Kuo-Yu Liang, former v-p international sales and business development at Diamond Book Distributors and a key figure in the growth of the graphic novel category, is leaving DBD and joining ReedPop as its new global director of business development.
Liang will be responsible for overseeing the international operations of ReedPop, the growing pop culture convention division of Reed Exhibitions. He will focus on ReedPop shows in Asia. (ReedPop owns and operates pop culture conventions in Europe, China, India, Indonesia and Korea.)
A key figure in supporting graphic novels in the book trade since he founded DBD in 2002, Liang has, in recent years, been growing Diamond’s international business. He is credited with leading Diamond’s expansion into book trade distribution, and creating DBD’s international division, which distributes books and merchandise into 75 countries.
Lance Fensterman, global head of ReedPop, cited Liang’s “pedigree and experience” working in international markets, and praised his ability to “create communities, connect creators, navigate multiple cultures, and see upcoming trends in pop culture.”
The ReedPop group includes New York Comic Con, C2E2 in Chicago, Penny Arcade Expo (a gaming convention held on both coasts), Emerald City Comic Con in Seattle, Star Wars Celebration and BookCon in the U.S. In Europe, ReedPop operates Comic Con Paris. In Asia, the group oversees nine pop culture shows, including Comic Con Seoul, Comic Con India, Shanghai Comic Con, and the Singapore Toy, Game Comic Con.
Liang will be based in Seattle, where he lives, and will split time between ReedPop headquarters offices in Norwalk, Ct., and the company’s expanding network of pop culture conventions around the globe.
“My job is to work with all of ReedPop’s worldwide comic cons and make them better and more fun,” he told PW. Asked whether his book publishing expertise will be useful in the convention business, Liang said: “It’s all connected. It’s about having fun and having good content, whether it’s books, comics, or conventions. [My Job is] connecting authors to readers, or game designers to gamers.”
Liang launched DBD 15 years ago when the graphic novel category was just beginning to show substantial growth in the book trade, with sales driven by American teenagers flocking to manga and non-superhero indie comics publishers like Dark Horse, Fantagraphics and IDW, looking for distributors that could get their graphic novels into bookstores. Now Liang is joining ReedPop at a key point when pop culture conventions are surging in popularity around the globe.
“Fan culture, convention culture, is booming,” Liang said. “The U.S. market is important but the growth is in new markets abroad.”