Another newspaper, another favorable review of the Minx line (along with other comics):
The hip Minx series is consistently cranking out some of the sassiest, fun-to-read comics this year. The top-rate talents attached to it never talk down to the readership, and they address heady topics – death, Sept. 11, racism, partying – without being preachy.
Every month I receive a Minx title, I move it to the top of my comic books pile at home. After reading one, you’ll understand why.
The story is written by one “Randy Myers” which could theoretically be a female, but a little googling shows it’s a guy. Which is fine. The Minx line is a nice little line of books. We know from our link farms that it has touched the fancy of thirty-something male comics writers across the land. Our question is, do we know if any actual girls are reading these? The female blogosphere hasn’t been all that supportive of the line, but some have read that as sour grapes over the lack of female writers.
We’ve heard of a few bits of anecdotal but we’re still curious. Buehler?
As long as we’re picking on DC, Marc-Oliver Frisch looks into his crystal ball and what he sees is…clouded.:
At DC Comics, the future holds… well, more of the same, really. Which in itself isn’t a bad thing, unless you realize that 2007 so far hasn’t been going desperately well for them. So, more of the same? Well, not ideal. In Salvation Run, an upcoming seven-issue limited series by Bill Willingham and Sean Chen, mysterious forces are conspiring to ship the DC Universe’s villains off to some nasty prison planet for good, instead of going through the hassle of putting them on trial and such. In fairness, the concept seems workable enough and it’s a solid creative team. On the other hand, of course, Salvation Run is another Countdown spin-off title, and it’s apparently connected to everything else DC are putting out. So that’s two big strikes against it which might make it a bit of a hard sell, given the less than impressive sales Countdown itself has been generating so far.
“do we know if any actual girls are reading these? ”
We sell MINX books by the bushel, almost exclusively to girls and parents of girls.
In fact, we’ve had a handful of girls start reserves at the shop, listing “all minx books” as the one thing they want.
As you know, blogs are far from a precise barometer of how things are selling, or to whom…. ;)
I wish we could sell Minx books at our stores. We sell one or two to our susbscription customers but they tend to languish on our shelves. The customer base is mostly middle-aged men for whom reading Invincible constitutes an indie book, so it’s a tough sell.
Hey Alex, I *KNOW* blogs are not indicative. That’s why I’m asking for more reports from the field. Thanks for playing along!
I actually think the Minx books will appeal to girls…I am wondering how the big marketing campaign is shaking out, however?
You know, getting me to pick up a Minx title in the first place is the toughest part of the sell. I don’t see that I have any interest in them. I don’t know the creators. I haven’t seen samples that convince me. Heck, outside of Previews and a couple of websites I’ve seen almost nothing about them. Why should I pick them up?
If DC can answer that question, maybe this line will succeed.
anybody got the actual sales figures? good buzz does not always equal strong sales. their ranking on amazon seems to place most of them in the #50,000s on up. how are they selling in other places?
The latest book GOOD AS LILY ranks today on Amazon as:
#24,582 in Books
#31 in Books > Comics & Graphic Novels > Children’s Comics
#59 in Books > Comics & Graphic Novels > Manga
THE PLAIN JANES
#19,707 in Books
#24 in Books > Comics & Graphic Novels > Children’s Comics
#134,753 in Books
#160,929 in Books
the first book still seems to be holding strong, probably because of all the buzz surrounding it. the latest is probably because it was just released or because derek kim is a very well-respected creator.
Hey Alex, I *KNOW* blogs are not indicative.
Oh, I know you know. Just funnin’ ya.
That’s why I’m asking for more reports from the field.
I will compile some hard numbers for you when I’m back from vacation, if you’re interested.
Thanks for playing along!
It’s what I do.
I should also add that it’s been summer vacation for the past few months, so the sales on books for the under 15 crowd have been stellar across the board.
Andi Watson’s GLISTER, for example, was our second best-selling trade last week.
We’ll see how the MINXes hold up when school is in session, but so far they’re off to a strong start.
