Today was, frankly, an exhausting day at NYCC, so let’s go right to the details of said day.
Started off with the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund panel. They’re actually doing a 2nd panel on Sunday (which I can’t make), but this was their general panel giving a history of comic censorship and litigation in North America. It went through the topics one would expect – Seduction of the Innocent, Bill Gaines’ testimony, R. Crumb and the underground movement – but Charles Brownstein is an excellent speaker and made it all seem fresh. Because it was pro-artist, history sometimes downplays the disaster that Gaines’ testimony ended up being. As the years have gone by, litigators have gone from arresting retailers, to artists, and now to readers such as Ryan Matheson – who will be at NYCC this Sunday to tell his story.
After this I had ‘Editors on Editing’ on my schedule, but I’d already covered a very similar panel yesterday. So I briefly dropped by to see Sir Terry Pratchett, who was promoting his new non-Discowrld book Dodger. Unfortunately, they’d put Terry at an open stage, with lots of other loud con activity going on around the hall. It led to severe volume problems unless you were right near him. I could only stay a few minutes, but Dodger sounds like a lot of fun – and reminds me I need to finish that reread of Oliver Twist.
Archie promised to be full up, so I ducked into the panel before it, which was on Digital Pricing. This was very much a North American comics discussion, with no mention of JManga or the manga publishing apps. They discussed trying to experiment further as the tech improves, with things like Motion Comics, etc. DRM was a large part of the discussion – people are very paranoid a lost license will mean their content will be removed and they’ll lose it, unlike print. The creators, you could tell, got what the audience was saying, but they aren’t giving in – DRM and Cloud is how they control piracy. “People like to own things” is not really enough of an argument to them. That said, the panel ended on an upbeat note as they talked about the next big challenges, discoverability and manageability. Indexing and sorting comics, as well as making sure people can find and acquire them with ease.
Archie then came barreling in, giving out its traditional free bag of publications. The real reason to go to these, however, is the panel itself – Archie knows how to put on a show, no matter who the publicity director is, and they also known how to make their enthusiasm contagious. On the panel were stalwarts John Goldwater, Victor Gorelick, and Dan Parent, as well as Michael Uslan, Batman producer and the mind behind the Archie Marries series that led to Life With Archie’s soap-opera magazine reboot.
Archie had a pile of stuff to talk about. The new Betty and Veronica artbook, which looks gorgeous. A line of Archie Cosmetics, out soon in Department stores and MAC stores. Best of Archie Book 2 is out (I bought that at the exhibit hall earlier), with more classic stories over all 6 decades of the show. Sadly, there’s more Super Duck in it as well. Archie Meets Glee is out next year, on the heels of Archie Meets KISS. They noted it was very easy to slot the Glee cast into the Archie mode. There’s an Archie Mobile Game due out soon, for phones and tablets, that sounds very much like your typical Japanese datesim (though no doubt squeaky clean). You go after Betty or Veronica, and your choices end up affecting how the other girl sees you. Should be out in the Spring.
It’s Sabrina’s 50th anniversary, and there’s a digital exclusive 50 Stories book out now at Archie’s digital site. They showed some test footage for a new Sabrina cartoon that’s in the works for Summer 2013, which is big on thrills and adventure. It’ll be on The Hub. Tania Del Rio’s manga-style Sabrina is getting collected into 4 graphic novels, the first of which will be out in February. Great news for those who loved her take on Sabrina.
At this point the announcements were coming even faster than I could type them. Kevin Keller will meet George Takei in his series. More Storybook Land Archie, with the gang as characters from nursery rhymes and other such literature. A new Josie comic is due in 2013. In Life with Archie, we’ll see Josie as well, and Kevin Keller will be running for Senate. Little Archie is getting a cartoon series. Married Life Book 3 will be out soon. They’re doing foreign editions of their digital apps – Archie in 13 different languages, including Chinese and Japanese, and also comics in Singapore. Even Hindi!
New Crusaders had a motion comic intro, and it’s very superhero-ish. There’s also a Sonic/Megaman crossover coming. To my surprise, this had never been attempted before. Q&A then occurred, with fans asking about the Jughead series (a reimagining of the series is coming next year), Katy Keene returning, Dilton getting a short series. Archie Marries Valerie will be getting a collection, of course – they noted it was the easiest of the three to write, and an audience member said their chemistry was “scorching”. Many happy Kevin fell in love – “He needs to get some” was called the takeaway quote of the panel. An interesting question about whether other countries would be unhappy with, say, Kevin. They note they can auto-detect countries and try to keep in mind any sensitive political/censorship issues. And, of course, someone asked about Jughead and romance. The panel merely laughed. As always, great fun was had by all.
