Wednesday, 20 June 2012

The Cerebus Effect

Cerebus Collected Volumes 1-16
Art by Dave Sim & Gerhard
(from The Comics Journal #207, September 1998)
In the unlikely event that I can coin a term in the comics industry, I'd like to coin this one the Cerebus Effect. In 1986, when Dave Sim produced his first 'phone book' collection of High Society, the monthly Cerebus comics were selling a little more than 30,000 copies in the direct market each month. A dozen years and as many trade collections later, Cerebus is selling about one third that amount. It is easy to surmise that much of the difference between those figures can be attributed to growth in sales of collections as fans stop reading the serial edition in favour of the cheaper, sturdier bookshelf editions. The Cerebus Effect, therefore, is a process whereby sales on a serialised title drop over time as collected editions of the title are increasingly made available.

Bart Beaty is a Professor and Head of the Department of English at the University of Calgary. He is the author of Fredric Wertham and the Critique of Mass Culture, and contributes articles on Euro-comics to The Comics Reporter. Copies of the collected Cerebus volumes are available from your local comics shop or online from Win-Mill Productions in the US and Page 45 in the UK.

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