Kids’ Publishers Jump on Graphic Novel Bandwagon — But Are They Really Comics?

Dork Diaries cover
Dork Diaries
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I first heard of Dork Diaries when Brian Hibbs mentioned it in his analysis of 2009 sales, saying:

The second best-selling item (68,657 copies) on the BookScan list for 2009 was something that I don’t imagine most of us would call “comics,” per se -– Dork Diaries by Rachel Renee Russell –- it has words and it has pictures, but I’m not going to say that they really work together in the unified whole that most would consider “comics”. If anything I would compare this more to Diary of a Wimpy Kid, yet those titles aren’t listed on this chart whatsoever. So it’s one of those categorization problems I was discussing earlier, really. Dork Diaries is very close to “comics”, so we’ll let the cognoscenti argue that one out.

Ok, I’ll take a stand on this one, now that I’ve been sent a review copy of the sequel, Tales From a Not-So-Popular Party Girl (due out in June). This is not a comic, or a graphic novel. Here’s what the first four pages look like:

This is not a comic. This is a novel set to mimic handwriting with frequent sketchy illustrations. (I’m assuming that the reproduction of the images — see p2, for example — will be adjusted in the print version, since this is an advance copy.) And from what I can tell, not having read a full book in either series, it’s pretty much the same as Wimpy Kid, only for girls, so the focus is on parties and popularity. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fun to read (and obviously popular), but it’s not a comic. (Neither is Wimpy Kid. Are you listening, Harvey Awards?)

Interesting: There are a couple of notes on this volume that it will also have an ebook version available. Given the Kindle’s issues with graphics, I have to wonder how well that will work, without the pictures?

I do have to say that this comes closer to comics than a new Scholastic series, The Amazing Adventures of Nate Banks, which has two books about a boy obsessed with comics who finds superheroes and supervillains in his home town. These are straight chapter books with a whole eight (!) pages of color comics bound in the middle. They’re by Chris Giarrusso, who also does Mini Marvels. The writer, Jake Bell, is clearly a comic fan himself, since the town is named Kanigher Falls and the first book is titled Secret Identity Crisis. I guess these are aimed at parents who want their comic-loving kids reading “real” books.


4 Responses to “Kids’ Publishers Jump on Graphic Novel Bandwagon — But Are They Really Comics?”

  1. Nick Marino Says:

    Did Mini Marvels. Does G-Man (which is better than the MMs anyway). Marvel basically took the concept of Mini Marvel, turned it into the weak Super Hero Squad, and then stopped giving Chris G work doing Mini Marvels and told him that those particular iterations of the characters were no more. Sad, really, because the MMs were so much better than the Squad stuff. But it’s a big bonus that Chris stopped doing MMs cause the new G-Man mini series from Image was awesome.

  2. Johanna Says:

    Oh, bummer! I liked MM a lot. It was approachable, unlike a lot of Marvel’s other stuff. Sorry to hear that.

  3. Hsifeng Says:

    Johanna Says:

    “…This is a novel set to mimic handwriting with frequent sketchy illustrations. (I’m assuming that the reproduction of the images — see p2, for example — will be adjusted in the print version, since this is an advance copy.)…”

    Looks to me like a novel set to mimic handwriting and sketching done in a lined-paper notebook (I’ve done my share of that ;) ) so I wouldn’t be surprised if the pics won’t be adjusted in the print version.

  4. Great Graphic Novels for Kids » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] but I’m glad everything’s in this one handy volume (especially since there apparently won’t be any more). Fun for the whole family, especially to share! […]




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