The annual pop culture spectacle at the Comic-Con International: San Diego ended Sunday, following four and a half days of marketing pageantry and announcements. With tickets sold out since the spring, some 130,000 fans thronged the San Diego Convention Center to hear about the latest graphic novels and comics series, watch movie presentations, get freebies of all kinds and attend an extensive slate of panels and presentations.
Despite the usual high-voltage presence of the Hollywood studios, comics remain at the center of the show and there were a slew of announcements from publishers big and small. Among the most notable, the return of popular comics and TV writer Brian K. Vaughan, whose Ex Machina and Y the Last Man (both from DC Comics) remain bestsellers. He's taking his new series Saga to independent publisher Image comics. The series is due next year with art by Fiona Staples and is the story of a family struggling to survive during an intergalactic war. Vaughan describes the story as “family-oriented, but not necessarily family friendly.”
Another notable debut was Legendary Comics, a new imprint launched by the film studio Legendary Entertainment, but directed by much-admired former DC Comics editor Bob Schreck. Joining the previously announced release of Holy Terror by Frank Miller, are a new edition of an Paul Pope’s art book Pulp Hope (previously published by AdHouse) with some 100 new pages of art as well as essays and manifestoes by Pope on his art and on making comics; and The Tower Chronicles by Matt Wagner and Simon Bisley, the story of a supernatural bounty hunter created by Legendary head Thomas Tull.
On the floor and in the after parties, digital remained the hot topic. Marvel joined Archie and DC with the announcement of a limited roll-out of simultaneous print and digital release for their X-Men and Spider-man titles. At a retailer lunch sponsored by Diamond Distribution, the biggest distributor to comics specialty stores, to show off Diamond Digital, its plan to allow brick and mortar retailers to sell digital comics, the venture was met with some skepticism from retailers who questioned whether selling digital comics onsite made sense for brick and mortar stores. Digital sales are still very modest for most comics publishers – Dark Horse reported perhaps 2% of their sales are digital. However publishers are committed to moving into the space. As DC Comics’s senior v-p of sales Bob Wayne announced, “Instead of cutting the existing pie into smaller pieces, our goal is that we need to make a bigger pie."
Look for more stories, lots of photographs and a full report on Comic-Con International: San Diego starting on Tuesday.