UPDATE from the floor 1:45

Reporting live from the press room at New York Comic-Con. The line this morning was long, but everyone seems to have gotten in. There are traffic jams near Marvel and DC as there would be at any convention, but osmosis has created a fairly consistent density of people throughout the rest of the hall. It’s crowded but not dangerously so. Basically, there is a LOT of crowd control going on — people aren’t being let in to the Special Events hall for the Seephen King panel without tickets, but one entire side of the room is empty. Apparently a lot of people tried to get in without standing in line this morning and were upset that they had to go back outside and wait, but we haven’t heard of any major disasters.

If you do not have a ticket DO NOT COME DOWN. We just asked a Reed red shirt person if they would be selling more tickets today and he said the word was still no.

Artists Aerie upstairs is VERY crowded. Mixed reports on how people are doing — popular artists doing better than non-popular. No surprise there.

But now, a new threat: the sun is out and is hitting the glass ceiling of the Javits center. Beginning to heat up a bit. People glowing. More later.

NYCC: What happened Friday

Not much time to blog this morning. Still at home, but just got a call from someone on the scene who says the line to get in stretches to 40th Street and the West Side Highway.

From yesterday, so far no disasters. People were lined up at 7 am to get in, and there was a line around the convention center by the time the doors opened to the public at 4, however from what we saw the line moved smoothly and without glitches. There were bins EVERYWHERE with badge holders and lanyards so that people who had pre-registered could simply grab a badge holder and walk in.

The trade-only part of the day was smooth and productive by all accounts. Due to our mutliple hat juggling we didn’t have time to really cover the show the way we usually do. One of the oddities of the floor plan is that Artists Alley is located in a separate location — the Gallery upstairs. We were a little worried that traffic would be low up there, but we heard from one artists that it was jammed from 4 on, to the point where they did have to stop the line from going in there.

No reports on sales yet.

We moderated the blogging panel with Chris Butcher, Ron Hogan and Johanna Draper Carlson. Tip: with Chris and Johanna on a panel, there will never be an awkward silence. There was a great blogger representation in the audience, including Elayne, Manga Blog’s Brigid, Brian from the excellent new blog The Daily Cross Hatch, and Blog@Newsarama‘s Chris Mautner. Hopefully we will be able to get more blogging voices on the panel next year.

Later on, we moderated the “Mothers and Daughters” panel with Aline Kominsky-Crumb, Alison Bechdel and Miriam Katin. All three talked about various levels of maternal disapproval over their work; in Katin’s case, her mother is in her 80s and still worries about that kind of thing. Bechdel said that this was the first big comic book convention she had ever been to — after some 24 years of cartooning. Aline and Alison had apparently never met before so that was kind of cool.

A bunch of people took pictures after the panel — can someone email me one?

After the panel, we grabbed from dinner with Nisha from EW and Elissa and Janna from Diamond , then went over to the Stan Lee reception at MoCCA. We were too late to see what had to be the highlight — Stan walking around and reacting to the pieces in the show. He was reportedly greatly moved by some of them. The show itself is small but fascinating — there are pages of notes for a Dr. Strange story from Steve Ditko, and Kirby pages with the notes intact that show how Lee worked with both of them. For instance, on one FF page, Kirby’s note says that Doom should be angry at the Thing, but in the lettered story he’s raging against Reed Richards. There are other art pages, mementos, and artifacts like the poster from Lee’s 1972 appearance at Carnegie Hall (!). Co-curator Peter Sanderson has written extensive and informative notes for all the exhibits.

After that we were super exhausted, and grabbed a beer near home with a few peeps, before collapsing. There were a bunch of parties going on, but we haven’t had a chance to hit ANY of them other than the MoCCA one. Maybe tonight.

Although NYCC 07’s physical territory is really not all that big, with the amount of stuff going on, and the people involved it already has the same kind of overwhelming feeling that San Diego gets. We won’t be able to get the big picture until later.

PS: There is plenty of news being announced at the show of course. Check out Wizard, Newsarama and CBR for mainstream updates, and PW Comics Week‘s daily mailers for book news.

