Written by: Ron Bricker
"Industry leading publishing executives with bottom line responsibility will share their perspectives on the year ahead; trends and how their forthcoming properties will capture and (hopefully) help reshape marketplace behavior." -NYCC '08 Program Guide. Read on for CC2K's up to the minute coverage of this industry-only panel!
As seemed to be the trend in the early morning hours at the professionals only panels at the third annual New York Comic Con, this panel was off to a slow start as panelists strolled in late.
The moderator began the panel by asking the two showing panelists, Dark Horse's Mike Richardson and DC's Paul Levitz, what changes they have seen in the past year in the industry. Before either of the panelists could answer, a strange man asked for permission to approach the panel and muttered something, presumably strange, and wandered off. The craziness has begun!
In regards to the question at hand, Levitz declared that it was a tremendous time in the comics industry, due mostly to its recent influx in exposure in pop culture, with the success of comic book films and the like. He discussed how creators are getting the opportunity for different kinds of work, which will ultimately lead to a cross-medium exposure to a new audience. Richardson chimed in, pointing out the number of 12 year olds in the room, which of course, was none. He discussed the shift from the typical "comics for kids" stereotype, partly due to less of a reliance on traditional floppies, and the uprising of the graphic novel.
Moving onto digital distrubution of comics, Richardson compared the acceptance of digital distribution of comics by the young generation to his generation's understanding of television. The fact that they (shamefully) can watch movies on cell phones is a testament to their acceptance of digital media. Levitz then suggested that in his opinion, digital comics are important but that things should be specifically created as such. Richardson pointed out that many webcomics ultimately make it to print.
The moderator shifted topics, asking the panelists opinion on how to keep readers brought to the world of comics by the success of comic book movies. Levitz suggested the key is offering a diverse selection of material, so that something can apply to everybody. Richardson agreed, declaring that the flaw of the comic book market is offering primarily superheroes. This comment led to an intensive discussion of where comics are offered, and the stereotypes involved with going to an actual comic shop, as opposed to a Barnes & Noble. Richardson pointed out that the first time anything from Dark Horse was successful in bookstores was the series based on Aliens, because of its pre-existing franchise. Basically, the discussion ended with the conclusion that with the prominence of graphic novels and collected trade paperbacks that fit in a bookstore, the audience is growing.
A verbose question came from an audience member, who asked, in so many words, if the creators of webcomics will likely see a success in print as well. The panelists began a long explanation, which coincidentally, the person who asked the question got up in the middle of and left. There were a couple of other questions that basically rehashed what had already been discussed, but Levitz did end on the note that the industry has moved so far in 5-7 years, and that his hope was to bring the passion that people have for comic book films into the place they originated.
Joey out…stay tuned for much more!