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One of the under-analyzed indicators of comics’ recently improved health is the seemingly exponential growth of convention attendance. Rarely does a Comics A.M. goes by where some convention, even a smaller, regional one, isn’t reporting how attendance is up from the previous year and they’re expecting even more the next; often it’s in the thousands, headed into tens of thousands.
That seems to be in direct contrast to conventional wisdom: Digital comics sales are increasing, most comics creators are a tweet away, and travel in this still-sluggish economy is still cost-prohibitive for a lot of fans. Yet, just as print sales in the direct market have been steady, and even improving, attendances at comics conventions is up virtually across the board.
The leader of this pack is easily New York Comic Con. In just seven short years, it has positioned itself as the comics convention of the year, providing stiff competition for the long-held leader Comic-Con International. In fact, New York Comic Con hit San Diego-sized attendance numbers this year.
Between Warner Bros.’ screening of the tear-inducing first footage from Man of Steel and Marvel Studios’ confirmation of Guardians of the Galaxy, the third day of Comic-Con International clearly belonged to movies. However, that doesn’t mean there were no comic-book announcements to emerge Saturday from San Diego. Here are some of the highlights:
• Filmmaker Quentin Tarantino crashed DC Comics’ Before Watchmen panel to reveal the publisher will release a five-issue miniseries based on the screenplay of his upcoming Western Django Unchained. The comic will debut in November, ahead of the film’s Dec. 25 opening.
• Image Comics unveiled a slate of new projects, including: The Bounce, by Joe Casey and David Messina; Satellite Sam, by Matt Fraction and Howard Chaykin; Lazarus, by Greg Rucka and Michael Lark; The Saviors, James Robinson and J. Bone; Oliver, by Gary Whitta and Darick Robertson; Pretty Deadly, by Kelly Sue Deconnick and Emma Rios; Sex, by Casey and Piotr Kowalski; Non-Humans, by Glen Brunswick and Whilce Portacio; Reign, by Chris Roberson and artist Paul Mayberry; Nowhere Men, by Eric Stephenson, Nate Bellegarde and Jordie Bellaire; Multiple Warheads, by Brandon Graham; Point of Impact, by Jay Faerber; and Great Pacific, by Joe Harris and Martin Morazzo.
• Of course you can’t have Comic-Con without news about Comic-Con itself. CBR’s Kiel Phegley spoke with CCI’s David Glanzer about the show, while Ryan Ingram spoke with Scott Morse about the Tr!ckster satellite event. And it seems like every non-comics media outlet reports on the show in some form or fashion; here’s an article by The Christian Post about religion and the show, for example. And finally, Tuesday brought the tragic news that a con attendee camping out for today’s Twilight panel was killed in front of the convention center after being struck by a car.
• I’m not 100 percent sure if it qualifies as Comic-Con news, but since it was officially announced in the Entertainment Weekly Comic-Con issue, let’s just go with it. Marvel’s big news going into the Con is that they plan to relaunch several titles later this year as part of “Marvel NOW!” Their recently released solicitations reveal they plan to cancel nine titles in October, but of course you can expect many if not all of them to come back in some form or fashion as Marvel NOW! rolls out.
• Mike Mignola and Hellboy return this December in Hellboy in Hell, the first four-issue miniseries in a series of miniseries about the title character’s post-demise adventures.