Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Graphic Novel collections as the DVDs of the comics world

BusinessWeek (via newsarama, again), uncovers an interesting angle on the whole putting-comic-books-online thing, which otherwise totally fails to pique my interest.

My comics consumption and online consumption are two entirely separate tasks, at cross-purposes. The former is fun, casual, and relaxing. The latter is generally task- and purpose-driven, and the goal is generally to get it done (whether "it" is reading a news article, finding a recipe, researching an IE 6 CSS bug, etc. etc.) as fast as possible. So I doubt I'll ever particularly want to read a comic book online. (A daily web comic is something else--that's a little morsel you gulp down at the office at 9:15 am when you're delaying the start of your actual work day; a comic book, to my mind, usually requires more attention.)

But back to the article:

But James Sime, owner of the Isotope comic book store in San Francisco, isn't too worried about the impact of digital comics on his business. He says he believes there's a great opportunity for comics retailers and publishers to learn from the mistakes of the ailing music industry.

According to ICV2, a trade publisher that monitors the business of comics and pop culture, trade paperbacks (collections of single issues in one book) generated $375 million in 2007 and single issues did $330 million that same year. Although Sime doesn't think single-issue sales will go away, he envisions a scenario in which they are moved from print to online as promotion for the trade paperback. "I'm all about it," said Sime. "People are excited about comics. The more people get them into their hands, the more they read them—the Internet is a great facilitator for that."
Now, I also have to admit that I never read single-issue comic books anymore; I just wait for them to be collected in trade paperbacks (i.e., "graphic novels"—big fat comics with a spine). But I do think this is an interesting angle: Treat single-issue comics more like ad-supported broadcast TV, and trade paperbacks more like the DVD collections of the season. Not bad.

Monday, August 25, 2008

COMICS will never die. However ...

Sometimes I get tired of Scott McCloud being treated as the official-and-only-source-of-received-wisdom-about-comics. I get that McCloud is sort of to comics what Ralph Nader was to consumer safety ( ... you know ... before Nader became a kooky spoiler presidential candidate ... ), but sometimes it's just enough already. The world of comics is big, and there are a lot of people—heck, a lot of older, more experienced people—that reporters could talk to about the subject. (And I've been on the reporting side, so I also understand what a pain in the butt it is to track down expert sources, which is why, as a writer, you're glad someone like McCloud exists.)

But, boy, I have to give McCloud his props. The Washington Post recently ran a long "Old Literati Tries to Understand those Newfangled Graphic Novels but Still Isn't Convinced that they Are Serious Works of Literature that Merit Reading—You Know, not Like Thomas Pynchon and Gore Vidal," articles, in which McCloud had two excellent quotes:

"Graphic novel" is "a goofy term," McCloud tells his listeners. "The first graphic novel that got a lot of play was Will Eisner's 'Contract With God.' The thing's an anthology. The next graphic novel that got a lot of play was 'Maus,' and it's a memoir. There are very few graphic novels that are actually graphic novels.

"What they are is a publishing shorthand that says: big fat comic with a spine -- and people get that."

Boy—there it is. Why is that so hard for people? Why is that so contentious? I love that: "BIG FAT COMIC WITH A SPINE!" [insert Artie Lange joke here]

Here's McCloud's best line:

Now McCloud is taking audience questions, and here comes one that seems aimed in my [i.e., the skeptical reporter's] direction.

What about those still-numerous naysayers, he is asked, who resist the idea that books filled with word balloons should be taken as seriously as pure prose? Isn't there a way to educate those annoying old fogies -- perhaps through some kind of "adult literacy campaign for comics"?

Sounds good to me. After all, isn't education what I'm here for?

McCloud offers a different perspective. Some people will never get it, he says.

"And it's okay. They'll die."

Thanks to Newsarama for the link. (I actually saw the article a few days ago, but couldn't work up the enthusiasm to read past the first page of the dubious 5-page story. So I missed the McCloud quotes.)

It's coming ... tomorrow!!!

Yes, Babymouse: Monster Mash shambles into bookstores everywhere tomorrow!

Pick up a copy ... if you dare.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

What are they reading for fun? Babymouse!

SLJ asked children's librarians what Manga those crazy kids are reading for fun these days. (My god—are kids reading Manga for anything besides fun? Is there now boring, assigned Manga in schools?) According to Rebecca Donnelly of the Loma Colorado Public Library in Rio Rancho, NM:

... Current must-read GNs include Emmanuel Guibert’s Sardine in Outer Space (First Second/Roaring Brook), Jennifer & Matthew Holm’s “Babymouse” (Random), and Jeff Smith’s “Bone” (Scholastic).

Monday, August 18, 2008

Listen to your librarians!

Good Comics for Kids conducted a Librarian Round Table on the recent release of Oprah's recommended reading list (and the inclusion of Robot Dreams):

Robin Brenner: ...Over time I’ve come to realize that perhaps we librarians think about age ranges and appeal more than your man on the street. Perhaps because all day, every day, we observe what people read, what catches their attention, and what they put down after a minute because it didn’t grab them. I think that there quite a few graphic novels that appeal solidly to kids that might have broader appeal and show off the format just as well, but again, it depends on what Oprah and everyone else is thinking of when they say kids. For the youngest, Owly is brilliant. For a bit older, there’s Scott Morse’s Magic Pickle, Kean Soo’s Jellaby, and Jennifer Holm’s Babymouse. For a bit older than that, there’s Jeff Smith’s Bone, Kazu Kibuishi’s Amulet or the anthology Flight Explorer, and now Rapunzel’s Revenge by Shannon Hale. And yes, Robot Dreams I think will appeal to older kids, but it wouldn’t be my first choice in a field of increasingly fantastic titles for kids.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Matthew Holm to speak about Graphic Novels in the Classroom at SCIBA, October 18, 2008

Yep, that's me. I'm going to be attending the Southern California Independent Booksellers Association's Authors Feast & Trade Show, being held at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel on October 18, 2008.

I'll be taking part in the panel, "Graphic Novels for Children: The History, Use in the Classroom and Why They Matter." at 11:10-12:10 p.m. Actually, I think I am the panel. Hopefully the presenter, Kristen McLean (Executive Director, Association of Booksellers for Children), has a lot of questions for me. And you, too, audience members! Think of questions!

PS—My first time in LA. I can't believe I've managed to avoid the city this long! Alas, my string is broken.

Friday, August 8, 2008

One more Kate Beaton comic and I'll stop. I swear.

More Kate Beaton Comics

Sorry, just had to post this link, in which cartoonist Kate Beaton recounts a recent trip to a music festival with her friend, John (as well as discussions about the limits of being "famous on the internet"):

Of course, anyone who was there would have recognized John and I pretty fast because we are very recognizable people:

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Free Online Preview of Babymouse: Rock Star

On the fence about whether or not to dive into the Babymouse series? Then check out the 10-page preview of Babymouse: Rock Star at Publisher's Weekly.

(Article posted in August 2006, but I just saw it for the first time.)

Lost clip of Animated Buffy the Vampire Slayer Series

For all you fellow Buffyholics (is that the right term? ... I'm a big Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan, but I never really participated in all of the online hoopla), Animation Magazine just linked to the lost 4-minute pilot of the unproduced BtVS Animated Series.