New York Comic Con
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.
Graphic novels | France 24 examines the Thursday release of Asterix and the Picts — the first album by new creative team Jean Yves-Ferri and Didier Conrad — from a political perspective, noting that the story, in which Asterix and Obelix journey from ancient Gaul to Iron Age Scotland, has already become part of the current debate about Scottish independence. [France 24]
Creators | Chinese cartoonist Wang Liming, who spent a night in police custody last week on charges of “suspicion of causing a disturbance,” spoke to the press this week. Liming, who has more than 300,000 followers on his microblog account, first ran into trouble two years ago for one of his cartoons, but police told him that China has freedom of speech and he could continue drawing. Nonetheless, another of his cartoons, depicting Winnie the Pooh (a frequent cartoon stand-in for Chinese President Xi Jinping) kicking a football was deleted and suppressed by censors. “For them, drawing leaders in cartoon form is a big taboo,” the cartoonist said. “I think the controls on the Internet are too harsh. They have no sense of humor. They can’t accept any ridicule.” [Reuters]
Largely overlooked in the hustle and bustle of New York Comic Con was Disney Press’ official announcement of Space Mountain, a 176-page graphic novel based on the theme-park attraction. News of the project was surfaced in August.
Written by Bryan Q. Miller and illustrated by Kelley Jones and Hi-Fi Design, the book will be released May 6 under the Disney Comics umbrella. Disney Press also released a two-page preview and promotional poster for Space Mountain. Here’s the synopsis:
The year is 2125 and the Magellan Science Academy has given two lucky cadets ‘golden tickets’ to join a team of space explorers on a special field trip to journey 24 hours into the future. But when their mission goes unexpectedly wrong, the two kids must band together with a miniature flying saucer sidekick to save themselves and their crew — and return to Space Mountain — before time runs out and the universe is destroyed!
The first book in a planned trilogy, Space Mountain will be followed by Return to Space Mountain (2015) and Battle for Space Mountain (2016).
Dan DiDio informed his Facebook followers Thursday that he was set to appear on today’s episode of tje daytime talk show The View, and the DC Entertainment co-publisher did appear — not as an in-studio guest, but as one of several industry dignitaries who interacted with co-host Whoopi Goldberg at New York Comic Con.
Goldberg explained at the beginning of the segment that she attended the convention seeking advice on how to get her comic book idea published. In addition to DiDio, Goldberg — already a part of geek culture due to her role as Guinan on Star Trek: The Next Generation — sought the counsel of Marvel Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada, Kevin Smith, Seth Green, Clare Grant, Ronald D. Moore, Diana Gabaldon, True Blood‘s Kristin Bauer van Straten and more, in a comedic montage segment.
“The greatest thing I discovered is it’s really family oriented,” Goldberg said of the event. “People come dressed with their families. … They’re happy to be there.” Watch the segment below.
Political cartoonists | Michael Cavna looks into a report by the Cartoonists Rights Network International that Syrian cartoonist Akram Raslan was executed in July. Raslan was arrested last year by Syrian security forces and, together with a group of journalists, artists and other “intellectuals,” sentenced to life imprisonment. “Somehow, along the way to prison young 28-year-old Akram Raslan (and possibly others) was peeled off, taken out and executed,” the post said. “He is reported to be in a mass grave somewhere near Damascus.” However, CRNI’s Robert Russell told Cavna they have been unable to confirm the report, which came from a “reliable source” close to Raslan’s family. [Comic Riffs]
Conventions | Heidi MacDonald and Calvin Reid file a comprehensive con report on New York Comic Con, including a conversation with ReedPOP Global Vice President Lance Fensterman and a look at the panels and booths. [Publishers Weekly Comics World]
Announced in March, the arena show tour will launch in July 2014, bringing Marvel’s most iconic heroes and villains to 85 cities across North America in its first two years. The live-action production will integrate a character-driven storyline with state-of-the-art special effects, pyrotechnics, aerial stunts and martial arts for what producers say will “redefine the live show experience.”
In response to New York Comic Con’s controversial use of attendees’ Twitter accounts to send promotional messages, and the implementation of technology allowing organizers to track individual badges, a staff member for a leading digital-rights group has written an open letter asking all pop-culture conventions to “protect our secret identities.”
Longtime collaborators Art Baltazar and Franco Aureliani have been on a roll recently, partnering their Aw Yeah Comics store with Alter Ego Comics, tackling Itty Bitty Hellboy at Dark Horse, which will also collect their Aw Yeah Comics series, and bringing the “Li’l” treatment to several Dynamite Entertainment titles.
However, they’re not finished yet: Aureliani announced over the weekend on Twitter, “Big news out of DC comics and @dandidio1 says so: can you say: Tiny Titans?,” followed by, “Yes! It’s true! New Tiny Titans coming soon!” Although there’s been no official announcement, DC Comics Co-Published Dan DiDio re-tweeted the second message.
The Eisner Award-winning all-ages series, which ran for 50 issues from April 2008 to May 2012, depicts the lighthearted adventures of child versions of DC heroes (primarily the Teen Titans) at Sidekick City Elementary, where Deathstroke is principal and Darkseid is the lunch lady.
