CCI, Day 1: Random House Steps into Graphic Novel Market

Fri, July 21st, 2006 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
Ashley MacQuarrie, Contributing Writer

Random House Publishing discussed their new line of graphic novels Thursday in a panel at Comic-Con International in San Diego. Panelists included writer/editor Kazu Kabuishi ("Flight"), writer Joshua Hale Fialkov ("Elk's Run"), and Random House editors Chris Schluep, Robert Napton, and Dallas Middaugh.

Kazu Kabuishi, who began his comics career with his Web comic "Daisy Cutter," calls "Flight, "a collaboration between friends" on an online forum, saying the book comes together "organically" and "feels cohesive" because the artists see each other's work and inspire each other. He argued that it is "not an anthology ... it's more like a compilation ... and it's put together like a collaboration." Kabuishi also mentioned that he is working on a book called "Amulet" for Scholastic, but couldn't say anything about it.

Fialkov described his book, "Elk's Run" as "embraced by critics, but criminally ignored by retailers." Middaugh noted that it was highly praised in "Entertainment Weekly" and Variety and has been nominated for seven Harvey awards. Fialkov and Kabuishi discussed the difficulties of getting their work distributed in the direct market versus in bookstores. Middaugh explained that in the comics stores, "Elk's Run is an alternative book ... in the bookstore market, it's mainstream."

Napton is currently working on a graphic novel adaptation of Terry Brooks' "Dark Wraith of Shannara." He called it an "effortless" adaptation, saying Brooks "is a very visual writer ... he creates the environment with words." He assured the audience he is "working very closely with the artist to make sure that it stays consistent with the story that we have from Terry, which is great."

One audience member said the impression he had was that bookstores perceived "the graphic novel section as the ghetto of the bookstore," to which Middaugh replied, "the graphic novel shelves are now a voracious monster devouring other sections of the bookstore… so that's not really true anymore." The panelists discussed the future of the graphic novel, with Middaugh saying that Random House has "a very strong commitment" to the graphic novel and that they will definitely expand the line.

While Volume 3 of "Flight" was just released a few weeks ago, Kabuishi also announced that Random House is buying the rights to the hard-to-find Volumes 1 and 2 and will be republishing both. In addition, all eight issues of "Elk's Run" will be published as a graphic novel in February of next year and, though a release date for "Dark Wraith of Shannara" has not been set, it will likely be published at the end of 2007.

 
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