One of the most successful series of OEL manga published by Tokyopop largely flew under the radar since it was based on a hugely popular series of children’s books by Erin Hunter and was always listed by Nielsen’s BookScan with the kid’s graphic novels and never on the more widely circulated “adult graphic novel list.” The feline-centric YA Warriors novels written by Hunter (the pseudonym of a troika of authors including Kate Cary, Cherith Baldry, and Tui Sutherland) sold over two million copies.
So the Tokyopop OEL manga/graphic novel Warriors sagas had a built-in audience and the series did well enough in bookstores that Warrior’s Refuge, the second volume in Tokyopop’s Graystripe trilogy, made it to #15 on the list of the Top 20 Bookstore Graphic Novel sales in 2008 (see “Top 2008 Bookstore Graphic Novels Redux”), when it sold more copies in bookstores than the bestselling volume of the popular manga Vampire Knight as well as perennial top sellers like Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns and the first volume of Naruto. In fact only five non-manga graphic novels (Watchmen, The Killing Joke, two volumes of Jeff Smith’s Bone, and the first volume of the Dark Tower) sold more copies in bookstores in 2008 than Warrior’s Refuge.
Tokyopop began publishing Warriors OEL manga titles in 2007 and eventually published three trilogies (Graystripe’s Trilogy, Tigerstar and Sasha, Ravenpaw’s Path) and one stand-alone (The Rise of Scourge). When Tokyopop went under in April of 2011 (see “Tokyopop Closing”), HarperCollins thought enough of the graphic novel potential of the series to publish a fourth Warriors trilogy (SkyClan and the Stranger), which had been planned and commissioned, but not published by Tokyopop. The final volume in the SkyClan and the Stranger saga, Warriors: SkyClan and the Stranger Vol. 3: After the Flood, which is illustrated like the other volumes in this series by James L. Barry, is due in bookstores on April 3rd, 2012, and don’t be surprised if Harper opts for yet another series of graphic novels based on this popular property.