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February 18 2008

Journalista discusses the economics of comics, including the Buffy comics. A response to Brian Hibb's (from Newsarama's) essay.

Hibb called Buffy a "disappointment" since fans have bought the comics in record numbers, but the trade paperback hasn't been doing that well. But this article points out that there hasn't been a lot of time between the printing of the comics and the trade.

I bought issue one, but since then I've only been buying the trade paperbacks, I find them more satisfying as they make the story less bitty.
It seems that most fandomís are never short of passion, even if itís something as lame as comic book revenue arguments.

The fact that Buffy is sustaining impressive sales figures this far into the Season 8 run is amazing.

For me, a big part of the fun with Season 8 is the endless discussion, debate, theorizing and speculation leading up to a release date. Then after the issue is released, I really enjoy all the discussion, debate, theorizing and speculation!
I am trying to see why Manga does so well. Our Borders recently expanded its Manga collection, to a full row of books. They have maybe 3 cases of Marvel-DC-Image_etc. trade comics, but huge amounts of Manga. I would not even know where to start with all the Tokyopop and Viz books. What makes them successful when comics in general are much less so?
On the topic right above this one, listing January sales figures, the Buffy Omnibus #3 trade paperback is ranked third in number of sales and FIRST in revenue for graphic novels. That's "not doing well"? I think that Dark Horse (and Marvel, and DC, and....) would wish their other titles were similarly "disappointing".
True sign of a nerd:

You see "economics of Buffy comics" and actually think the article is going to be about economical storytelling, pacing, etc.
Unless you're an economics nerd, then it's presumably like birthday and Christmas rolled together ;).

Basically manga is doing so well because it's more popular with girls/women Dana5140 partly because the content is more diverse than a lot of western comics (where the mainstream titles are traditionally super-hero based). So its growth is due to tapping into what had previously been a huge untapped comics market (i.e. girls/women). There's probably also an element of novelty to it.

Both effects will obviously plateau at some point (and there's evidence that may be starting to happen) but right now it's what you might call a buoyant market ;).

Don't really understand (or care about) the debate in the links but personally i'm buying the singles of Buffy (and Angel) to read and waiting for nicely bound hardback omnibuses before getting a collection. Fan as I am, I have to draw the line at buying singles, TPB and spangly hardback - even if I could afford it, i'd feel slightly guilty at the waste.
Ditto on waiting for the omnibus. I'm already buying each individual issue; at 40 issues for the season, that will be $120. Buying 7 or 8 trades would be another $120. No way. I'll wait for a $30 (or whatever) omnibus.
That would explain the Minx line, saje. But I guess this makes sense, only the sheer amount of titles is astonishing, and I have no idea how to separate the good from the bad. The only Manga book I ever bought was by Amy Mebberson and that is only because Amy is a friend of Jet Wolf.
Here I go again with unrequested advice...

Dana--Try Blankets by Craig Thompson. Not Manga but fantastic. A little bit pricey but you can find copies on ebay relatively cheap. After you've read it, turn around and recoup your 25 dollars by selling it right back on ebay. And a segue into jlp's advice...

jlp--EBAY!!! If you are inclined, you can always sell your pamphlets for money to purchase trade paperbacks. In the comics world, first appearances of major characters and major plot events dictate value. How could something as significant as Buffy cannon, limited to a couple hundred thousand copies, meet all the future demand? Many, many copies are read and then disappear into the ether (discarded, given away, used as scratch paper, toilet paper, etc.) There will always be purists and they will want to track season 8 issues down. Try finding copies of the original comics for Star Wars, Star Trek, or pretty much any cult movie/tv show, even Welcome Back Kotter, and you will be surprised at their values. Granted, these are older and fairly scarce already but all it takes is time...and a season 9 Buffy motion picture blockbuster! So once you've read your issues, keep them nice and unfolded in their plastic sleeves. In 20 years they will be worth something...hopefully more than the cover price you paid.

Lastly, Saje--where did you read about the women/girls buying Manga? I don't doubt your theory (seems logical) but were you shooting from the hip or is there some article or study you read on the topic? My theory with the popularity with Manga is that it IS tapping into a new audience but not just women/girls per se. I think its a generation Y thing. They grew up with Japanimation (like PokeMon and Dragon Ballz) and are much more receptive to the artwork. Thats just one fat guy's opinion but I think its a good guess.
alexreager: That's true, and I may try to turn some coin on the floppies in the future. Economics aside, though, I'd still rather have the convenience of one omnibus instead of eight trades floating around and getting inevitably mislaid.
Well, I'm just guessing here, but maybe because a lot of manga is widespread into anime? *shrug* There's a big chance I'm wrong. But the only reason I would ever read manga (and I have, still am *bites lip wondering what’s gonna happen to Sasuke*) is because I got caught up in the anime, and want so bad to see what happened next when the anime starts to slow down that I read the manga version which is way ahead of the anime (some are even concluded or continue where anime finished).

It's the same with comics for me. I've never read any comic before Buffy and Angel. Also, maybe the readers find the trend and the style of Japanese comedy/drama/action/drawing more enticing than that in comics in its newness *g*. Not to mention, to my knowledge, many mangas are weekly, big plus. ;)
It's from the hip-ish alexreager in as much as I haven't seen any decent statistics broken down by gender but from reading articles like this one or this one (among others) and also just from experience (which is admittedly anecdotal evidence and so not necessarily reliable) i.e. seeing who buys manga titles at my local comic shop and local Waterstones (a UK book chain) - it seems that girls are far and away in the majority.

(if anyone knows of any actual stats though i'd be really interested to see them)

I agree though that young people in general are much more open to east Asian culture now but i'd speculate that where boys are concerned it's more from novelty than because the stories are necessarily offering anything they can't get from western comics. Also, "crazes" like Pokemon may have been the "gateway drug" to other manga/anime stuff.
I'm open to a lot of East Asian culture, myself, but in the case of manga/anime, I'm willing to make an exception. The styles I've seen just leave me cold, and it irritates me no end that so many publishers feel the need to do at least one "manga-cized" issue of their comics. As a gimmick, it was cute once or twice, after that, it just got annoying. But that's me; my nephew loves the stuff, and Saje, in his case, the Pokemon thing was exactly what got him into it. He was hooked on Pokemon like Willow on magick (just to be on-topic. Sorta...)
Saje--thanks for linking those articles...it makes sense. From the publisher's perspective, an untapped audience is a damn good place to become popular.

I'm sure nobody will ever be able to pinpoint the reason its so popular but personally, I'm not a fan of the style. Give me a Kirby or Ditko book any day...
I hate manga, hate, hate, hate manga and anime with a vengeance. I have never enjoyed it, have never been able to get over the style of it, and I've never been impressed with any of the themes...whether it is supposed to appeal to me as a girl, I don't know.

As for comics, I grew up with _____: the animated series as a child, whether it was X-Men or Spiderman or Batman, so that naturally translated into reading a few of the comics, even though there were too many, and I would've loved a library where I could check out comic books. But as I grew up, I got into X-Files comics (one of the first tv-show themed ones, correct?) and eventually, Buffy. And even though I'm supposed to be an adult (snicker!) I love comic books, and my parents merely nod and smile, because they no longer have to drive me to the comic book store.

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