It was a long day for the Graphic Novel set yesterday here at the BEA. The day started out like gangbusters with the Graphic Novel Authors Breakfast, which we reported on yesterday, Then a full slate of panels rolled out. Unfortunately, we lost our notebook during the day in all the excitement, so we’ll have to rely on our shoddy memory for content.
The Young Cartoonists Buzz panel included Kazu Kibuishi, , Danica Novgorodoff, , Neil Babra and Lars Brown, with Gene Yang moderating and Jeff Smith kibitzing from the audience. They started out talking about how long they took to do a page, and it ranged from 3-10 hours. Kibuishi said it took him half and hour to ink a panel which drew amazement from Smith until Kibuishi explained that it was the coloring and modeling which takes up most of his time. Yang asked rhetorically why anyone would devote do much time to working on a 100 or 200 page graphic novel and the panelists responded with variations on the theme of how comics are a complete medium for storytelling.
We had to jump back and forth after that as there were several panels that overlapped. On the Hollywood and Comics panel, an audience member asked if there were opportunities for female-fronted comics book movies — the answer was that since ELEKTRA and CATWOMAN bombed, it’s a very very hard sell, which isn’t fair, but no one remembers Lara Croft. (We’d add AEON FLUX to the bomb list.) Both WANTED and WHITEOUT have major female characters,however. (To which we’d add, pray for WITCHBLADE.)
Other topics included Sex in Comics, various shelving and distribution issues, and building library collections. The Editors Buzz panel wrapped up the day with no less than 10 editors on stage telling Calvin Reid about their books — another sign of the strength of this category.
Truly, whereas at the very first BEA we attended back in ’89 or so there was barely any comics presence beyond, perhaps, a lone and lonely Fantagraphics booth an NBM, at this show you couldn’t turn anywhere without seeing signs of graphic novels — Viz’s huge signage in the hall, IDW’s GI Joe banners, the New Yorker’s cartoon bags, invitations, catalogs… even the fact that so many comics flyers lay abandoned in the attendee shipping room was a sign that graphic novels are here to stay.
At 4 we dashed down to the Diamond cocktail party where most of the GN types gathered for a beer. The mood could only be described as upbeat. We ran into our old chum Mariah Huehner and Michelle Gomes from Virgin, as well as Nat Gertler, Bat and Jackie, Alan Payne and many people we’re forgetting. Ian Brill, newly installed at Boom! and Matt Maxwell showed up, and we decamped to Ventura Blvd for a Blogging Sushi Dinner. Unfortunately we were seated right next to Mary-Kate Olsen, which made it hard to gossip about FINAL CRISIS.
Overall most folks are saying this show is a lacking in news and excitement. For a show set in Hollywood there hasn’t been much foofaw, would could be a good thing. The show was briefly interrupted at lunch time by a food court strike, which also shut down Starbucks. Since the lines for Starbucks were at least 45 minutes long, you could have gotten a cup of coffee in the time it took for the strike to end.
Probably the biggest line of the day — other than Starbucks — was for Leonard Nimoy, who was signing his book of naked heavy women. William Shatner signed a few hours later so for those with some patience it was a perfect opportunity for a two-fer. Alec Baldwin was also seen running around. There were also many actual authors, including Jackie Collins who has a giant tour bus parked in the back of the hall. He gfot to met Brian Selnick of HUGO CABRET fame, and he mentioned that he was happy to be lumped in as part of graphic novel wave. At that point, anyone who wouldn’t be is just living in the past.