I know this is kind of off topic, but I just picked up GLISTER today, and man, that thing looks so fucking rad my head might explode from its sheer awesomeness.
Unfortunately, I am not a teenage girl.
I’m no longer a teen girl, being middle-aged; however, the Minx books are getting good reviews in the library review journals. Graphic novels that get good reviews in library review journals tend to get picked up by libraries, where teens of all stripes/gender/whatever can get their hands on them. Re-Gifters got a starred review in Booklist, the review journal for the American Library Association.
Re-Gifters and Good as Lily are my personal faves, probably because I’m half-Japanese, know some martial arts, and Good as Lily has a cool senior citizen character. Plus they both have great stories.
Give it a couple of months, and we’ll have a better idea of how well the books do in the libraries. And, frankly, direct market comic book stores are not where most teen girls do their shopping – you need to look at bookstore sales, not direct market sales.
Here’s a report from the field: My daughters are 13 and 14. The older one reads manga like some people eat potato chips. The younger one prefers prose and bad TV, but she still reads Yotsuba&! and Yakitate! Japan.
Neither of them was interested in The Plain Janes when it came out. They both thought it looked “dumb.” So I paid them five bucks each to read it and give me an honest opinion; even after reading it, neither one liked it. Direct quote from my 13-year-old: “The characters were one-dimensional. They were tacky and they just… weren’t… cool.” Also, both gils thought the plot was kind of dumb.
Maybe reading so much manga has affected their tastes—maybe they need that exotic-ness, because aside from Shutterbox, they don’t like much global manga either. Anyway, after that experience I haven’t been inclined to plunk down any more money for the remaining Minx titles.
It’s a shame, because I’m a big believer in comics for girls. But The Plain Janes seemed too much like the sort of earnest, well-intentioned book that adults write for kids, and teenagers are very quick to spot that. Like a lot of kids their age, my girls have subversive tastes, and the Minx books just didn’t do it for them.
Well, I’m a 32 year old man, but I just picked up The Plain Janes yesterday, and thought it was great.
I was tempted by the Jim Rugg art, but when I found out that Cecil Castellucci was the singer from Nerdy Girl, and Bite I was sold.
It was free Canadian music paper Exclaim that gave me the push.
I don’t know if teenage girls will like it, but my twenty something girlfriend did.
Is it just me, but does anecdotal evidence seem to point to men well out of their teens liking the Minx books more than actual teenage girls? It’s so hard to know because most comics reviewers are men and, as Heidi said, blog posts are aren’t indicative of general opinion.
Sadly, most of the women who read comics I know did not like The Plain Janes. I wonder if men like it because perhaps they have not really considered the lives of teenage girls and now they’re getting a chance to see that subject treated in a medium they like. A bit of the exotic wrapped up in a familiar package.
I need to read The Re-Gifters and Clubbing. The cover for clubbing just annoys me, though. If the main character is a goth girl, why is the club pictured on the cover full of drunk blond sorority girls?
A 44-year-old male (me) and a 16-year-old female (my niece) enjoyed The Plain Janes and thought Clubbing was okay but disappointing. (Glister was positively brilliant.)
We’re looking forward to several of the upcoming Minx books because of the creators, and are more likely to try any given Minx book because of Minx’s publishing choices thus far.
If I can shill for my own website for a half second, one of my reviewers, (who is female, though not quite a teenager anymore) gave The Plain Janes a very favorable review:
She apparently thought enough of it that she’ll be reviewing the next Minx book, the upcoming Confessions of a Blabbermouth.
Personally, I enjoyed the book well enough, though I can certainly understand the criticisms lobbied against it. My main problem with it was that it felt too much like reading a comic book version of Pump Up the Volume, though I’m aware most of the readers the book is aimed at have no idea what that movie is.
Now the latest Minx book Good As Lily, which I claimed for review myself, I thought was absolutely brilliant. Derek Kirk Kim makes you care about the characters in just a handful of pages, the plot is interesting and moves at a fast clip, and Jesse Hamm’s art is more often than not fantastic. Then again, I’m just a twentysomething male comics writer….heh.
