After a switch from spring to fall, the 5th annual New York Comic Con returned to the Jacob Javits Convention Center in combination with a much-reduced New York Anime Festival, taking over the entire building—and they needed it. Although official figures have yet to be released, most veteran observers of the three-day show expect attendance will likely exceed 90,000 fans after drawing 77,000 in 2009
Indeed the show soldout over the weekend and the exhibition floor seemed to be almost overwhelmed by crowds of fans on Saturday with aisles jammed to the point of immobility. Sunday crowds, while not quite as dense, were also heavy and steady for most of the day. And while exhibitors PW spoke with were generally pleased with the enthusiastic crowds of fans, media coverage and sales—including a reconfigured and larger Artist Alley that also drew impressive crowds—some exhibitors questioned the show’s overall logistics and complained of disorganization and lack of staff to handle the crowds.
The ICv2 Digital and Comics Conference kicked off this year's con and digital strategies figured in some of the biggest announcements to come out of the show. Dark Horse plans to launch a “proprietary” digital download program in January that will start with 170 DH comics selling from $1.49 to $5.99 as well as a retail component—more details to come—that will include physical bookstores. Also on the digital front, Yen Press announced plans to release an iPad app by the holidays as well as a digital storefront; and Longbox digital, a startup digital comics delivery system, announced a deal with tablet computer manufacturer Norton Ink, to include its software platform on the new Adam tablet, a tablet computing device set to be released by the holidays.
First DC Comics (price rollback on 90% of their periodical comics) and then Marvel (more select price cuts) announced plans to reduce the prices of periodical comics from the much-criticized $3.99 price point to $2.99. And in the wake of DC Comics’ recent reorganization and plans to move its digital operations to L.A.; the house announced the promotion of longtime DC marketing executive Bob Wayne to senior v-p, marketing and sales, and confirmed that the marketing and sales dept. for print publishing will remain in New York. DC also announced that Hank Kanalz, who headed up the now folded Wildstorm and CMX units, has been promoted to v-p, digital of DC Comics and will be based in L.A.
Disney Publishing Worldwide, LernerGraphic Universe, Abrams, Archie Comics/Penguin Young Reader, DC/Vertigo, Pantheon, Titan Books and Yen Press all had major book announcements and promotional events in adults and childrens' graphic novels (we’ll have more coverage in tomorrow’s PW Comics Week.). And With the exception of Simon & Schuster and W.W. Norton, the big New York Trade book publishers were in attendance. Some of the smaller indie presses, like Fantagraphics and Drawn & Quarterly, did not attend. But other indie presses such as Image Comics, Oni Press, IDW, Fanfare Ponent Mon, Top Shelf and others were on hand with new books and authors.
Although billed as two shows, the smaller New York Anime Festival has essentially been folded into New York Comic Con, which now takes over the entire main upper level of the center. On the lower level of Javits a small but energetic Manga/Anime artist alley, screening and panel rooms and exhibition stage drew large crowds of younger fans and cosplayers and made up in enthusiasm and fun for the lack of a proper anime/manga exhibition floor. Look for more coverage of New York Comic Con in PW Comics Week.