Although the crowds seemed a bit more subdued than in the recent past, this year’s Comic-Con International: San Diego still managed to attract hordes of fans interested in comics, books, manga, films and more. Originally launched to give a bonus to fans, preview night has taken on a life of its own attracting such big crowds that show organizers have considered looking for ways to limit traffic.
But the exhibition floor looked very much like it has in the past—jammed with fans excited to meet and greet the creators of Scott Pilgrim vs World, the new motion picture based on Bryan Lee O’Malley’s graphic novel series. (The Hilton Bayfront Hotel is draped in a huge Scott Pilgrim banner promoting the film). Show organizers have also postponed a decision on whether or not Comic-Con will leave the city of San Diego—the show's contract with the San Diego Convention Center expires this year—for Los Angeles or Anaheim. The decision will come down sometime after the end of this year’s show.
On the floor it was preview night as usual. Beginning at the end of the hall filled with major TV and film companies, toy producers and the giant booths of Viz Media, Marvel, DC, Dark Horse and Image, fans jammed the aisles. Once past that area and into the indie comics section, crowds did begin to thin out, but only just a little. While publishers seemed resigned to the big crowds on Wednesday night, most publishers PW talked with were focused on just surviving the evening—in past preview nights, some publishers claimed to have sold out their inventory before the show even started—and there wasn’t a lot of news released.
But there was some book news. Since its launch in 2004 with four titles, Del Rey Manga has grown quickly to become a major publisher of Japanese comics material. However, there has been speculation that the house, faced with sales declines in the manga market as well as the launch of a Kodansha office here in the U.S.—most of Del Rey’s manga titles are licensed from Kodansha—was cutting back on titles and considering layoffs. While Del Rey Manga associate publisher Dallas Middaugh acknowledged the overall decline in manga sales and confirmed that house has reduced its list, he declined to give a precise figure.
Abrams ComicsArts executive editor Charles Kochman announced plans to publish a new book by the late comics writer Harvey Pekar (creator of American Splendor), who died suddenly on July 12. Yiddishkayt: Jewish Vernacular and the New Land is an anthology that looks at the cultural and religious influences of the Yiddish language through comics and illustrations. Contributors include David Lasky, Sharon Rudahl, Peter Kuper, Dan Archer, Spain Rodriguez, and others.
In addition, Kochman plans to publish The Someday Funnies by Michael Choquette, a project to rescue an obscure and unpublished anthology designed at the time to be “the greatest comic anthology ever,” said Kochman. Organized in 1971 for Rolling Stone by Michel Choquette, the book included work by such comics stars of the time as Wally Wood, Bill Griffith, Harvey Kurtzman, Jack Kirby and Art Spigelman; in addition to the work of William S. Burroughs, Frederico Fellini, Tom Wolfe and Frank Zappa—but it was never published. Seven years after starting, Choquette ended up with $300,000 in debt with no publisher and since then the work of its 200 contributors—none of whom were ever paid--has been packed away in limbo in Choquette’s home in Montreal.
Over at indie comics publisher Oni Press, a long line formed to get copies of Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour, the sixth and final volume of the series. Meanwhile, writer Robert Kirkman, writer of the bestselling Zombie graphic novel series, Walking Dead, attracted his own mob scene at the Image booth, with fans looking to find out more about the new The Walking Dead TV series that will broadcast on AMC. And Top Shelf was offering giant stacks of AX Alternative Manga, a handsome trade paperback anthology of experimental manga, put together by editor Sean Wilson.
On tap for Thursday: spotlight panels on Jenette Kahn, former president and publisher of DC Comics (interviewed by her successor Paul Levitz), and a panel looking into The Best and Worst Manga of 2010.