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October 13, 2010


Now That The Dust Has Settled And The Hangovers Have Faded, A Few Notes From Afar On NYCC 2010

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I didn't get to attend New York Comic Con (NYCC) this year. I regret not being able to go. In many ways 2010 is the year of the convention as much as it's the year of the digital comic. NYCC offered both.

NYCC has been an influential show since its inception. It helped shove Wizard down the path to their current slate of slightly seedy, celebrity-focused pop-culture shows. NYCC's identity as a Reed show has both legitimized the weird pageant/garage sale elements of funnybook conventions and helped call into question the longtime Reed effort BookExpo America's (BEA) identity as an industry rather than a consumer show. NYCC's struggles and successes have placed into relief the accomplishments of Comic-Con International (CCI). NYCC's basic model has given credibility to mainstream-focused regional shows like Heroes Con and Emerald City Comicon. Reed's show has been a boon for the NYC comics scene and has given a lot of creators on the East Coast and in Great Britain either another show they can attend or perhaps a new primary show. Not bad for a first half-decade. Not being there disappoints.

NYCC is also an odd show. While it draws guests from places around the country and abroad -- and from various corners of the world of comics -- it relies heavily on New York and its major publishers for many of its professional attendees and the city's significant comic book fan community for its audience. NYCC exudes a musky mainstream comics aroma. The arts comics publishers mostly don't attend, and the projected influence of the book publishing crowd at the show's conception has never quite materialized. As of noon on Monday, I'd yet to see a single big news story or Internet posting that revolved around a book publisher. Even Artists Alley and the Top Shelf-led indy/alt portions of the floor get mentioned more than such publishers in con reports. NYCC has grown very quickly, with drips and drabs of drama along the way, mostly focused on the first year ticket sales fiasco and the comics community's initial, super-snotty, scene-making "I got mine" response to it. I would have liked to have seen what the con was like up close: how wide the aisles were, how many people were clogging it, how well-attended certain panels were, how much of the show seemed focused on the general pop-culture flash of comics and how much on an actual reading experience, who was buying what from where. There's nothing like being on the floor of a show to learn about a show.

In addition, the 2010 iteration of NYCC was apparently a well-lubricated event, with packed parties galore. It was a blowout. A confluence of factors contributed to this: New York City's generally wonderful Fall season, an exhausting 2010 mainstream con schedule coming to an end (there are arts shows and regional shows of import yet to come this calendar year), release from the worry about a wholesale DC Comics' relocation to Burbank, the drama of people being let go or transferred from that company in the partial relocation, and a general uncertainty as to how big-company involvement will continue to have an impact on the comics-making future five years down the line. NYCC also puts some swagger into certain steps because it seems a more comics-focused show, and that's important to a lot of people. If there's anything we know about conventions, it's that people like to be as close to the center of attention or some variation of it -- even simple recognition! -- as possible. I don't think making sure the pros have a good time and everybody gets to see their comics buddies is the primary value of conventions, let alone the end goal of the entire comics industry, but I'll grant you that a hopping social scene can have a dramatic impact on the desirability factor in attending a show and in the general mood of many professionals.

Here's what came to mind sitting in a room very far away from the New York show, swinging at what got thrown my way.

*****

image* One thing right up top that I haven't seen reported too many places -- one Facebook page, actually -- that I only know about because I was supposed to be on-hand is that Mort Walker received the Cartoon Art Museum's Sparky Award at the show. He was informed with a camera present during a Saturday panel he did with Andrew Farago. You can read about the award here. Congratulations to Mr. Walker, and a personal thank you to Mr. Farago.

* Let's talk about the show itself first. Attendance-wise NYCC 2010 fell somewhere between partial and full sell-out. The total as of Monday afternoon was 95,142 -- I'm not being funny, that's the figure Lance Fensterman sent me. That could and should go up as NYCC's retail partners report back in with how many tickets they sold. NYCC forgoes turnstyle counting: as best as they are able, each attendee is counted once. That means someone with a three-day pass is one person, not three.