Frank Miller update

You’ll notice Frank Miller hasn’t been making many of the 300 festivities around the world — that’s because he’s at home recuperating from serious hip and leg injuries, according to EW. Miller did talk to Steve Daly about the Spirit movie a little:
“I’ve written a first draft of the screenplay. I’m working on the second draft, and it’s shaping up really good. It’s taken a while to get over the initial jitters, but it always does.The main focus I have is to write and direct a Spirit that captures a lot of the flavor of [creator Will] Eisner… but that doesn’t feel like nostalgia at all. Spirit fans often develop a rather cloudy memory of it, and think of it as this happy-go-lucky strip.

NYCC: CAN YOU GET IN SATURDAY???

New York Comic-con may well be the first convention in history to sell out before a single fan has been let in. The Saturday of the show is SOLD OUT, as in there are no more advance tickets available. We heard that tickets for Saturday were selling for $75 on eBay but haven’t seen the listings ourselves.

However, since you can walk up to even a sold out concert and get a ticket if the price is right, we know that some New Yorkers will be showing up on Saturday without a ticket anyway. Will they get in?

We asked NYCC organizer Greg Topalian this directly. He says that the capacity of the show is around 50K. Are they expecting that many people? He declined to give any prediction of attendance but said that like last year he was quietly optimistic. As for buying tickets on site Saturday, it will be up to the Fire Marshal. At noon, Saturday there is a POSSIBILITY that tickets will be released for sale IF the Fire Marshal says it is safe. IF.

So…should you line up? This is New York so people will line up no matter what. There are no guarantees that any tickets will be sold, and the line will be monitored closely. Anyone who was there last year knows that the state police who have jurisdiction at Javits won’t let any funny business go down. So…please, whatever you do, act sane, stay safe and just don’t be a jerk. If there’s any good karma for tickets to be had, that’s the only way to make it happen.

NYCC Pix Day 0

Just a few to whet your appetite.

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Calvin Reid (Publishers Weekly), Larry Gonick (Cartoon History of the Universe), Marisa Acocella Marchetto (Cancer Vixen), Thomas LeBien (Hill + Wang) and George O’Connor (Journey into Mohawk Country) at the non fiction panel. We got the chance to meet Gonick afterwards and he is quite the personality.

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O’Connor, Rivkah and Calvin yukking it up at the Transcontinental Blue Martini reception after the conference.

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We snuck upstairs and snapped a few pics of the hall before it opened. The area is MUCH larger than last year. Here’s the Marvel booth which spotlights FF2.

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Many shall remember what befell beneath the ass of Pokémon!

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The hall is clean.

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As you can see the aisles are wider than last year.

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This is where it will all go down…REGISTRATION! Seriously, the area is much bigger than last year, and plans for dealing with lines are already in place so everyone hopes there will be no repeat of Nerdpocalypse.

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Another part of the registration area, and a MySpace banner.

ICv2 Graphic Novel Conference Report

The whirlwind of New York Comic-Con kicked off yesterday with the ICv2 graphic novel conference. Attendance was up from last year, according to organizer Milton Griepp, with a mix of cartoonists, publishers, librarians, retailers, agents, buyers, and other folks from Graphic Novel World. While there were a few people from what Griepp referred to in his remarks as “American genre comics” drifting in and out, perhaps from the booth set-up going on upstairs, the day was mostly given over to the world of bookstores.

According to Griepp’s white paper, graphic novel sales have now surpassed comics periodical sales, a momentous event that took place in 2005, based on newly projected numbers. In 2006, graphic novel sales were at $330 million for the year, a quadruple increase from 2001.

