By Chris Artis
Even during the worldwide economic downturn, the global popularity of graphic novels continues to grow, says Sandy Resnick, DC Comics’ Director of International Business Development. “Fortunately for us, it’s been a growing category in general bookstores for a long time now. This adoption is at different stages in different countries, but it still seems to be increasing everywhere,” he says.
According to Resnick, one of the leading factors driving this growth is the rise of literary graphic novels, with a number of critically acclaimed and bestselling authors of “traditional” novels trying their hands at comics and bringing new readers to the medium. Among them is Jonathan Ames, the author of several arch comedies of manners, whose first original graphic novel, The Alcoholic, was published last year by DC’s Vertigo imprint. Called “unflinching” and “powerful” by a reviewer in the New York Times, it was just released as a paperback reprint last month. And in November, Vertigo will publish Luna Park, the first original graphic novel by the New York Times bestselling author of Dreamland, Kevin Baker.
Two major names in literary/genre fiction are behind new graphic novels that DC is introducing for the first time at this Frankfurt Book Fair—Batman: Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader? by bestselling fantasy author Neil Gaiman, and Dark Entries, the first graphic novel from #1 international bestseller and Edgar-Award winner, Ian Rankin. Published in August, it launched DC’s full line of original crime genre graphic novels.
Some of the other major titles that DC is introducing at Frankfurt showcase the graphic novel’s uncanny ability to cross-pollinate with other media. To wit, the publisher is featuring a full list of graphic novels based on video games, such as World of Warcraft, Starcraft, Call of Duty, Gears of War, and Resident Evil. Meanwhile, the espionage series of graphic novels, The Losers, is being adapted as a major motion picture of the same name, and the Jonah Hex western comics and graphic novels are also being made into a movie starring Megan Fox and Josh Brolin—both scheduled to be released in 2010.
What’s more, all of this American comics activity is increasingly catching the attention of magna-dominated Asia. “We are seeing greater interest in American-style comics there, particularly in China and South Korea,” according to DC’s Resnick. “This year, before we even get to Frankfurt, we’ve doubled the number of books placed in China compared to 2008. We’ve tripled the number of titles placed in South Korea.”