25 February 2006

NY Comic-Con Journal: Day 1

I am exhausted.

Before I say anything else, I want to get this one thing out of the way. During the Distribution panel this afternoon, a mouse ran into the room, right past where I was sitting, and off towards the stage. It looked like the moderator, ICv2's Milton Griep, noticed it, or noticed something, but no one else did. I'm just glad I didn't let out a little yelp when I saw it. Mice don't bother me like rats do, though.

Welcome to NY!

And another side note: Javits charges some ridiculous amount to use their WiFi network. Something like $24.95/hour. So no daily updates on Buzzsc--PopCultureShock, and probably not another one here before Sunday night. I'll be posting a wrap-up on PCS on Monday or Tuesday.

I got to the Convention Center at 11:45am, running a little late for the 12:00pm panel, Is The Pamphlet Doomed?, which was moderated by The Beat's Heidi MacDonald, and included DC's Dan DiDio, retailer Brian Hibbs, and a guy from Nickelodeon magazine who's name I didn't catch. Some interesting comments regarding periodicals vs. TPBs vs. digital distribution which provided me with some good fodder for the indie roundtable I'm moderating on Sunday. Heidi only tweaked Speakeasy's Adam Fortier twice for his no-show, once bemoaning his absence because he would have been a great example of how tough it is to launch a company in the current market. From the rumors I've been hearing, it's a pretty ugly situation that's close to boiling over publicly, so maybe Rich Johnston will jump on it now that his Flying Friar is out and presumably in the clear. You'd think if your company's in danger, the one person you'd definitely take care of first is the rumormonger on your books, yes?

The "State of the Industry" panel had some potential but was hindered a bit by its one-hour limit, as things were just starting to roll when time was called. Publisher Weekly's Calvin Reid tried to get the panel. ists to get into specifics but they almost all resisted. Michael Silberkleit, Chairman/Publisher of Archie Comics had some interesting comments about the importance of reaching kids and the Archie gang's appeal to parents who remember him fondly. Not to mention their distribution in supermarkets where they serve as an impulse buy. He pointed out that Archie himself predates all but Superman which I hadn't realized. On the snarky side, somebody needed to tell TokyoPop's Stuart Levy that wearing sunglasses may still be cool in California, but in NY it makes you look like a dork.

The Distribution panel included representatives from Diamond, Baker & Taylor, Ingram and Bookazine, and I was a bit disappointed to see the room clear out the way it did after the State of the Industry panel as this was, IMO, the more compelling topic for professionals attending the Con. Every small press publisher (and wannabe) who wasn't in attendance, even if by proxy, should be cited for lack of business sense, because those four people represent the gatekeepers to larger markets for comics. I was most impressed by the three mainstream wholesalers' sincere appreciation for, and understanding of comics. It's one of the biggest growth areas in the industry, and stores are eager to tap into it, and they're not reading NEWSarama or Wizard to find out what they should be stocking. Know what I'm saying?

I'll have more on those three panels at some point next week, once I can fully digest the info I got out of them, and filter it through my indie roundtable. That'll probably be my Establishing Shots column for next week.

I also checked out the Mondo Marvel panel for shits and giggles and was most surprised by how short Bendis is. Like two inches taller than midget short! Seems like a nice enough guy, though, and paired with Oeming, who is similarly short, they might be the cutest duo in comics. Like Emmanuel Lewis / Gary Coleman, pinch their cheeks cute. Anyway, there's some interesting non-Civil War stuff coming down the road, like a 5th week series on Western one-shots; a Dr. Strange mini-series by Brian K. Vaughan that they claimed is his dream project; a White Tiger mini written by woman, Tamora Pierce, who's apparently a big YA author; and MAX push that sounded very Vertigo in its extremely vague tease. The best line went to Quesada, in answer to a question about Wolverine popping up everywhere: "You want less Wolverine, buy Nextwave. Buy Runaways." If nothing else, he definitely stays on message with his insistence that Marvel publishes what the fans say they want, not online, but via their $$$$. Which is why I dropped New Avengers. Can't complain if you don't vote.

After the panels, I hit the floor, stopping by our booth to check in with Jon, Howard and the gang, and then covering about 3/4s of the space before time ran out. The layout is tight, densely packed with narrow aisles that are about four people wide. Artist's alley runs around the perimeter, and there's an impressive mainstream turnout with Borders, Del Rey (right next to us), Harry N. Abrams and Simon & Schuster all in attendance. (NOTE: The Borders booth featured approx. 75% manga on their display tables.) It all seemed bigger to me than Wizard World Philadelphia or Baltimore Comic-Con, both in size and attendance.

Put some faces to names (Ken Lillie-Paetz and Joshua Ortega, among others), and we gave out a bunch of flyers promoting the party tomorrow night. I was pleased by the number of pros who'd already heard about it and were planning to come. Our signing schedule looks pretty good, too, with no dead space and quality creators across the board.

Comics I picked up today:

1) Springtime for Autism, by Tim Kelly
2) Last Days of the Flare, by Sean Wang
3) Crazy Paper, by Jom Dougan & Danielle Corsetto (plus, Big Fat Noon and Oscar Chavez...Machismo Monitor)
4) ((Frequencies)), by Joshua Ortega (a novel, not a comic)

Tomorrow looks like I'll be spending most of my time at the booth or walking the floor as there's not too many panels I'm interested in. Depending on the traffic, I may sneak in a couple of interviews, too.

That's all for now! Gotta get some sleep because tomorrow's going to be a looong day.

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