He put up some charts which we jotted down. Past years sales are as follows:

2001 $75 million
2002 130 million
2003 195 million
2004 245 million
2005 295 million
2006 330 million

The rate of growth slowed a tad in ’06 — perhaps partly due to the Suncoast bankruptcy early in the year — but was still more than healthy. He also provided a breakdown by channel:

Comics shops Bookstores
2001 43 32
2002 50 60
2003 60 105
2004 67 140
2005 78 167
2006 110 220

It might be well to stand back and ponder these numbers for a minute. Think back to the dark days of 2001, when the industry was thought a goner for sure. Since then, graphic novel sales have increased in comics shops three fold, and in bookstores SEVENFOLD. Much of it is due to manga, but that was old news at today’s conference. A session about graphic non-fiction with folks from Larry Gonick to Thomas LeBien showed–and comments from the buyer’s panel which followed backed up–sales in the non fiction and “literary graphic novel” categories were a significant source of growth in 2006. (Yaoi was the other hot genre–go figure.) Part of the increase was due to the appearance of material that appealed to adult women. The usual suspects were named over and over again in talking about the growth — Persepolis, The 9/11 Commission Report, Fun Home, American Born Chinese — but they are good diverse usual suspects, and welcome additions to the backlist pantheon. (Well, the 9/11 Report has its problems — we hear that at least one sequential art teacher at SVA uses it as an example of HOW NOT TO DO COMICS. Oops.)

The manga panel covered the censorship/ratings concerns. Basically the message from all was that because publishers have been proactive in being sensitive to the dangers of the material — and in some cases even drawn attention to the potential trouble spots — they have largely avoided the kind of witchhunt that many have feared. As the uproar over the mention of a “scrotum” in a kids book rages, it’s clear there is endless potential for problems ahead — especially with yaoi — but that bullet is still being dodged adroitly.

We didn’t have a huge takeaway from today. There was no “Ah ha!” moment of triumph, but rather the kind of security and quiet confidence that comes from knowing that graphic novels are here to stay. It was fun to chat about best selling authors doing comics with big time agents, and cool to see generations and genres cross as Steady Beat‘s Rivkah chatted with Cancer Vixen‘s Marisa Acocella Marcheto.

Marchetto and Larry Gonick appeared on the non fiction panel as veterans of the long struggle for bookstore legitimacy. Gonick recalled an ABA in 1984 when he tried to get Rip Off Press and his mainstream publisher for CARTOON HISTORY interested in talking to each other, fruitlessly it seemed, as neither would visit the others part of the hall. Marchetto recalled her 1994 graphic novel WHO THE HELL IS SHE, ANYWAY? which came and went with all the sound of one hand clapping.

In our coverage on this conference last year we noted that “For years, the mood in comics was ‘we can’t’. The mood at NYCC is ‘How can we?'”

The mood in 2007 left “we can’t” so far behind, your head was spinning. It was all about growing — with comics for kids and women, with fiction, with non fiction, with American Genre Comics backlist, and on and on. The secret word is “Yay!”

Chris Butcher has his thoughts on Day 0 along with a report on the next big thing: All Ages Comics:

Following the manga censorship panel was mine, “Buyers Panel—Graphic Novels, the Next Three Years.” I think it went really well. I talked about yaoi and books for children, and I was mean to independent publishers probably? Not mean, but sort of brutally honest and realistic. Essentially, “If you want your books for children to sell, you must be at least this good, and you probably aren’t.” Examples included W.I.T.C.H., KINGDOM HEARTS, and BONE. Actually, it was a lot of fun having so many librarians in the room, because I kind of get the impression from my peers in retailing and the internet as a whole that no one knows that W.I.T.C.H. sells amazingly well. Or even what it is.


More in link.

TALES FROM THE CRYPT rises at Papercutz

The classic EC title is being resurrected as a titles from the kid-friendly Papercutz line — ironic, eh?

Good Lord! *Choke!* The greatest horror comic is back!

After more than 50 years, EC Comics’ legendary flagship title returns with all-new TALES FROM THE CRYPT, narrated by the original Crypt-Keeper, Old Witch, and Vault Keeper. Each issue will feature two 20-page tales of terror in the EC tradition!

Who is responsible for this new trend? Papercutz, the youth-friendly publisher of HARDY BOYS and NANCY DREW graphic novels. Editor Jim Salicrup explains, “Everyone loves scary stories, especially kids, and the TALES FROM THE CRYPT style of dark humor with shock endings truly appeals to all ages, not unlike Harry Potter or Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Despite the furor over horror comics in the ‘50s that led to the demise of most of the EC line, people forget that those comics were created for readers of all ages. Ironically, most of the original CRYPT comics would be approved by the Comics Code today. It’s a real honor for me to be following in the footsteps of Al Feldstein and to be editing an all-new TALES FROM THE CRYPT comic.”

The first issue, which will ship to comics shops in June, will include:
• “Artistic License,” by horror author Marc Bilgrey (H.P. Lovecraft’s Magazine of Horror) and Mr. Exes (Abra Cadaver). The story reveals how two nosy and somewhat murderous neighbors discover the shocking inspiration for Jack Kroll’s outsider artwork.
• “For Serious Collectors Only,” by Rob Vollmar (Bluesman) and Steve Mannion (Batman). This tale explores how far Thomas Donalley—a middle-aged action-figure collector who lives in his mom’s basement—will go for an ultra-rare Japanese figure.
• Introductory pages featuring the GhouLunatics by writer Jim Salicrup and artist Rick Parker (Beavis and Butt-Head).
• Cover by award-winning artist Kyle Baker (Birth of a Nation, Plastic Man, Why I Hate Saturn).

Future issues will include stories by Fred Van Lente (Marvel Adventures), Xeric Grant winner Neil Kleid, Stefan Petrucha (The Shadow of Frankenstein, Papercutz’s NANCY DREW), Don McGregor (Zorro), Sho Murase (NANCY DREW), and other great talents. Each bi-monthly issue is 48 full-color pages for an affordable $3.95

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NYCC: what’s really important

Finally, we’ve blogged the hell out of New York Comicon, just so you know what is going on. but as we sit back in wheezy, queasy exhaustion, perspective begins to rear its ugly head, and we remember that what is really important about this show is the basics: getting jiggy.

For instance, blogger “Hey Lady” seeks a Geek Date figuring the socially awkward males of comics will be easy pickins.

But really, Comic Book Conventions should be a great place to meet guys. We’re talking about a virtually untapped market. In theory: for a smart, (somewhat) attractive girl, getting a date should be like shooting fish in a barrel, no? Thousands of men are gathered in one place (granted, some of them are taken; some are gay; some, undoubtedly, live in their mothers’ basements) with a very small proportion of available women around. The statistics alone would lead us to believe there have got to be a few good men in this crowd.

And this is where my challenge begins.

MY STATS:
5′ 6″
30 years old
Copywriter
Single

MY GOAL:
To get a date at Comic Con

WHERE: New York Comic Con 2007, Jacob Javits Center
WHEN: February 24-25


You can see pictures of the lady in question in the link, which we found via ComicMix (which still doesn’t have an RSS feed!)

Irrepressible Frazier Irving put it in even simpler terms that all could relate to in an Engine thread bemoaning pros having to pay for badges.

Main reason I’m going to the con is as an excuse to indulge in a week of sex-in-fancy-hotel-rooms and the tourist thing with the missus.


There you have it. Perspective.

Biggest NYCC post ever!

Evan Dorkin
Brian K. Vaughan:
Steve Niles
Colleen Doran
Joanna Estep
Cecil Castellucci
Act-i-vate
Tania Del Rio
Rivkah

Countdown to excitement

Previews Countdown-1
Wizard and the solicitations broke the story on COUNTDOWN Monday, with Newsarama adding more to the mix yesterday. We didn’t have time to blog the big news, but in case you missed it: yes, DC is launching another line-spanning weekly comic, one with Paul Dini as head writer.

What’s interesting about it, from our standpoint, is that the vast man (and woman) power required to keep a weekly comic on track is economically viable in the direct market. Also, mastermind Dan Didio has finally come full circle and brought the TV process to bear on comics. (Lest we forget, before he came to DC, Didio’s background was in producing TV toons like Reboot.) It’s not enough that TV writers were (for a while) the hot commodities in comics, now the entire TV writing process has its year-long moment in the sun. We’ll turn to Wizard’s interview with “showrunner” Dini for pullquotes:

What’s your role in the whole process?