I’m 16… I read the Plain Janes. The guy at the comic store said to check out Mike Cary’s one today and I’ll check it out. But I probably don’t count since I all ready read comics every week… Mainly Marvel, though…
I reviewed Janes for Bookslut and interviewed Cecil Castellucci. Cecil is very popular among YA readers for her three books, so she has seen quite a few sales based on that – in other words, fans of her books are picking up Janes even though they might not otherwise read any graphic novels or comics.
I also have a review of Clubbing in my YA column at Bookslut this month. I’m a big Andi Watson fan anyway, so this was a book I was looking forward to. I thought it was a fun mystery with a very snarky/smart heroine. I enjoyed it.
A lot of my readers are YA librarians and booksellers – they hit Bookslut looking for recommendations for titles they can pass on to their patrons and customers. Pretty much all of them are happy with Minx at least to some degree thus far and were happy to hear that Cecil is writing a sequel.
It’s very hard to gauge the success of this line – I think – because it crosses over from comic buyers to book buyers more than a lot of gn lines. Also I have to tell you I’m not sure what the heck DC is doing for marketing. I know they pushed hard at the comics fans but I had a battle to get a review copy of Janes for Bookslut and I already had the interview with Cecil lined out. You would think with the numbers that site draws in DC would have been happier to catch a few folks who might not know beans about comics but would recognize Cecil’s name. I don’t know of any YA sites at all that are getting the books to review – and it seems like this is a resource that DC should try to reach out (First Second is all over the blogs and the librarians love them – which translates into sales and readers.)
I’m a librarian and a comic fangirl, and on both counts can really suggest THE PLAIN JANES. Jim Rugg’s art is just excellent, and Cecil’s story of an urban girl leaving the city after a trauma, and finding a new kind of life in the suburbs was interesting. The parts about using art to create a new identity were inspiring to. I just handed it to a teen today.
Heidi, I’ve been wondering the same thing. I read The PLAIN Janes myself and liked it well enough, and I’ve seen all the reviews and almost all of them are by the exact polar opposite of the intended audience. Whether the review is pro- or con-, it’s hard to know what to think of their opinion, sort of like Christopher Hitchens reviewing Harry Potter.
I appreciate Alex (great store btw), Birgid, and Danielle’s responses because despite being at odds (they’re great! they suck! I read it), at least they indicate what some teenage girls think about the books. If I was Shelly Bond, I don’t think I’d care what adult comics fans think about the books. I think I’d care about what the intended female young adult market thinks about them.
I went to the Minx panel in San Diego and while it was well attended there wasn’t a teenage girl in the room. There seemed to be one boy the right age but he looked like his mom dragged him to it.
You know, in Japan there is a shoujo manga magazine targeted at boys. Maybe the MINX line is really aimed at those older readers, male and female, who like to read books about teenage girls. Because that seems to be who the books are resonating with.
Seriously, if the books are finding enough of an audience to sell well, isn’t that enough? Does it matter if the people who buy it don’t match some theoretical demographic? The line is broadening the market, and from where I sit, that’s a good thing.
Personally I liked both Plain Janes and Regifters, the two Minx books I’ve read so far. I bought them initially for my daughter, just turned six, to read when she’s a little older. she likes comics and I’m trying to build a small library of things for her to move on to once she gets past Scooby Doo and the like.
Minx is an outreach project, so by definition, any reviews from the established comics readership are pretty much irrelevant. But…
“Direct quote from my 13-year-old: “The characters were one-dimensional. They were tacky and they just… weren’t… cool.” Also, both gils thought the plot was kind of dumb.”
I think that’s entirely fair. Most of the characters in PLAIN JANES *are* one-dimensional, and in particular, only one of the title characters can honestly be described as rounded. And the whole theme of the book – nerdy outsiders achieve self-actualisation through forms of street art that are vaguely conceptual and definitely, absolutely, positively don’t involve graffiti – isn’t exactly an obvious winner with a mainstream teenage audience.
