I have been back from New York Comic Con for a week now, but I still feel like the boa constrictor digesting the elephant—there was so much to think about. Here's a brief sample of my thoughts about this year's experience.
1. Thanks to the ICv2 conference before the con, everyone was talking about digital comics. This was in stark contrast to the dealers who were selling boxes and boxes of back issues on one corner of the floor. It always strikes me as odd that the rest of the show is so slick, and then there's this one area that looks like a giant garage sale. Digital comics would seem to be the logical solution to missing issues in a complicated continuity, but that would require the publishers to play along—and of course, there will always be people who want to collect the physical issues.
2. Despite the gloomy news at the ICv2 conference that graphic novel sales are down, two different editors asked me to suggest creators for upcoming projects, which suggests that publishers (both were from traditional book publishers) see room for growth.
3. One complaint about book publishers, though: Why would you come to something called New York Comic Con and hide the comics in the back of the booth? Several publishers stocked their front tables with prose novels and pushed the graphic novels to the back, where they were physically inaccessible. And for some reason, it never occurs to them to staff the booth with people who know anything about graphic novels. Random House deserves a shout-out for bringing in the creators of The Sons of Liberty for a very enthusiastic signing, though; I wish we had seen more of that sort of thing.
4. I had a great talk with Dean Mullaney, who edits the Library of American Comics books for IDW. He has what I think would be my dream job, compiling classic newspaper strips and researching their history.
5. I only had time for a quick dash through the Artists Alley, but one of the high points of the con, for me, was meeting Larry Marder, creator of one of my favorite comics from way back. He was handing out Beanworld action figures (lima beans with eyes drawn on them). Next year I think I will start with Artists Alley; there's always someone awesome there.
6. Kids' comics are still growing. I wrote a roundup of kids' comics at the con for PWCW, and there was plenty of good news there, including a new Flight: Explorer type anthology being developed by Abrams. I also participated in three panels on comics for children, and there seemed to be a lot of interest in the topic from educators, librarians, and just ordinary folks.
7. As a journalist, I go to comic cons looking for breaking news, but I'm starting to rethink that approach. The best panels I have been to at NYCC and C2E2, the ones that stick in my mind long after I forget who announced what when, are the creator spotlights, in which one guy (Mike Mignola at C2E2, Darwyn Cooke at NYCC) simply sits up there at a table and talks to the fans for an hour. That, to me, is what it's all about.