Grotesque Anatomy
Friday, November 14, 2003
  The Trickle-Down Manga Theory
Dave Intermittent  wonders why the news about Shonen Jump's growing sales should matter much to non-manga comic book fans.  Dirk Deppey has already replied with two reasons (steady bookstore sales keep the Graphic Novel section alive; competition from the manga publishers might encourage The Big Two to produce material in varied genres and formats appealing to younger readers), but I'd like to add a third:  It promotes the art form of sequential art.  Even if the sales of superhero and small press comics never equal that of Shonen Jump, at least the people buying manga are buying comics.  As Ralph Phillips pointed out, even if one portion of comics struggles or withers away, that doesn't mean comics full-stop cease to exist.  And as I believe Shawn Fumo has argued from time to time, today's Chobits fan may grow up to read Cheat or other indie romance GNs in the future.  I would imagine very few of us started out reading black-and-white autobiographical comics when we were in grade school.  We were probably introduced to comics through colorful characters pounding the crap out of each other.  Later (assuming we didn't give up on comics completely) we sought out other, more mature works of sequential art (assuming our tastes evolved or expanded).

A fourth reason might be that readers growing up on manga might become creators of sequential art themselves, and because they weren't immersed almost exclusively in superheroes, they might set out to create more diverse comics.  In fact, this might already be happening:  As Shawn Fumo notes, American creators who grew up on manga and anime are now getting published as part of Tokyopop's ongoing "Rising Stars of Manga" contest, and their topics aren't all about giant robots or teen romance.  Getting newer generations of sequential art enthusiasts to think of comics in terms broader than just "superheroes, superheroes, and more superheroes" could be a very good thing for American comics.

So much for the broad, abstract point.  Now to consider a specific question Dave raised:  How is the "Amerimanga" book Death: At Death's Door doing?  I don't know if there have been any reports on bookstore sales (ICv2 noted that sales were "strong" and that it made the bookstore list of Top 50 Graphic Novel Titles; Publishers Weekly referred to it as "one of the most successful American manga-style books" and listed it as number eleven on its list of "Top-selling Graphic Novels of 2003"), but in the Direct Market sales have been good:  It was the number one graphic novel in July 2003 with estimated sales of 15,364 copies, and it showed up on the Top 50 GNs list again in August and October, with sales of 1,780 and 2,483, respectively.  (Of course, this book undoubtedly owes much of its success to the extremely loyal Sandman fan-base, but Dave wanted to know.)
Like Unto A Thing Of Irony!

Iron Fist

by John Jakala

Main Blog

Alex Rossenstahl?
Manga Marches On
One-Line Reviews
Supervillain Snark
Playing With The Search Feature
Miscelleanous Manga
But Everything I Read Is Brilliant
The Law Is An Ass
Tenacious Termites
Grotesque Gripes: AVENGERS/JLA #2 & ASM #500