It’s that time of year again when I take a good, hard look at my circulation figures and decide what’s been popular, what’s holding steady, what needs a bit of hand-selling, and what might just need to be jettisoned from the collection.
I am thus sharing a few conclusions and wishes gleaned from my stats. I’m counting the number of circulations in the past two years for stand alone titles and the number of circulations per volume in a series for series titles.
The top 20 titles/series of 2011 by circulation are:
- Smile by Raina Telgemeier
- Calamity Jack by Shannon and Dean Hale, Art by Nathan Hale
- Alice in the Country of Hearts by Soumei Hoshino
- Tintin by Herge
- Doctor Who: The Forgotten by Tony Lee
- Scott Pilgrim by Bryan Lee O’Malley
- Dragon Ball by Akira Toriyama
- Futurama Adventures by Matt Groenig
- Green Arrow: Year One by Andy Diggle and Jock
- One Piece by Eiichiro Oda
- Hetalia: Axis Powers by Hidekaz Himaruya
- X-23 by various creators
- Beast Master by Kyousuke Motomi
- Superman/Batman by various creators
- Ghostopolis by Doug TenNapel
- Marvel Visionaries: Stan Lee by Stan Lee
- Point Blank: The Graphic Novel by Anthony Horowitz
- Wild Ones by Kiyo Fujiwara
- Beauty Pop by Kiyoko Arai
- Black Butler by Yana Toboso
This kind of list is the reason I love statistics — the top four aren’t surprises, but I had no idea there was such a demand for Doctor Who comics in my library. Guess what I’ll be investigating ASAP? Also, while Dragon Ball, One Piece, Hetalia, and Black Butler are all firmly on my radar, I had no idea that Kyousuke Motomi’s Beast Master or Kiyo Fujiwara’s Wild Ones would be anywhere near as popular. Since I already own the complete runs, Beast Master (2 volumes) and Wild Ones (10 volumes) are not titles I need to buy more of, but I can happily recommend them if you’re looking for a reliable new series to add that is also complete.
Investigating circulation always gives me further pointers in terms of what my readers are looking for and what I might be able to provide more of in the collection.
In the newest additions to my collections, I’ve also been able to identify what new additions to my collection I need to make sure to continue. Usamaru Furuya’s Genkaku Picasso is a stand out hit, as is Mayu Shinjo’s Ai Ore!, my recently added Thor titles from J. Michael Straczynski, various Hulk titles, and Matt Fraction’s The Invincible Iron Man. It’s great to have proof of success and the prompt to make sure to continue to keep up with these series.
As I said above, while I knew quite well how popular the new Doctor Who television series is in my neck of the woods, I hadn’t gathered that would crossover into interest in the related comics series.
1. Korean manhwa: I have had requests this past year for Korean series including Sarasah by Ryang Ryu, Pig Bride by KookHwa Huh, and Very, Very Sweet by Ji-Sang Shin, all published by Yen Press. These titles are now going strong, and are on par with Death Note, D. Gray Man, and Naruto in terms of circulations per volume. Not just any Korean series will spike, as I have a few that have not caught on, but I will be sure to listen to my readers and investigate more Korean additions to my collection.
2. Pay attention to superheroes outside the big names: Who knew Andy Diggle’s Green Arrow: Year One would rank so high? This reminds me to keep an eye out for really great stand alone titles of the lower tier names even as I keep up my standing orders for Batman, X-Men, and Spider-Man.
Promote these titles, stat!
A number of quality or favorite titles need some help to move, including enthusiastic recommendations from staff and showing off titles in topical or seasonal displays. A number of my favorites, including Takehiko Inoue’s REAL, Brian Clevinger’s Atomic Robo, Evan Dorkin’s Beasts of Burden, Joe Kelly’s I Kill Giants, and Vera Brosgol’s Anya’s Ghost need my help to catch reader’s attentions, so I’ll work on turning them face out and including them in recommendation lists.
Bring them back!
There are a number of titles now lost to publisher’s shutting down or licenses falling through, and I want to take a moment to give my wish list for unavailable titles I’d love someone to bring back into print given the history of demand.
1. We lost a number of solid titles when Tokyopop closed its manga division, but in particular Hidekaz Himaruya’s Hetalia, Ririko Tsujita’s The Secret Notes of Lady Kanoko, and Banri Hidaka’s V. B. Rose are my greatest losses. Yen Press has picked up the equally popular Alice in the Country of Hearts from Quin Rose, and I only hope more publishers will see the value in some of these lost series, particular those with strong appeal to girls. I still have teens asking for these series as if somehow, magically, we can bring them back by sheer force of will.
2. More manga but especially for my younger readers — the works of Nari Kusakawa (Two Flowers for the Dragon, Recipe for Gertrude, The Palette of 12 Secret Colors) as well as similar series like The Lapis Lazuli Crown by Natsuna Kawase, all originally published by CMX, continue to be very popular. These are the perfect titles for younger readers desperate for manga but not yet quite ready for the maturity of many teen offerings, and it’s a great sadness that they are all out of print. While I’m requesting CMX titles, someone please bring back Kaoru Mori’s Emma, although that one is definitely not for young readers!
3. Similarly, my reader beloved and completely appropriate teen BL title Only the Ring Finger Knows by Satoru Kannagi has been long unavailable and is finally out of print. I implore DMP to reprint this title, given how battered our one copy became before it finally went missing, and I’d love to see them print a similarly charming romance for teens (having checked out what they have online, the stand alone The Rule of Standing on Tiptoe by Puku Okuyama might well be a fine replacement if/when it comes out in print.)
4. In a more keep them in print request, I’m continually frustrated by how quickly many publishers let their older volumes in a series go out of print. Marvel still ranks as one of the worst offenders, especially when it comes to older series that are huge with my teens (Young Avengers) but have been continuing for a few years. Replacing missing or damaged volumes becomes almost impossible after what feels like a few months.
Statistics also teach me, of course, which titles are ultimately waning in popularity. I discovered a number of classic titles, including Kosuke Fujishima’s Oh My Goddess!, Osamu Tezuka’s Astro Boy, and Rumiko Takahashi’s Ranma ½, are simply not nearly as popular as they once were. Many I keep for completeness and for a sense of the history of the format, but the once go-to favorite titles are no longer the first I’d recommend any library building a collection purchase.
Similarly, despite perceived attention, most adaptations of popular book properties into graphic novel form are just not popular in my library. A few keep chugging along — James Patterson’s Maximum Ride, the Anthony Horowitz Alex Rider titles, and the adaptations of Orson Scott Card’s Ender universe titles are all successful. However, most spin-offs, including Cynthia Leitich’s Tantalize, Brian Jacques’s Redwall, Ellen Schreiber’s Vampire Kisses, Dean Koontz’s Odd Thomas, Melissa Marr’s Wicked Lovely, and that New York Times Best-Seller Twilight adaptations, are simply not pulling their weight. Whatever audience these characters and titles have in prose are not translating into interest in either graphic novel adaptations or related stories.
So, as we all take stock as the new year arrives, what are your words of wisdom for your fellow graphic novel selectors? What’s been flying off the shelves, and what’s about to weeded?