There’s no word yet on when, or in what format, fans should expect the return of Tiny Titans.
New York Comic Con reportedly attracted more than 130,000 attendees over four days, meaning the six-year-old event is now roughly the same size as Comic-Con International, which has had to cap attendance because of space limitations. Last year, NYCC drew about 116,000 people; in 2007, its inaugural event, there were just 15,000.
ICv2.com receives the news from Lance Fensterman, global vice president of organizer ReedPOP, who lays out some of the changes this year, including a reduction in the number of three-day passes (allowing more new people to attend each day), and the use of RFID (radio-frequency identification) to try to clamp down on fraudulent badges and badge-sharing among exhibitors.
“I think we had wildly underestimated our fraudulent ticket issue,” Fensterman told tells the website. “We had the exact same number of ticketed people per day as last year, but if you looked at the common spaces, they were 40 percent less congested. We had a pretty big counterfeit problem.”
Actor Troy Baker (Final Fantasy XIII, BioShock Infinite) has some enormous shoes to fill as he steps into the role of The Joker — a character voiced for the past two decades by Mark Hamill — in the upcoming Batman: Arkham Origins. If there were any remaining doubts as to whether Baker could embody the Clown Prince of Crime, they were likely erased during the video game’s New York Comic Con panel, where Baker performed The Joker’s monologue from Batman: The Killing Joke, to the roaring approval of a cheering crowd.
Watch the video below. Batman: Arkham Origins will be released Oct. 25.
By the Hoary Hosts of Hoggoth! Doctor Strange is joining Marvel Pinball!
Zen Studios announced Saturday at New York Comic Con that the Master of the Mystic Arts will join the arcade pinball video-game lineup in December, pitting Strange (and his allies Clea and Wong) against his greatest enemies: “Strange’s rival sorcerer Baron Mordo has called upon the demonic forces of the Dread Dormammu and the Fear Lord, Nightmare, all part of his plot to assume the mantle of Sorcerer Supreme for himself.”
You can add Charles Schulz to the long list of artists who have been featured in IDW’s Artist’s Edition series. Along with the Jim Steranko S.H.I.E.L.D. and Captain America editions, the Dave Gibbons Watchmen edition and Jack Kirby’s New Gods edition came the news that IDW will release a Peanuts Artist’s Edition.
“Having grown up with Charlie Brown, Linus and his blanket, Snoopy and the Red Baron…I could not be happier about bringing them into the IDW family,” said Ted Adams, CEO and Publisher of IDW Publishing, in a press release. “In the world of comic art, it does not get any bigger than Peanuts.”
Today at New York Comic Con, IDW Publishing announced two Artist’s Editions dedicated to Jim Steranko’s landmark work on Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Captain America. The news accompanied the unveiling of plans for Jack Kirby’s New Gods: Artist’s Edition and Dave Gibbons’ Watchmen: Artifact Edition.
Arriving in May, The Steranko Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. Artist’s Edition will feature the artist’s initial 12 stories from Strange Tales #151-162. That will be followed at an as-yet-undetermined date by The Steranko Nick Fury and Captain America Artist’s Edition, collecting the remaining Fury stories from Strange Tales #163-168, plus issues 1, 3 and 5 from Nick Fury Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. In addition, it will Steranko’s three issues of Captain America.Nearly all of the pages were shot from original art in Steranko’s personal collection.
“I probably have the distinction of making the least amount of work making the most amount of noise,” Steranko said during today’s IDW panel. “You’ve heard of the blues artist Robert Johnson? Twenty-nine recordings. That’s how many comics I did, 29 issues, and I sold my soul to Stan Lee. [...] As an artist, I’m inclined to see all the mistakes I’ve made along the way. Thankfully, there are other people who see something else.”
This Halloween, DC Comics’ digital line is going to get broodier, bloodier and more dramatic, as Elena, Stefan and the rest of the residents of Mystic Falls make the leap to comics.
First announced in San Diego this summer with additional details shared today at the New York Comic-Con, The Vampire Diaries digital first anthology series will feature stories by B. Clay Moore, Colleen Doran, Leah Moore and John Reppion, Tony Shasteen and Cat Staggs, among others. Some of Shasteen’s character sketches can be seen below, and for more check out the official Vampire Diaries Facebook page.
Dark Horse revealed today at New York Comic Con that it will publish Bad Blood, a five-issue vampire story by Bram Stoker Award-winning author Jonathan Maberry and Eisner Award-winning artist Tyler Crook (B.P.R.D., Petrograd).
“Bad Blood tells the story of Trick, a teenage slacker on the losing side of a fight with cancer,” Maberry, author of Ghost Road Blues, said in a statement. “When he’s attacked by a vampire, he figures it’s game over. Except that the chemo drugs in Trick’s blood poison the vampire. As punishment, the vampires begin slaughtering everyone Trick loves. So he goes hunting for the vamps to try to destroy them. His only superpower? The chemo drugs in his system are deadly to the undead. His only ally? A heroin-addicted Goth chick. Bad Blood brings the pain in a downbeat tale of heartbreak, loss, and courage.”
Bad Blood debuts Jan. 1.