New York Comic Con made me sick. (Somebody make me a t-shirt.) Literally. My head feels like it's about to burst, and my throat is inflamed; my voice is totally gone. But that's what you get when you host a convention with 77,000 attendees forming a living, writhing wall of people in an enclosed space during the winter cold months. I bet a lot of other people are in exactly the same boat this Tuesday.
Naturally, the crowd was horrendous, especially on Saturday, Cell phone service data service from some of the major providers was spotty, and even I seemed to have missed one call completely. There are many people I'm very sorry I did not get a chance to see, Kathy, Justin, Chris, and Jesse, just to name a few.
Fortunately, there are a lot of people that I did see. Tania, Abby, Kate, Deb, Brigid, Erica, Mari, Angela, Summer, Frank, Misako, Chris, Stephen...and more that I'm probably forgetting. (Sorry!) As always, it's wonderful to be able to catch up with everyone. I also got to meet a few new people--shout outs to Dave Roman and Robin Brenner! Even when we live relatively nearby, cons seem to be the only time we ever get to hang out and catch up on the juicy gossip. And boy oh boy, there was some really juicy stuff this time around. Plus a dash of romance. Can't forget the romance!
All that hanging out means that I saw relatively little of the official con programming, and most of what I did see were industry panels. The best hours came early in the week--Art Spiegelman's talk to the ICv2 Conference about the semiotics of comics on Thursday and a panel about women and manga first thing Friday morning. Industry panels, in contrast, were a bit of a mixed bag. For example, Bandai Entertainment just showed a bunch of trailers to anime series I hope I never have to watch, while Yen Press gave out lots of free stuff to a slavering mob. (As I'm sure you've heard by now, Yotsuba&! is back. No word on a Twilight manga yet, but I figure it's just a matter of time, heh heh.) VIZ Media announced a bunch of new licenses, including works by fujoshi favorites Yoshinaga Fumi and Kouga Yun, that seem to be generating a lot of positive buzz. Del Rey (or should I say Ali Kokmen?) informed readers that their 2009 Sampler has a secret message in it. (The message? "D E L R E Y R O C K S A K" See the first letter of each paragraph in the two introductions.) CMX is trudging along.
Meanwhile, the crappy economy meant that all of my money went toward food, not shopping. Even so, I did come away with quite a lot of stuff, most notably eleven graphic novel volumes (thanks to Yen Press, Fanfare, and Hyperion) and a bunch of random novels/galleys. Expect reviews to be forthcoming. (I refuse to take tchotchkes unless I know that I can regift them, but I noticed that popular ones included a styrofoam toilet seat to wear around one's neck and a flashing Wonder Woman crown.)
The economy's death spiral is also affecting the industry adversely, of course. Publishers are consolidating, cutting back on releases, firing employees, and worrying ever more about that killer app that they're sure is going to destroy business as they know it once and for all. Needless to say, the atmosphere was not exactly joyous. On the manga side, sales are showing double-digit declines. The only company looking even remotely brighter than last time I saw them was Del Rey...as it becomes increasingly clear that Kodansha USA is going to screw things up for themselves royally. Still, I'm sure books will weather the storm. They've made it 500 years already; what's the Second Great Depression by comparison?