DINI: Sort of an executive story editor and head writer. What we’re doing is something not unlike the way a lot of television shows are written, where there will be one head writer who is charting the direction of the series with a writer team handling the creation of the episodes. I am writing a couple of scripts. My job is more working with the other writers to do the weekly books, and then coming in once the script is completed to make sure that the voices of the characters are the same, that the storyline is working and that we’re all on the same page. I brought a lot of myself to that main story, and now I’m imparting that to the other writers. They’re bringing their own takes and their own creativity and their own imagination to work on the characters, and I’m trying to make sure that it all fits together. I’m sure if I looked at the whole thing I would scream, but day-to-day it’s a lot of fun.


We were a little sad that innocent little Mary Marvel will now be getting the grim’n’gritty treatment, but such is the fate of innocence in a grim’n’gritty world:

A character trying to find her way in a larger universe is Mary Marvel. We start with her at kind of a low point in her life, where she has to evaluate what it is she’s been doing as a superheroine and where she’s going. And a lot of her story is kind of a battle for her destiny. This is very much Mary’s trial by fire.


And of course, after COUNTDOWN…NOTHING will be the same!

[T]here’s a lot of fun character work in it also, and there are moments of triumph and tragedy throughout. So, yeah, this is a story with a lot of action, a lot of change, and a lot of repercussions for the overall DC Universe. In fact, when we get toward the end, you’ll see some truly world-shaking changes that will start in Countdown and then sweep through all the other books and will really change the face of DC for a long time to come.


NOTHING! Do you hear us? NOTHING!!!

Getting back to the whole TV thing for a moment, we were gabbing with one of our comics industry pals a few weeks ago and a pretty good case can be made that substituting typical TV writers for typical comics writers hasn’t really pushed the medium forward that much and in fact, the trend seems to have died down a bit. We always hear good things about Allen Heinberg’s writing, but the Wonder Woman fiasco may have put the nail in the coffin for trying to wrangle people with six figure incomes into towing the line for a comics type page rate.

At any rate, COUNTDOWN is in extremely good hands with Dini–who has always juggled the various needs of tv, film and comics admirably–at the helm, and a stable of fine writers. Will it have more civilian appeal than 52? We shall see.

Meanwhile back at the Civil War…

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CIVIL WAR wrapped up this week, and of course we haven’t had time to go find a copy, online or in a store, but we haven’t had time to read ANY issues of CIVIL WAR yet. We’re “waiting for the trade”, as they say on the inside. or people who like a denoument, Mark Millar is sounding off in the “The OFFICIAL MCW Ish 7 THREAD” at Millarworld. Everyone seems a bit baffled by the ending, which, as near as we can make out involves Cap realizing he was wrong, and Iron Man winning, and the Punisher looking longingly at Cap’s gear. Which actually, given the way things are going in the real world, is what passes for “relevance” in comics today. What we don’t quite get is how this is going to change the Marvel U forever. Can someone explain THAT to us?

To Do: Saturday 2/24: Beasts hits New York

Gr CardweberDo you want to know where ELSE the cool kids will be? They will be at GIANT ROBOT!

GIANT ROBOT NY and FANTAGRAPHICS BOOKS PRESENT:

BEASTS! With artists signing the new hardcover collection of nearly 100 illustrators depicting mythological and folkloric creatures.

WHAT: BEASTS! book release signing
WHO: Jesse LeDoux, Katy Horan, Keith Shore, R. Kikuo Johnson, Sam Weber, Scott Teplin, Andy Kehoe and others t.b.a.

