Why, why, WHY?

June 6, 2007

Okay, this is clearly just a pet peeve of mine, and I should just accept it as a matter of course and move on, but that’s never been my best event.

So why is it worth Publishers Weekly Comics Week’s notice that Marvel’s The Road to Civil War has spent two months at the bottom of its best-seller list, but it’s not noteworthy that three volumes of popular manga series (Fruits Basket 16, Fullmetal Alchemist 12, and Naruto 13) have managed the same feat, and at higher sales ranks than Road on their May and June charts? In light of the ongoing discussion of the commercial viability of comics for girls, they might also have pointed out that for the past two months two of the top five slots on the lists have been occupied by shôjo manga. Admittedly, there’s not a whole lot left to be said about the commercial success of Fruits Basket any more than there is regarding Naruto’s, though you’d think that subsequent placements of first and third place might earn it a sentence or two of narrative.


Get on the omnibus

June 6, 2007

I’m a big fan of the omnibus concept, even though I’m usually too impatient to hold off on purchasing individual volumes of a given series. John Jakala has drawn attention to Del Rey’s omnibus editions of some of its popular series, and he’s even weeded through a panel report at Book Expo America to winnow out rumor of possible Naruto omnibus editions from Viz. And, just to take the concept even farther, he’s compiled a list of series that might benefit from the omnibus treatment.

There are several series that I think would benefit from an omnibus release, either to collect the content in a more handsome package or to provide inexpensive introductions to long-running series (like Bleach) and make it easier for new readers to catch up. I’d definitely second John’s votes for Love Roma (Del Rey), which I thought was underappreciated in terms of sales during its five-volume run, and Sgt. Frog, for the reasons John details.

Before I go any further, I should admit that I’m not really sure what kind of negotiations these repackaging would require. I’m guessing they’re pretty specific and that the prospect of a reprint in a different format would require a new round of licensing negotiations, so I might just be thinking wishfully. That’s obviously never stopped me before, so here we go:

Antique Bakery (Digital Manga): Critically acclaimed, and rightly so, this is a book that I think deserves a high-end omnibus treatment. That’s not to say that DMP’s treatment of the individual volumes looked bad, but a keepsake approach, with some additional extras and a gorgeous hardcover package would probably get quite a warm welcome. Ice the cake.

Chikyu Misaki (CMX): Only three volumes long, this series would fit quite neatly into an omnibus edition, and it would give a boost to a critically appreciated but (I think) underperforming series. As far as packaging, it could go either way. I can see it packaged as a higher-end novel-like product, or as a more economical done-in-one volume.

Paradise Kiss (Tokyopop): Five volumes of content might be tricky to jam into one book, but what content! And what a book it would be! As Stephanie Chan noted at Blog@Newsarama, Ai Yazawa’s fashion-student manga has broad appeal, and it would be a good way to take advantage of the increasing popularity of Yazawa’s Nana.

Planetes (Tokyopop): I think higher-end packaging would be the way to go with this series, which I still think would appeal to fans of science fiction in prose form.

Scott Pilgrim (Oni): Oni has demonstrated its willingness to play with the omnibus experiment, and they’re always good about re-listing older material, and this could provide some nice series support. They could also fold in Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Lost at Sea as a bonus. (Oni might also consider putting together a Courtney Crumrin omnibus, now that I think about it.)

Hot properties in general: It might seem kind of odd to suggest this, given that the titles are still gaining new readers for individual volumes, but it certainly couldn’t hurt to consider omnibus editions of Fullmetal Alchemist (a glaring omission from my list of favorite comics from women creators, thankfully rectified by Kevin Melrose at the aforelinked Blog@ piece), Fruits Basket and Death Note, either in tricked-out or quick-and-cheap versions.

Shôjo in general: I think this would work on a couple of different levels. Shôjo series tend to have shorter runs than their shônen counterparts, so they’d be easier to package in omnibuses.

Yaoi and shônen-ai in general: I could be wrong, but I suspect there might well be an audience for keepsake versions of favorite series, or even omnibus collections of shorter works from favored creators.

I would also think that Tokyopop’s original works would really lend themselves to the omnibus treatment, once their initial three-volume runs are completed. Again, I’m not sure how contractual arrangements would influence that kind of strategy.

As far as existing omnibuses (why isn’t “omnibi” a word?!) that I would have snapped up if I hadn’t already purchased the individual volumes, I’d recommend Girl Genius (though I’d miss the gorgeous colors), Bone and Northwest Passage.