For all the talk of movies (DC’s blockbuster Suicide Squad opens shortly) and TV Shows (Marvel’s Luke Cage arrives in the fall on Netflix), there’s plenty of books being discussed at San Diego Comic-Con International, going on now in San Diego.
This year's event, held July 20-24 at the San Diego Convention Center, kicked off with a preview night, held 6-9pm on Wednesday the night before the show opens. Despite the crowds of fans, it seemed lacking in energy from years pasts.
Preview night also gave show veterans the opportunity to survey changes in the exhibition floor. The indie comics publisher Top Shelf, which was acquired by IDW early last year, gave up its usual booth in the high traffic small press area to move into IDW's booth. Top Shelf was showing off the final volume of Rep. John Lewis’ acclaimed graphic memoir of the Civil Rights Movement, March. Lewis, along with his co-author Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell, will be appearing at the show to do signings and will appear on a panel on Saturday.
In a breakfast presentation to celebrate the success of Rebirth, DC's latest revamp of its superhero comics line, and to promote the 75th anniversary of Wonder Woman, DC Comics copublisher Dan Didio said that while sales of periodical comics were doing well, “the place showing real growth for us is the bookstore market.” Growth in the book market—rather than in the comic shop market—is something DC copublisher Jim Lee said tends to “bring in new customers and new fans” to the format. And this is an important trend for an industry whose core demographic is aging.
Both Didio and Lee emphasized that more graphic novels—both collections and standalone titles—are forthcoming from both the DC Universe and Vertigo. However, there remain questions about the future of Vertigo, DC’s legendary, but now troubled, non-superhero imprint.
Lee acknowledged that many high-profile Vertigo artists were leaving the house, flocking to indie house competitor Image Comics, which offers artists better rights deals. But Lee was optimistic about the future of Vertigo. He said that in the aftermath of the departure executive editor Shelly Bond in April, Vertigo's new editorial leader Jamie Rich (formerly an editor at Oni) has a chance to reshape the imprint.
Aside from the fate of Vertigo, there was a lot of discussion on the show floor about Angel Catbird, the new graphic novel by Margaret Atwood. On hand in San Diego, the acclaimed Canadian novelist talked about her love of comics during a morning interview.
The book, which features art by Johnny Christmas, is an eccentric and entertaining combination of a superhero comic (the title character is transformed into an animal that is part cat and part owl in a lab accident) and an appeal to consider the impact of cats on the environment.
Dark Horse is also publishing, The Secret Loves of Geek Girls, a comics anthology edited by Hope Nicholson, coming in the fall that features short stories (in comics and in prose) about dating (with a focus on inclusion and diversity). Contributors include Atwood, Meags Fitzgerald, Mariko Tamaki and Adrienne Kress.
Around the floor, Fantagraphics was showing Real Deal by Lawrence "Raw Dog" Hubbard and H.P. McElwee, a compulsively drawn, ultraviolent originally self-published comic by two African American cartoonists that is hilariously outrageous. Craig Yoe, founder of Yoe Books/IDW, which resurrects and publishes classic comics publications, showed off Super Weird Heroes. The 600-page full color collection showcases superheroes of 1940s, and he said the book offered "more super powered weirdness than anyone could want."
On a digital note, Google Books used Comic-Con to launch an upgraded version of the Google Books App that includes Bubble Zoom, a new feature allowing that enhances and simplifies the digital reading experience on mobile devices. Among other things, Bubble Zoom automatically enlarges the word balloons in comics for easier reading.
On a final note, Abrams ComicArts announced during the show that Trashed, Derf Backderf’s acclaimed semi-autobiographical story of a young man who takes a job hauling trash, has been optioned. The film will be helmed by Bradley Jay Kaplan (Stealing Cars). Derf’s earlier work, My Friend Dahmer, a graphic memoir about his experience growing up in the same community as serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, has also been optioned.