Graphic Novel Palooza

Elizabeth Bluemle - July 18, 2017

The fastest-growing, fastest-selling section of our store over the past year has been graphic novels for younger readers. Long ago, it outgrew its shelves and graduated to a full wall case. Truth be told, we need a bigger wall case for middle grade graphic novels. Here are a few recent and upcoming titles the kids in our region are excited about:

The Adventures of John Blake: Mystery of the Ghost Ship by Philip Pullman and Fred Fordham (Graphix; out now) The marketing materials say 8-12, but I think 10-13 is the sweet spot for this spooky/dark action adventure tale from Philip Pullman.

Legions of Awkward  fans were delighted to see an addition to this series, an anthem to middle school angst. Brave by Svetlana Chmakova (Yen Press; out now).

Dog Man 3: A Tale of Two Kittens by Dav Pilkey (Graphix; Aug. 29) Can’t go wrong with the irrepressible Pilkey’s exuberant creations. We’ve already got 8-year-olds placing pre-orders.

All’s Faire in Middle School
by Victoria Jamieson (Dial, Sept. 5) — By the author of the wildly popular Roller Girl, this is a perfectly timed release to maximize reader excitement and suit its topic. We can’t wait to start handing this to kids!

The Golden Compass Graphic Novel, Complete Edition
by Philip Pullman (Knopf; Sept. 5) — September 5 is a banner day for graphic novels! Here’s the complete Golden Compass graphic novel, in one volume.

And you thought Sept. 5 couldn’t get any better! Here comes one of our all-time favorites, Ben Hatke, with Mighty Jack 2: Mighty Jack and the Goblin King (First Second, Sept. 5)
Oh, Sept. 5, we will need a shelf just for you! Here come Anthony Horowitz’s Alex Rider titles, Eagle Strike and Scorpia, in graphic novel format (Candlewick Press, Sept. 5).

Swing It, Sunny!
by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm (Graphix, Sept. 12) — Loved loved loved Sunny Side Up and have been gratified that contemporary kids also love a book set during my own childhood — which sort of makes this historical fiction (!). Now Sunny is home and heading to middle school.

Another fun addition to the perennially popular series! The Babysitters Club: Dawn and the Impossible Three, based on the novel by Ann M. Martin, illus. by Gale Gilligan (Graphix, Sept. 26)

Secret Coders 4: Robots & Repeats by Gene Luen Yang and Mike Holmes (First Second, Oct. 3)
Coding + Gene Luen Yang? Should be a blockbuster, but I want this series to do better in our market! I think it would fly out of the store in full color; it’s gotten harder to interest kids in two-color graphic novels.

I confess that I really need to read the first Dream Jumper, because it looks so good! Kids in the know will be excited for Dream Jumper Book 2: Curse of the Harvester by Greg Grunberg and Lucas Turnbloom (Graphix, Oct. 31)

Dog Man 4: Dog Man and Cat Kid by Dav Pilkey (Graphix, Dec. 26) Why the 26th, Scholastic, why?? I’m grumpy I can’t sell this for Chanukah and Christmas presents, but the gift card-receiving kids will be happy to have something new and enticing on the shelves after the holidays. Legions of youngsters will be psyched for this one.

Wings of Fire Graphic Novel #1: The Dragonet Prophecy by Tui Sutherland and Mike Holmes (Graphix, Jan. 2, 2018) Already a popular series in novel format, this is poised to do beautifully as a graphic novel.

Hilo 4: Waking the Monsters by Judd Winick (Random House, Jan. 16, 2018) All you have to do is tell kids Hilo is about an alien kid who crashes to earth wearing only a pair of silver underpants, and they’re in. I wish this one were coming out in time for the holidays, but it’s good to look forward to something lively in cold cold January.
It’s 8 am, so I have to stop. What fall releases have I missed, oh good people?

4 thoughts on “Graphic Novel Palooza

  1. Cynthia Compton

    This section has outpaced board books (our traditional winner in the “who’s selling the most”? contest) as the fastest growing in our store for 2017. Interestingly, the growth of graphics has not bled sales from either middle grade OR early chapter sections for us. I think this is remarkable, given the slightly higher price point of paperback graphic novels. I would love to hear some other shopkeepers’ response to this trend, and more specifically, talk about shelving and display techniques. We started on spinners (Leslie Hawkins, I share your complicated relationship with these), are now on spinners and spine-out on shelves (not ideal, but limited space). and now need to do a complete reset for fall. Oh, where is the HGTV show where some cute, energetic couple comes to a BOOKSTORE and turns the space into twice the size it appears to be?

  2. Kat Kan

    Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales has been a very popular series in my school library, and I’ve had students already asking for the November release, The Raid of No Return.

  3. Richard Lang

    We are in a area where most of our customers are over 60 and retired. I would like to carry graphic novels but have no Idea if it would fit this market. We have very few young adults come to the store, even though we have a Game Shop in the same area ( 4 doors down). Any Ideas????

    1. Elizabeth Bluemle Post author

      Hi, Richard. We also have a lot of older customers in our neighborhood, but also a school nearby. If the game shop nearby stocks graphic novels, that may not be a promising growth area for your store. If they don’t, maybe you could do a cross-promotion with them, in which you would give them a “10% off graphic novels” coupon (or whatever special offer you want to make) to share with their customers, and you would give your customers a coupon from them to share. We’ve done that with the stores next door to us over the years, and it works nicely. I will say that our biggest demand for graphic novels is from the 8-14-year-old crowd, not so much the older teens, and that is entirely due to our town’s demographic and the store vibe.


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