• Working backwards in time, starting with the future, we will be at Heroes Con this weekend — always guaranteed to be a good time. Guests are here, Indie Island is here, the panel schedule, where they are taping a month’s worth of episodes of “The Tom Spurgeon Show”, is here.
If you have some news for HeroesCon, send it to us and we’ll post it Thursday. Send it to the usual place.
• Today we’re moving offices at Publishers Weekly, a move which has necessitated yet another spin round what to keep and what to toss, especially as we’re going to a much smaller space. And let me tell you, as time goes by, those darned periodicals become less and less appealing. In fact, in conversation after conversation over the weekend, the utter disposability of the 32-page format was discussed. Despite the $3.99 a pop price tag. And how sometimes you can’t give those things away, even after you paid $3.99 for them.
• Much of the weekend was spent at the wedding of Michelle Gomes and Nathan Cosby. The bride is formerly of Virgin Comics and now the Food Network. The groom is an associate editor at Marvel Comics. Aside from the great beauty of the bride and the idyllic — but blazing hot — seaside setting, the most notable aspect of the affair was a Bollywood style dance performed by the groomsmen — Dennis Calero, Fred Van Lente, Mark Paniccia, Tim Dillon, and Arune Singh. A new standard for all comic book weddings has been set. Congratulations to the happy couple!
• Before that, there was a lot more packing and purging and trips to the storage unit — Bob Morales, you are a friend forever — and prior to that, BEA.
• I wanted to get more of my BEA thoughts down here before they faded away entirely. Our early morning panel on big name authors in graphic novels went very well and was well attended. Moderator Rich Johnson made sure the audience participated, as well. I think I would characterize this year’s show, comics-wise, anyway, as “all eyes on Evanovich” as the 100,000 first printing for the new Janet Evanovich graphic novel is a huge leap for Dark Horse. On the no-brainer side, if only 10 percent of her regular readers pick up the book, it will do just fine. On the scary side, most of her readers are women middle-aged and above — a category not well served by the comics industry at this point. I know at least one man reads Evanovich, but it’s still a big gamble that everyone is watching closely. On the plus side, Dark Horse’s Dirk Wood described orders thus far as “shockingly good.” On the minus side, the Barnaby books aren’t among Evanovich’s best selling series. But on the double plus side, she’s sold 90 million books in the US, and Dark Horse’s main marketing effort is to showcase the book outside the comics market.
• Why are there so many wacky people at BEA? I’m serious. I’m used to the zanies at comic-cons, but at Book Expo they take on a whole new flavor. For one thing, once people see you have a Publishers Weekly badge, they think you know how to get their book published, and you have to listen to some spiel about a puppy that can smell things, without being rude, and that gets old fast. Also, so new agey! While I was innocently trying to get a beer at the Wiley booth with Steve Saffel, we were accosted by some guy who wanted to heal us with the light, which somehow necessitated painful squeezes to the webbing between my thumb and forefinger. (And yes, just to show I’m as new agey as the next nutter, I know that is a powerful nexus of nerves for the whole body, so thanks a lot, buddy!)
• Even with all that, people are still wondering when Book Expo will become a more public event. It’s no secret that the publishing industry is in flux, and the book show is seen as being “troubled.” While there was definitely a lot of business going on for those who were smart enough to do it, some think that BEA could take a page from the Comic-Con playbook, at least as far as translating the excitement of readers and reading into the show. Reading books is exciting and fires the imagination. Selling books is not as interesting. Perhaps this evolution is already happening in some ways. I saw a lot more long lines for just about anyone signing a book, even authors who weren’t “fan favorites,” so people seem to want to get in on whatever action there is.
Along those same lines, the Abrams booth was by far the most imaginative with this giant typewriter setup. I’m not saying that BEA should become E3 with exploding helicopters and EEE-cup babes. But once again, the literary medium is the most imaginative, intellectual and passionate medium of them all — there’s no reason why it can’t be presented in a clever, thought-provoking way.
The 2011 show will be three days instead of two because many foreign buyers thought the two-day format was just too short. That may be true but I noticed that at 4:30 pm on Thursday, the last day of the show, the floor was still packed and buzzing, whereas on a three-day show, by 2 o’clock the place is a ghost town. I understand the foreign issues but keeping that excitement going should be one of the main concern of the show runners.
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.