Minx No More: DC Cancels Girls’ GN Line

Wow. I knew the DC line of graphic novels for girls young adults (as DC puts it, and that wishy-washiness may have been one of its problems) wasn’t getting a lot of attention, but I expected it to last through its second year instead of being truncated.

Minx logo

Comic Book Resources is reporting that DC has cancelled the Minx line. After putting out six books in 2007, this year so far they’d released

The big problem? Distribution. CBR states

Random House, DC’s book trade distributor, has not been able to successfully place MINX titles in the coveted young adult sections of bookstores

I’ve previously speculated that the books were selling better in the established comic direct market than bookstores, which wasn’t the goal for the line, although it plays to DC’s strengths and comfort levels.

But then, the line was formed out of jealousy. Shelly Bond, the editor behind the imprint, said she “pitched this line as an alternative to manga, but also as an alternative to traditional fiction” — in other words, why aren’t these kids buying OUR comics? Which is typical DC thinking.

Too much of the promotion revolved around what the books weren’t, instead of what they were. The analysis at the CBR article states that

this development should be seen as a depressing indication that a market for alternative young adult comics does not exist in the capacity to support an initiative of this kind, if at all

Alternative to what? Again, that’s being reactive — “we’re not superheroes, we’re not manga” — instead of proactive. What are you, then? And the answer is some middling soap opera work without much passion, telling comfortable stories about young women who learn to accept themselves (and often get a boyfriend) after a significant event, with serviceable but not astounding art.

Also, DC spent at least $125,000 just on promotion. That’s a lot of money to expect a new line reaching to a new market to cover in under two years. An initiative of some other kind might be very well supportable.

Let’s not forget one major issue: the lack of significant female creative contribution, a problem from the start.

No one loved these books. Some of them weren’t bad, but none of them were truly great. And that, ultimately, is why they failed. Although being part of a company that over-controls creative efforts and isn’t really sure whether it wants women readers probably also contributed.

So farewell to the non-published titles:

  • Emiko Superstar by Mariko Tamaki and Steve Rolston (previously scheduled for October – anyone have an advance copy they don’t want?)
  • Token by Alisa Kwitney and Joelle Jones (whose work I loved on 12 Reasons Why I Love Her – I’ll miss this one the most)
  • All Nighter by David Hahn (was due in January 2009)
  • Poseur
  • Clubbing in Tokyo by Andi Watson

Perhaps some will be resurrected under Vertigo, or elsewhere.

Pure speculation: also announced this week was that another couple of CMX books were cancelled to be resolicited at a later date. Is that the next imprint to face cost-cutting?


31 Responses to “Minx No More: DC Cancels Girls’ GN Line”

  1. Shannon Smith Says:

    I managed inventory at Borders when Minx rolled out and I was excited by the books but as soon as the first copies rolled in and I saw they were bing shelved in Graphic Novels I knew they would be over looked. Their spines were too small and they just did not stand out on the shelf. DC can blame distribution but really all they had to do was call Borders and B&N and say, hey guys, could you sticker thes books to be shelved in YA? They would have done it. I would have done it. It would have taken about 5 minutes to change the code in inventory and the stickers would have printed as YA and every shelver in every store would have put them in YA no questions ask. It ain’t rocket surgery.

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  3. Paul O'Brien Says:

    To be fair to WATER BABY, although I was a bit lukewarm about it, it did get some good reviews when it was released. It’s really a “mixed reaction” book rather than a “panned” one.

  4. Tommy Raiko Says:

    “DC can blame distribution but really all they had to do was call Borders and B&N and say, hey guys, could you sticker thes books to be shelved in YA? They would have done it.”

    On the other hand, over on Heidi MacDonald’s blog, there’s a comment from somone who used to work in a Barnes & Noble where the first MINX book was placed in the YA section, where it barely sold.

    So even if it would’ve been easy from a inentory-systems persepctive to treat the books as YA titles, it’s clearly not self-evident that that alone would’ve been the best strategy.

  5. Faith Says:

    Is Emiko Superstar not going to be published at all? How sad. I got a galley copy of it at San Diego and liked it.

    I nearly did a Minx book (I was asked by Shelly Bond to pitch), and would have been thrilled to do it … unfortunately (or rather, fortunately, I guess), it didn’t happen and I moved on to other things. No hard feelings, really.

    I did a badly thought out ramble of my experience here: http://smuu.livejournal.com/629737.html

  6. Kenny Says:

    Johanna, you’re exactly right. This line was always meant to be DC taking sales from manga. They had no clear goal in sight that was independent of some other niche. It was exactly what you said, “Why aren’t they buying our books?” They just wanted to throw a bunch of money behind something and expected people to run towards it. They never made a growth strategy.

  7. Charles RB Says:

    I only ever saw a handful, if any, Minx comics in bookstores here – they were always crowded out by other stuff (DC Universe, Kirkman-Images, Tokyopop, 2000AD trades).

    The line seems to have fundamental flaws, namely:

    a) Inability to penetrate the market, indicating either apathy from bookstores or inability to market the product to them.

    b) Not much promotion aimed at the target audience.

    c) Unclear initially what the imprint was meant to be producing and what you could expect from it.

    d) Lack of diversity in the stories told and demographics of the characters in it (a brief glance, the majority seem very middle-class and “alternative”), which is limiting.

    e) Seeming lack of support and initiative from DC.

    (I wouldn’t count DC trying to nick manga sales as a problem – obviously they’d want to, DC wants money)

  8. James Moar Says:

    Faith, the article suggests that some of the remaining titles will come out, and Emiko Superstar being ready for release would probably help its chances at least.

