I am still reading and pondering Bryan Talbot’s Alice In Sunderland: An Entertainment. I’ll post a review later in the week, but in the meantime, have a look at the review by Jog, which chimes with what I have read of the book so far.
One thing that strikes you about Alice even before you begin to read is what extraordinary value it represents as an artefact. I know it is philistine to consider the value of books by the yard, but for £16.99 – about the price of a typical hardback prose novel - you get a 330 page, full colour, 28 by 20 cm volume. The blessed thing weighs 1.4 kilograms.
In an article in the Sunday Times last month, Bryan Appleyard suggested that the recent commercial success of graphic novels owed something to the arrival on the international publishing scene of cheap Chinese printers. Dan Franklin of Jonathan Cape, the UK publishers of Talbot’s new book, reckoned that the British edition of Jimmy Corrigan would have cost about £30 or £40 a copy if it had been printed anywhere else. Who knows what Alice in Sunderland would have cost?
So give a cheer for globalisation, and say a prayer that not too many four-year-old bookbinders were pressed into service to bring us our cheap reading pleasure.
Kow-towing to the Mainstream Media
Speaking of British national newspapers, today’s issue of The Guardian reviews the first issue of Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8. Reviews of graphic novels in the upmarket national press are becoming, if not commonplace, then unexceptional, but it’s a rare thrill to find a monthly pamphlet reviewed as a piece of story-telling like this (as opposed to the press coverage of Captain America issue 25, which concentrated on the event of Cap’s death, rather than the way the tale was told). A pity that a witless sub-editor should write "what a shame it's only a comic," when the reviewer, Emily Watson, is much more even-handed.
I wrote earlier that Viz now has “a circulation of about 150,000 or 250,000 depending on who you talk to”. Steve Holland has posted some more up-to-date sales estimates to his blog, Bear Alley, putting Viz’s sales at around 95,000: a big drop, but still enough for it to be the third best-selling comic in the UK. Visit Steve’s blog to find out the top two.
Foreshadowing: a Masterclass
This panel of Batwoman in her secret identity was published by DC Comics in 1963:
Is that planning ahead, or what?
Batman “Prisoner of Three Worlds” by Bill Finger (writer), Sheldon Moldoff (penciller) and Charles Paris (inker), Batman issue 153, February 1963, reprinted in Batman: The Greatest Stories Ever Told Volume 2, DC Comics, 2007