-The debate over Bookscan numbers seems to have (a) found a home at the Beat (where thankfully the duller-witted folks seem to have moved on to other things), and (b) moved into the realm of semantics, what with the question of what constitutes art comics (or comix, if you prefer). Of special consideration: is Bone an "art comic"? If I were asked to provide a definition of art/literary comics*, I would probably say that they are comics for which creative expression outweighs market considerations. I could see someone considering Bone to be an "art comic," given that definition. Others might have a definition which precludes anything that smacks of genre, in which case Bone would obviously be excluded.
Also worth considering is how perception of Bone has changed over time. When it first debuted, it was so different, so much better than the vast majority of comics, that I think one might have been justified in lumping it in with Eightball or Yummy Fur (I know I did, back in my late teen years). Today, with the massive success of the Scholastic printings and the sheer number of similar works (many inspired by Jeff Smith), it's harder to classify it that way.
At another point in this debate, Dirk Deppey suggests that today's manga readers might be tomorrow's Fantagraphics/D&Q/whatever reader. Heidi MacDonald shoots this notion down, but I think that might be shortsighted. This kind of debate really needs to consider the role of art in comics consumption. Comics are not the same as literature; story is not the only selling point. Surely the average person who has not grown up immersed in the world of superhero comics would find the art of Jaime Herandez or Jim Woodring easier to follow and more visually stimulating than that of David Finch (or Tony Daniel or most of the Vertigo artists). I wonder if the appeal of attractive art might not be similar to the appeal of catchy music. In other words, potential readers might gravitate towards more serious comics if the art hooks them, just like a song might hook listeners with a catchy phrase. I would think this is an advantage "art comics" would hold over their prose counterparts. Of course, this wouldn't apply to someone like Gary Panter, but that kind of goes without saying.
*Assuming you don't consider these to be two separate categories. Maybe they are, but I've never heard anyone try to distinguish between the two. And I'm not terribly comfortable with defining "art comic," either. Seems like an exercise in frustration, especially for someone who doesn't really believe in concepts like "objectively good."
-One other point that emerges from this debate (which I'm going to give its own bullet point) is whether Marvel and DC are doing enough to capture potential readers who are familiar with their intellectual properties from movies, cartoons, etc. Deppey made this point re: the new Spider-Man cartoon today. MacDonald dismissed this point in a way I'm not sure is entirely fair; doesn't visual continuity between cartoon and comics matter (and I'm guessing that the characterization might vary a bit as well)? Of course, this all assumes that either company's corporate overlords really care whether or not the publishing division can exploit this popularity in other media. Maybe Levitz and Buckley's bosses are getting more interested in what's seeing print, given the recent rumors surrounding DC, but forgive me for being a little skeptical of how much the NYC-centered publishers mean to their parent companies.
But this brings to mind an important question about DC/Marvel readers under the age of 20 (in other words, those who were too young to have read comics before the mid-90s bust). How did you folks get started reading superhero comics, given that they were much, much harder to find by the point you reached literacy? And given the much higher cost of these comics, relative to what I paid when I was a tyke?* I'm serious about this--it's a question that's been bugging me for a while now. If you yourself are in this demographic, please tell me your story in the comments.
*One of the many reasons I've always leaned towards Marvel was that their books were 60 cents an issue when I first started buying my own comics. DC charged 75 cents. It's hard to believe there was a point in my life when 15 cents made such a big difference. I guess I really am that old.
-I'd like to direct everyone to this poll at Comics Comics asking whether or not you would buy a book devoted to Ogden Whitney's work. It was an easy answer for me--I'd buy volumes collecting the work of most of the artists included in Art Out of Time. Lucky for us, there are already at least three such books either forthcoming or already out, all released by Fantagraphics so far: the Terr'ble Thompson collection, I Shall Destroy All the Civilized Planets, and the upcoming collection of the comics of Rory Hayes (who, out of all the artists featured in Art Out of Time, is probably the one whose work I would most want to see collected). Actually, now that I think about it, Fantagraphics has also published a long-form work by Milt Gross, He Done Her Wrong. So that's 4 out of 29 cartoonists (5 of 29 if you count the possible Whitney collection).
Who else needs their own collections? I'm not sure what the likelihood of any of this is in terms of surviving work or copyright troubles, but I'd love to see collections of the work of Jack Mendelsohn or Harry J. Tuthill (actually, there was a Bungle Family collection in the late 70s, but I'm guessing that it's about as easy to find as the various collections of Polly and Her Pals). One might also suggest Howard Nostrand or his colleague Bob Powell, but my understanding is that their other work doesn't really reflect what we see in Art Out of Time.
Actually, what would really be cool is a second volume of Art Out of Time, maybe with a few underground manga artists included this time. Possibly even a global volume of "unknown comics visionaries." That would be pretty cool, right?