More than 250,000 fans purchased tickets to attend New York Comic Con, held October 4-7 at the Javits Convention Center, marking another year of impressive growth for the show. NYCC reported about 200,000 fans in attendance a year ago.
NYCC event director Mike Armstrong told PW, “For NYCC, including our separately ticketed events, we had just over 250,000 fans this year.” The separately ticketed events included ReedPop-sponsored events like NYCC Now (events held throughout the city leading up to the convention) and Studio @ NYCC (smaller events held near Javits); in addition to Anime Fest @ NYCC, a relaunched Asian Pop festival held at Pier 94, which is included in the total attendance.
“At Anime Fest specifically, we sold just over 18,000 tickets and we are really happy with the event,” Armstrong said. “The event didn’t exist three and a half months ago and both ReedPOP and the SPJA are thrilled with the foundation we’ve laid to create a really strong event next year and into the future.” Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation organizes Anime Expo, the annual Asian Pop convention in Los Angeles and partnered with ReedPop to launch the new show and oversee its programming at NYCC.
The revamped Harvey Awards, which honor achievement in comics and graphic novels, returned to New York City after several years in Baltimore. Monstress by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda, an epic fantasy work about a teenage girl with a demonic power, was named Harvey Awards’ Book of the Year.
The continuing surge in attendance at the show will come as no surprise to attendees or exhibitors trying to get around the floor during NYCC. Even the inexplicable weekend shutdown of the 7 train—which usually stops directly across from Javits--didn’t keep fans away. The show exhibition floor and lower concourse areas were swamped by a river of fans, and lines just to get into the restrooms (especially for women) were long and depressing. But while the traffic was often slow going, people in the aisles were able to keep moving and circulating.
Asked if ReedPop is concerned that New York Comic Con will become too big to deliver a quality fan experience, Armstrong says, well, no. “If we continue to increase our level of investment in fan experience, I don’t think there is any reason for concern. Every year we are matching our growth with new venues, new content and new amenities,” Armstrong said.
Armstrong added: “I also think that technology has a role to play going forward. We are working hard to make sure that by using our badge technology, mobile app and recommendations, we can deliver to all our fans a personalized experience."
On the publishing side, there were several big announcements, led by Scholastic/Graphix, which announced two new graphic books by the wildly popular middle grade graphic novel artist Raina Telgemeier. In April 2019, Scholastic will publish Share Your Smile: Raina’s Guide to Telling Your Own Story, a DIY guide to comics storytelling. And in September 2019, the house will release Guts, a new graphic memoir that follows Telgemeier's previous autobiographical bestsellers, Smile and Sisters. Share Your Smile will have an initial printing of 500,000 copies; and Guts will kickoff with a first printing of a million copies.
French-owned, Los Angeles-based Humanoids opened New York Comic Con with the hiring of two industry stars: Comics artist John Cassaday and writer Mark Waid will be chief creative officer, and director of creative development, respectively. Humanoids followed the announcement of the hirings with plans for a major creative initiative at a panel on Friday. The house is launching H1, a new superhero imprint (or “superhero-ish” in the words of newly hired writer Kwanza Osajyefo) that will feature six new series and a newly imagined universe of characters.
The house unveiled a big and diverse creative team of about 18 (about 7 appeared on the panel, including Cassaday) artists and writers. The group includes the team that will oversee the storytelling—Osajyefo, Yanick Paquette, and Carla Speed McNeil—as well as writers Cheryl Lynn Eaton, and Quinton Peeples.
H1 is Humanoids’ first effort at superheroes and with monthly periodical comics. Series include Ignited, which features teens with paranormal abilities that “erupt.” There’s also Omni, written by Eaton, which focuses on a black female doctor with the ability to think faster than the speed of light. Peeples described H1 as “the best of European comics mixed with the best of American comics.”
Elsewhere at NYCC, DC unveiled Wonder Comics, a new imprint under the supervision of superstar writer Brian Michael Bendis (in addition to his Jinx World imprint) that will focus on stories about teen heroes of the DC Universe. Artists and writers include David Walker (Cyborg), Mark Russell (Flintstones), and Stephen Byrne (Justice League). DC also continued to hype its revamp of its Vertigo imprint with new artists, Dan Watters (Lucifer), Kat Howard (Books of Magic), Ben Blacker (Hex Wives), and Zoë Quinn (Goddess Mode), who are writing for the various Vertigo series.
Europe Comics was showcasing Spanish artist Ana Miralles, creator of the erotic historical thriller Djinn, which will be published this month in English by Insight Comics; and Franco-Canadian artist Mikaël was showing off Giant, a much-anticipated graphic work about the construction of Rockefeller Center and the Irish immigrants that did the work.
On the media side, Marvel and DC had panels focused on TV and forthcoming films, among them DC’s Aquaman feature film, and Season 3 of Marvel’s Daredevil TV show. Marvel had the complete cast of its hit Runaways TV show on stage right on the floor. DC premiered a trailer for Titans, a new live-action TV adaptation and a take on its long-running teen superhero team, to be shown on the new DC Universe streaming service.
Although ICv2 CEO Milton Griepp did not host his annual comics/graphic novel B2B conference this year at NYCC, in an interview with PW he said he was using his time to attend a series of panels about programming on Webtoons, the fast growing Korean webcomics platforms designed to offer vertical scroll comics on phones and tablets. Companies like Line Webtoon have expanded into the North American market and Griepp called them “an exciting part of the market worldwide.”