Updated on March 19, 2023
The New York Times has released the second month of their best seller list for graphic novels (or “graphic books” as they bizarrely call them) and manga. Here’s my thoughts on the November 2019 graphic novel best seller list.
Women creators, kid/young adult graphic novels dominate
Women are represented as a writer or illustrator on 10 of the 15 graphic novels on the list. That’s as opposed to six out of the top 15 direct market trade paperbacks/graphic novels (by my count) for October 2019.
Children’s and young adult graphic novels also dominate the best sellers list. That’s unsurprising, given current comic sales trends.
Raina Telgemeier’s “Guts” tops the list; Telgemeier also takes up three other spots on the list of 15 best sellers. Overall, I’d say at least eight of the 15 graphic novels are explicitly for kids or young adults.
“My Hero Academia” makes the list; “Watchmen” the only Big Two entry
On the manga side, “My Hero Academia” comes in at #3 on the November 2019 graphic novel best seller list; it trails “Guts” and Shannon Hale/LeUyen Pham’s YA graphic novel “Best Friends.” Ironically, despite not being by DC or Marvel, “Academia” is also the most successful superhero entry on the list. Not to mention one of the few; the only other that remotely fits is “Watchmen.” (“Critical Role Vox Machina: Origins,” vol. 1 is definitely not a superhero story, despite the New York Times’ description.)
Speaking of which, DC and Marvel’s only representation on the list is 1986’s “Watchmen” story. Despite the two superhero publishers’ direct market dominance, things are the opposite on the bookstore channel side. DC and Marvel made up 74% of sales in 2018 in the direct market, but only a fifth of all sales in bookstore channels.
Even though “Watchmen” was written when Ronald Reagan was president, the perennial selling trade’s probably gotten a boost from the new HBO spin-off series.
Image from “Guts.” Art by Raina Telgemeier. (Scholastic)