American comics in France – preview


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 now closed (2015) department store, namely the Virgin Megastore Wikipedia Link¹ at the Champs-Élysées Wikipedia Link¹. 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

Stairs seen since the 2nd floor of the Virgin Megastore

New comics promoted by the store, between the first and the second floor. (Virgin Megastore, Champs-Élysées, Paris, France, European Union ©J.N. Squire)

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 Wikipedia Link, (thanks Captain Obvious!), Largo Winch Wikipedia LinkBack and Mortimer Wikipedia LinkBlacksad Wikipedia Link (<3), Joe Bar Team Wikipedia LinkThorgal Wikipedia Link, or even Trolls of Troy Wikipedia Link.

Lecteurs de BD. Escalier du Virgin des Champs-Elysées

Comic readers (and clients) practicing their favourite activity. (©J.N. Squire)

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 Wikipedia Link ‘s comic books.

Rayon BD. Virgin Megastore.

Main part of the comic department (the previous stairs are located at the extremity). (©J.N. Squire)

Here, there is everything: tables, shelves, racks, salesmen booksellers, etc. Among the visible albums: Billy & Buddy Wikipedia LinkLes Blagues de Toto (Little Johnny Jokes) Wikipedia Link, Les Légendaires Wikipedia Link (I really need to do a review about this series), Game Over Wikipedia Link, Spirou Wikipedia Link magazine’s issues put into an album (yes, this old magazine still exist !), Garfield Wikipedia Link (with hard cover, contrary to the US version), as well as Amulet Wikipedia Link (an US graphic novel series).

Rayon Mangas

Manga’s part. (© J.N. Squire)

 Mangas Wikipedia Link are, like in the USA, extremely popular in France, and particularly for youth. Today, France is the first market for mangas after Japan and before the USA.

Avant du point Comics Virgin Megastore

First part of the US comic “islet” (© J.N. Squire)

Comics Virgin Megastore arrière

Last part of the US comic “islet” (© J.N. Squire)

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 Wikipedia Link zombie comic is around 30,000 books sold per issue to 50,000. Those that exceed 100,000 are becoming rarer and rarer because of the overproduction of comics in France and Belgium. The most favored 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.

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