Thursday, January 20, 2011

News: Archie's first original graphic novel!

Okay, you've gotta admit, Betty's little dress is completely adorable.

The book in question, The Archie Babies, is pretty much either a Must Read or Must Avoid Reading At All Costs for most people. But whatever your enthusiasm for the concept, it's a great opportunity for new comics readers to get a look at where the industry currently is.

See, for a very long time, nearly all professionally published comics (and quite a few self-published ones) in North America were first published in periodical comic book format, one chapter at a time. Eventually, and especially in the last couple of decades, many of these comic book series were collected into trade paperbacks.

Today, most comic book series from publishers end up with a book collection, and many independent  publishers have either scaled back or entirely ended their comic book offerings in favor of releasing titles as original graphic novels.

Larger publishers, on the other hand - particularly the Big Two superhero publishers, Marvel and DC - have stood by the "comic books first, collections later" plan. But in the past year or so, they have started dabbling in original graphic novels as well. There are plenty of reasons for this, but one of the biggest is that comics publishers are doing more to get their titles to Readers Like You: ladies (and gentlemen) who might not be interested in buying a new stack of comic books every week/month, but will gladly pop into a store and pick up an interesting-looking book.

While the teen life depicted in Archie's comics has a reputation for being endearingly behind the times, the company itself has lately moved to the front of the pack when it comes to distribution. These baby steps (a pun I will never apologize for, ever) into original graphic novel publishing represent a real turning point for the industry as a whole.

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