Friday, October 31, 2008

"Babymouse" the Number-one Most-circulated Graphic Novel Series for Kids

I don't know how I missed these articles from School Library Journal; my Google feed of the "Good Comics for Kids" blog at SLJ seems to be misfiring (as it often does on many feeds ... grr ...), because I don't remember seeing any of these entries before:

"Crunching the Numbers: Library Circulation Statistics"

"Crunching the Numbers: Round Robin Discussion"

What are they? Why, they're hard data on graphic novel (especially kids' graphic novel) circulation in libraries, and an in-depth roundtable discussion of the stats. Blogger Robin Brenner is better known as the brain behind the invaluable site No Flying, No Tights. She is also a librarian at the Brookline (Mass.) Public Library. She checked the circulation records throughout Metrowest Boston's 41-member Minuteman Library Network, compiling several lists of top circulating titles, including this:

Top 20 Circulating Titles for Kids (Ages 0-12)
1. Babymouse series by Jennifer L. Holm & Matthew Holm
2. Bone series by Jeff Smith
3. Warriors series created by Erin Hunter, written by Dan Jolley
4. Redwall : The Graphic Novel by Brian Jacques, adapted by Stuart Moore
5. Tiny Tyrant by Lewis Trondheim
6. Artemis Fowl : The Graphic Novel adapted by Eoin Colfer & Andrew Donkin
7. Houdini the Handcuff King by Jason Lutes
8. W.I.T.C.H. series
9. Goosebumps series based on the novels by R.L. Stine
10. Pokemon Mystery Dungeon series by Makoto Mizobuchi
11. Mouse Guard: Fall 1152 by David Peterson
12. King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table retold by M.C. Hall (Stone Arch)
13. King Arthur: Excalibur Unsheathed: An English Legend story by Jeff Limke (Graphic Universe)
14. Marvel Adventures/Age series from Marvel Comics
15. The Baby Sitter's Club series (by Ann M. Martin) a graphic novel by Raina Telgemeir
16. Hardy Boys, Undercover Brothers series by Scott Lobdell
17. Hannah Montana by Various Creators
18. Nancy Drew, Girl Detective series by Stefan Petrucha
19. Point Blank: The Graphic Novel adapted by Antony Johnston
20. Avatar the Last Airbender series by Various Creators


Top 30 Individual Titles for All Age Ranges
1. The Wallflower by Tomoko Hayakawa
2. Babymouse: Camp Babymouse by Jennifer L. Holm & Matthew Holm
3. Babymouse: Skater Girl by Jennifer L. Holm & Matthew Holm
4. Robot Dreams by Sara Varon
5. Bone: Rock Jaw Master of the Eastern Border by Jeff Smith
6. Kitchen Princess by Natsumi Ando
7. The Lost Warrior created by Erin Hunter, written by Dan Jolley (Warriors series)
8. Babymouse : Puppy Love by Jennifer L. Holm & Matthew Holm
9. Vampire Knight by Matsuri Hino
10. Shugo chara! by Peach-Pit
11. Bone : Old Man's Cave by Jeff Smith
12. Redwall : The Graphic Novel by Brian Jacques, adapted by Stuart Moore
13. Tiny Tyrant by Lewis Trondheim
14. Artemis Fowl : The Graphic Novel adapted by Eoin Colfer & Andrew Donkin
15. Houdini : The Handcuff King by Jason Lutes
16. W.I.T.C.H. Graphic Novel
17. Goosebumps : Terror Trips by Various Creators
18. Pokémon Mystery Dungeon : Ginji's Rescue Team by Makoto Mizobuchi
19. Neon Genesis Evangelion: Angelic Days by Fumino Hayashi
20. Death Note. Vol. 9, Contact by Tsugumi Ohba
21. Naruto. Vol. 13, The Chunin Exam, concluded...! by Masashi Kishimoto
22. The Cartoon History of the Modern World by Larry Gonick
23. The Plain Janes by Cecil Castellucci
24. Pichi Pichi Pitch by Pink Hanamori
25. Mouse Guard : Fall 1152 by David Peterson
26. King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table retold by M.C. Hall (Stone Arch)
27. The Gentlemen's Alliance Cross by Arina Tanemura
28. Bleach. vol. 17, Rosa Rubicundior, Lilio Candidior by Tite Kubo
29. Naruto. Vol. 14, Hokage vs. Hokage! by Masashi Kishimoto
30. Ultimate X-Men. Vol. 15, Magical by Robert Kirkman

She notes:
Graphic novels for younger readers certainly dominate the top 30 volumes, with about half for kids and half for teens. This certainly shows how much the under-18 crowd is hungering for graphic novels of all kinds! The first adult title in terms of circulation by volume, Shortcomings by Adrian Tomine, appeared at 34, and it was the only adult title in the top 50. I'm guessing this is an indication of how much libraries are not yet serving their adult fans as much as they might be.