WHEN: Saturday, Feb. 24th, 7pm
WHERE: Giant Robot NY, 437 E. Ninth St., New York, NY 10009
WEB ADDRESS: http://www.grny.net/
PHONE: 212.674.GRNY

Beasts! is a 200 page, full-color (plus Gold throughout), hardcover book from Fantagraphics Books. Ninety artists from the fields of rock posters, skate graphics, comics, children’s books, fine art, etc. have each chosen a classic mythological or folkloric creature to illustrate. All of the depicted beasts have been thought at some time to exist (generally through a handful of eyewitnesses or as cultural stories). Each beast is accompanied by a brief description of the creature written by Paul Hughes, Felicia Gotthelf, Heidi Broadhead, or Rob Lightner. It was birthed/curated by Jacob Covey and marvelously edited by Karin Snelson.

To Do: Saturday, 2/24 – Picturebox party at Rocketship

Comicbookparty
Do you want to know where the cool kids will be? This is it. Alex Cox explains in his own way:

In these cold and troubled winter months, the cruel North wind oft brings a chilling despair, settling deep in your hearts and bones. There is but one remedy for the cruel, icy darkness…

Comic Books.

So do join us at ROCKETSHIP, as we celebrate the release of several new funnybooks from Picturebox Press: COLD HEAT #3, by BJ and Frank Santoro, PIG TALES/CARTOON WORKSHOP by Paper Rad, and 1-800-MICE by Matthew Thurber.

The artists themselves will be on hand, to sign books, and escape with you from the impending horrors of the angry frost demon named Feb-ruary.

I know many of you will be spending your days at Ye Olde Javitz Centre, digging fitfully through long, white boxes in search of that one, last MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE that completes your collection. I promise that this ROCETSHIP event will be a welcome respite from your toils, as you unwind with a beverage provided by Six Point Craft Ales, and listen to the melodies of Special Musical Guests… SOILED MATTRESS AND THE SPRINGS!

That’s right, friends, not only will Matthew Thurber be signing comic books, he will also be performing with his three-piece Musical Combo.

So join us at ROCKETSHIP! Saturday night (2-24) at 8 pm.

Podcast update: Ventures and Veitch

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The Sound of Young America interviews VENTURE BROTHERS creator Jackson Publick for this podcast. (Thanks to Ian Brill for the link.)

Speaking of The Venture Bros, this weekend on Saturday at 4:30 at the NYCC (that AGAIN?) there will be a Venture Bros. spotlight with Jackson Publick, Doc Hammer, James Urbaniak (Rusty Venture, etc.), Michael Sinterniklaas (Dean Venture), and Steven Rattazzi (Dr. Orpheus). Although the ladies and Brock will be missing, this should be the greatest collection of Venture voices yet assembled at a convention and we admit to having had a teeny tiny bit to do with getting it put together, and anticipate that it will have moments of drollery.

Speaking of podcasts, DC has done something certified cool and put up a podcast of Rick Vetch reading the words from his stream-on-consciousness graphic novel CAN’T GET NO. Download and read along!

Comics Bakery rises

Window Magenta
Not content to satirize 70s movie posters, the John Green-Dave Roman-Raina Telgemeier-Marion Vitus comics comglomerate has announced they will henceforth be known as Comics Bakery.

Gramling takes over at Wizard

Wizard has hired former FHM EIC Scott Gramling to take over as EIC of the entire Wizard Magazine empire. Hiring a former lad mag guy to take over is a pretty smart guy, and our magazine industry peeps all have good things to say about Gramling (who once worked at Wizard) so…this could be very interesting. PR via the Wizard website.

Wizard Entertainment announced today Scott Gramling as the new Editor-In-Chief of Wizard. Gramling will take the helm effective immediately overseeing all content for the company, including the four publications; Wizard, InQuest Gamer, ToyFare and Anime Insider as well as wizarduniverse.com and The Wizard World Tour, which kicks off March 16 in Los Angeles.

In making the announcement Wizard Entertainment President and COO Fred Pierce said, “We are thrilled that Scott is returning to the Wizard family and extremely confident he is the right person for the job. His experience, knowledge and expertise make him an invaluable asset as we continue to build the circulation and awareness of the Wizard brand.”

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