The excellent ToutenBD.com, the French website dedicated to all things French graphic novels, recently posted the annual health check of the industry. Despite the economic straits France finds itself in, the comics industry continues to grow. While the overall picture seems quite healthy, a closer look reveals a more interesting picture. And students of the Australian publishing sector will certainly draw some parallels with our colleagues francaise.
Being on holiday and at something of a loose end, I have written a translation of the article, and added links. ToutenBD.com were contacted for permission but have not yet replied. You can read the original version at the website.
In the meantime, allons-y!
Bande dessinee is 2011: the boom of the sure thing
The annual meeting of the Bande Dessinée Critics Association (Association de critiques et tournalistes de bande dessinée) noted again this year the growth of the production of albums (books) -- but with the caution that publishers are supporting the safe bets.
The traditional annual report from Gilles Ratier, the general secretary of the Bande Dessinée Critics Association (ACBD) has been delivered for 2011.
For the sixteenth consecutive year, the production of albums has increased: 3.04% against 2010; an increase of 162 titles, for a total of 5,327 albums. However the report noted "the economic conditions are hardly favourable for industry, which for three years has lacked a strong engine. Hence, we have a general climate of watchfulness, highlighting safety first and anxiety!"
Watchfulness in effect because of the 5,327 albums only 3,841 are strictly new (of which only 1,577 originated in francophone Europe). The traditional publishing sector (le secteur patrimonial) is fully expanded, with 1058 new releases, compilations or bind-ups (980 in 2010), 224 woks dating from more than 20 years published finally in album and 31 francophone series reprised or continued by new creators.
Watchfulness also because in 2011 on 99 "sure things" (valuers sûres), had sales of more than 50, 000 copies and bestowing the bulk of sales on this sector. At the head of these 'locomotives' are: XIII (500,000 copies); Kid Paddle (360, 000) and Boule et Bille (253,000). Counting manga, ten series (from five publishing houses) provided 50% of sales, Naruto at the head (250,000 copies of each of three titles in the series).
Looking at publishing houses, 310 publishers produced bande dessinée in 2011. And yet the trend towards concentration is again confirmed: four groups accounted for 43.6% of production. With the acquisition of the majority share of the publisher Soleil by Guy Delcourt, Delcourt became by far the biggest producer of albums with 840 titles, being 15.77% of production.
On the economic graph, the prize nevertheless gos to Médias-Participations group (Dargaud, Le Lombard, Dupuis, etc).
The report noted the strong success of the bande dessinée blogs, which have become a "fishtank" (un vivier) for the print publications. On the other hand few were seduced by the e-book. And bande dessinée is always well exposed in the news stands, with 76 specialist journals.
So, thanks again to ACBD and ToutenBD. And apologies for all infelicities in 'la traduction'.