Archaia Reconsiders Serialization in Light of Graphic Novel Success

According to Publishers Weekly, Archaia’s success with two recent graphic novels, Return of the Dapper Men and Mouse Guard: Legends of the Guard, has them rethinking the economics of serialization. Each graphic novel has 15,000 copies in print.

Return of the Dapper Men cover

For now, Archaia will continue selling the Dapper Men and Legends hardcovers, [editor-in-chief Stephen] Christy said, noting that the company generally doesn’t publish trade paperback versions of its graphic novels. But Christy also conceded that the sellouts of both books helped Archaia better understand its market.

“It’s proven to us that we were correct, as a company, in our assumption three years ago that [book format] graphic novels are really where we need to be, and that we can’t be in the single issue [periodical] market,” Christy explained. “We need to focus on each book, making it an event.” …

“It wouldn’t be unfair to say that Archaia might not be publishing single issues next year in the traditional format that they’re understood in now,” Christy said. “I think we’ll always publish a few here and there because some stories are served better in a serialized format,” he explained, “the truth of the matter is that it’s become unsustainable for publishers of our size to devote time and effort to single issue production. If we’re going to spend the manpower and money to print something, we want to focus our attention on a graphic novel because we’re looking at one product. You’re not looking at four or five products spread across a timeline.”

The key learning here is that a book sticks around longer, and a bigger deal can be made of it over a longer time without exhausting the audience’s patience. They also discuss how a “free digital preview” can serve the same purpose as a single comic issue, building buzz for the eventual collection and in a lot cheaper way.

Update: Robot 6 interviews Christy, Mouse Guard‘s creator David Petersen, and Return of the Dapper Men‘s Jim McCann and Janet Lee about the sales and future plans.

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