I gave Plane Janes to a 16 girl who is a student of mine and she loved it. No, it’s not a main stream book. I think that it could only be appreciated by someone who is an older teen (in most but not all cases) because it’s written for those who want to make more out of what there is in their lives. The Janes offers that. It won’t appeal to manga fans because (and I’m sure I’ll catch Hell for this) manga has distorted beyond all recognition any concept of what a proper narrative thread is, for young people. All of my student who love manga continue to draw pictures of pretty people with big eyes just standing there, even what they’re “telling a story.” Could the minx line be better? Of course it could. Are the characters not cool? For now, I don’t know, but in the 90’s they would have been. Does that matter? I certainly don’t think that all teenagers are delinquents (and those who do really, REALLY PISS ME OFF TO NO END) who only think that destructive behavior is the life. That’s just what movies and TV tell us all. Don’t a lot of teenage girls feel like outsiders? Don’t they feel a need to be something more? Wont books with substance and sincerity always be uncool until someone makes it cool? Lets give them some time to come into their own. It would seem to me that they are on the right track.
“I certainly don’t think that all teenagers are delinquents (and those who do really, REALLY PISS ME OFF TO NO END) who only think that destructive behavior is the life. ”
There’s a false dichotomy if ever I saw one. There are plenty of non-delinquent teenagers out there who aren’t going to identify very closely with the cast of PLAIN JANES. Even the book itself regards its characters as outside the mainstream.
“There are plenty of non-delinquent teenagers out there who aren’t going to identify very closely with the cast of PLAIN JANES.”
Never said there wouldn’t be.
I should say that I did have to shut my brain off to read Plain Janes, and the weird “Hi I’m gay” bit was reeeally off-putting. I think that’s just the author not being used to showing something instead of telling it that made it seem so one-dimensional, as someone put it above.
I’d probably give my friends Fortune & Glory and Scott Pilgrim to give an example of good comic books…
I’m a 23 year old girl (woman, i guess you might say). I really enjoyed the Plain Janes, which surprised me since I typically find stories of upper-middle class teen angst a little hard to stomach. But it zigged several times when I thought it would zag – the idea of a girl having a hard time breaking into an UNpopular clique was an interesting twist on a formula, and one that I thought rang very true. The main reason I picked it up in the first place was because I wanted to see what kind of female writers Minx was hiring. Little did I know Cecil was the ONLY female writer Minx was hiring. Oh well.
Well, I’m a 20-year-old female, but I was 19 when the Minx line was announced (and 18 when I first heard about the Plain Janes, as Cecil “let it slip” at a book signing). So, I was biased to like this line from the beginning, simply because I’ve been a fan of Cecil’s since her first novel. I loved the Plain Janes, both as a Cecil book and a comic, and frankly I would have killed for a line like this when I was first getting in to comics at 16.
Here’s the problem: the Minx target audience is YA-lit readers, but the more likely audience is manga readers. While there is crossover between these two groups, there are still more girls who read YA-lit exclusively than read manga at all (no statistics for this, just experience). And we’re seeing that the line doesn’t really appeal to manga readers (and to be quite honest, what little manga I have read was still much better than all the Minx books, even the Janes) So right now I feel that the girls most likely to read Minx books are girls who have otaku friends who say “If there’s not any manga that appeals to you, I’ve heard of an line of American comics you might like.” So yeah, not a huge audience.
I’ll need to check the actual numbers to be sure, but I don’t think we’ve sold hardly any at all. So they don’t seem to be appealing to the girls that come into the bookstores to buy their manga/teenlit, which I always got the impression was part of the idea.
I think most browsers aren’t sure what to make of them. And most manga readers are put off by there only being 1 book for each story.
Kids and teens love series. They have to read fiction all the time for homework, and finding a series they like means a couple months of being able to read something they know they will like, instead of having to go searching for a new author/series every few weeks or so. Or being forced to read something they don’t like on top of all the other assigned reading they get. Plus, they aren’t in control of their own time or money quite often, so being able to quickly pick up a book – or easily tell their parents to pick it up for them – is always a plus.
