What to make of the against-the-stream sales trend of graphic novels in the American publishing market?

I think the stronger numbers for European and Japanese comics directly correlate to the dearth of meaningful American content that’s worthy of graphic novel presentation.

You don’t have to believe me. Go to any of the burgeoning graphic novel sections in bookstores, and what do you see among native-soil selections? Row upon row of superhero, sci-fi and fantasy crap. Sure, there’s a smattering of independent voices presenting literary material, but it’s overwhelmed by the same adolescent-targeted content that’s kept the U.S. comic book industry stilted for decades.

That’s why adults looking for an actual good read go for the imports — there’s no domestic alternative. There’s simply not enough American graphic novel material out there, and what there is is strictly for the fanboy/collectible market. If conventional books were in the same state, the sales figures would be identical to this niche.

Personally, I look upon this with a good deal of sadness. I grew up on comic books, and was thrilled to see the graphic novel format emerge when I was in my teens. But I recognized early on that the content wasn’t growing along with the format. Even now, the groundbreakers in U.S. graphic novels — “Batman: The Dark Knight Returns” and “Watchmen” — are still considered the pinnacle, even though they’re more than 20 years old. Since then, nothing. Small wonder readers are looking overseas to fill the void.


The National Hockey League’s new HQ digs in Manhattan are just about ready for action, and the themes for the Sixth Avenue square footage are ice and youth.

And remember, this all sits above the flagship NHL Powered by Reebok retail store that opened last year. I was just there the other day, in fact, where I picked up a vintage-ish New York Americans cap (not exactly a fan of the long-defunct franchise; mainly just wanted a red ballcap, which I was lacking).

Given that I visit the retail store so regularly, I’d think that NHL HQ would be the ideal work environment for me. I’m sure they could use another hired-gun content-producer for the upcoming 2008-09 season…