The Round Robin article includes this discussion of the gap between the worlds of comics publishers, book publishers, retail stores, and libraries:
4. Bone and Babymouse are also incredibly popular, again something I'm not really surprised about.
RB: I do think it's interesting that Babymouse is so popular in the library and yet, when I've talked to many a comics folk, they haven't really heard of it. When I served as an Eisner judge, and we were discussing titles for kids, none of the other judges had ever seen it or heard of it. This illustrated to me the gap between what comics folks see for kids and what book industry folks see for kids -- I don't think it's willful blindness, but I do think it means there's a pretty substantial lack of information going both ways.

EV: I had the same experience on the Eisner committee. Only one other judge had heard of Babymouse and the two of us spend quite a bit of time explaining that, when it comes to comics, the Diamond bestseller list isn't the only list to be looking at anymore. It had just never occurred to them to look anywhere else for comics information. Robin's right, though. I also don't think it's willful blindness. It's more of a learning curve thing. There are plenty of librarians who would never think to look on a bestseller list for comics info, let alone consider Diamond as a source.

EK: Bone. *sniff* my hardcovers are falling apart one by one. Even the ones with low circ. And it is interesting that comic fans haven't heard of Babymouse. She is the best!

Snow Wildsmith: It worries me that the "mainstream" comics professionals seem so unaware of titles like Babymouse or that they think that stuff like the Marvel Adventure titles aren't a success. I would think selling multiple copies to multiple library systems would count as a success, especially with the built-in need for replacement copies. That also frustrated me (and I know Eva and I have discussed this) about Tokyopop's seemingly rapid dismissal of their titles for ages 8-12. They've canceled Agent Boo and I think others and the stock on many of the remaining titles is very low. We have Josh Elder coming for our festival of reading in Oct. and he said that he doesn't know if he'll even have copies of Mail Order Ninja to sell. And that was a title that ran in Sunday newspapers. If libraries are buying them and kids are reading them, then why aren't they a success?

SR: Most of the titles on the kids list hit that more recreational read category (self contained superhero stories [not continuity-based] and media-related, whether book or tv/cartoon) and not the literary-type or longer story graphic novels. I think the introduction of graphic novels to these next couple of generations is going to be similar to the development of comics starting in the 1950's. Comics were a form of escapist, purely recreational entertainment that was disposable but fans read TONS of it. So kids these days are coming into their library wanting to read comics…and they're going to seek out and grab the first title they recognize so of course they're going to go for the Spider-Man material or Batman because of The Dark Knight movie or Artemis Fowl because they're fans of the book. Eventually this material is going to run dry and hopefully lead readers to something more sophisticated or meatier. Problem is there's very little of this kind of material being published right now with probably the exception of Bone – and Bone had an inherent audience of fans from the past decade who passed it on to kids to read. There just isn't a critical mass yet for this kind of (I hate to use this word but), more literary work.
Finally, it has a call to action:

EK: It would be interesting to see similar lists in other large systems. Not all can run the report though. But New York Public Library, Boston Public Library, or other large urban and suburban systems.... What goes out by them. It'll show us what they're ordering and also what's popular in those areas. How do comic reading habits differ in different demographics?


So how 'bout it, 'brarians—any way to tell us all more about your circulation numbers?

Visit Babymouse.com for a Special Halloween Treat!

I almost forgot to mention this. Go to Babymouse.com for a delightful Halloween surprise.


(It made me jump the first time I saw it!)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Camp Babymouse reviewed by Oz and Ends

Oz and Ends' J.L. Bell is still getting around to reading the 2007 Cybils Nominees! Such diligence! Here's his take on Camp Babymouse:

The fun in the Babymouse books is the trouble she gets into along the way, and for me the real fun is her reactions to that trouble. ("Typical!" is a, well, typical response.) You can't take these stories too seriously, a feeling helped by the fact that the drawings seem to have been done with a couple of Sharpies.
True dat. One Fine Point, one Ultra Fine Point. (Well, the sketches, anyway ... re-done in Photoshop to approximate the look of Sharpies.)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Blotchmen!


