Comics Disassembled: Ten Things of Note from the Past Week in Comics, Led by the End(ish) of an Era

What a week! On a week like this, where the world is buzzing about giant comic news that’s generating excitement and conversation, there’s only one place Comics Disassembled – a look at ten things I liked or didn’t like from the week of comics – could possibly start. Let’s get to it, then!

1. PanelxPanel, Taking a Break

Happy trails, of a sort, to PanelxPanel, the Eisner Award-winning magazine of comics criticism and analysis led by Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou. While it’s not ending in a true sense — it’s going on a hiatus starting with April’s issue — it’s still taking a siesta as the long-running, monthly PDF series looks to retool and refresh. The hope, it seems, is to take a look at how things are done and then return at some point later in 2023 with a tweaked release schedule and who knows what else.

This is a quick point for a lead item, but I just wanted to celebrate the work done over there. It’s remarkable what Otsmane-Elhaou, Tiffany Babb, and the rest of the team have done with PxP. It’s a wonderful celebration of the medium and its magic. Whatever the team needs to do to make PanelxPanel work for them and their remarkably busy schedules – Otsmane-Elhaou is one of the busiest and most celebrated letterers working today, amongst other things, and Babb is the Deputy Editor of Popverse – they should do. I don’t read every month, but what I have read is both exceptionally written and sharply designed, which is a rare combo anywhere these days. We need more efforts like PanelxPanel, not fewer, so I hope they come up with a solution that works for all involved. I’m excited to see what they come up with once they get in the lab to conceptualize!

2. Comics, Being Popular!

I have big news, everyone: comics continue to be popular! That note is inspired by two items, one of which isn’t really “news” so much as a reframing of news, and the second one is gigantic, but also not something I have a lot to add on save for a finger pointing towards it to say “Check this out!” First is a Popverse article from that talks about Bookscan’s numbers for graphic novel sales to customers in bookstores in 2022, a channel we already knew was up in certain segments – Adult graphic novels – but now we know was up overall. It heading north to the tune of 1.8% from 2021. That’s neat, but a more eye-popping stat is a collective one from this recent high time. It turns out graphic novels are up 110.2% since the last pre-pandemic year of 2019, which is a lot to take in, but also something that totally makes sense because of the highlight reel years we’ve seen in 2020, 2021, and 2022. Needless to say, a lot of this is manga, but not all of it! And either way, comics being up is good! Yay comics!

Speaking of manga, Deb Aoki – one of the true experts in the field of manga – tweeted about some staggering info about manga sales in Japan in 2022: in total, manga earned $12.52 billion (USD) in Japan alone. $12.52 billion! That’s insane! Even more insane was the fact that this number was down from 2021, so $12.52 billion was actually a dip. Crazy! Anyways, Aoki dives into it more in a very interesting thread that’s worth a read, but hey, again, comics being up is good! Yay comics!

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