literary formula. (Not an expert, but the plots don’t seem to be that serious.) The Baby-Sitters Club books (both prose and graphic novel) merge the soap opera feel of manga with the serious tone of young adult books, and appeal to a wide audience. (I got hooked on them in college when I worked at the Omaha Public Library, and buy the hardcover GNs as they appear.)

    Although this is post-mortem, I’ll avoid the scalpels. I hope Jann Jones and company can make a go of the new non-cartoon DC heroes comics (can’t wait for the new Supergirl!).

    Were I involved, I would partner with Random House and adapt established series like The Caped Sixth Grader. Make the line a 50/50 partnership, DC controlling the editorial, RH handling the sales. Brand it as a Random House imprint. Network closely with the picture book authors and illustrators, scouting for talent.

  3. Good freakin’ riddance to WaMu !!

    That’ll teach some stupid financial institution from Seattle to come down to LA and just think they can dictate terms with their asinine offers of free checking, unlimited teller service and no ATM fees.

    Bye Bye.



  4. What’s so surprising in it?
    Minx was only news when it was launched. The books were never big news.
    They spent some $125.000 markintg a line that published some 10/12 books that gives about $10.000 of ad expenses for each book with a retail price o $9.99.
    There was no big name creators attached to give it some exposure an a hit to recover quickly the markting investement alone. There was no continuig series. it was only Original GN.
    It was a FOR WOMEN ONLY line, wich excluded the mlae readers, because they were clearly told that it was books designe to please women, so they wouldn’t enjoy them. (Minx never used the ter “for women only”, but it’s implied in the “for women” designation).
    The format and product produced by Minx is very similar to indy slice of life comics (with the diference that Minx excludes male readers) so it’s probable that it had similar sales to other indy slice of life books (minus the males readers.

    What’s so surprising in the Minx failure?

  5. I think Chaka’s math is right. When you look at how much the spent per title to promote the books, it’s nothing. Added to that, they spent it in the wrong place.

    Now where Chaka is def off base is in regard to using big name creators. The girls these books were created for dont givve a rat’s ass about creators. They want to read stories that have a plot. These books would never have moved in a comic shop because there is nothing in a comic shop that appeals to girls.

    Tweens and teens all tend to ‘read up’ so this series that DC thought was for teen girls was actually beeing read by the tween kids-10-12. Does this even sound close to anything DC understands? NOOOOOOO.

    Torsten is right, turn it over to Random House but I would surrender the editorial as well. DC doesnt know how to write for girls and if they do they would jack that up by giving the gig to an artist who thinks a 14 year old should be built like Jenna Jameson.

    In the end the classic comic publishers will say “see we told you girls dont like this stuff”. At least McCain admits he doesnt know anything about economics…

  6. “Tweens and teens all tend to ‘read up’ so this series that DC thought was for teen girls was actually beeing read by the tween kids-10-12.”

    YUp yup yup.

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