The first day of exhibits at this year’s BEA kicked off with a smaller floor space, and, as opposed to years past when the Diamond booth was the place to be for comics, found comics publishers scattered all over the floor — Archaia being the latest to move out, over to PGW. But wherever they were, comics seemed comfortable to be there.
The biggest GN buzz at the show was Craig Thompson’s six-years-in-the-making Habibi, which debuted with an ARC reprinting the first, ravishing chapter. Even a few pages in and the book is a mesmerizing fable of faith, love, sex, memory and the unknowable. In a half hour author spotlight with Calvin Reid (above), Thompson talked about a few of the themes of the books — it’s am amalgam of the mystic traditions of Christianity, Islam and Judaisim, all bound up in a love story and the storytelling tradition of the Arabian Knights. Even the single chapter shows a level of detail and artistry that makes the six-year-wait worth it.
Elsewhere, there were fewer revelations as GNs long ago became part of the book world. The question is more where the book world in general is going. This morning’s announcement Amazon hiring publishing world bigshot Larry Kirschbaum to head up their publishing efforts was a shot across the bow of paper publishers. The new Nook was another big story, and epublishing in general is where the buzz was found.
The biggest comics publishers were not even represented. Viz, distributed by Simon & Schuster, was a no show. Marvel and DC’s character were everywhere in the licensing sense, but the actual publishers were nowhere to be found on the floor. Disney had a display of their kids books featuring Marvel characters, including some beautifully illustrated origin books. DC was represented by a WB licensed ad in PW’s show daily, but otherwise kept a low profile.
Probably the biggest GN at the show isn’t even a GN: a giant snow globe at the Abrams booth teased this fall’s fifth Wimpy Kid book, whose name will be revealed very soon.
For those of you going to BEA, tomorrow I’ll be interviewing Bill Willingham about his wonderful new kids novel Down the Mysterly River at 10:30 am at the Midtown Stage! Rise and shine.
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.