Citing the opportunity to meet with Midwest retailers and build new relationships with local publishing vendors, graphic novel publishers seemed happy with BookExpo's change of venue to Chicago. Although it’s difficult to gauge the exact number of comics publishers attending BEA, all the usual suspects were on hand, with many houses exhibiting out of their distributors' booth space.

Some publishers, like the U.K.'s Titan Comics, a comics, graphic novel, prose and pop culture house founded in the U.K., noted the importance of the U.S. market and the need to always attend the show. “We’re really a U.S. company. Our fastest growth is in the U.S.,” said Titan co-publisher Nick Landau. Others like, NBM publisher Terry Nantier said they were pleased with the show's foot traffic, the media presence, and the overall experience of getting the word out about their books at McCormick Place. Diamond Books Distributors v-p of sales Kuo-Yu Liang said the move to Chicago was “invigorating.” He told PW, “We got to see and spend more time with important customers in the Midwest.”

Liang said the graphic novel and pop culture market continues to grow, and said that was reflected at BEA in both the domestic and international marketplace. He cited “the wide variety of people looking at our stuff, from librarians to bookstores to membership ware house clubs.” Liang said: “we had a strong contingent of international customers, from Amazon China to a school book fair in the Middle East, to JR Blue Books in Puerto Rico.”

The show featured new fall books from acclaimed graphic novel authors Raina Telgemeier, whose Ghosts will be published by Scholastic, and Jessica Abel, creator of Trish Trash: Rollergirl of Mars, which will be published by Papercutz in November.

The Fall Graphic Novel Buzz panel featured three authors: Telgemeier, whose forthcoming YA graphic novel Ghosts, uses the Mexican festival of the Day of The Dead as a way to talk about the idea of death; Box Brown, whose Tetris: The Games People Play (First Second), is a nonfiction graphic book on both the history of gaming and how the popular video game of the book’s title was developed and marketed; and Emil Ferris, whose My Favorite Thing is Monsters (Fantagraphics) combines horror comics with a moving exploration of sexual identity and the holocaust in a story set in Chicago in 1967.

Many comics publishers exhibited through their distributors, including Fantagraphics, whose distributor, W.W. Norton, was handing out an excerpt of Ferris’ My Favorite Thing Is Monsters. The U.K.-based comics and kids books publisher, NoBrow, exhibited with its distributor, Consortium.

DBD clients Image Comics, Lion Forge, Valiant, Paizo Publishing, IDW/Top Shelf, Zenescope and Oni Press, all exhibited in the Diamond area. Image Comics artists Skottie Young (I Hate Fairyland), and Marjorie Liu (Monstress) appeared for signings during BEA and BookCon.

IDW’s imprint Top Shelf previewed March Book Three, the final volume of Rep. John Lewis’s acclaimed graphic memoir trilogy, coming in August, as well as a much-anticipated graphic novel, Who Killed Kurt Cobain: The Story of Boddah, a fictional work created by cartoonist Nicolas Otero. The graphic novel was originally published in France last year, and will be published here in October.

Other hot books at the show included Brian K. Vaughan’s Stand on Guard, and Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman’s Outcast, a supernatural comic book series that has a new TV show based on it that will premier in June in over 170 countries. Both books are from DBD-client Image Comics.

NBM and Papercutz publisher Terry Nantier showcased Cyril Pedrosa’s forthcoming fall adult graphic novel, Equinoxes, a work of literary graphic fiction that examines a series of unrelated people whose lives overlap as they attempt to find some meaning in life. Nantier also previewed Jessica Abel’s Trish Trash: Rollergirl of Mars, a YA graphic novel coming from Papercutz that is focused on a biracial Latina who wants to be a "hover derby” athlete, in a story set on Mars 200 years in the future.

Boom! Studios president Filip Sablik previewed Hope Larson’s and Brittney Williams’s Goldie Vance, a teen detective series with a multicultural cast of characters, and the publisher’s first children’s picture book, What Is it? by Nicole Hoang and Dustin Nguyen.

Exhibiting with its distributor, Ingram Publisher Services, Humanoids, the L.A. and Paris-based graphic novel house, focused on backlist and on its Eisner-nominated fantasy work, Izuna by Saverio Tenuta, Bruno Letizia, Carita Lupattelli; and on Clockwerx by Jason Henderson and Tony Salvaggio, a steampunk graphic novel aimed at teens that is slated to be published in September.