The MINX line consists of one book stories, with different authors and artists for each story. On top of all that, the covers are drastically different, so their isn’t much to brand them as a line except for their unusual size and shape.
I’m wondering if a lot of teens don’t see them as too big of a risk for too little of a payoff.
My experience of the Minx books jives with what Brigid and Jennifer are saying: I found these books earnest and dull, like something a well-meaning adult thought would appeal to teenage girls. When I was 15, I wouldn’t have touched these books with a ten-foot pole anymore than I would have been caught dead listening to Bruce Hornsby.
As for Christopher’s suggestion that the Minx books “won’t appeal to manga fans” because “manga has distorted beyond all recognition any concept of what a proper narrative thread is, for young people,” I think that’s a pretty difficult claim to substantiate. My experience teaching college students suggests to me that a lifetime of being plugged in–emails, instant messaging, websurfing, channel surfing–has a far more profound impact on students’ ability to read and write than an intense love affair with Naruto.
Frankly, I doubt there’d even be a Minx line if manga hadn’t proven so popular with teenage girls. I just wish DC was as aggressive in promoting CMX’s girl-friendly series as it has been for P.L.A.I.N. Janes and Clubbing. I would have adored Emma when I was in high school.
I know they pushed hard at the comics fans but I had a battle to get a review copy of Janes for Bookslut
DC, rarely, if ever, gives review copies. Now, I completely understand them not wanting to give out oodles of DCU freebees to the esablished comics journalism base, but to not send out review copies to non-comics review sites and publications? You’d think that would be part of the supposed $250k budget they’ve got to promote the line.
Well, not quite. I know of several comic shop owners (my husband included) who got advanced copies of The Plain Janes, but I don’t know of any journalist other than you, Colleen, who managed to get a preview copy. (DC’s view on review copies is that you know where your LCS is and can go pay for them yourselves — which works fine for their general DCU stuff.)
(As an aside, I made overtures to DC about getting some review xerox copies of Minx books for Sequential Tart and nope. Not happening. Classic DC 2 steps forward, 1 step back.)
I think Alexa and Mickle both are on to something. There are more YA lit readers than comics readers, and while the Minx books are shelved in the Teen section of my local Barnes & Noble, they are next to the teen manga, not shelved with the novels. Is DC doing anything to push these with readers who don’t usually read comics? They should be shopping them around to magazines like Seventeen and Cosmo Girl, and if they did, they might bring a whole new cohort of girls into the comics world—girls who aren’t attracted to manga but might still like graphic novels.
Tokyopop seems to be doing a better job in a slightly younger cohort. Their manga version of Warriors made the USA Today Booklist. Of course, that was an adaptation of an alread popular series.
amazon sales as of 08.22.07
THE PLAIN JANES
#34,515 in Books
#41 in Books > Comics & Graphic Novels > Children’s Comics
#130,311 in Books
#349,699 in Books
GOOD AS LILY
#82,918 in Books
final Diamond sales for THE PLAIN JANES in 05.07 = about 7,550
final Diamond sales for RE-GIFTERS in 06.07 = about 5,560
but that’s just the direct market and supposedly these books are designed to sell well outside of comic book shops.
the artist on GOOD AS LILY says B&N isn’t even selling them in the GN/manga section of bookstores but in YA…
anyone find some actual sales figures from bookstores yet?
“the artist on GOOD AS LILY says B&N isn’t even selling them in the GN/manga section of bookstores but in YA…”
Why would they be doing that, when all the rest have been in the GN/manga section?
Maybe the artist is confused and doesn’t realize that B&N now has 3 GN/manga sections: the regular (adult) one, one in YA, and another in kids. All the MINX books have so far been shelved in Teen Manga. The display that most of the MINX books have been on for the past month (it’s called out, so all the stores should have it) is in the YA section.