Pop culture fans jammed the aisles of the Javits Center for all four days of the New York Comic Con, held this past weekend. Attendance was estimated as 116,000 by show runner and ReedPop v-p Lance Fensterman, making it the second largest comics and pop culture show in North America. With badges already sold out—and scalpers selling them on the street for several hundred dollars—the lucky ones who got in were greeted with an all-you-can-eat buffet of comics news, favorite artists, Lego sculptures, cosplay parades and TV personalities.
Although media guests were the nominal headliners, comics news grabbed most of the attention. DC's biggest news was a new but still untitled Superman ongoing series by writer Scott Snyder and artist Jim Lee. Marvel countered with news of their new Superior Spider-Man by longtime Spider-Man scribe Dan Slott, which will feature a new person taking up Spider-Man's identity.
Image also debuted another wave of top creator owned books, including new projects by Matt Fraction, Jonathan Hickman, Jock, Andy Diggle, Ales Kot, Kieron Gillen and Ryan Kelly, while basking in the unprecedented interest in Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead.
Dynamite, Dark Horse and IDW also announced many new projects including: new books by Garth Ennis, Mark Waid and Diggle from Dynamite. A series based on the highly anticipated video game The Last of Us by indie comics star Faith Erin Hicks, from Dark Horse and IDW announced a crossover between Mars Attacks and the Transformers.
Although New York Anime Fest was officially folded this year, manga was a strong presence at NYCC. Fans packed in to see manga superstar Moyoco Anno (Happy Mania, Sakuran, Sugar Sugar Rune) and Yoshitaka Amano, the designer for the Final Fantasy games and illustrator of the Vampire Hunter D novels, as well as several other manga and anime guests. Digital manga continued to make news, as Alvin Lu of Viz announced that the digital magazine Shonen Jump Alpha will begin releasing manga chapters simultaneously with Japan, and Kurt Hassler of Yen Press told his panel that several Square Enix series, including Black Butler and Pandora Hearts, will now be available via the Yen Press app.
All the major publishers had new licenses to announce; Kodansha nabbed the historical series Vinland Saga; Viz picked up the Tiger & Bunny manga, which is adapted from the highly successful anime; and Vertical announced it has licensed Osamu Tezuka's Twin Knight, the sequel to Princess Knight. While ICv2 CEO Milton Greipp calculated in his annual white paper report that manga sales are down 35% so far this year—and that follows several years of decline—there seemed to be as many cosplayers as ever on the show floor, and fans packed the rooms for most of the manga panels.
Digital Comic Con
There were plenty of digital doings and announcements including Comixology Submit, a new self-publishing portal by Comixology aimed at producing digital-first comics with its Guided View technology platform, in addition to digital ventures from Dark Horse, DC Digital, Marvel and Archaia.
ComiXology, kings of digital comics, have announced a new program for indie publishers, ComiXology Submit, which will solicit works to be produced using their Guided View technology platform as an authoring tool—Comixology will produce the digital comic for free and will split revenues from the sale of the comic through the Comixology retail channel with the creators. Comixology has been looking for ways to offer its Guided View platform as an authoring tool—with capable tech support the platform can be used to create digital first comics with vivid and tasteful digital transition effects. The program is in private beta and should be launching in the next few months and will allow independent and self-publishers to submit their book for possible production and sale by ComiXology and, if they like it and accept it, the company will work with the author to produce it using the Guided View technology. The vetting process is still being worked out but their mission for Submit, as stated in their panel on Saturday, is “If someone wants to read this, then we want to sell it.”
Dark Horse has just gotten the rights to do digital editions of all of the Alien, Predator, and Alien v. Predator, comics that were so influential at the start of DH. Also, the Dark Horse application that is now in beta on Android should be final by the end of the year, matching the iOS app that is already up and running. Across both systems, they will be implementing a new system where you will be able to purchase in-app through your iTunes or Google account without needing a Dark Horse account.
At DC Digital, “every day is new comic book day” as they continue with their digital first content line with new books six days a week on ComiXology. They also announced a new Arrow digital to go along with the new CW TV show as well as a new Injustice digital comic that pairs with Injustice: Gods Among Us, the new video game from DC and NetherRealm Studios coming next year.
Marvel Digital’s biggest news from the show was that their popular Marvel Digital Unlimited application, previously only available in browser, will be coming in beta to mobile devices this December. They also announced plans to continue exploring “infinite comics,” like the ones released in conjunction with Avengers v. X-Men and Ultimate Spiderman, the kids’ TV show. The Avengers v. X-Men infinite comic will also be published in a print format and included in A v. X trades.
Archaia is exploring not just digital publishing but digital partnerships. They have teamed up with popular podcast The Thrilling Adventure Hour to help produce a comic. Archaia pledged that if TAH could raise their goal of $55,000 then they would print and distribute the book for them. TAH reached that goal over the weekend and are now pushing towards bigger goals for backers. Archaia will likely sponsor a panel in promotion of the comic with TAH at SDCC in July 2013.
As always, there were plenty of children on the floor, all through the weekend and especially on Sunday, which was Kids’ Day. There were plenty of comics to choose from: Disney Hyperion had Rick Riordan's new prose book, The Mark of Athena, at their booth, and Orpheus Collar, the artist for Riordan's graphic novel The Red Pyramid, was there to do signings. Papercutz was doing a brisk business with their Ninjago graphic novels. First Second had Zack Giallongo signing his fantasy tale Broxo and Ben Hatke autographing Legends of Zita the Spacegirl. There was some digital news: iVerse will partner with Brodart to bring its digital graphic novel service to libraries; the new launch date for the service is January, and comiXology announced “parent-friendly sync” which will allow parents to share just their kid-friendly comics via the Comics4Kids app.
Archie Comics announced a Sonic the Hedgehog/Mega Man crossover, as well as a compilation of Tania Del Rio's manga-style Sabrina comics into four black-and-white graphic novels. And Viz continues to expand their VizKids line with two new non-manga series, Monsuno, based on the Nicktoons cartoon, and Uglydoll, which will feature a story by Eisner award winner James Kochalka.
But aside from announcements, the big news was crowds. As in years past there were occasional logjams, and moving Artist Alley to the separate North Hall led to some grumbling from artists about not being able to find them. However, by the end of the weekend, sales seem to have been just fine, and crowds were plentiful all weekend.
“We had two choices heading into this year due to the need for floor space: cut artist alley in half or make it the biggest artist alley at any convention I'm aware of and place it in Javits North,” said Fensterman. "I have zero doubt we made the right choice and I think if you asked the 50 percent of the artists that would have had no table space at all had we made the other choice, they would agree with me as well."
Fensterman told PW it was a success. "In general I think we handled some massive crowds, largely with aplomb and I believe we delivered a pretty great show for our fans."