No, really?

September 30, 2007

I have a pet peeve, and I’m wondering if it bothers anyone else. Does it ever irritate you when a publisher puts “A Novel” on the cover of… well… a novel? Like, “Oh, thank heavens, I would have mistaken it for a cookbook that had been mistakenly shelved here in the fiction section if it weren’t for that thoughtful note.” It’s kind of like when a store adds “-pe” to “shop,” just in case nobody could figure out it was supposed to be quaint.

It’s just me, isn’t it?

‘Tis the Seasonal Sampler

September 30, 2007

I need a bigger mailbox. I’ve had to go to the post office three times this week to pick up parcels that wouldn’t fit. I love getting parcels, but I could do without the extra errands.

They’ve been worth it, though. One parcel came from Top Shelf, and it contained their Seasonal Sampler. It’s a very handsome collection of excerpts from the publisher’s graphic novels, concentrating on upcoming and recent works, with well-written introductions and creator biographies. It’s over 250 pages long, and it’s free.

You can order it from Top Shelf’s web site while supplies last, or you can pick one up at SPX if you’re going. If you pick the latter route, get it early, so you can browse and focus your shopping at the Top Shelf booth later. You should also buy an Owly t-shirt, because they’re timelessly stylish and super-comfy.

It doesn’t adopt a particularly hard-sell approach. Top Shelf is obviously enthusiastic about their catalog; they wouldn’t have published the books if they weren’t. But for the most part, they let the work speak for itself, which is an approach I always prefer.

It also lets me browse some titles that aren’t readily available at the local comic shop. I’ve sampled a fair amount of Top Shelf’s all-ages books and really enjoyed them (the aforementioned Owly and Spiral-Bound in particular), and I think Renée French’s The Ticking is amazing, but it’s nice to get a sense of the publisher’s full range. (At the same time, it lets me know that I really don’t need to rush to get my hands on the works of Jeffrey Brown or snag a copy of that scabrous super-hero parody by James Kolchalka.)

On the bright side, it gives me added incentive to track down Jeff Lemire’s Essex County books, and Andy Hartzell’s Fox Bunny Funny has rocketed onto my must-have list. Strangely, the book that excites me most isn’t really a comic at all but a collection of essays about American vice-presidents called Veeps by Bill Kelter and Wayne Shellabarger. (I can even get past the designer’s choice not to use hyphens to make it look more olde-tyme-y.)


September 28, 2007

ICv2 looks at recent BookScan numbers, and they find a whole lot of manga with a hefty dose of ninja in the mix:

1. Naruto 16
2. Naruto 17
3. Naruto 18
4. Fruits Basket Fan Book
5. Fruits Basket 17
6. Naruto Anime Profiles
7. Negima 15
8. Naruto 1
9. Naruto 15
10. Bleach 20
11. Death Note 1

The imminent arrival of the Death Note anime on Adult Swim is obviously giving that series some new legs, and Viz must be happy with the placement of the first volume of Naruto. It looks like the massive roll-out strategy is working quite nicely, particularly if you can draw a direct line from the multiple new releases to the renewed interest in the beginning of the series. (I’m not entirely sure you can, but it’s at least a dotted line.)

Will you walk away from a fool and his or her money?

September 27, 2007

John Jakala is pondering the possibilities of downloadable super-hero comics, making persuasive arguments for the delivery system. As I said over at John’s, I do think removing the necessity of a trip to a specialty shop might increase interest from casual consumers who are downloading music and games and movies anyways. It’s not much of a stretch to picture someone who’s curious about Spider-Man or Wonder Woman but wouldn’t set foot in a comic shop paying a little for a download just to see what’s up.

But I can understand there being reluctance to adopt that technology on a number of fronts. Comic shops have helped keep Marvel and DC alive, at least in terms of moving monthly product, so anything that shifts brick-and-mortar retailers out of the equation would have to be approached with extreme caution. (I still think the bulk of regular visitors to a comic shop who are looking for super-hero comics would keep coming. I’ve never seen much indication that those kinds of collectors or hobbyists are looking for a new way to get their fix. I could be very, very wrong, obviously.)

I also wonder if there isn’t some way for publishers to cut supportive retailers in on the action, if they do add downloads to their delivery systems. Let’s say it works like an on-line game provider, where you can deposit a certain amount into an account to be used at your leisure. Would it be possible to allow comics retailers to vend those credits? When you go to pick up whatever Wednesday offers, you can buy $10 in “Marvel Money” or $20 in “DC Dollars” to add to your online coffers? Gift certificates or cards or whatever, with a code that people can type in whenever they log on to whatever platform the publishers use?

