A Comic Book Selling Wine, on my blog in December 2007. Then, in May 2008, I mentioned how a French translation had been published. In June 2010, in a post titled, Bring On The Comics, I talked more about this book, noting that it might be published in English later in 2011. Now I am pleased to inform my readers that the English translation of Drops of God: Volume 1 will be published on October 4, 2011.
This first volume of Drops of God will be released as a trade paperback of 432 pages, with a suggested retail price of $14.95. I am unsure of how many issues of the original comic that this volume will include. Volume 2 will be released on December 13, 2011 and Volume 3 on March 12, 2012. At this rate, we might expect the release of 3-4 volumes per year. As the manga series began publication in Japan in November 2004, and it is still ongoing, it will be many years before all of the issues will be translated in English.
In Japan, the book is titled Kami no Shizuku, which translates as "The Drops of God." The book is a manga, a Japanese comic, and has a weekly readership of about 360,000. How many wine magazines have even close to such a readership? The plot centers on a quest by two competitors to locate thirteen legendary wines. Whoever succeeds will then inherit an invaluable collection of rare wines. It is an extremely popular series and the wines that it mention suddenly become hot commodities. The book also describes wines in more unique ways, not using points or any type of rating system. For example, the 2001 Despagne's Château Mont Perat was "...likened to a concert given by the rock group Queen, with the wine's acidity taking the place of Freddie Mercury's vocals."
In Decanter's Power List of 2009, Drops of God came in at #50, and it was stated to be "arguably the most influential wine publication for the past 20 years." But how will the U.S. wine lovers feel about Drops of God? Will it be as popular here as it has been around the rest of the world? Will it help sell wine? Or will it be but a minor footnote?
I believe that its impact, at least in reference to selling wine, with be much lesser in the U.S. than it has been elsewhere. First, as the manga is seven years old, most of the information on specific wines will likely be dated. It may be difficult, if not impossible, to purchase wines mentioned in the manga and even if available, the prices may be prohibitive. At best, the manga might sell a few more wines, but that will be a mere drop in the bucket compared to how the manga has been received elsewhere.
I also feel that it is unlikely that the general public will embrace this manga, as we don't have a culture of adults who embrace comics like Japan or France. Too many people still see all comics as juvenile and below their maturity. How wrong they are though, as comics come in a such a wide range, with many written for an adult audience. The manga will appeal far more to wine geeks, and even some of them may not be keen on reading a comic about wine.
But Drops of God deserves attention, at least for in the ways it addresses wine knowledge and reviews. It is more down to earth, unpretentious and presents a unique style. It can provide lessons to wine writers in different ways to connect with their readers, in different ways to review wines without scores or rating systems. It is a clever book, which could be an intriguing primer on wine for anyone. A comic may not be considered a traditional wine book but that is also a strength. It can take risks, and both entertain as well as educate.
I urge all wine lovers to take a look, with an open mind, at Drops of God when it is published next month. Give it a chance and you might be surprised at how much you enjoy it.