Good Books for June 2018: The New Previews Debuts
Diamond Distributors decided to make some (long overdue) changes to their massive monthly Previews catalog, and the latest edition reflects their decisions.
(For those who don’t know, Previews was created for comic shops to order their merchandise two months (or more) in advance. However, because the comic market is so fragmented, readers who want access to the smaller press, more diverse, more interesting items are often told they have to preorder in order to get what they want. So it quickly became a customer catalog as well, particularly once it became impossible for stores to stock everything in it, or if someone is in an area where the only shops are primarily DC/Marvel stores.)
The first change is structural. Books and magazines have now been moved in with comics and graphic novels in a more generalized print section. I’d noticed that TwoMorrows publications had had this for a while, and so it makes sense to be more consistent.
However, along with that comes ghettoization for the Manga section, with publishers Viz, Kodansha, Yen, and others moved to the back of the book in their own area. I suppose that also makes sense for the majority of Diamond’s customers, since a lot of comic shops don’t bother carrying the format. It takes good knowledge to buy for that audience intelligently, and many retailers haven’t put in the time or have the staff to stock manga well, particularly since it’s so widely available (often at discounts) at Amazon or Barnes and Noble.
Diamond promoted this change “as a result of the resurgence and growth of the genre” and because they’re spotlighting manga this month, they have also included “an essential list of manga titles for readers to pick up, interviews with manga creators, as well as a backlist stock-up sale for retailers.” According to this interview with Kevin Hamric, Senior Director of Sales and Marketing for Viz Media,
sales grew again in 2017, with growth in every channel except the comic stores
although the publisher is working on improving sales through Diamond. They don’t seem upset about the new section, saying,
“We’re more than happy to work with them and try to put more emphasis and focus on the manga category for the direct market‑based store owners.”
One change that does help me is the move of all the toys and merchandise to the back of the catalog, flipped. Since the book section, even with this change, is still over 500 pages, that makes it easier to skip that material, since I’m rarely interested in yet more Funko Pop or logo t-shirts.
The other major change is that two more publishers have been “promoted” to the front of the book. Boom! Studios and Dynamite Entertainment join Dark Horse, DC, IDW, and Image in the Premier Publisher section. It’s no longer alphabetical, though, with the previous four followed by Dynamite and then Boom!. CEO of the latter Ross Richie says,
there’s a lot of retailers that only carry the front of the catalog. There’s a great opportunity for many retailers that haven’t ever carried a Boom! product or maybe carried very little to give them a shot. That is one of the reasons why we’re giving the 20 percent line-wide discount on everything that we’re soliciting the first month.
There’s another change still to come — in May, DC is leaving the book in favor of its own publication, as Marvel does. In my case, that means one less publisher to have to flip through, as I’m mostly reading collected editions of older comics from those two these days.
Finally, Diamond is finally releasing a digital version of Previews, which has been long requested. However, they expect to charge for it (no word yet on pricing), or give out a free copy when you buy a print version. It’s always struck me as somewhat strange that you have to pay money to order merchandise, but since the catalog is 650 pages, someone’s got to pay for all that paper and printing.
Anyway, here are a few books I think are worth checking out this month. You can order them now through your local comic shop for delivery in June or later.
|Look Back and Laugh
IDW/Top Shelf, $19.99
APR18 0322, due out July 11
Liz Prince (Be Your Own Backing Band, Will You Still Love Me If I Wet the Bed?) returns to her first publisher, Top Shelf, for this 400-plus-page collection that reprints 365 daily diary strips from 2016, a year during which she moved, got married, and bought a house. So that sounds eventful! The publisher posted a preview.
|Wahoo Morris Volume 2
Craig A. Taillefer Comics, $13.99
APR18 1491, due out June 27
The long-awaited second and final volume of the magic/music comic by Craig A. Taillefer. I was glad to spend more time with these characters, but I really didn’t care for the way the plot twisted, particularly since it went far away from the band in favor of Alicia and Sebastien. It’s beautifully illustrated, though. And as is sadly too typical, you can get it for less than Kickstarter backers paid.
|Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea
Drawn & Quarterly, $18.95
APR18 1501, due out June 6
Guy Delisle’s insightful portrait of his time working in North Korea is a journey through an unknown place that’s very much in the news, which is likely why there’s a new edition on offer with a new cover and introduction.
|Showa: A History of Japan 1926-1939
Drawn & Quarterly, $24.95
APR18 1508, due out May 16
Because it’s Manga Month, Drawn & Quarterly is relisting the first volume of Shigeru Mizuki’s comprehensive yet personal history of Japan.
|Modern Fantasy #1
Dark Horse, $3.99
APR18 0030, due out June 27
|Nancy Drew #1
Dynamite Entertainment, $3.99
APR18 0901, due out June 13