One year later

December 1, 2007

At Comics Worth Reading, Johanna Draper Carlson contemplates the first year and future of DC’s Minx imprint:

“Is the line a success? I don’t pay attention to sales figures much, so I don’t know how well the books are selling either in the direct market or in the bigger bookstore field. That they’re doing a second year says to me that they still are optimistic about the idea. I’m guessing the books are most popular among schools and libraries, since they’re classically styled stories (teenage girl learns life lesson) that are easy to justify for purchase. I have yet to hear anyone really excited about them, though, in any market.”

I’ve kind of been wondering about that too, so I took a quick look around. Here’s what Paul Levitz had to say in this September interview with ICv2:

“[ICv2:] We wanted to talk a little bit about Minx, the new DC imprint, which was another event since the last time we talked. It looked to us from the first numbers we saw that the direct response was stronger than the bookstores which was sort of the opposite of what I would’ve expected. Can you comment on whether you’re finding that the case and what the overall response is on Minx?

“[Levitz:] I don’t think the direct absolute numbers were larger than the bookstore numbers, but we certainly had an enormous enthusiasm in the direct market that was above and beyond what we were initially expecting which was great. There was a lot of passion for reaching out to the other audiences. We got some good support in the bookstores for the launch.

“It’s a challenging project. You’re reaching out to a very different kind of audience. There’s not a natural connection immediately there day one that says these people are walking past this shelf, put it out and make it happen, but we’re nurturing it, we’re doing ok, and we think the material is very strong, and we’re optimistic that it will continue to build from here.”

I can understand the desire to quash the notion that the books actually sold better in specialty comic shops than bookstores, because that certainly couldn’t have been the desired outcome. I don’t know if I’ll ever be clear on exactly who constitutes the “different kind of audience.” I’m sure there is a constituency of girls who might like graphic novels but aren’t interested in anything manga has to offer, though I don’t know if I’d think it was large enough to throw a lot of money at it. (We went to a play last night, and there was a tween a couple of rows in front of us who had a library volume of Guru Guru Pon-Chan. I don’t really like the series, but the play was so boring that I would have gladly given her ten dollars to borrow it.)

As far as critical response goes, I haven’t seen much outside the blogosphere, and almost none from the target audience. (I could probably look a little harder, but I suspect that would lead me to the valley of MySpace, and I’d rather not.) There have been a few reviews in some newspapers, which I suspect was a result of the formidable PR push the imprint got at the outset. Some of the books have been nominated for the Great Graphic Novels for Teens list, so the imprint is on librarians’ radar.

None of the Minx books that I’ve read have been bad, and one (Re-Gifters) was actually great. But I do get the sense that the line could benefit from more editorial rigor at the story phase.