In December 2010, when I did some shopping in Paris, I had the idea to gauge the place American comics have in France by visiting a department store, namely the Virgin Megastore ¹ at the Champs-Élysées ¹. I also wanted to visit the FNAC’s one, but not only did I not have enough time, but I also thought I saw my credit card trying to bite me when I paid all the books I have chosen in Virgin’s. Note: don’t leave me alone in a bookstore if I need to eat after.
After being assured I had the right, I took a bunch of pictures from the comic department (and more). Here is a restricted selection of pictures I commented, before a little more advanced articles.
¹ Note these strategic keywords going lure a bunch of new visitors from search engines. :p
The big promotion of the great comics of the moment? Impossible to miss! This staircase leads directly to the comic department! The reasons for getting a promotion are various: big stunt of the publisher, booksellers’ choice of the radius, or a new volume of a famous and very profitable series. Some series names displayed on the picture: Murena , (thanks Captain Obvious!), Largo Winch , Back and Mortimer , Blacksad (<3), Joe Bar Team , Thorgal , or even Trolls of Troy .
In France, reading one (or more) comic book(s) before deciding to buy some or not is well tolerated (if you don’t damage them and don’t block the path of other clients in the store, of course). Even if acomic book is consedered like a collectible. Some stores have even comfy seats available!
Benefits are many:
reading browsing “comfortably” (it is common to see readers sitting on the floor), judging the quality of the work on site and thus avoiding to be fooled by a coverage much better than the content (and reading more and also without paying, but shhh, do not say, even if everyone is aware;)). Comics in plastic packaging are generally those containing gifts (stickers, etc.). At the top of the previous photo, Astérix ‘s comic books.
Here, there is everything: tables, shelves, racks,
salesmen booksellers, etc. Among the visible albums: Billy & Buddy , Les Blagues de Toto (Little Johnny Jokes) , Les Légendaires (I really need to do a review about this series), Game Over , Spirou magazine’s issues put into an album (yes, this old magazine still exist !), Garfield (with hard cover, contrary to the US version), as well as Amulet (an US graphic novel series).
At the French market, we consider that American comics (named only “comics” in French) are pretty well sold, and a lot of independant comics was translated in French. For a big French publisher, a ”good sale” (or ”very good sale”) like Walking Dead zombie comic is around 30,000 books sold per volume to 50,000. Those that exceed 100,000 are becoming increasingly rare because of the surproduction of comics in France and Belgium. The preferred format for comics in France is the book which has several outlets in one volume, usually with a soft cover (hard covers are also frequent, though). Generaly, only certain comic strips and stories for youth are transposed in the French-Belgian traditional format. (hard-covered album with 46 pages in it, cover included).
If American comic books are better sold than some years ago, mainly because of super-heroes movies. However, we also note that the comparison in a bookstore, between the Franco-Belgian comics and American is not really in favor of the latter. Illustration of the decline of mainstream US comics or cultural deformation? Probably a little of both.