I can’t see Marvel and DC teaming up for something like this, so platforms would probably be inconsistent and users would probably need separate accounts. I’m still wondering if the DC-Flex deal isn’t leading to some kind of electronic delivery system for the rest of DC’s product. (The first CMX/Flex co-publishing title just showed up in the latest Previews, by the way.)

It does seem to me that there are ways to implement this without cutting traditional retail outlets entirely out of the equation, which would strike me as extremely disloyal. And I know that loyalty can’t always be a factor in business decisions, but it seems like it should be in a relationship as weirdly symbiotic as the one between super-hero publishers and local comic shops.

Elk’s run

September 27, 2007

I’m really pleased with this season of Top Chef. Maybe it’s partly due to the fact that last season was such a parade of personality disorders with little or no content that focused on cuisine, but there’s a much better balance this year. People still get to be obnoxious and dysfunctional, but rarely at the expense of what they’re cooking. More often than not, obnoxiousness actually results in a contestant’s downfall, as opposed to carrying them to the finale.

Speaking of the finale, spoilers after the cut:

Read the rest of this entry »

Prove it

September 26, 2007

Not that I play any multiplayer online games, but this would seriously cramp my style in RPGs. Those Morrowind games are just more fun when played as a female lizard-creature. Or orc.

Amazon attacks!

September 25, 2007

It’s bound to happen from time to time. This week’s ComicList just doesn’t inspire me. I’m not too worried, as I’ve got a big shipment coming from Amazon, which happens to be having one of its four-for-the-price-of-three sales underway.

So to fill in for the usually pre-Wednesday, ramblings, here are some possible combinations you might consider if you’re looking through those Amazon listings.

  • The Popularity Contest: Have you fallen behind on (or never savored) some of the best-selling series out there? Now is your chance to atone.
  • I Missed the Omnibus! Maybe you just weren’t able to commit to that big, one-volume edition of Jeff Smith’s delightful Bone. You can sample it in smaller doses.
  • Fashion Forward: It’s not really open for debate that Ai Yazawa creates some of the most stylish manga out there, between Paradise Kiss and Nana.
  • The Anime’s Coming! The Anime’s Coming! As if the manga wasn’t popular enough, live-action and animated versions of Death Note will be arriving soon. See what all of the fuss is about.
  • Boys, Boys, Boys: Fans of yaoi would do well to give this list a careful scan, as there are treasures within.
  • She’s Back: After too long of an absence, ADV has resumed releases of Yotsuba&! And Amazon has her.
  • Four Minxes: Were you reluctant to pick up DC’s Minx books until you heard some critical feedback? You can pick them all up and get one for free. (To be honest, the only one I’d recommend without reservation is Re-Gifters.)
  • The Godfather: No, not the Corleone version — Tezuka. There’s a nice sampling of his work sprinkled among the offerings.
  • I had other categories in mind, but if I cut and paste one more hyperlink, I’ll lose my mind. Or what’s left of it.

    Okay, I can manage one more. Buy this book.

    While they’re at it…

    September 24, 2007

    The New Haven Register provides an introduction to the graphic novel in light of last week’s coverage of the Guilford High School dispute. Rachael Scarborough King talks about the range of content, growing popularity, occasional controversy, and so on.

    Great quote from the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund’s Charles Brownstein:

    “‘The content of a graphic novel is limited only by the author’s imagination, and so there’s content that skews towards readers of all ages,’ Brownstein said. ‘Just like somebody wouldn’t necessarily write off film because they happened to see a sophomoric comedy the first time they saw a movie, somebody shouldn’t write off graphic novels either because they’re coming in with a preconception.’”

    Neglect, correct

    September 24, 2007

    In this week’s Flipped, I call for back-up in the person of noted manga blogger CLAMP maniac Katherine Dacey-Tsuei to discuss the hit-making quartet’s work.

    I realize that my tastes can be relatively narrow, and this leads me to neglect big chunks of the licensed manga catalog, so I hope to do more of these in the future. Got a favorite creator, category or genre and want to sing its praises? Drop me a line.

    The blood-soaked trousseau

    September 22, 2007

    I was checking out that “Wedding Special” thing via Occasional Superheroine, and the ending definitely sounds icky and dumb and sensationalistic, but I will admit that some atrophied fanboy reflex kicked in when I saw that last panel.

    I just don’t believe for a moment that Ollie would wear boxers. He must be a clone.