I was out running some errands this afternoon and decided to pop into the Barnes & Noble that was sort of nearby. After I bowed down to some blatant consumerism by picking up an overpriced mocha frapaccino, I went about browsing the store.
My first stop was the magazine section. I was first struck by the cover of ESPN: THe Magazine. Partially because I was surprised ESPN has a magazine and partially because the cover was drawn by Joe Quesada and featured several NBA players sporting Marvel heroes' accoutrement. Evidently, Disney also owns ESPN so they called Marvel to get some comic book style covers drawn featuring all the NBA teams. It looked like a total fluff piece, but it certainly got me (who would never bother picking up the magazine under most circumstances) to notice. Of course, the magazine section also had the latest issues of Wizard, Super Hero Squad Magazine and several Archie books.
I then popped over to the humor section, where they typically house comic strip reprints. Lots of Calvin & Hobbes, Garfield, Pearls Before Swine... the usual suspects. But what also caught my eye was something called The Adventures of Unemployed Man which had a generic-ish superhero on the cover looking through the newspaper classifieds. Since the humor section also includes prose work by the likes of Dave Barry and Jon Stewart, I almost dismissed it as an almost stock cover image to a fairly typical let's-try-to-milk-some-humor-out-of-current-events prose book. But I went ahead and picked it up, only to be surprised that it was in fact a fully illustrated graphic novel. It includes art by the likes of Ramona Fadon, Rick Veitch, Michael Netzer, Terry Beatty and Joe Rubinstein among others. I was surprised not to have heard of it, but it was evidently only released last week.
Over to the graphic novel section. Smaller than a few years ago, but that seemed mostly due to a decreased manga selection. I also noticed that the superhero books were distinctly separated from non-superhero/non-manga graphic novels. I think I'd seen that before, but the distinction seemed more pronounced today for some reason. I didn't see anything of special interest here.
As I crossed over the middle of the store, there was a promotional table set up touting The Walking Dead graphic novels. There were some tangentially related materials like Night of the Living Trekkies and various Buffy graphic novels.
Over in the Young Adult section, I started looking for Chris Wooding's Havoc, the sequel to Malice that supposedly just came out. Before finding that, however, I was surprised to see prominently displayed a graphic novel version of Geoffrey Canada's autobiographical Fist Stick Knife Gun: A Personal History of Violence drawn by Jamar Nicholas. A quick flip-through looked quite enticing. I hadn't heard of this book before either, but it was only released late last month. (The original prose version came out in 1995.)
My brisk walk past the coffee table books to get to the cash register alerted me to several "How To Draw Manga" books and I realized that I had circled nearly the entire store stumbling across comics and graphic novels throughout the whole building. More interesting to me, too, was that what many comic fans typically think of when they think of comics and graphic novels (i.e. superheroes) were probably the least-represented throughout the store. Oh, they weren't hard to find, certainly, but they were far from being representative of all the comics in the store.
I did pick up Fist Stick Knife Gun and The Adventures of Unemployed Man and am just thrilled to have stumbled across both of these books in sections of the bookstore where most people wouldn't automatically go to for graphic novels.
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