iPad and newspaper

Manga, kids GNs, and Steve Martin top December 2020 NY Times graphic novel best seller list

Here’s my monthly look at the New York Times graphic novel best seller list.

The top five best sellers

  1. “A Wealth of Pigeons,” by Harry Bliss and Steve Martin (Amazon, Bookshop)
  2. “Guts,” by Raina Telgemeier (Amazon, Bookshop, Kobo)
  3. “New Kid,” by Jerry Craft (Amazon, Bookshop, Kobo)
  4. “My Hero Academia,” vol. 1, by Kohei Horikoshi (Amazon, Bookshop, Kobo)
  5. “Class Act” by Jerry Craft. (Amazon, Bookshop, Kobo)

(Disclosure: The blog is an affiliate of Bookshop.org, and will earn a commission for purchases made through Bookshop links.)

A Wealth of Pigeons cover
“A Wealth of Pigeons.” Art by Harry Bliss. (Celadon Books)

Steve Martin (yes, that Steve Martin) tops the list?

To my surprise, the #1 entry isn’t by any of the usual suspects. It’s “A Wealth of Pigeons,” a compilation book of various cartoons by “New Yorker” cartoonist Harry Bliss and co-written by Steve Martin. Yes, the famous comedian himself.

While I hadn’t heard of this collection until now, it seems to have earned its spot on the best seller list. It’s back-ordered on Amazon and Bookshop. (Barnes & Noble has it in stock as of this writing, however, including the various stores in/near my city.)

Manga makes up a fourth of the list

Again, manga keeps up its strong presence on the best seller list. Three spaces are taken by popular anime/manga series “My Hero Academia.” For whatever reason, the first volume jumped to #4 on this month’s chart.

The fourth space is by the manga series “Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No Yaiba,” volume 1.

Newcomers

A few newcomers this month include:

  • “Blades of Freedom” by Nathan Hale, a young adult graphic novel about the events surrounding Napoleon’s rise to power, the Louisiana Purchase, and the Haitian Revolution.
  • “Sapiens: A Graphic History,” by Yuval Noah Harari, David Vandermeulen, and Daniel Casanave. It’s a graphic novel adaption of Harari’s prose book “Sapeins,” examining the rise of modern-day humans.

A non-“Teen Titans” modern Big Two comic appears

Finally, there’s a rare appearance on this list: a recently-written canonical DC/Marvel book. This month at #15 is a trade paperback of “Batman: Three Jokers,” collected and released under the “Black Label” label. It’s about Batman investigating why there’s three versions of the Joker running around (since apparently DC having only one one-note murder clown wasn’t enough).

Despite this trade’s appearance, the Big Two have had more success in the bookstore channel with YA graphic novels than anything from the mainstream DC Universe or Marvel Universe. Thus it’s no surprise that DC’s announced a new YA Titans-related GN, “I Am Not Starfire” (written by Mariko Tamaki and art by Yoshi Yoshitani). It’s about Mandy, the teenage daughter of an adult Starfire; Mandy tries to distance herself from her famous mother and create her own identity.

The book’s caught some attention online already, both positive (body diversity, a gay lead character) and negative (people mad Mandy doesn’t look supermodel-esque like her Mom, plus fat shaming/racist/homophobic reasons). Never mind the latter crowd already got a version of Starfire almost a decade ago that fits what they want (i.e. in line with the more sexist portrayals of women in superhero comics), and it bombed badly. Or that they aren’t the market for this book; it’s teenagers/young adults who grew up with the Titans on TV, and wouldn’t touch a floppy comic with a 10-foot pole.

Image from “Guts.” Art by Raina Telgemeier. (Scholastic)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *