Newsstand linkblogging

October 20, 2007

At Blog@Newsarama, Kevin Melrose points to a piece in USA Today about declining manga sales in Japan:

“Sales of manga fell 4% in Japan last year to 481 billion yen ($4.1 billion) — the fifth straight annual drop, according to the Tokyo-based Research Institute for Publications. Manga magazine sales have tumbled from a peak of 1.34 billion copies in 1995 to 745 million last year.”

It’s interesting to me mostly for the fact that it truncates the customary introductory element of most mainstream media articles on manga (“Big eyes and speed lines!” “Kids love it!”), favoring market trends instead. On the other hand, I would have appreciated more detail on the distinctions between sales of manga on paper and consumption overall, though those might not be readily available.

As Icarus Publishing’s Simon Jones notes at his not-safe-for-work blog, falling pulp sales are less a new development than a continuing trend, and he suggests that this is less worrying than it might seem:

“Continually slipping sales is always a concern, but personally I don’t see why a distinction should be made between manga printed on paper, and digital manga delivered via cell phones, or manga delivered in the form of a videogame spin-off. Manga isn’t going away because the Japanese love manga more than ever… the art form is simply becoming divorced from its traditional medium of paper. Reports of its waning influence seem greatly exaggerated.”

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The New York Times also does a little trend-spotting, looking at the recent wave of comics created in part by pop stars like Gerard Wray, who’s writing the appealing Umbrella Academy for Dark Horse. Longtime comics reviewer and retailer Randy Lander is quoted in the story:

“Certainly the comics industry benefits from the press that the crossovers sometimes generate. ‘It brings in people from outside the medium and people who haven’t been to a comic store since they were a kid,’ said Mr. Lander, who also owns the Rogues Gallery, a comic store in Round Rock, Tex. ‘Every entry point we can get is a good one.’”

I’m surprised it isn’t part of a series, with follow-ups on TV and film creative types and prose authors who’ve broken in lately. But something tells me the Times has already done those articles, though the details have faded from my memory.

Anyway, I enjoyed the second issue of Umbrella Academy almost as much as the first, though I found I missed the kid versions of the characters. At The Savage Critic, Jog reviews it with his customary skill:

“…but there’s a sort of trust at work here between words and visuals that isn’t always seen in superhero comics.”

True, but who wouldn’t trust Gabriel Bá?

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Sigh. I love a lot of magazines, but Wired generally isn’t one of them. But the promise of ten pages written by Jason Thompson is worth the price of admission.