A correspondent of mine, Stuart Young, told me something interesting yesterday. MVC, a music and video retail chain here in Britain, are selling the DVD of ROAD TO PERDITION wrapped with the original graphic novel. That's probably a first -- certainly I've not heard of it before. I doubt most people who saw the film even knew it was based on a graphic novel. Hell, Tom Hanks, when announcing the film, said: "It's based on a graphic comics novel. I don't know where you buy graphic comics novels."
Increasingly, it's anywhere you can buy a book. Joe Sacco's PALESTINE is racked with the other new releases in London bookshops, right next to Nick Hornsby and the rest. JIMMY CORRIGAN's on the desk at Magma Books, a brilliant store specialising in graphic design and the visual arts.
The American bookstore market has decided to create a separate graphic novel section, saving the form from being stuffed into the end of SF/Fantasy or Humour. Because, well, SAFE AREA GORAZDE isn't funny and there are no spaceships in THE HUNTING PARTY. Specialist subject, the bleedin' obvious.
Books like JOHNNY THE HOMICIDAL MANIAC have apparently become staples in locations like the US clothing chain Hot Topic, moving many more thousands of copies than are visible to those just watching sales in comics stores. In goth-girl bedrooms all over America copies of LENORE and LITTLE GLOOMY sit on top of piles of UV falls and eBay clothes, and they probably don't know where the nearest comics store is. They can tell you there's graphic novels at the record store, though.
There's FABULOUS FURRY FREAK BROTHERS and FAT FREDDY'S CAT (still shitting in headphones) on a rack at the local head shop, almost a timewarp phenomenon until you see the cyberage credit-card-style pipes and the table in the back filled with seeds for sale. A living relic of the first alternative distribution system, the way the Sixties underground comics were circulated.
Some people like the comics medium small. They want it to stay in the specialist comics stores, and have the medium's successes and failures entirely determined there. Some people are happy with tiny hobby-type sales, believing that arthouse-in-miniature audiences verifies the artistic worth of the work. It's okay for nobody to care, because they do, and no-one will disturb their environment.
Not going to happen.
Where do you buy graphic novels? Bloody everywhere, squire.
FREE THINGS POWERING BRAIN
At www.craphound.com, you should be able to find a free download of Cory Doctorow's new novel, DOWN AND OUT IN THE MAGIC KINGDOM, a sf book he's releasing as freeware under the Creative Commons copyleft system. It's his, but he's allowing you to read it for free. It is extremely good -- a transhuman, post-economic future where personal "wealth" is based on reputation determined by feedback from the world community. Cory's a relevant voice in a genre that's largely forgotten what social fiction means.
At www.markromanek.com, you'll find the video for Johnny Cash's HURT, and it's an incredibly affecting thing that'll stay with you for hours afterwards.
Joy Zipper are this week's new favourite band. Google up their site and you'll find a free mp3, the brilliant "Check Out My New Jesus." It's like having a warmly beautiful nervous breakdown produced by My Bloody Valentine.