One of the greatest joys of my job is not hauling each week’s shipment of new comics and graphic novels up to the second floor of the store to count, sort, and pull them. I’m the guy at the store that puts that order together every month, and no one knows better than me that 2007 saw a record number of new graphic novels hit the stands (hence why I don’t want to be lifting them…). Now though, there’s proof. According to ICv2.com, there were 3314 graphic novels released in 2007, a figure that’s up 19% over 2006′s 2785 books.
Almost all of them are awful.
Seriously, I don’t usually come right out and say this sort of thing (inference is a blogger’s best friend) but man there are a lot of downright horrible graphic novels released every year. By that I mean all of it, Superheroes, educational books, “art comix”, tie-in books, licensed books, shitty adaptations of shitty movies. Manga, especially manga, which despite being cherry-picked out off of a tree that includes some _truly_ wretched material, is often terrible thanks to its formulaic blandness. Even A Monkey Can Draw Manga was not funny, it was a warning.
Almost every manga in print, in English, is better than the awful, awful movie-pitches-masquerading-as-a-graphic-novel that make up more and more published books. Man, I LOVE comics, and I can think of no greater insult to the medium than for it to be a comfortable slum for movie and TV writers between projects; adaptations of works that have already failed out of Hollywood. I know that the “Hollywood Game” of generating material that might be optioned in Tinseltown is what pays for my open-bars at the San Diego Comic-Con every year, but… ugh. I am the Lorax and I speak for the trees: stop printing vehicles for Sheia Fucking Lebouf on my goddamned trees.
I’d take a hundred noble failures, poor, deluded creators who’ve poured their heart and soul into truly terrible works of crap, over one more transparent plea for a Hollywood producer’s attention.
Not that I want another hundred noble failures of course. I’m kind of getting sick of the noble failures too. And of the creators with more marketing plans than actual talent; no number of press releases in my inbox will teach you to draw or write. And licensing… fuck. You know, I know the Udon guys. They fucking LOVE Street Fighter. Love it. Eat, sleep, breathe, own all the games, the toys, all of it. They are fully invested in producing Street Fighter comics, and they want to make them as great as possible. If you as a publisher or licensor do not possess that level of dedication (and the talent to match), then why bother? Why are you wasting all of our time? Slapping together an extra 48 pages with a movie, cartoon, or toy line’s logo on it takes less creativity than being a mime. And you’re wasting the Lorax’s trees.
So yeah, most of the 3300 graphic novels released in 2007 sucked.
Godwin’s Law Sturgeon’s Law is that 95% of everything is crap, and that’s about right in this case. Of course, the fact that there’s a “ Godwin’s Law” “Sturgeon’s Law” at all should tell me that this is no surprise to any of you, but I just feel like someone had to come out and say it: There are a lot of awful, awful graphic novels coming out these days. Whoever’s guarding the gate, be it retailers, journalists, “journalists”, whatever, I beg you; be discerning in your praise, don’t pass along PR without having vetted the project yourself, stand behind your recommendations and, if you can’t, own up to your mistakes.
Edit: I confused Godwin and Sturgeon.