After that long diversion, it was time to get back to manga, as it was Vertical’s panel. Ed walked us through the most recent announcements, then broke out the two premiere ones. Twin Knight is the sequel to Tezuka’s shoujo classic Princess Knight, though ironically it appeared 5 years before the rewritten PK that Vertical actually released – Tezuka redid his seminal series in 1963. Twin Knight ran in Kodansha’s Nakayoshi in 1958, and stars Sapphire’s twin children, who end up running into the same enemies and have to deal with the same gender-bending issues.
Ed’s other new license is a far more adult tome, this one from famed josei publisher Shodensha. Helter Skelter is an award-winning work from the magazine Feel Young, written by Kyoko Okazaki. This was a popular license request, and fans talked it up enough that Vertical went out and got it. A harrowing look at the fashion industry and what steps the heroine will take to crawl to the top of it, this is a mature work that is a “very Vertical” sort of release.
Some other details were provided about titles previously mentioned. Paradise Kiss 2 and 3 will have additional color pages. Flowers of Evil is doing better than they expected, Ed called it a “sleeper hit”, and noted its 7th volume just came out recently. It also has an anime out soon. Ed noted that Limit is the sort of shoujo work you don’t see picked up here too often, very much a thriller/horror piece. Gundam the Origin had the audience very excited – Ed noted the creator removed a lot of the dumb comedy and slapstick from the story, leaving it as a tense serious mecha piece. The books will be hardcover and gorgeous, but also limited – no reprints, get them right away. 11 volumes total. Wolfsmund is apparently a retelling of the William Tell legend, and the artist was previously an assistant on both Emma and Berserk. I jokingly asked if the series combined the two, but Ed said it felt like it did! The artist has Mori’s sense of impeccable research.
After this came Q&A. I asked about digital manga, they’re working on it. They want to do something other than an app like the other publishers. They also said that some of their novels are out digitally.
After a quick bite for dinner, I went to JManga’s author spotlight panel, which featured the artist of SoreMachi, Masakazu Ishiguro, and the editor at Young King OURS, Masahiro Ohno. This was a very relaxed, laid back panel and both guests were in a great mood. There were also many giveaways (the audience was quite loud). SoreMachi has 9 volumes on JManga, with the 10th due out soon. Ishiguro also does art for other writers. I was interested to hear that he enjoys series, but found that he excelled at short story format when he replaced other artists who were unable to meet deadlines. One of his Short Story collections, Present for Me, also just hit JManga. He then did some live art, a picture of Kon-senpai from SoreMachi, which impressed me with its speed.
Q&A began with some questions from Robert. We were all amused to hear that Ishiguro-san did a lot of his art while soaking in the bath, which led to a few bath-related questions. I asked Ohno about how they view the NA market – Shonen Gahosha has a lot of licenses over here through a variety of publishers. He said they do think of the Japanese audience first and foremost, but he’s interested in seeing what other countries’ artists could provide – you can submit some art to firstname.lastname@example.org and they’ll forward it to him. And he’s another in a long line of popular manga artists who grew up loving Fujiko Fujio and Doraemon.
The last panel of the day I attended was Udon’s, which was moderated by Comics212’s Chris Butcher, who is their marketing director. I was intrigued to hear that Udon does a lot of stuff totally unrelated to artbooks and Capcom, which they dub “creative services”. Art for Sucker Punch, advertizing art for Inception, World of Warcraft artwork. They work closely with companies to comb through the old vaults looking for content. They’re doing that with Namco right now. They also use their Deviantart page heavily (under UdonCrew), and the audience seemed enthused about this.
The Evangelion artbooks got a lot of positive attention, as did the Read or Die artbook, which I’ll definitely be taking a look at. The Haruhi-ism artbook apparently had some extra colors used in Japan – moren than the usual 4-color – and so they’re taking the time to use that color as well over here, noting the vibrancy jumps out at you. Speaking of Haruhi, they announced two more artbooks here at NYCC. Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter are, as you might guess, themed along seasons, and deal with anime-style art as seen in Newtype and such (whereas Haruhi-ism is devoted to Ito’s artwork). Those will be out in Spring/Autumn 2013.
They also announced a Growlancer artbook, which should appeal to Plastic Nipple… um, sorry, Plastic Little fans, as it’s by Urushihara. They do note that this is a PG-13 title, and not adult like some of the artist’s other works. There were 3 Vocaloid character-specific artbooks announced, which provides some rare official merchandizing for that media empire. Lastly, they’re teaming up with Blizzard for a World of Warcraft tribute book – similar to the Street Fighter ones – which will solicit artwork from artists to include. They’re expecting thousands of submissions. The dates are 11-1 – 1/15, if folks are interested.
And then I had to duck out, so apologies to Chris and company. Tomorrow will have even more news! Can I possibly survive? Well, yes, but to do so I will need sleep, which I will now go and do.