2 questions to kick off the week: June 29, 2009

Posted by – June 29, 2009

• Can Longbox really stimulate the secondary market for comics? Rich Johnston’s Twinterview with Longbox founder Rantz Hoseley was one of the more interesting industry-related reads I had last week. Everyone in pamphlet comics has obviously been twitching for a smooth, accessibly platform to sell their content on and magically keep revenue up while losing production costs. The simple supply/demand logic Hoseley uses makes plenty of sense. I think the question is going to be “Will the modern collectors’ culture care?” If there’s been a new generation of kids getting into comics who didn’t live through collecting in the 90s and aren’t accustomed to thinking of their media in object terms like their parents, and will that dampen the effects of the digital transition?

Manga

• What does the term “graphic novel” really mean anymore? Anyone who’s talked to me for more than an hour in the last 6 years has probably had this conversation with me at some point, but I recent happened upon the Webster definition, which says it’s “a fictional story that is presented in comic-strip format and published as a book.” My abbreviated perspective on the subject is as follows: 1) When TIME named Achewood its “Top Graphic Novel” of 2007, it clearly demonstrated that the term is abstractly and often very universally applied (often, I would say, arbitrarily) to anything being communicated through comics. The Webster definition allows for this categorization by using comic-strip in its definition. Does that mean Peanuts is a graphic novel? The Far Side? But would you use the term novel to describe a collection of E.E. Cummings poems or Flannery O’Connor short stories? No! Of course not. I’d love to see the phrase graphic narrative applied more broadly, like prose is used for the written word. 2) Marketing and usage will continue to cement the useless and anemic meaning of graphic novel for the foreseeable future, I think. I love that comics-based storytelling has reached a larger audience over the last decade, but all you have to do is look at the image I personally snapped at a Barnes & Noble last year to see that there are a lot of arbitrary classifications in how longform graphic narratives are marketed.

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