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After a late afternoon opening to the general public on Thursday, the New York Comic Con kicked into high gear today with panels, announcements and the usual con craziness we’ve come to expect from big shows. Here’s a round-up of comic-related news and announcements coming out of Friday. If you missed anything from Thursday, I’ve also got your back. I’d also point you to Brigid Alverson’s rundown of the ICv2 sessions before NYCC that go deep on comic sales in 2011 and 2012 thus far, if you’re into that.
• Keith Giffen returns to the stars next year with Threshold, a new DC Comics series that features Blue Beetle, Space Ranger, Star Hawkins, the original Starfire and other space heroes, with a Larfleeze back-up. Giffen also seemingly confirmed that the current Blue Beetle series is coming to an end.
• Vertigo announced several new projects today, including The Wake by Scott Snyder and Sean Murphy, Trillium by Jeff Lemire and an Unwrtten/Fables event that will see the Unwritten characters wander into the Fables comic. Snyder said that American Vampire will go on hiatus after issue #34 so he and artist Rafael Albuquerque can catch up on it. When it returns, it’ll jump ahead to the 1960s.
Publishing | Single-issue comics sales last month were up 22.26 percent over February 2011, and graphic novels were up 15.6 percent, making for a good month for publishers and retailers. (Of course, there were five Wednesdays in February, which may have something to do with it.) As in previous months, DC sold the most comics but Marvel, with higher cover prices, topped its competitor in terms of dollar share. [ICv2]
Publishing | The top-selling graphic novel in bookstores last month was part one of Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Promise, written by Gene Luen Yang (American Born Chinese). The Walking Dead books took four of the top 20 spots, or a healthy 20 percent of the list, and 13 of the bestsellers were manga. [ICv2]
Publishing | Marvel is cutting costs on its $2.99 comics by going with “self covers,” which just means that the covers are the same paper as the inside of the comic, rather than heavier stock. As the insides are glossy paper anyway, Todd Allen feels the difference is barely noticeable—and that the real news is that Marvel is finding it necessary to cut costs once more. [The Beat]
Sales | Sales of comic books and graphic novels to comic books stores through Diamond Comic Distributors increased 27.5 percent in January compared to the same month in 2011. Comics were up 32 percent while graphic novels were up 18 percent compared to 2011. DC Comics dominated all 10 spots at the top of the chart, with Justice League #5 coming in at No. 1. Batman: Through the Looking Glass was the top graphic novel for the month. [ICv2]
Passings | British comics artist Mike White, who illustrated Alan Moore’s The Twisted Man and numerous other stories for 2000AD, Lion, Valiant, Action and Score ‘n’ Roar, has passed away after a long illness. [Blimey!]
Publishing | Because the world demanded it, apparently, Random House plans to publish e-books of all the collected editions of Garfield newspaper comics. [Down the Tubes]
Comics | John Jackson Miller slices and dices the October numbers for the direct market, noting that overall dollar orders for comic books, trade paperbacks, and magazines topped $40 million for the first time since September 2009. Orders rose 6.9 percent over September, the first month of DC’s relaunch. “While that may sound counter-intuitive, it isn’t when you consider that all those first issues continued to have reorders selling through October,” Miller writes. “Retailers with an eye on the aftermarket may also have some sense that second issues are historically under-ordered — something which goes at least back to the experience of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #2 in the 1980s, which wound up being much more valuable than its first issue.” [The Comichron]
Passings | Tom Spurgeon reports that author Les Daniels has passed away. Daniels wrote horror fiction and nonfiction books on the comic industry, which include Comix: A History of the Comic Book in America, Marvel: Five Fabulous Decades of the World’s Greatest Comics and DC Comics: Sixty Years of the World’s Favorite Comic Book Heroes. [The Comics Reporter]
Comics | ICv2’s latest report on the comics market shows a mixed picture for monthly comics and graphic novels. While DC’s New 52 reboot has helped push comics sales, the graphic-novel versions of those comics won’t be out for months — and Amazon is gobbling up a larger and larger share of graphic novel sales, especially at the high end. And this is interesting: “Digital sales are growing as a percentage of the market, but apparently not at the expense of print sales. Retailers interviewed by ICv2 do not feel they’re losing sales to digital competition on DC’s day and date titles.” That seems to be more anecdote than data, but you would think retailers would be the first to notice a drop in sales. The report also includes lists of the top 10 properties in various categories. [ICv2]
“Well, I’ve proved that talking smack on Twitter gets you press,” tweeted Marvel Executive Editor Tom Brevoort on Friday. And indeed, Brevoort’s Twitter account and blog have proven so juicy of late — witness his wager on whether Marvel’s upcoming Siege event will wrap up before DC Comics’ current Blackest Night crossover — that I’m thinking about awarding him an honorary Robot 6 membership.
