Wednesday, September 06, 2006

It's Wednesday, that means Graphic Novel News!

The "It's Only 5:30 For Me" Edition

ITEM! Manga round-up - and NARUTO is where it's at! Volume 11 was released this month and in its first full week on the shelves it has sold more copies in a seven day period than any other graphic novel this year. In fact, if we look at the Bookscan numbers for the week ending August 27th, we can see how NARUTO continues to dominate:

1. Naruto vol. 11 (Viz Media)
2. The 9/11 Report: A Graphic Adaptaion (Hill and Wang)
3. Fruits Basket vol. 14 (Tokyopop)
4. Death Note vol. 7 (Viz Media)
5. Naruto vol. 10 (Viz Media)
6. Naruto vol. 1 (Viz Media)
7. Black Cat vol. 4 (Viz Media)
8. HALO (Marvel Comics)
9. Fullmetal Alchemist vol. 9 (Viz Media)
10. Naruto vol. 2 (Viz Media)

So, only two non-manga titles - and one is a video game tie-in and the other is an historical singularity. Also, Viz takes up 3 of the top 10 slots - but it's worth pointing out that DEATH NOTE, BLACK CAT, and FRUITS BASKET don't have a heavy animated presence in the US at all - FRUITS BASKET is available on DVD, while the other two can't be found on US airwaves at all. What they DO have in common is that DEATH NOTE and BLACK CAT were both serialized in the US magazine SHONEN JUMP before being published in trades. So, there's still something to be said for serialization before being collected and sold in the bookstores - just not in the traditional comic book store format the US is used to. HALO, the only Marvel Comics entry anywhere near the top 10, wasn't serialized at all before its release.

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ITEM! Along with the redesign of its website, TokyoPop is selling some of its newer and lower selling titles exclusively through its website - angering a few vocal retailers. TokyoPop defends it has an attempt to give special attention to titles that are, quite simply, getting lost on the ever-expanding manga shelves. Retailers (the independent bookstore types, not the chains) are calling it a betrayal of some of TokyoPop's most ardent supporters - some even saying they'll be hesitant to order new TokyoPop series, for fear that TP will simply yank them from the shelves at a later date.

TP has defended their position, saying that they've always been open to experimenting and finding new ways to reach their audience. Some retailers, talking to Publisher's Weekly, said that they never like it when publisher sell directly to their audience, and that the retailers will "remember it at order time." It strikes THIS reporter as a case of TokyoPop preferring to take the merchandising of certain books into its own hands - and the retailers feel a little stung.

Meanwhile, the new TokyoPop site itself looks pretty sharp. I checked out the blogs today and the first thing I saw was a fan gushing about VAMPIRE HUNTER D, a non TP title. Maybe not good for TP's sales, but they're definitely building a community of manga lovers.

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