While attendance figures have yet to be released, everyone at the first day of the newly expanded New York Comic-Con agreed: There were a lot of people.
Not as many as in the first year of the show when overcrowding forced a notorious state trooper enforced lockdown of the show. But enough to give the show a bustling, media encompassing feeling second only to The San Diego Comic-Con; the general feeling was that attendance was up over last year despite competition from Passover and fine spring weather.
With a hall expanded to nearly twice the size of last year's show and more exhibitors from the book world, including Random House, Abrams, Harper Collins and Penguin, the show seems to have finally come into its own as a New York-flavored version of the multi —media extravaganza that signifies Comic-Con.
The day began with a five hour "trade only" portion, with programming focused on selling books to libraries and other industry issues. While some noted that retailers and booksellers were not present in large numbers, graphic novel-loving librarians roamed the floors checking in with publishers on their latest offerings.
A long line of fans was already prepared for the 3:00 pm "public" opening and at the appointed hour a throng of fans flooded the floor, many in costumes. Jedi warriors enacted lightsaber clashes in hallways while spandex clad attendees dressed as their favorite superheroes strutted their stuff—or lack of same.
The day was not without some glitches, however: several industry programs were without participants, once again some panelists complained of not being notified about their participation in the program. A few professionals reported not being allowed to enter the exhibit hall prior to set-up and complained of delays at registration and staff confusion and misinformation over handing out credentials
However these were minor issues as everyone seemed to get swept up in the bustle of the show floor. Comics publishers started the roll-out of news with a flood of panels. Marvel gave out masks of the alien Skrull race to support their Secret Invasion storyline in which shape shifting aliens take over many familiar faces of the Marvel U.
DC touted their Final Crisis miniseries, with scripter Grant Morrison and senior v-p, executive editor Dan Didio fronting several panels. Future Grant Morrison books were also announced including a six issue sequel to Seaguy and two other mini-series for DC's Vertigo imprint, War Cop with artist Sean Murphy and a story focusing on a teenaged girl drawn by artist Camilla D'Errico.
Legendary superhero character creator Stan Lee was on hand to unveil Ultimo, his new manga project with Viz Media. Editor-in-chief of Viz’s Shonen Jump magazine Mark Weidenbaum announced that Viz would be translating the joint venture between Lee and Japanese manga creator Takei, creator of Shaman King. The series launched today in Japan in Japanese manga publisher Shueisha’s Jump SQ II magazine.
Independent manga publisher Fanfare had copies of Hideo Azuma’s Disappearance Diary and Jiro Tanaguchi’s The Ice Wanderer. Based in England the small Nouvelle Manga press is slowly regaining its footing after its North American distribution company, Biblio, went under. Publisher Steven Robeson anticipates the company will be fully up to speed and back in the U.S. by Christmas with a French comic, My Mommy. The publisher continues to work on more Tanaguchi properties with his Distant Neighborhood and the Summit of the Gods forthcoming in 2009. Tanaguchi has been nominated for this year’s Eisner for The Ice Wanderer.
Perhaps the biggest news of the day came during the spotlight on author Neil Gaiman, who announced that all charges in the Gordon Lee obscenity case have been dismissed. The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has been fighting this case since 2004, when Lee, a comics retailer in Rome, Georgia, was charged with two counts of Distribution of Material Harmful to Minors after accidentally giving a copy of a Free Comic Book story featuring a naked Pablo Picasso to a minor. The announcement brought long, sustained applause from the audience.
New York Comic-Con continues throughout the weekend.