  9. Shannon Smith Says:

    “On the other hand, over on Heidi MacDonald’s blog, there’s a comment from somone who used to work in a Barnes & Noble where the first MINX book was placed in the YA section, where it barely sold.” I think that might have been a change on B&N’s part or maybe the initiative of one shelver in one store but I remember checking B&N when Minx rolled out (which I did on a weekly basis when I was in the biz) and they had the Minx stuff in graphic novels. It’s been a while since I’ve checked though. They may have changed. I know Books A Million has this odd adult-graphic novel section away from graphic novels where they have an odd assortment of things ranging from near-porn manga to Blankets. Blankets being a book that actually won a YA award if I’m not mistaken. I’m not saying you or Heidi are wrong, just saying that when Minx rolled out, it was in graphic novels at both Borders and B&N. (At least the several B&N’s I visited at the time.)

  10. dave roman Says:

    I thought some of the books were pretty okay and I was looking forward to seeing what else they put out down the line. But I think positioning yourself as the alternative to manga is a mistake. What if those kids don’t want an alternative?
    And the main thing that people forget is a lot of what teens want is a SERIES. And if it takes a year between books it’s hard to grow a fanbase. Kids don’t always buy every Tokyopop or Viz book across the line. They latch on to series they like and read all of it. But Minx doesn’t have a series yet. Plain Janes would have been but the second book is just coming out now. Manga series are far ahead of their American publishing schedule. There are more than 15 copies of Fruits Basket ready to go. That allows a fandom to grow much quicker.

  11. Shannon Smith Says:

    p.s. Regardless of shelving and marketing. From all the pre-release stuff I read (and I read most all of it) I thought it was clear that their attention was to tap into the YA market. Most of the success in the YA market is in series books. Few to none of those YA series did gangbusters in their first volume. Those kind of things tend to catch on after a few volumes are out and word of mouth spreads. That takes a lot longer than the year and a half Minx invested. I think they gave up too soon. I’m kind of surprised. I’m not sure what they were expecting.

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  14. Johanna Says:

    Emiko Superstar is still coming out. I wonder how this news will affect the sales?

    The point about series is a great one. There are a lot more continuing series both in manga and YA novels these days — and if you love the characters, you want to spend more time with them.

  15. Paul O'Brien Says:

    “I wonder how this news will affect the sales?”

    Oh, I’m sure the same fifty bloggers will buy it regardless. :-)

  16. REMftw Says:

    My Borders only stocks DC,Marvel,Image,Dark Horse, Even Oni but not ‘Minx’ It’s much easier to find a ‘Scott pilgrim’ which is by an unknown publisher(Who really knows Oni outside of comicbook forums? and how many have even heard of ‘em in comicbook message boards?) then it is to find a Wildstorm/Minx trade (Although they did have only a few Veritgo trades)

  17. dave roman Says:

    I’ve never seen any Oni Press books besides Courtney Crumrin in any bookstore I’ve been too sadly.

  18. Johanna Says:

    Silly Paul – the bloggers don’t buy them, they get review copies!

  19. odessa steps magazine Says:

    @dave

    I’ve seen the new smaller size Whiteout trades in borders recently. Also the definitely Queen and Country HCs.

  20. Sarah Says:

    Too bad this will prove another excuse to ignore women readers by the big publishers. I rather liked Plain Janes (though I agree it could have used another edit or two) and Regifters (which was stronger).

  21. ross campbell Says:

    hey now, after it got past the horrible initial reviews, Water Baby got a bunch of great ones, too! ;)

  22. Jamie S. Rich Says:

    Hold up, I don’t believe Token has been canceled. It’s due for an October release and Joëlle even saw a mock-up with the tones a couple of weeks ago. When I spoke to her yesterday and today, she made no mention of it being canceled.

    I actually think it’s the best written and drawn of the lot (sorry, Ross! Steve!), so I’d hate to have people no longer looking for it based on rumor.

  23. Johanna Says:

    Ross, I’m sorry, that wording was not very thought through on my part. I’ll fix it.

    Jamie, I sure hope we see it! And based on DC’s no comment, since it’s due before January, I’m guessing we will see it.

  24. Hsifeng Says:

    Johanna Says: “I knew the DC line of graphic novels for girls [crossed out] young adults (as DC puts it, and that wishy-washiness may have been one of its problems”

    That’s library lingo. Every town and city library I’ve been to has a “Young Adult” section for the teens instead of shelving the stuff written for teens in the “Children’s” section or along with the stuff written for adults. Seems like DC wasn’t being wishy-washy but just trying to sell to librarians who might be (or who might be wondering “why do we keep calling it that when the bookworms there outgrow that section and start reading Stephen King years before they’re adults?”).

    dave roman Says: “But I think positioning yourself as the alternative to manga is a mistake. What if those kids don’t want an alternative?”

    I wouldn’t blame them for thinking those kids would like an alternative, though. After hearing “girls can relate to female main characters more than to male main characters” a lot, should they have jumped to the “American girls can relate to Japanese female main characters more than to American female main characters ” conclusion?

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  31. KIKI HINO Says:

    THATS IT! IVE HAD IT IF YOU GUYS THINK YOU CAN DO BETTER THEN MINX.WHCIH IS AWESOME!!!!!! YES I SOUND LIKE YOUTUBE REVIWERES AND THEY ROCK BETTER THEN YOU YEP IM PROBALY GONNA HIDE IN A HOLE!




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