Mac McCool - Children's Book Illustrations and Graphic Novels

Friday, January 04, 2008

What's in French Comics Stores These Days?

After visiting four comics bookstores (yeah!) since my arrival in France, I noticed few changes from last year's selection. Mangas have decidedly conquered their shelf-space (about a tenth of the store space). Their printing quality often surpasses the U.S. pulp trade form. For decades French and Belgium readers have been used to beautiful color printing and hardbound comic books (they call them "albums"), so buyers probably expect higher quality production in their mangas than we do in the U.S.

Children's graphic novels remain a mix of top-selling series (Marsupilami, Smurfs, Titeuf, Petit Spirou), look-alikes of top-selling series, and more creative, often illustrative and poetic, stories (Octave, Echecs et Automates).

The alternative and experimental press has a space of its own (about half the size of mangas), but a sectarian following. I didn't see nearly as many people go to those shelves as to the other areas of the bookstores. We seem to witness a maturing, if not a slight oversupply of that type of comics now that the rise of the "Nouvelle Bande Dessinée" (the New Comics) dates back to more than 10 years. One store even had a section for the more artistic and established trend-changing authors like Sfar (Sardine, The Rabbi's Cat), David B. (Epileptic), Christophe Blain (Isaac The Pirate), Manu Larcenet, Lewis Trondheim, and a few new promising artists like Daphné Collignon whose art seduced me.

Last, organizing graphic novels by genre rather than by author or publisher appears well-entrenched. The stores I visited had sections for thrillers, fantasy, western, history, classics, humor, children's, mangas, super-heroes, alternative and small press, and studies and monographs on comics. We may look forward to such a development in the U.S. in the years to come.


Blogger Anna M. Lewis said...

Great information! (That must have been so much fun!)

The highlights of my London and Germany trips have been the bookstores and toy stores. So much fun... so much research.

(Ha... fun is my word for the year. Can you tell?)

1/5/08, 8:23 AM  
Blogger jesse joshua watson said...

Sounds like a great trip, mon frere. Looking forward to seeing you in NY in Feb, eh?

1/14/08, 9:44 PM  
Blogger chia said...

French comic book artists are the best people. Every single one I've talked to has been an absolute delight.

1/19/08, 5:21 AM  

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