Kevin Cannon's 24-Hour Comics Day creation, Blotchmen, is a great parody of Watchmen, full of literary depth, from a William Carlos Williams reference that drives the plot, to cameo appearances that should delight the kidlit crowd:

Yeah, I'm pretty sure you never want anyone to tell Rorschach that you stole his stuff. Magic crayon or no.

Read on for more surprises!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Babymouse: Monster Mash recommended by Kansas City Star

The Kansas City Star's Mary Schulte included Babymouse: Monster Mash in a round-up of recommended Halloween reading:

Babymouse #9: Monster Mash, written by Jennifer L. Holm with illustrations by Matt Holm (ages 6-9; Random House Books for Young Readers; $5.99). A graphic novel by the Holm siblings deals with Halloween costume dilemmas and creatures from the black lagoon hiding in Babymouse’s locker. Babymouse wants to be a monster, but her classmates insist girls have to be pretty. Babymouse doesn’t disappoint — she becomes the BEST monster and has the BEST Halloween party ever

Monday, October 20, 2008

Bad Cartoons

I don't like to get too political on this blog, but I think this subject falls within the domain of my cartooning expertise rather than my political leanings.

Gawker's "Cartoon Violence" feature just posted an entry called, "World's Worst Editorial Cartoonist Shares Wonderful Colin Powell Traitor Cartoon." It's hard to argue with their conclusions:

Hey, were you wondering who the worst political cartoonist in the United States is? We have an answer! It's California-based syndicated cartoonist Gordon Campbell, who took a break from his recent joke-free cartoons about how we are now a nation of communists because of the bailout bill to draw a very special cartoon in which he just colored noted traitor Benedict Arnold black and called him Colin Powell. That is the whole of this cartoon, a portrait of the man who betrayed George Washington and this young nation, in blackface, with white flags, and the utterly insane caption "Benedict Powell... Race Patriot."



(Now, for a GOOD Benedict Arnold cartoon, count on Kate Beaton. Click for larger version.)



PS—Also liked Gawker's piece on the second-worst cartoonist, the New York Post's Sean Delonas: "The Joke So Ill-Advised, Sean Delonas Made It Multiple Times" Awww. I miss the Post. They so crazy.

Babymouse: Monster Mash on the Cybils List!

Yay!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Babymouse: Monster Mash Hits #1 on the Seattle Times Besteller List

Yes, it's true! Babymouse: Monster Mash is at #1 on the Seattle Times bestseller list:

Paperback

1. Babymouse 9: Monster Mash, Jenny Holm and Matt Holm

2. Because of Winn Dixie, Kate DiCamillo

3. Bridge of Sighs, Richard Russo

4. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Diaz

5. Twilight, Stephenie Meyer

Ha! Suck on that, Twilight!

John Ralston's The Hole in the Wall now at Top Shelf

I missed this earlier in the year—Top Shelf Comix has serialized John Ralston's The Hole in the Wall on their site. Much fun if you haven't seen it yet.

Babymouse: Monster Mash reviewed at Pink Me

Pink Me (very appropriate blog name, by the way) reviewed Babymouse: Monster Mash, with the assistance of a young reviewer (Nature Girl):

[Your neighborhood librarian]: What was your favorite page?
[Nature Girl]: The one where her eyeball falls out!
I like the way this Nature Girl thinks.

Here she is (at right) with two other young graphic novel readers:

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Scripps Howard News Service Recommends Babymouse: Monster Mash

Karen MacPherson of Scripps Howard News Service included Babymouse: Monster Mash in her article "Halloween books for youngsters:"

-- Babymouse, the star of a hugely popular graphic novel series for young readers, celebrates Halloween in "Babymouse: Monster Mash" (Random House, $5.99). Once again, author Jennifer Holm and her artist brother Matthew Holm, do a terrific job at capturing the challenges of childhood in a light-hearted way. If you haven't met Babymouse, you're in for a treat. (Ages 7-10).

Mouse Guard Publisher Being Bought Out ... Next Move for the Filthy, Dirty Disease Carriers?

Many folks have been talking about how Archaia Studios Press is being bought out, leaving their current titles in semi-limbo. But until now, everyone has failed to mention that Archaia is the publisher of the runaway hit, Mouse Guard, which seems to be the only title from their roster that anyone even knows about. Christopher Butcher at comics212 rectifies that oversight—with prejudice!