* Those attendance figures are good news for organizer ReedPop, as is the generally positive first round of reaction from fans in attendance and a what seem mostly like warmth from those exhibiting or attending as professionals.

* The downside to having your con well-attended is that you have crowding and security issues. Evan Dorkin talks about the overcrowding Saturday here. He's right in that order to remain a first class show you can't have people routinely jostled and pushed around; it's a very thin line between "not being able to get around the show" as an amusing side-comment in one's write-up and "not being able to get around the show" as the focus of an everything-that's-wrong-with-the-con diatribe. In other words, I think there was enough goodwill in the air and good times to be had to override these concerns for 2010 but that's not always going to be the case. They need to hit this hard.

* I'm not a fire expert and I fell asleep during Backdraft, but it also seems to me that the show's many traffic bottlenecks are a bad thing. I would imagine this gets better as construction at the Javits Center concludes, and I'm sure the con organizers and facility personnel are well aware of this.

* What the attendance figures and generally positive reactions mean for future years is unclear, and will have to wait until at least after ReedPOP's post-show self-analysis. The show could grow. NYCC apparently has a bit of room to expand at the Javits Center. They could also conceivably add a day, although attendance was at its highest on Saturday and a four-day show brings with it a certain level of drag that you only start to get at a three-day event.

* It looks like the choice of placing the show permanently in the Fall is a hit. I thought NYCC would be successful there. Who doesn't want to go to New York City in the Fall? Which citizens of Geek Nation already in New York aren't looking for something to do besides watching football or raking leaves on a random October weekend? Still, there's always the chance folks are going to be too burnt out to go to any major event on the calendar that's later in the year. That may be one key way the New York setting helps the show. New York is one of the few cities that can generate a six-figure audience to a show all by itself. It doesn't count on people flying in. New York can be a national show just by being New York.

* Given the generally positive word-of-mouth, I can imagine NYCC taking the place of San Diego's CCI for a certain type of comic book fan, particularly mainstream superhero comic book fans located on the East Coast.

* Programming. I'm not hearing much of anything in terms of how they stuck the landing. That's a good thing: no one jumps on-line to report a smooth-running set of panels. I have yet to hear any "Oh My God" reports about any particular panel beyond the size of the Walking Dead panel crowd. That's less of a positive sign, although it's not necessarily a damning one. My guess is that programming went reasonably well on the ground.

* One reason that's worth mentioning is because programming was a bit of a mess in the scheduling and announcement phase. A Kodansha USA panel was listed that wasn't supposed to be. Colleen Doran and Ted Rall were two pros announced as being on panels when they had no intention of attending the show. Companies that had gone out of business were hosting panels. There were a number of panels announced without details as to who would be participating. There's just no excuse for this kind of thing in a convention's fifth year.

* Perhaps the most surprising development in the days leading up to NYCC is that programming ran until 9 PM. The Javits Center is kind of off by itself. It's not super-close to anything. If you decided to stay through, you're going to miss events in the city, and if you go to see something outside of the convention, you run the risk of missing something at the show. If you wanted to see Drew Friedman sign in Brooklyn, for example, you were basically cutting yourself out of three hours of programming. There's a significant commuter element to the show, too, which means some people are going to have to leave early. Even if you grant NYCC's claim that there was so much awesome programming that they couldn't find a space for it all, and I'm not sure I do, I think they can find a better solution than the one they have now.

* At future shows, many of this year's potential problems will be ameliorated because people will now expect late-night programming and build in the appropriate wriggle room vis-à-vis other plans. (Or continue to ignore potential conflicts altogether; your mileage may vary.) Two dangers that will remain are 1) NYCC running the risk of creating two classes of programming, based on the time of day they're being held. If I were a PR person, I know I'd want my panels to go off before 6 PM. 2) NYCC may end up discouraging organizers from having events outside the show, events that add to the city-celebration aspect of many a great convention.

image* In the same general vein, I thought that the ICv2.com Conference On Comics And Digital was put on the schedule later than it should have been if organizers expected people from out of town to have a fair shot at attending. I'm not sure why that couldn't be announced with at least some certainty much sooner than it was. Even if reporters from out of town knew the intention was to have some sort of conference, it would help in planning a trip.

