It’s Friday, which means it’s time for another installment of the New York Times “Graphic Books” bestseller list, which comes in three flavors: softcover, hardcover, and foreign, I mean, manga.
That joke’s meant to point out how weird I find it to pull one genre/format/not sure how they define it, exactly, into its own ghetto, but at least that gives the superhero books room not to be dominated by those non-American comics. Although the question of definition comes up again this week, as two of the ten manga entries are licensed works with no Japanese connection. What makes Warriors: Ravenpaw’s Path Volume 3 (#1) and Return to Labyrinth Volume 4 (#4) manga, other than that they’re published by Tokyopop?
The rest of the top ten list is, as expected, all Viz — the most successful American manga publisher — with the exception of Del Rey’s Negima! Magister Negi Magi Volume 27 (#5), a canny blend of Harry Potter and fan service. Makes me wonder — do Del Rey’s licensed graphic novels, such as the Dean Koontz Odd books, get put in “manga” too?
Everything is new this week or the previous, except for the long-running Naruto, whose 48th volume (!) is in its 10th week on the chart. I don’t follow the lists enough to know how often Tokyopop places or which titles make the list, but their only two entries are both spinoffs from other media, books and movie, respectively. Which leads to my main point, best seen by looking at the paperback graphic novels list.
Six of the ten entries there (#1, 3-7) are the Scott Pilgrim books, as interest peaks before the opening of the movie adaptation today. Three of the rest (#2, 8, 9) are Walking Dead collections, as viewers prepare for the upcoming TV show, debuting on AMC in October. And 6 of those 9 titles have double-digit weeks on the list. That’s what drives interest and sales these days — is it a movie or TV show? Will it be? Did someone think this comic was good enough to dump millions into making it move with actors?
Or do we already know the author, so we feel like we’re guaranteed a predictable amount of enjoyment? That explains two of the hardcover best-sellers: Troublemaker, co-written by Janet Evanovich, in second place on its third week on the list, and the Twilight graphic novel (#8). Plus, Kick-Ass, at #3 after 22 weeks, is still riding movie attention, although I’m surprised it’s placing so well so long after the film came and went.
The rest of the hardcover list, with one exception, is all Blackest Night titles, six books (#1, 4-6, 9, 10). I’m not sure if Green Lantern interest is building due to next summer’s movie or if there are a lot of superhero fans who love blending zombies and Rainbow Bright into the genre.