As mentioned previously, we were at BookExpo America all day Wednesday, and will be there all day Thursday. The show is much smaller than in recent years — the children’s book section which once took up the entire bottom part of the Javits is now just a corner of the main floor. The Diamond alley of comics publishers seems smaller this year, as well, although Dark Horse, Image, Dynamite, IDW and Marvel are all set up, along with a few others.
By contrast, Fantagraphics was set up in the Norton Booth right at the front of the hall and was practically the first thing you saw as you walked in. They are giving away galleys of Moto Hagio’s HERE COMES THE SON and Joyce Farmer’s SPECIAL EXITS, which we have and have flipped through, but haven’t had time to read yet. Something to look forward to in life, thank God! Fanta assoc. publisher Eric Reynolds explained that he felt that this year it was more effective to pay for more galleys to give away than to have an author appearance, and given the alacrity with which people roaming the floor scoop up those galleys, it might be a good idea.
Marvel was set up in the Diamond aisle, despite plans to switch over to Hachette in the fall. Marvel had one of the biggest booths but the smallest presence, with a lone employee manning the booth, who explained that given the switchover, they were keeping a low profile this year. In other Marvel news, it was announced that Disney will take over Marvel’s kids’ licensing program:
Disney said it will create new content and work with licensees to bring Marvel’s brands and characters into a range of formats for worldwide distribution. Upcoming Marvel programs will focus on the feature films Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger in 2011, as well as classic characters such as Spider-Man and Iron Man and multicharacter brands such as Marvel Heroes and Super Hero Squad.
GIven Disney’s status as the world’s biggest licensed publisher, it’s a smart movie.
Last year, David Small’s STITCHES and Crumb’s GENESIS were two of the buzz books of the entire show, but on the whole, the graphic novel presence is more subdued but still everywhere this year. Zenescope is doing a major push for their line of licensed and fairy-tale inspired books. Several educational publishers, like Rosen, have big displays of their graphic novels for younger readers. We haven’t seen the entire floor yet so we’ll have more later.
Overal,l it’s a pretty subdued show, what with so many huge publishers having reduced presence. And in the comics corner, a kind of unease seems to have descended. With the Great Manga Correction now underway — and some more adjustments coming — there’s a sense of change in the air, and not the voluntary kind. It isn’t the comics themselves, it’s just the business model.
I’ll be discussing all this and more at the ungodly hour of 9:30 tomorrow with Calvin Reid, Rich Johnson, Judy Hanson, Mike Martens, and Carol FItzgerald. Stop by if you are around.
To be continued.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.