* Granted, I may be the only reporter from out of town that needs this kind of notice. But hey, I'm people, too.

* Another recurring theme in what people are telling me that seems to be buttressed by what people are writing -- not hearing back from the show definitively about table space. As in "I did try to get a table but never heard back from the con."

* More press (I'm sorry): I hate to say it, but if NYCC really let in 2900 press people as I've heard, they did not get 2900 press people's worth of coverage.

* Don't get me wrong: I understand the strategy of having a liberal press pass policy. I do. You're buying the entirety of the coverage with those passes, and it's better to overshoot than undershoot. CCI does this, too. I also understand that twitter and Facebook have bled off some of the matter-of-record reporting that people used to do on blogs and through sites. Still, with the exception of the usual suspects it seems like we're getting weaker and weaker cumulative efforts at these events, even as more reporters from different fields descend upon these mega-events. With all the attention being paid, we should be getting better and more varied and fascinating portrayals of conventions. We're not. It wasn't that long ago when you could find 20 thorough blog posts, a baker's dozen worth of news stories and two or three columns that, when combined, built a compelling picture of any show you'd care to name. I miss that.

* It's funny, though, how much press involvement at conventions has changed in general. I remember one of the Chicago Cons in the late 1990s, when it was still by acclimation the #2 show, and I caught a glimpse of the entire expected press list as I was added to it: eight people.

* In case you were wondering, the Super Bowl in 2009 gave out 4500 press passes. Slightly more coverage resulted.

* The best summary of the numbers and issues discussed at the ICv2.com digital comics conference is here.

* My first reaction? The industry trending numbers provided were alarming. I don't know how that couldn't be your first reaction. Graphic novel and manga sales way down, in both bookstores and the DM, and that's even discounting the anomaly that was Watchmen's flurry of sales before and right after the movie adaptation came out.

* Second reaction: I'm not sure that the actual numbers provided for digital comics prove to be any more encouraging than the obvious growth potential for that market. It's that early in the move towards digital comics.

* Third reaction: the price point for mobile content is going to want to be really, really low, at a time when comics providers are just now playing around with the upper end of price points that might make digital comics reasonably viable for computers and notepad-type computers. In other words, if you nearly had a heart attack reading about Dark Horse offering $1.49 comics across various platforms, wait until there's pressure for $.20 comics from those targeting mobile devices exclusively.

* Fourth reaction: I'm amazed that no one of significant size and weight and non-rascally nature has swept in with a plan to create new content across digital platforms, print be damned, with a price point to beat the band, featuring a roster of right-now top-name creators. It seems like there's a desire for comics in these formats. It also seems like you could come up with a decent strategy merely by embracing everything the other companies aren't -- $.99 downloads, for a start. Why should we look to existing companies to create all of it? Is a comics company looking to serialize first digitally and maybe only ever publish via digital platforms really a worse idea than a revived Atlas Comics?

* Fifth reaction: I don't think anyone knows anything as to how this all plays out. The samples are too small and many contradict each other. For years my hunch has been that comics people just need to wade forward and commit wholeheartedly to non-binding plans and see where things fall. The bone they should toss comics stores -- if a bone must be tossed -- isn't blowing the kneecaps off of digital publishing or some vague promise of future customers, but to become super-responsible print publishing partners. Of course, that's hard.

* No matter how you feel about digital comics, you should at least read Kiel Phegley's report linked-to above in order to get a sense of the room.

* I still think DC's pricing move, scaling all of their comics back to $2.99, is a pretty big story. If nothing else, it's the first actual strategic publishing move I can recall from DC Comics in some time, which I think significant all by itself. It'd be good to have DC back in something of a proactive role. Those companies shape the still-important direct market, and I'd rather have them doing so consciously than via the absence of clear choices being made.

