Hey, remember back at the start of September, when Sisters and Amulet 6 made the New York Times Bestseller List for paperback graphic novels? Good times, a whole nine weeks ago, and Raina Telgemeier and Kazu Kibuishi have been on a near-neverending book tour since.
Let’s consider what’s happened in the weeks since on the NYTBL. By the second week on the list, Sisters and Amulet 6 vaulted to the #1 and #2 slots, where they’ve pretty much sat ever since¹. Smile has been on the list basically forever, and as of the fourth week, it started rising up as people who heard about the new Telgemeier book decided to check out the older one they’d missed. By Week Five, Sisters, Amulet 6, and Smile were #1, 2, and 3, respectively.
By Week Six, the top four books were Sisters, Smile, Amulet 6, and Drama (Telegemeier’s last book, not related to the other two, with more than a year on the list previously). And in the latest New York Times Bestseller List, the tenth since Telgemeier & Kibuishi started their march to dominance, Kibuishi’s first Amulet book gets added in, as readers that have missed the Amulet train have decided to go back to the start and run the series². As Ryan Estrada put it:
Dang, literally half the NY Times GN best seller list is Kazu and Raina.
It won’t end there; there are four more Amulet books, and I’m confident in the belief that at least two of Kibuishi’s back catalog will join book six at any given time, meaning that Telgemeier and Kibuishi will form a majority of this list by themselves. None of which should surprise anybody, given that by all accounts (such as this one by graphic novel superstar Gene Luen Yang), Telgemeier and Kibuishi are rock stars to kids (a significant number of whom are recovering reluctant readers):
The signing was freaking amazing. I’ve never been to a comics signing like it, not even with the Image Comics founders when they were at the height of their fame in the 90’s. Raina did a joint event with the inimitable Kazu Kibuishi, and the entire store was packed with parents and kids holding stacks of Smile and Drama and Sisters and Amulet.
The crowd was so big that the store had to give out little tickets to tell you what signing group you were in. Group #1 got to see Raina and Kazu first, then Group #2, and so on. We were Group #7. Twenty minutes in, I said to my daughter, “I know Raina and her husband Dave. We see each other at least a couple times a year at different book events. We can get her to sign it later, at Comic-Con or something.”
My daughter looked me straight in the eye and pointed to her ragged copy of Sisters. “Daddy, we came to get this book signed.”
And that is why I don’t despair every time somebody moans that kids don’t want to read; put the right book in front of them and they will read holes through the pages. On the off chance you know anybody that would sniff that what Telgemeier and Kibuishi do isn’t “real books”, just wait to see what those kids do if either of them decides to do a mostly-prose-occasional-pictures type of book (like, say, Ursula Vernon, or what’s being done by Zach Weinersmith or Evan Dahm).
Kids want books that they can find themselves in, and that’s what these creators are supplying. The only way that this tide breaks is if Raina or Kazu succumbs to Book Tour Madness. Should you happen across them, feel free to offer quality ice cream and/or booze, and a nice quiet room with a soaking tub for their signing hands.
Spam of the day:
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¹ That is to say, Sisters has stayed #1 for the past nine weeks, and Amulet 6 has typically hoved in the #2 or 3 slot, but has dropped as low as #6.
² When the first Amulet released nearly seven years ago, it flew a bit under the radar — possibly due to being released right after Christmas — and never charted. This is the NYTBL debut for The Stonekeeper. Kibuishi started their march to dominance, Kibuishi