NYCC kicked off with the ICv2 Conference; I’ll have a report on the white paper over at PW later in the day, but the overall mood was very upbeat as “the new customer” came into focus. Organizer Milton Griepp said he got goosebumps twice during the retailers presentation. I know that sounds corny but I see where he was coming from. It was just a day confirming what I write about all the time here: new channels, new readers, new ways of selling comics to those readers. Digital is okay, stores are smarter, girls read comics. Every presentation—the white paper, the conventions panel, the retailing panel and the publishers panel—remarked on the gender parity of the new readership. And girls like to shop. The female reader tends to be a more casual reader, and one idea that seemed to be floating around is that finding products for this new reader will entail strong, done in one stories. While graphic novel sales in comics shops are behind periodical sales, when the book channel is thrown in, they outsell periodicals in dollars. I don’t think periodical sale for strong characters like Archie and Batman are going away, but the success of new takes like Deadpool and Harley Quinn seem to indicate that at last, we have a marketplace that is diverse and will support diverse products.
The convention panel featured all kinds of numbers. I was standing at a plinth so I couldn’t take notes, but the audio will be up. The panel was interesting because Patrick Bradley Wizard World’s EVP, Digital Media & Entertainment presented a slideshow of attendee demographics taken from five of their new markets from more than 6000 respondents. The information on demographics—43% female, 57% ages 18-34—jibed with the Eventbrite stats, as did their buying habits. I guess the most interesting thing was how they answered “What are you MOST interested in seeing”—52% said celebrities and 13% said artists. so, there you go.
Lance Fensterman offered show verbal stats that indicated that ReedPOP shows lag a bit behind in female attendees, with about 40% of C2E2 being female. That’s interesting because I wouldn’t have eyeballed that. He also talked about expanding in foreign countries, finding that the common love of nerd culture crosses borders.
I enjoyed hearing from Shelton Drum on the panel, with his 30+ years of con throwing, and Meg Lemke offered information on how the Brooklyn Book Festival emcompasses comics. Rob Salkowitz and Christine Bohle from Eventbrite presented a lot of research that shows how the festival model is growing and growing. Even though we have too many conventions, there is clearly a LOT of interest in attending these action-packed events.
I did ask the panel if there was a problem with not having comics in comic cons, and I don’t mean to insult the fine people on the panel by saying that this was met with an uncomfortable silence. Fensterman pointed out that they’ve expanded to India and Australia, countries which don’t really have comics industries at all. So you can have a comic con that isn’t even about local comics. I think this was an interesting slant on the question, but I don’t think it will go away.
The retailers panel was full of anecdotes about new customers buying new product types; David Steinberger offered some insights on the latest at Comixology. Digital is changing comics by allowing potential customer to find many different kinds of material said Jim Crocker of Modern Myths, a comics shop that started out to be like an indie bookstore. The publishing panel featured IDW, Archie, Papercutz, Scholastic, and Joe Illidge of Verge Entertainment. Everyone talked about new ideas that seem to be working.
This was the latest in a series of more upbeat ICv2 conferences. The first ones, I’ll admit, were often a slog through hopes and fears about survival. The general trend of having down the basics and finding ways to expand on core business continued.
After this I wandered around the floor, and found….all sorts of things. The comics publishers are arrayed in a sort of island in the middle of the floor, kind of the way San Diego does things. There were about a zillion exhibitors I spotted that weren’t comics. A Geico booth complete with a DJ booth inspired dread in the publishers located near it. One publisher was bedeviled by car alarms from the Chevy display last year; they asked to be moved but are now right across the aisle from Geico’s dance-a-teria. Another publisher vowed to fight back with his own tape deck. (I know people no longer have tape decks but it sounds funnier.)
NYCC is going to be loud and I doubt there will be any where to escape.
IDW was set up for the first time in a few years, and they indicated that they’ll be attending more shows in the future. For a long time they had a pretty strong “no shows” policy, so this is a change. But everyone wants to be at the party.
DC had its set up at the end of the hall, featuring a brooding statue of batman and a US Post Office backdrop. Expect some jokes about “going postal.” You cannot buy stamps at the DC booth but there is a USPS booth on the floor!
As chipper as everyone seemed to be, one publisher rep I spoke with pointed out the fundamental flaw in the expansion of the market. There’s enough money flowing now to male money for the folks who got it al started. But in order to expand any FURTHER everyone has to take on a ton more work and job roles, so the success has come at the price of overwork. In other words, there may be new customers but there still aren’t a ton of new jobs in comics.
ANYHOO, I took some pictures, which may be as clear as you will see these booths before the hordes descend.
The Convention panel
The retailing panel
Calvin Reid moderates the publishing panel
Classic calm before the storm and carpet shot.
How to train Your Dragon came!
Bionicle legos figures came
Cirque du Soleil’s Ka came.,. They have a comic from Marvel at the show, and I think some acrobatting,
McCall’s Patterns came…? I know cosplayers like to sew but this was seriously the most unexpected booth I saw.
I don’t remember WETA being at NYCC before — and they brought their orcs and Smaugs.
I’m very interested in checking out the NYX booth because I like make-up.
Beanbag chairs that are not beanbag chairs came.
A comics publisher came!
At dusk, the Javits Center becomes an eerily beautiful place, especially when there are NO PEOPLE there.
I thought a woman won the last King of the Nerds?
You will hate this by Sunday.
Harper Collins is selling a Neil Gaiman tote bag. I kind of love it.
On demand video killed the comic book star.
DC getting ready for action.
Batman in a totally out of character somber pose. Lighten up!
Oh yeah, I’m not going to run all of Milton Griepp’s slideshow but this is one on areas where new readers can get in. CONTeNT IS KING, BABY!
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.