Throngs of fans surged through the Javits Convention Center on Thursday at the opening of New York Comic Con 2018, which will run from October 4-7. This year’s show offered a relocated Artist Alley as well as Anime@NYCC, a newly launched anime and manga festival held about 20 blocks away at the Pier 94 exhibition space.
But this year’s New York Comic Con was missing an event that focuses on the business side of pop culture: Milton Griepp, CEO of ICv2, a pop culture trade news site, will not deliver his annual White Paper on the size and biggest trends of the North American graphic novel market place. For the last 10 years or so, Griepp has organized a B2B conference at the show. In addition to Griepp’s White Paper, the conference also featured a variety of speakers who gave presentations on comics and graphic novels in the comics shop market and the Book trade.
Griepp told PW that his annual business conference was the victim of the booming popularity of consumer pop culture conventions. Hosting a small B2B event at a show preparing for “250,000 fans is tough to pull off, there’s not enough space,” he said, noting that Javits is smaller because of construction at the North end of the building. “NYCC is a huge, massive event and these consumer shows get so big they just eat up everything.”
Nevertheless in an Interview with PW, Griepp said he hoped to work with ReedPop again in the future and perhaps launch a new B2B event. He also discussed the results of his study of the 2017 graphic novel market, which reported an overall decline in graphic novel sales of about 6.5% (10% decline in comics shop and about 1% decline in the book trade). The book channel, he said, has been doing better than the comics shop market “for years” and that trend continues. “Bookstores are better at reaching new audiences of women and kids than comics shops,” he said. “The comics shop market is tough right now. Superhero periodical comics haven’t sold well, so when you collect then into books, they still don’t sell,” he said. In some years, he added, comics publishers like Marvel, end up in “a creative drought,” and added that “the categories that are growing are not superheroes.”
Looking at 2018, Griepp said “we’re hitting record numbers for kids graphic novels. Dog Man has 3 million copies in print, which is a really incredible number, a mark the comics business hasn’t hit since the 1940s or 1950s.” He added, “these young readers will grow up and keep buying comics. We’re feeding the business with new consumers for the coming decades.”
Around the show floor, Humanoids, the French owned, Los Angeles based graphic novel company, continues to expand its staff and its list. Over the last year the house has added imprints for kids graphic novels and for literary nonfiction. Now the publisher has announced it has hired celebrated comics writer Mark Waid as Humanoids director of creative development.
Gina Gagliano, newly appointed publishing director of Random House Graphic, a new kids’ and YA graphic novel imprint, was showing off her new booth at the show. The booth featured a variety of hands-on comics-related activities for kids. Gagliano has also made her first acquisitions, which included a middle grade graphic novel trilogy by bestselling cartoonist Lucy Knisely, and author Mika Song, who is working on picture books for young readers.
And at the Abrams booth, senior v-p, publisher Andrew Smith, was showing off a suite of new prose works based on comics. Abrams partners with indie comics house Boom! Studios to creative middle grade and YA prose works based on Boom! comics series such as Lumberjacks (about a supernatural summer camp for girls), Giant Days (three mismatched college friends), and Backstagers (a student stage crew discovers paranormal antics going on backstage). Smith said the Boom! comics “are great properties with great characters. Hopefully fans of the comics will discover the books; and the book readers will want to find out more about the graphic novels.”