Here's a guest entry from J.D Ho, our circulation and marketing manager:
In an office full of kids' book reviewers, there aren't many comics readers -- just myself and Alison, the circulation and marketing Assistant. Overflowing with missionary zeal, I undertook to organize a trip to the comic store, a place Alison and I visit every Wednesday (new release day). There was some foot-dragging, but eight of us finally went to the Malden branch of New England Comics this morning. I had warned Jim, the store manager, that we'd be arriving, and he kindly gave us a tour.
Something I didn't know was how popular Manga has become. Jim told us that the section has grown five- or six-fold in the last few years, and that the audience for manga is much more varied than it is for American comics. I love the superhero genre, but most girls don't. You'd be hard pressed to find a romance title put out by DC Comics, but there are plenty of romances in the Manga section. The rest of our tour covered the big publishers (DC and Marvel) as well as the smaller, indie publishers, who (in my opinion) lead the way with more offbeat stories. Some of my favorite titles have come from Slave Labor Graphics, Fantagraphics, Viper, Top Shelf, and Oni Press.
One of the things I love about comics is the serial storytelling of the format. Jim told us that actual comics (the familiar magazine format) are filling less of the store than they did a few years ago. Trade paperback collections are becoming more popular. It makes sense for libraries and bookstores to order the paperbacks, which are sturdier and easier to obtain from book distributors, but I hope the magazines never die out. It would mean an end to those exciting Wednesdays, and possibly an end to comic shops. Then where would budding comic geeks hang out after school? And where would I take the office on field trips?