Two ads showed up in the e-mail box this morning, and since neither was for cheap prescription drugs or a home loan, they caught my eye. They’re for the seasonal gift shops at Barnes & Noble and Borders, and each has a special graphic novel niche, though B&N’s is listed a layer in.
B&N breaks theirs down into “Graphic Novels and Comics,” “Manga,” and “Collectibles.” DC’s Absolute program seems to have positioned them very nicely for placement in these gift guides. While the Marvel entries are reference books, DC’s are largely stories. Someone at B&N really seems to like Joann Sfar (represented by Pantheon’s The Rabbi’s Cat and First Second’s Klezmer) and Osamu Tezuka, which is perfectly understandable. Ode to Kirihito (Vertical) makes both the graphic novel and manga lists.
My favorite entry on the GN list is probably Paul Gravett’s Graphic Novels: Everything You Need to Know (or Stories to Change Your Life). It’s a beautifully produced book with tons of page samples and a really solid cross-section of the more interesting books that are out there, along with well-written history and context from Gravett.
The manga list illustrates something of an industry shortcoming, to my way of thinking. While there are plenty of big, comprehensive, stylishly produced volumes on the GN list, there’s little in the way of boxed sets in the manga section. There are some art books and character guides, but there are a lot of single volumes from late in ongoing series that don’t immediately scream “stocking stuffer” unless you’re buying for a dedicated reader who probably already has Fruits Basket 14 anyways.
At Borders, the “Comics & Graphic Novels” link has better placement, but it also has fewer choices. On the bright side, they’re also having a 4-for-3 sale with page after page of choices. There are plenty of volumes of popular manga series like Naruto, Bleach, and Death Note, and an otherwise eclectic mix of everything from Doonesbury to Little Lulu. One can also find lots and lots of boys’ love or yaoi titles in the listings from publishers like Juné, Blu, Netcomics, and others.
Books-A-Million doesn’t seem to have a GN/manga section to their gift guide, though the chain seems to be making a lot of money off of the category.
If I were to assemble some kind of gift guide, it would definitely include Moomin, Linda Medley’s Castle Waiting hardcover, Gene Yang’s American Born Chinese, a personally assembled box set (maybe of Fumi Yoshinaga’s four-volume Antique Bakery, Ai Yazawa’s Paradise Kiss, or Scott Chantler’s Northwest Passage), Jessica Abel’s La Perdida, and Paul Gravett’s Manga: 60 Years of Japanese Comics.
Moving on to more current offerings, the week’s releases are up at ComicList. Lazily assembled highlights include:
Insert cornucopia joke here.