Friday, February 23, 2007
Graphic Novels Outsell Comic Books
For the first time in history, more money was spent on graphic novels than on comic book periodicals. Of course, part of that graphic novel total includes repackaged comic book periodicals and comic strips like "Peanuts" and "Gasoline Alley." Nonetheless, this is an historic switch for the industry and a troubling one perhaps for specialty comic book stores. They tend to be weak on graphic novel sales, which has given an opening to chain bookstores. For example, the Barnes & Noble at Union Square probably has a better selection of graphic novels than Forbidden Planet and other stores. People spent $330 million on graphic novels and $310 million on comic book periodicals. I'm probably somewhat typical of the graphic novel consumer. I was never a big comic book reader and frankly never went weekly to buy any titles. But when graphic novels first came to prominence I read "The Watchmen" and "The Dark Knight Returns" and "Maus" -- all the obvious titles. And in recent years I've been reading more and more of them. I wait for any hot series to be collected in book form and love classic strips, like "Krazy Kat" and "Little Nemo." With a graphic novel serialized in the NYTimes Sunday Magazine, graphic novels are slowly being seen as just another genre, like mystery or sci-fi and just as likely to be taken seriously.