Brevoort was in unusually fine form Friday night, though, even by his own standard of dishing (and taking) criticism. In a series of tweets regarding DC’s capture of the top six sales slots for October, Brevoort wrote:
I hear tell that folks up at the DC offices have been feeling pretty cocky this past week or so. To which I say … first off, good for them for having a good month. But also, don’t confuse having the top six books with winning the month. We still took both dollars and units. And too, that was in a month where a few of our big books slipped out of the month. I don’t think we have to worry at all about January, for instance, where SIEGE #1 is up against a BLACKEST NIGHT skip month. Cold Jan [for] DC. By that same token, enjoy the moment–because all of those books that missed [October] are in the November numbers.
And oh, yeah, he kicked it all off by teasing three major deaths in Siege, “at least one of whom will surprise you.” I’d encourage you to follow his Twitter feed yourselves, but as the middleman, I can’t very well endorse cutting myself out, can I?
• Barnes & Noble, the world’s largest book chain, laid off 100 employees in its New York headquarters this week, pointing to a recent downturn in sales. The cuts amount to about 4 percent of the headquarters staff. [The New York Times]
• The Virgin Megastore in New York City’s Times Square will close in April, to be replaced by a Forever 21 fashion store. The Virgin stores carry graphic novels alongside music, movies, video games and clothing. [The New York Times]
• The restructuring at Random House Publishing Group, which ended Thursday, has resulted in the layoffs of Random House’s Modern Library editor Judy Sternlight, Ballantine’s Villard editor Bruce Tracy, and Ballantine’s Anika Streitfeld and Liz Scheier.
There also were a couple of promotions: Nina Taublib, former deputy publisher of Bantam Dell, is now publisher and editor-in-chief, overseeing Bantam, Dell, Delacorte, Delta. Scott Shannon has been moved up to publisher of the Del Rey and Spectra imprints. [GalleyCat]
• Blogger Jonas Hinckley relates an anecdote from a retailer about a regular customer dramatically slashing his pull list. [Comix 411]
• One of the owners of Earth-2 Comics and Collectibles in Sherman Oaks, Calif., says the economy hasn’t hit the store as hard as a Los Angeles Daily News article led us to believe. “There is no 20% drop in yearly revenue at Earth-2,” Carr D’Angelo said in the comments at The Beat. “2009 is actually up slightly from 2008. We’re not hurting. But that wouldn’t have fit into the series theme.”
D’Angelo said that while sales of many titles are down, the store is selling more trade paperbacks. [The Beat]
• In the wake of the layoff last week of Pantheon Books Publisher Janice Goldklang, Pat Johnson has been named executive vice president, publishing director, Alfred A. Knopf and Pantheon. Dan Frank remains as editorial director. [Publishers Weekly]
• Warner Bros. Entertainment, parent company of DC Comics, reportedly is asking all of its departments to cut their budgets by 10 percent — a move that could save Time Warner tens of millions of dollars, and result in layoffs of more than 100 employees.
According to The Associated Press, Warner Bros. executives have been looking at proposals from “all units,” including its theatrical, home vide0, television production, and consumer products divisions.
Although DC Comics isn’t mentioned in the article, it is a subsidiary of Warner Bros. Entertainment, alongside Warner Bros. Pictures, Warner Bros. Television, Warner Home Video and others. [The Associated Press]
• Veteran retailer Ilan Strasser takes a grim look at the economy, the output from Marvel and DC, and the looming specter of the $4 monthly: “Marvel and DC have done everything possible over the years to reduce the number of customers walking into our stores. They have raised prices far too much far too often; I have heard some recent scuttlebutt that they are currently considering raising all their regular books to the $3.99 price point their annuals and specials — and doing this during a terrible time for consumers across the board. I cannot imagine a scenario where mass numbers of people don’t stop buying new, monthly comics if Marvel does this and DC (as they always do) follows suit.” [ICv2.com]
• Blogger Heidi Meeley puts comics prices into jolting perspective by comparing them to the costs of everyday necessities, such as clothes and water. The cost of the average monthly is equivalent of three cans of generic vegetable-beef soup? Food or comics, indeed. [Comics Fairplay, via 4thletter]
• A dealer in Bakersfield, Calif., is putting his 175,000-comic collection in a yard sale this weekend to get word out that he’s open for business. [KGET.com]