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February 27, 2007

NYCC 2007: Second Year In Summary

These are my thoughts from a vantage point 3/4ths of a continent away on this year's New York Comic-Con, which took place last weekend.

* It seems to have been a generally successful show, well-attended, with lots of people on both sides of the table saying they enjoyed themselves and expressing a desire to return in 2008 when the show moves into the Spring.

* Nothing occurred similar in type or degree to the sending ticket holders away horrors of the show's first year in 2006. Any problems that did crop up seemed roughly on par with those that take place at any large comics show. That being said, there seemed to be some correctable and counter-intuitive policies that frustrated some attendees. From what I could glean reading accounts, New York Comic-Con could improve itself in the following areas: 1) professionals participating in convention programming should have access to an accelerated way to get inside and get to their event, 2) flexible staffing should be employed to boost the number of people processing tickets during the show's first couple of hours, when there is a bottleneck of attendees 3) there remains way too many stories of people getting around the rules if they know the right person or complain loud enough, which is an easy way to breed resentment among those who don't and choose not to, and 4) programming might be arranged to better reflect that couple of hours delay early in the day when people are bottlenecked at the front of the show.

* Nothing pops out at me as a dominant sales item or category that helps define a show, in the "New York Comic-Con is a great place to sell X" way. One thing suggested on a few blogs is that there may be more free stuff to be had than might be available at other conventions.

* Just reading accounts, I come away with the feeling that outside of industry announcements much of the con's programming felt by the numbers or uninspired. This is somewhat understandable given how many times certain panelists have done the same kinds of programming over the last several years, but long-term this needs to be recognized and goosed. I read one account that said a comics into movies panel boiled down to "if your product is good, you have a chance," which isn't exactly an insight for which I'd have been happy to sit an hour. As the novelty of seeing one's East Coast industry colleagues goes down in future years, compelling programming will become that much more of a priority.

* I can't decide if I'm slightly confused or not at all by the emphasis on things not-comics that sort of sit at the same lunch table as comics. On the one hand, the celebration of genre TV shows and prose adaptations of licensed fantasy properties and the like is a traditional convention approach, and people like that stuff and connect that stuff to comics without creasing their brow like I do. I'm not completely ignorant; I recognize the mercenary aspects involved. On the other hand, the show has such a strong publisher presence and Reed has such a fine tradition of handling industry-driven events that it makes me wonder if an opportunity hasn't been lost for comics to have a really distinctive East Coast show.

* Maybe it's just that blogs covering comics have been around for a long time now or that the show was a really busy one, but a lot of the blogging about New York Comic-Con seemed slightly less engaged moment to moment than I'm used to seeing. There seemed to be a major run of making one's first post "Day 1" followed by two days of not posting, followed by "Con Wrap-Up." I have no idea why that is.

* It looks like NYCC did a great job in convincing the big, mainstream companies to announce titles and initiatives at their show, which is something that sometimes gets saved for the Wizard shows. This could be really helpful to NYCC in establishing an identity with those fans. The potential roadblock is that moving the show later into the Spring as will happen in 2008 may shift the publishing announcements from Summer to Fall announcements, which are frequently less sexy and are often reserved at least in part for the summer shows.

* It's only my impression, but it feels like the New York-based book publishers with comics divisions and the manga companies are pretty comfortable with the New York show.

* The important stories coming out of the show were: 1)'s revelation that graphic novels are now outselling comic books, 2) movement forward by Marvel and Top Cow to take advantage of digital distribution, 3) Vertical starts a manga line (I thought this had already been announced, but it seemed to hit some folks as if brand new so maybe not), and 4) Yen Press' first publishing slate.

* Next year I suspect the show will settle down into a marathon pace instead of a sprint, and we'll start to get an idea what kind of show it's going to be for the long term. I hope that means that more companies like Fantagraphics and Drawn and Quarterly start going, as arts comics at the show could use an institutional boost. Ironically, the longer companies like that choose not to attend, the more the show coalesces into the type of event that's less attractive to them.

* Finally, I hate to say this, but if you're on-hand and used to it, people dressing up in all sorts of odd costumes and acting out is colorful flair which one negotiates while doing business; from thousands of miles away looking at photos on-line and reading accounts I have to say the dressing up thing seems completely weird, and not in a good way. I mean, I get it, but then again almost no one goes to BEA dressed up like a character from The Shipping News or whatever.

The Collective Memory for New York Comic-Con 2007 has been moved here for permanent archiving.
posted 9:15 am PST | Permalink

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