I don’t know why everyone keeps going on about this “Archaia Studios Press” being bought out… I had thought it was the publisher of Publisher of Mouse Guard being bought out… Or at the least, The Publisher of Mouse Guard and they’ve got some good French licenses as well. I mean sure, The Publisher of Mouse Guard is publishing other books, and they’re all produced by nice-enough folks and there’s a general level of quality to the line which speaks well of managing editor Mark Smylie. But The Publisher of Mouse Guard publishes Mouse Guard, which is a phenomenally successful indy publishing story, possibly the best-selling indy comic of the past few years.
He also points out that the Mouse Guard collections (the big fat comics with spines) were printed by Random House's Villard imprint, and that everyone is going on and on about how great Archaia's contracts were for creators and the buyout publisher's contracts are probably only "industry standard" (read: serfdom).

The big question he has, is, isn't the world pretty much David Petersen's (the author of Mouse Guard) oyster at this point? Couldn't he go anywhere?

MY question, as someone who has only published on the book side, and not on the periodical side, is "Why not just go straight to graphic novels, and ignore all that weekly/monthly/whatever saddle-stitched world?" Is the money that good? ’Cause all reports about money for creators in the comic-book biz say the opposite.

If there are any traditional comic-book insiders out there (you DC, Marvel, Dark Horse, SLG types), I'd love to know if you think it's really worth it for an established creator to work inside the monthly direct market machine, rather than go straight to the 100+ page graphic novel stage.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Matthew Holm ... that's my name! Don't wear it out.

I just recorded the pronunciation of my name for TeachingBooks.net, a site which has many authors pronouncing their names and giving little stories or mnemonics about them.

You wouldn't think people could mess up "Holm." You'd be very, very wrong.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Babymouse: Monster Mash Reviewed by The Horn Book

A lovely review of Babymouse: Monster Mash in the latest issue of The Horn Book:

Elementary spooks

This Halloween season, there’s no shortage of spooky stories for your grade-school readers. For starters, check out the latest Babymouse book by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm. Monster Mash, the ninth cheery graphic novel in the series, trades the books’ usual pink-and-black color scheme for a seasonal orange and black as Babymouse struggles to make the right decision: be something scary for Halloween (what she wants to do), or something pretty (class queen Felicia Furrypaw’s decree). You don’t need to be familiar with the rest of the books to jump right in to this one — but you may want to go back and enjoy the others once you’ve finished it. (6–10 years)

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Reports: Jennifer Holm at Urbana-Champaign

Everead reports on sister Jenni's appearance at the Youth Literature Festival at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign this past weekend. Pictures, too—you can see here (the photo's a bit dark) that she appears to have been freezing her whiskers off:

Babymouse creator Jennifer Holm

Berkeley Breathed Getting Out of the Comics Biz ... for Real, this Time.

Berke Breathed's Opus Sunday comic is coming to an end next month. I would mourn, but I really haven't read his stuff since Bloom County folded. Bloom County, of course, is one of my top influences. Hmm... what are my top influences? In no particular order:

  • Bloom County
  • Calvin & Hobbes
  • Star Wars
  • Peanuts
  • The Simpsons
  • The Far Side
Boy, I read a lot of comics as a kid. And watched cartoons. Yup. Child of the Seventies/Eighties. (I did read a lot of non-illustrated books, too, but they have much less of an effect on my daily job.)

Back to Berkeley Breathed, though. Be sure to check out the podcast interviews that Bat Segundo did with Berkeley Breathed last year. (Part One, Part Two) B.B. talks a great deal about how the newspaper comics page is now the most sanitized piece of media in existence (hint—Bloom County could not be printed today. Period.) and how the age of collective social experiences (say, everyone knowing who the Beatles and Elvis are; everyone watching the same TV show; etc.) is over.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Friday, October 3, 2008

Video interviews with children's authors at the Portland Kidlit Bloggers Conference

Holly Cupala, newest member of Readergirlz, has posted several video interviews on her blog, including a shadowy and mysterious one of me. We tried to shoot one during dinner, but people kept giving speeches! The nerve! Well, at least it kept Holly at the winners' table for the raffle draw, much to the benefit of her bookshelves. This video was shot at the end of the night, in the poorly lit lounge.

Stack o' Winnings

I see that Fuse posted her photos of the Kidlit Conference, at last. Here, then, is my ire-drawing stack of winning books:


Sez Betsy: "What I couldn't figure was why the other tables did not whoop. Whooping clearly attracts luck, so whoop we did."