* As far as the effect of the pricing move, that's difficult to say. Certainly there's a publicity benefit that hits wide and quickly dissipates. Beyond that, reducing prices has never been the kind of thing by which a publisher can expect to reap some definable reward -- or at least it hasn't been since the early '70s. There are many reasons for this, but mostly it's that people don't want to buy a bad comic at $2.99 any more than they want to buy a bad comic that cost $3.99. DC Comics has a ton of work remaining to build consistent, strong sales performers out of anything other than a few key titles at a time. The work has to be there, and I'm not sure it is.

* The reason why this price reduction remains a big deal despite no direct benefit likely accruing to DC is because it drives down the overall number of $3.99 comic books in the marketplace. The more $3.99 books there are on the stands, the greater the possibility you have people giving up on serial comics buying altogether as generally too expensive.

* I continue to hope that retailers reward DC through reciprocal acts of good will, such as giving DC sales reps more time to pitch certain books and giving second consideration to anything being pitched that might possibly work for them. I would never suggest that stores buy more DC comic books because they're cheaper. That way lies madness. And really, really big quarter bins.

* One thing I didn't catch the first time through is that page counts on DC Comics are going to be reduced by two pages. This gave Marvel a PR opportunity to bash the news, although I think it took them maybe a day to catch up to it as well. A major reason that $3.99 comic books pose a market danger is because of perceived value, especially when the basic unit of purchase is more frequently four or five books instead of one. Reducing the page count can also be a issue of value for readers. Monkey's paw! However, I suspect a dollar more per issue is a bigger assault on perceived-value sensibilities than two pages being dropped. Now, I can't say that's true for everyone and I can't say any comics company benefits from being seen in a negative light value-wise right now. But I will suggest if there's a trade-off, DC is on the positive side of this one.

* I also wonder if cutting pages doesn't put DC at a hiring and talent development disadvantage, because they have fewer pages to offer professionals on a by-title basis. This is important because DC needs every talent development advantage it can hang onto. It looks like their conception of it is that professionals who are able to work at 22 pages a month can simply do another issue this year, although I'm not certain it's all that easy to add a single issue of something if you have 12/13ths of your page production committed elsewhere. I mean, it is if you're Jim Lee -- he has 22 pages of room on his calendar someone's going to find some work for him to do -- but I'm not certain it's easy for developing talent to pick up work like that.

* Marvel's own price point announcement -- new books to feature the $2.99 price point -- is nowhere near as big a deal as DC's. It was effective gamesmanship for them, though: a lot of people combined the headline. I have no idea why. I always imagine the little puffs of steam shooting out of the ears of the DC people when Marvel does stuff like that and people enable them in doing so.

* Marvel's pricing announcement does indeed contribute -- if only in a minor way -- to the overall good of there being fewer $3.99 books in the marketplace, which I think is important because every consumer's tipping point is different. So that's a good thing.

* The bigger piece of Marvel news is that it's been suggest they may not be publishing as many comics, perhaps chopping away a bit at the current mid-list. I think it's important from a creative point of view that companies like Marvel have a viable mid-list. It's a place to put new and developing talent; it's a place to develop series and characters. That doesn't mean that a fourth Captain America or a fifth Thor comic has to play that role in the overall publishing effort. In fact, that may be a less than desirable thing.

* It seems like Dark Horse had their usual effective show. Mike Richardson's fondness for NYCC as a major publicity and business platform for his company has been well documented on this site, mostly by him verbally cuffing me about the head and body about what a great show they had in '08.

* The Dark Horse digital strategy announcement I thought worked PR-wise. The general distinction that they're going off in independent fashion, whether or not that's even technically true, is a solid ploy. It sounds cool, and you can wrap your mind around it -- "I need to find out what they're doing because what they're doing is different." I also like the proposed $1.49 price point. Heck, I might start buying things from Dark Horse at that price point every so often, because I could snap up entire mini-series for less than $10. I also like that one of their talking points is maximizing profitability for the creators.

* I have no idea if the actual program will work, though.

* As far as other digital news, I talked about the Longbox/ADAM announcement here. I also think it's a fairly big thing that there wasn't more drama about digital issues outside of the conference. I think in a matter of fact way everyone knows widespread digital distribution is coming.

* In industry hiring news, Hank Kanalz of Wildstorm was named senior vice president-digital of DC Comics. This seems like another keep-the-band-together hire, as Kanalz has a broad resume with direct experience at DC division Wildstorm and as a liaison to DC's efforts with various amusement parks rather than a background with specific ties to digital media. Maybe that's their perceived need, a generalist like Kanalz. I couldn't possibly say.

* The other DC hiring news of the weekend, Bob Wayne's promotion and news of his sales department remaining in New York seems the same on the face of it a few days after the show as it did when initially announced: really no other person for the job, natural to keep him connected to the print publishing division, a bit of institutional memory for a part of the industry that traffics in institutional memory. The PR tells us he reports to John Rood, that he'll be doing something for the digital division as well (?) and reminds us he's been with the company since 1987. It is another safe and sensible hire, for whatever that's worth. I'm still wondering if they'll get any new blood at all.

* I can't tell what the hell is going on with Vertigo. I've had a few people send me e-mails over the last two weeks with completely different suggested outcomes for the imprint. Naturally, these conflicting models of the future are communicated with the same grim Nostradaman certainty. I looked forward to some clue from their presence at NYCC.

* Unfortunately, I've read that Vertigo didn't have a presence at NYCC -- not in the traditional way. They did have a panel, reports from which I would call massively inconclusive. It's a strange time for that imprint. On the one hand, having your sub-editors mostly shit-canned and having key company figures talk openly about how awesome it is to be reinvigorating these great DC characters and mumble mumble Vertigo something seems to me to indicate a rocky road ahead. On the other hand, I can't see DC print dumping its historically useful access point to all of the potentially super-profitable Vertigo-branded material, or losing the option to publish new versions of that kind of a material through an established imprint. Frankly, there isn't an outcome here that would surprise me, which usually means an extension of the status quo.

* Here's the thing that baffled me about the Anthony Bourdain announcement. Why on earth is this expressed fan of Harvey Pekar, a good writer with a distinct voice whose television show format would lend itself to comics very well, doing some goofy science fiction thing rather than an anthology mini-series of food encounters in the American Splendor style? It could be that's what he wants to do, and clearly the time commitment helping shepherd into existence a one-off book with a friend is much, much lighter than working with a ton of artists on the kind of comic I'm talking about, but it still seems to me a lost opportunity.

* To pick up on a thread I started to pick at earlier, one thing that strikes me as strange about all these DC announcements is how relatively unsophisticated they've been in terms of stressing the positive aspects of certain publishing initiatives and how they're going to work long-term. The fact that people are openly musing on the fate of Vertigo without a strong counter-narrative from DC Comics as to what Vertigo is and where it will be going seems slightly insane to me. In fact, I'm not sure I get a positive, firm answer and direction from much of anything DC is doing. I think this is about the company's culture, because they have really competent PR people. My guess is they assume that people "get" them. If I'm right, that's a bad assumption. I learned more about what's going on with Richie Rich reading the con reports than I learned about the immediate future of Green Lantern, which seems to me a pretty important character for them right now. Shouldn't the movie-focus work both ways? What's so hard about that? If, as I think multiple pros suggested, one of new Editor In Chief Bob Harras' big strengths is identifying core concepts and communicating those concepts to an audience, he may end up perfectly suited for his position at DC. Historically well-suited.

image* There are a few announcements that struck me as bizarre because people took them on their face and I'm not sure they should. New comics for characters like the aforementioned Richie Rich and Strawberry Shortcake seem like dubious propositions to me, and I don't know who on earth is expected to buy new comics with those ridiculous Atlas characters. God bless all those creators, for real. A surpassing achievement in art is always a possibility. There are sweet spots out there to be hit, and there have been less likely comebacks. For certain there have been. It's just that it seems like these are moves designed to goose interest in various properties rather than real publishing strategies designed to move copies of whatever book is being discussed. At least from where I sit. Hey, I hope they all prove me wrong.

* In that light, Stan Lee announced he's creating about 10 billion characters for 23,000 different comics companies and every sports team in seven major sports. I can't imagine any of these creations being memorable, and that's kind of sad, but it's fascinating how productive Lee is as a brand and in terms of the kind of creation he's facilitating. Lee looks equally at home standing next to the NHL commissioner and a Japanese pop star. He goes with everything. I'm not sure much of it has anything to do with comics publishing, but, as always: God Bless The Man.

* It's nice to know they still sell comics at a comics convention, even if this article is sort of a mess -- I can't believe that some of the projects they list sold out of anything more than a modest amount of copies. There are no numbers or even approximations of numbers provided. I hope they sold a ton of The Outfit. That's a good-looking, fun book and since Darwyn Cooke's con sketches are almost always worth it, and they were pushing a limited edition, I imagine they did.

* There were a significant number of content-related announcements at NYCC. Few stuck in memory. Here's all of them I can remember without notes -- I'll do the links later -- by which I mean these are the ones that made enough of an impression on me that I can recall what they had to say without looking at someone's report.
+ Marvel's apparently doing both another round of its "ultimate" and a "astonishing" version of Captain America. Both of those lines were at one time looked at as jumping-on points for non-initiates, of which there may be a few after next year's movie. On the other hand, I never understood why they just don't point people to their fine ongoing when they have one, and in this case they do.

image+ Daniel Way is doing an arc on the "astonishing" version of the X-Men characters that promises Kirby/Ditko Atlas-era monsters galore. That sounds way more fun than vampires.

+ IDW is doing a Godzilla title. There are a lot of pretty good monster artists out there, so the Big Green would seem like a promising candidate for licensed comic books. There's a bit of nostalgia out there for the Marvel Comics version, and this definitely wouldn't be that. I think Dark Horse took a shot for several years, too.

+ IDW is also doing a crossover between various licensed comics featuring zombies, the kind of property boundary-slaughter that gives pop culture scholars a transmedian stiffy. That's the very definition of a comic book not for me, but it'll be interesting if they can find a way to give that one enough juice that it sells. I'd say that if I were 12 years old I'd be reading comics like this all the time, but if I were 12 years old right now and had the option of watching the Battle Of Helm's Deep on a 52-inch TV every afternoon, I'm not certain I'd be reading many comics at all.

+ I remember reading a Rich Johnston article -- here it is -- that suggested that there will be more of Alias from Brian Bendis and Michael Gaydos. That was a fine little superhero comics series, and although I'm not aware of what's been done with the character since the close of the second series in which she starred, I'll try to pick those new comics up.

+ That same Rich Johnston article has news that Zander Cannon is still plugging away on his Top Ten project.

+ Dark Horse will be working with Chris Hastings on his Dr. McNinja collections, another brick in what is the rapidly growing wall of the webcomics partnership portion of their publishing slate. Thankfully, Dr. McNinja is much better executed than the previous sentence.

+ Another Brian Bendis/Skilled Collaborator reunion finds the writer with Powers teammate Michael Avon Oeming on an all-ages book called Takio, profiled here. It'd be nice if more of the comics of the kind that Brian Bendis writes were all-ages comics so that making the distinction would seem odd, but it'd be nice if I owned a magic crockpot, too. Anyway, it's hard to complain about Marvel affording creators in whom they have an interest a platform for doing a comic book they want to do. There should be a place for that at every comics company.

+ Dark Horse is gearing up for more Joss Whedon-related material. This makes sense considering how strongly the Buffy comic has sold for them. I'm not sure all of those concepts are rich with material for loads and loads of new comic book adventures -- barring a Manara issue, I can't imagine reading a single page of a comic based on that tedious Dollhouse show -- but it occurs to me I might have said that ten years ago about the chance for Mike Mignola's Hellboy franchise to expand past its awesome solo-creator roots and Dark Horse has done a great job facilitating a constant stream of quality material there.
* That's all I remember. Kevin Melrose has a fantastically complete list of the announcements made at the show.

* Overall, I was kind of under-whelmed by the content announcements. I think NYCC can do better in terms of encouraging exhibitors to make announcements at the show and the publishers can do better about how they utilize such platforms. I could be misremembering but I believe the only company that e-mailed me during the show as they made their announcements was IDW, and although sometimes I'm not on all the lists, this seems like one of the bare minimum things you should be doing in conjunction with a comics show where you're announcing stuff.

* I guess that this MTV comics thing that I only heard about by reading about it in passing on someone's blog could work as a digital-only project, although bizarrely I can't tell from their own story what is launching and in what format and when. Nothing really jumps out at me about any of the titles announced or the creators involved -- I certainly like a few of those people, but nothing jumps out -- which I'm going to suggest is a bad thing because there's like 18 billion titles out there, many of them from creators with larger followings. But hey, if the comics are good, the rest follows. Maybe. Well, one hopes. It's entirely possible.

* (Between you and me, I'm not 100 percent convinced that the MTV comics thing is real.)

image* One thing I do know for sure is that John Kerschbaum's work is consistently excellent, so if moving his Cartoon Boy to an MTV site gooses his traffic and provides him with a bigger audience, I'm happy about that. He's one of those two dozen or so creators that just seems criminally under-served by today's comics industry. I think he's a considerable talent.

* Of all the NYCC reports I read, a few were more memorable than others. I mentioned Evan Dorkin's above. Brian Heater provided a slightly mournful look at the show at Daily Cross Hatch. Gary Tyrrell has reprinted the content of the webcomics/print panel, the one that was going to be a Scott Kurtz/Ted Rall battle royale and ended up being something else. I thought this blog post was almost zen-like in its summary nature. Another short one I liked was this "well, that was interesting"-style statement from an Archaia booth worker.

* Speaking of Archaia, I keep thinking about them as I process these new-publisher announcements. Read this description of their panel and tell me if that doesn't sound roughly like every new publisher's initial publishing slate announcement. I know if some intern at CBR changed a few of the proper nouns and stuck in the nouns associated with some of these new efforts, I'd be fooled. So maybe we don't need these companies because Archaia was there first. I'm reading a bunch of their books right now -- Secret History, The Killer, Tumor -- and they're very pretty.

* You know what the hardest thing to do at a show might be? To catch the energy of all the creation that's going on there -- all the drawing in particular. There should be something life-affirming about being in the same room as Brian Bolland as he draws stuff, but it's hard to catch that frequency with all the garishness on display. But think about it, you're standing there and someone like Bolland is drawing stuff like ten feet away from you. We don't get to be near Jeffrey Wright when he's doing voice exercises before he goes out to kill it in Angels In America, or watch out of the corner of our eye as Paul McCartney noodles his way through a melody, or see how Sally Mann sets up her lighting, but we get to be around when all these magnificently talented people ply a major part of their craft. How great is that? It's like those hippie shops we used to go to as a kid and watch a guy make a coffee mug times a billion.

* The dates for the 2011 NYCC were announced on the floor through banner ads; however, I didn't read anyone mentioning this until the official announcement that came at the end of the show. Those dates are October 14-16. That becomes interesting only if it conflicts with another show of importance, by which I mean APE. That said, I imagine the convention world could handle separate events with disparate sets of focus on opposite coasts, if it comes to that.

* What else...? It's weird to me that NYCC still doesn't have badges with names on them, at least not for everyone (it could be that some of the badges have names on them; I know for a fact that some of them didn't). It's not necessary, and some people like it -- I don't know anyone in New York, so it was nice to be anonymous a few years ago -- but if you have a show where one of the strengths is networking opportunities, a way to facilitate better networking is to have names where people can see them. You can always turn your badge around if you're shy.

* To conclude my analysis of New York Comic Con, the consensus seems to be that everything in comics is pretty terrible but everyone wants in anyway, and that cons with lots of parties are awesome. So we got those things going for us. Goodbye, mainstream comics convention season 2010. You were weird and frustrating. See you in Seattle.

*****

For a variety of other perspectives, please check out the links in this site's Collective Memory entry on the show, running the 9 AM slot all this week.

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