Movie hits don't always lead to a huge boost in sales of the books they're based on, and superhero films follow a mysterious logic. Hits like the various X-Men, Spider-Man and Iron Man flicks have not translated into blockbuster sales for those individual properties. On the other hand, buzz around the Watchmen adaptation--a film that was met with widespread critical and commercial indifference--put that 20-year-old miniseries on the bestseller list.
Here is one possible explanation for why some media events drive graphic lit sales and others do not: to translate a hot film or television series into book sales, the property in question has to be contained enough that you aren't going to intimidate somebody whose introduction to the title was a simplified, two-hour sampler platter. To put it simply, when a customer walks in the door and asks, "Do you have the comic of Movie X?" you need to be able to say, "Yeah, it's right here."
While the entire story of Watchmen comes in a single volume, by comparison, Spider-Man has been in constant publication since the 1960s and, as of this writing, the character appears in (depending how you count it) nine different ongoing titles.
With that in mind, here are two media tie-ins that have a lot of potential to boost book sales in the next few months.
Bryan Lee O'Malley's Scott Pilgrim
(Oni Press), a manga-format series about Canadian hipsters facing the daunting task of growing up, blends genuinely charming storytelling and characterization with tons of video game, indie rock and comic book references. The book built a devoted cult following, but awareness of the series has exploded due to the massive media blitz for the Edgar Wright-helmed movie adaptation, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
. The comic series currently contains five volumes, with a sixth and final volume due out today in comic shops and August 3 in bookstores. The film opens in mid-August. By all accounts, the film adaptation is loyal to the source material, but fans needn't worry about spoilers: the film, shot before the final volume of the comic was completed, has a different ending than the comic.
A considerably grimmer work is Image Comics' ongoing post-apocalyptic zombie series The Walking Dead
. Created by writer Robert Kirkman and artist Tony Moore in 2003, this black-and-white horror comic is being adapted for a TV miniseries for AMC, home of Mad Men
. The pilot was written and directed by Frank Darabont, the award-winning writer/director of The Shawshank Redemption
, The Green Mile
and The Mist
, and will star Andrew Lincoln (Love Actually
) and Michael Rooker (Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer
). The series, which is set to air in October, has already generated significant buzz among genre fans, and the Halloween tie-in and star director are should help it garner mainstream attention. The first 12 volumes of series are available in trade paperback collections (each collects six issues of the series); more expensive hardcover deluxe editions (12 issues per collection) and jumbo omnibus editions (24 issues) are also available.
Other notable titles that have just been released:
The titular character of Wilson
by Daniel Clowes (Drawn and Quarterly) is a snobbish misanthropic loner who, following the death of his father, tries to reconnect with his ex-wife. This seemingly doomed quest becomes more complicated when Wilson discovers that he's the father of a teenage girl who was born after the divorce and given up for adoption. Clowes, whose Eightball series was the source for the 2000 indie flick Ghost World
, is a recognizable name outside the indie comic world. The bitterly humorous drama of Wilson
should appeal to fans of the wry irony of Ghost World
, the three-time Eisner-nominated collection of stories by Spanish creators Juan Diaz Canales and Juanjo Guarnido (Dark Horse), is a slice of hardboiled noir brilliance with a twist: all the characters are anthropomorphized animals. This odd conceit is sold by lavish artwork and smart storytelling that evoke the sensual darkness, stylish cool and gallows wit of classic Hollywood film noir flicks better than ultraviolent gonzo works like Sin City. The book includes "Somewhere Within the Shadows," a classic hardboiled murder mystery; "Winter Nation," which pits Blacksad against a sinister KKK-like organization; and the new "Red Soul," a '50s Red Scare-era tale of murder and paranoia.
Megan Kelso's Artichoke Tales
(Fantagraphics) is a coming-of-age story about a young woman whose family is torn apart by a civil war. Readers may remember Kelso for her 2007 serialized story "Watergate Sue," which appeared in the Sunday New York Times
magazine. Her new graphic novel is earning comparisons with epics like Cold Mountain
and The Thorn Birds
, and Kelso's nimble, cartoonish two-color art will remind readers of Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis