Comics Disassembled: Ten Things of Note from the Past Week in Comics, Led by A Surprising Departure

With Thanksgiving last week and Emerald City Comic Con this week, my schedule has been torn asunder. And to make up for the lack of Comics Disassembled after the holiday, you’re getting this week’s edition early and as a mash up of the past two weeks. Let’s get to it.

1. Gina Gagliano, Randomly Out

The biggest reason I was bummed to not write last week’s edition of this column was this point. Word came out thanks to Heidi MacDonald at The Beat – and exclusively Heidi MacDonald at The Beat, a mystifying single-threading given how notable this person is – that Gina Gagliano is departing from Random House Graphic as its Publishing Director on December 3rd. It’s honestly a shocking turn, because, as I noted extensively in my profile of Gagliano earlier this year, Gina’s one of the smartest people in comics, and one who has her finger on the pulse of what’s working in the YA/middle-grade space better than just about everyone. When Gina was hired at RHG, it just made sense, and I’d wager a ton of people in publishing kicked themselves over missing out.

But now, she’s leaving. No reason was stated in Heidi’s report, with the only real note being that Gagliano was leaving to work “more directly with readers.” Given previous conversations with her, I cannot imagine Gina left out of her volition, as it felt like an ideal pairing of person and role. Whatever the reason, it’s a big loss for RHG, as the publisher has wave after wave of exciting releases on the horizon, and that’s thanks in part to the tireless work of Gagliano. I hope that Gina sticks to comics, wherever she goes, because we need more people like her, not less. Happy trails to Gagliano, regardless, and I wish her nothing but a future filled with great ice cream and even better comics.

2. Sell-Through, Extended

Ever wonder what actually sells for comic shops? And not just in the short-term, but over an extended period? No? It’s only me? Well, too bad. I’m writing about this anyway, because Joe Field from Flying Color Comics in Concord, California – a notable shop of much esteem (and also the founding father of Free Comic Book Day) – shared a list of the best-selling graphic novels at his shop since 2012, and it’s quite interesting to me.

Now, most of the list isn’t entirely surprising. Pair titles that have been around for about that exact length of time with an overlay of what’s generally hot and you’re most of the way there. Saga’s first volume is #1, Infinity Gauntlet is at #2 for Marvel Cinematic Universe reasons (take that, the idea that movies don’t lead to sales!), Saga Vol. 2 is at three, Bone’s first color volume is at four, and then Amulet’s debut is at five. From there, it’s a lot of the usual suspects, like Raina Telgemeier, Dav Pilkey, and a creator I’ve never heard of in Bat Man…or is it Batman? Who can keep track.

It’s an interesting look, if only because it does underline that direct market shops can have a lot more overlap with the book market top sellers than we might expect, especially in the long tail. There are obviously some differentiators – there’s very little manga at all – but the bulk of it is unusual for the idea of the direct market and typical for the book one. All shops are different of course, and I know Field has a pretty welcoming, progressive shop in some ways. But it’s still interesting to see.

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