Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Out of Print: Out of Sight, Out of the Bookstores

One circular topic of discussion about superhero comics concerns the jumping on point: In the now common long story arcs, it seemed that things were so convoluted that it was necessary to figure out how the make the story accessable to an average reader. Do you only do short contained stories? Do you have a precis page to recap the prior issues?

Jum Shooter's oft repeated adage has been, "Every issue is someone's first issue." True, but where do you subvert the story to the format? After all, the entire comics industry was built on disposability. You never had access to any of the prior issues if the newsstands had their way with returnability.

So we move to the graphic novel, obstensibly because it is easier to keep on the bookshelf, will last much longer in print and can continue to gain readers as time goes by. Great idea.

Except when you have a two part graphic novel and the publisher is letting part one go out of print before part two comes out. Why you, as a publisher, would want to have this happen unless you were basically bankrupt, is beyond me. No wait, its not. Its the typical short sighted thinking that has ruined more than a few books along the way in this industry.

I have just finished reading my youngest daughter Amulet, a long continued story that has only, to date, two volumes out. you can tell by reading it that this could be a 7 or 8 volume story, and given the thickness of the books, plus the lavish full color artwork, that this is going to be a long project. That's ok. My kids were mesmerized from the first chapter. They'll continue to read the books when they come out. And, like Bone, Scholastic is likely going to have a long running serial that future generations can come to and fall in love with. Just so long as they keep it in print.

After all, what good is Two Towers without Return of the King? Or Two Towers without the Fellowship? Or, in manga terms, Nana pt 12 without part 11?

Kudos to Kean Soo for a solid piece of work and my hopes for better publishing days ahead. And to Disney/Hyperion? Aaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrggggggggggg.


Johanna said...

I must not have been clear -- Jellaby 2 came out last year in April, so your statement about "before part two comes out" is wrong. It's still short-sighted, but not quite so much so.


You always have insightful thoughts to share about the comic industry. I have to agree with ya, supply and demand has become a big issue nowadays, but as you pointed out, in this day and age, there is no reason for something fairly new to go out of print. For example, I have been looking for a recent book by a certain artist. Less than 6 years old, I can't find it anywhere except for sites like Amazon , etc., for exorbitant amounts of cash. Guess I'm not buying that book. Perhaps, as you say it is merely an issue of keeping huge inventories that grow exponentially day by day with every new comic/novel/art book published. I guess it's impossible to keep a copy of everything in a limited store/warehouse space.