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Graphic Novel Market Vision

by Admin on March 13, 2015

Batman by Walter Minus

Graphic novel sales are outpacing the overall book sales at comics’ stores, bookstores and online booksellers. This trend includes both graphic novels and book-format comic collections. The audience for this type of books has recently expanded to include more women and younger readers as a result of a generational shift powered by the acceptance of the format by teen readers. Surprisingly enough, e-book sales are noticeably excluded from the group, an indication that e-books may be being pirated.

As demand for graphic novels increases, more publishers and more established authors have targeted the market. A market traditionally skewed more toward young men, is now crowded with young women and female authors and publishers who produce stories featuring female protagonists. The Wall Street Journal reports that “In 2014, women represented 43% of the 151,000 attendees at the New York Comic Con. In Seatle’s Emerald City Comicon, women were the majority: 52% of exit-survey respondents identified themselves as female.” [1]

The growth of graphic novel collections in college libraries has also been impressive. Historically the academic field led the way in institutional buying for the comics’ genre. A large number of university libraries, the Library of Congress, the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art (MoCCA) in NYC, the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco and others, have built comprehensive collections of comics and other forms of cartoon art through donations and acquisitions.

Institutions are now using their tremendous purchasing power to acquire and build their graphic novel collections. Columbia University Libraries (CUL) has recently started acquiring historical collections, concentrating on titles that have won awards or otherwise received critical and/or scholarly notice-with a specific focus on the role of New York City. [2] Old prejudices die hardest at school libraries, and the trend should take time to reach serious traction.

Even though the term “graphic novel,” had been in use since the 1960s, it was little known until Will Eisner popularized it with A Contract with God (Baronet Press; 1978). With the critical acceptance of underground comics in the 1970s, Eisner saw a potential to market to an adult audience, and sell his work in bookstores rather than comic shops. The trade paperback of A Contract with God, printed the term “graphic novel”, on the cover though it consists of a collection of stories rather than a full novel.

Acclaimed graphic novels like Art Spiegelman’s Maus – A Survivor’s Tale, My Father Bleeds History (Book 1; Pantheon; 1986), and Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon’s Watchmen (DC Comics; 1987), were first released as a series in successful comics before collected and packaged in a graphic novel format. These works proved that graphic novels are capable of smart, emotionally resonant narratives worthy of the label ‘literature’.

Award-winning titles like Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis (2000), originally published as a graphic novel to wide critical acclaim in France, tells the story of life in Tehran during the time of overthrow of the Shah’s regime, the triumph of the Islamic Revolution, and the devastating effects of war with Iraq. More recently, Raina Telgemeier, author of Smile (Scholastic; 2010), had her award-winning memoir about her childhood dental accident, published in a graphic novel. These authors’ successes underscore the diversity of content as well as how much the audience for graphic novels has expanded over the last few years.

Two months after the attack on the French satirical weekly newspaper, Charlie Hebdo in Paris, buyers at the Bande Dessinée auction, achieved a record sale for comics with a total of €3,821,947 at the Sotheby’s Paris saleroom. The sale offered a superb indication of how well works of the “ninth art”, are received by collectors and investors. The continuing growth of the graphic novel medium in readership as well as in the quality of authorship, presents a turnkey point for collectors. The eminent growth of institutional buying due to the tremendous increase in circulation, suggests that this is a point in time between glut and scarcity; a tremendous buying opportunity. It is quite feasible to collect tomorrow’s high spots at reasonable prices today.

Will Eisner - A Contract with God Raina Telgemeier - Smile

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] Maloney, Jennifer. Wsj.com: “The New Wave of Graphic Novels,” The Wall Street Journal (Dec/ 31/2014)

[2]  “Graphic Novels Page”, Columbia University – http://library.columbia.edu/about/policies/collection-development/subject/graphic_novels.html

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Raymond Carver

Bibliophilia rejoice when the Academy Award winner chosen is a film adaptation of a favorite book. It is a very special year when the film that got the Best Picture award is due to receive an extra bonus of publicity and a boost in readership. 2014 is about to become a manifestation of that through the Oscar winning American black comedy-drama, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), co-written, co-produced, and directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu.

Birdman’s story is not based on a book, but, it has a short story from a book in the center of its plot. The film is about a washed-up Hollywood actor, Riggan Thomson (played byMichael Keaton), who was famous for playing the superhero Birdman in blockbuster movies decades earlier. Riggan hopes to reinvent his career by writing, directing, and starring in a Broadway adaptation of Raymond Carver’s short story What We Talk about When We Talk about Love. This short story from Carver’s third collection of stories was published by Knopf in 1981 under the same title.

The level of attention Raymond Carver’s works, and specifically, What We Talk about When We Talk about Love, will receive from book collectors depends on a number of factors. The visual exposure that the Oscars generate and all the added publicity, does not necessarily translate into increased collectability and ultimately scarcity. There is always a good chance that other collector interests, such as Hollywood memorabilia collectors and so forth, will view a first edition of the short stories as a collector’s item. That may or may not amount to a significant increase in demand.

Historically, books and films have held a close relationship. Listed below are the ten most recent best picture winners that were produced through film adaptation, along with their scarcity rank before and after the award.

Best Picture winners

Without a doubt, the age, imprint, and book and author importance are the major factors behind scarcity. J.J.R Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King is a good example of the effect these factors have on scarcity and of course the value of rare first editions. The older books that are already short on supply tend to get the extra boost from the film adaptation that turns them into a hot commodity, as demonstrated by Twelve / 12 years a Slave, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King and Chicago. The author’s importance as demonstrated in the case of J.R.R. Tolkien is also a big factor, pushing his trilogy well into five figures. On the surface, short story adaptations from collections by the same author seem to be less collectible than full novel productions. That should come as no surprise since the literary content is partially used, unless of course, the author’s importance becomes the main attraction to the rest of the works.

American short story writer and poet, Raymond Carver, is an important author that contributed to the revitalization of the American short story in literature during the 1980s. Critics argue that his short active writing career lasted less than 10 years due to the adverse effects of alcoholism prior to 1977, and an early death at the age of 50. His third collection of stories – What We Talk about When We Talk about Love, was published just prior to the peak of his popularity, and became the first of his books to go into multiple printings. Soon after the book’s release, Carver was disturbed by a reviewer’s compliment, which called him a “minimalist” writer. Carver reacted with: “There’s something about “minimalist” that smacks of smallness of vision and execution that I don’t like.” He should now be happy to know that there is no minimalism in the Oscar for Best Picture on the Big Screen.

 

 

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