NYCC 2016, Day One

Another NYCC dawns. Another long run of panels in a row, long bathroom lines, walks along the show floor, and coming back to the hotel room exhausted only to realize you have to type up all your notes. Today was a lot of fun. What did I do? Well…

For starters, we had the Kodansha Panel, which thankfully proved fairly easy to get into. They had a giant pile of new licenses, so let’s break them down:
— Regarding my Reincarnation as a Slime, a title they say is not finalized, and I hope is made less awkward, is another ‘based on a fantasy RPG light novel’. Like many recent licenses of that nature, this is more of a parody of the genre. It runs in Shonen Sirius.
— Fairy Tail: Rhodonite, a spinoff which stars Gajeel, and has Levy on the cover of a volume, so I’m in. Gajevy ship tease, maybe?
— Love & Lies may be familiar for those who use the Mangabox app, as it runs there. It’s a “dystopian romance”.
— Lily Hoshino, who did character design for Mawaru Penguindrum, has a shoujo title from Nakayoshi called Kigurumi Defense Squad, a somewhat ridiculous magical girl parody featuring pretty boys dressed as amusement park-style mascots. Seems like great fun.
— Also looking fun is Kiss Me At the Stroke of Midnight, a Betsufure title about a girl who secretly loves sappy stories. The facial expressions of the girl are the prime reason to buy this.
— Possibly the title that most excites me, Frau Faust. It’s by the author of The Ancient Magus’ Bride, and runs in Itan, a josei fantasy magazine. Badass female scholars, yes please!
— Wake Up, Sleeping Beauty is one of two Dessert licenses, and is a supernatural romance, because I hear those do well.
— Waiting For Spring also runs in Dessert. Seems to involve basketball hotties, and has been called cute by those in the know.
— Ahogaru – Clueless Girl is a rare 4koma license by Kodansha, as they admitted they rarely find them funny (I sense a swipe at Seitokai Yakuindomo here). This one makes them laugh, though. It’s in Weekly Shonen Magazine, and involves… well, a clueless girl and her friends trying to save her from herself.
— Lastly, we have Land of the Lustrous, a fantasy series from Afternoon that deals with a race of gemstones, but is not much like Steven Universe at all. It’s won multiple awards.

I note that all four main manga genres were licensed here – yay!

After that came other news. A Silent Voice has a live-action film out in Japan soon. Princess Jellyfish is performing MUCH better than expected, and they could not be happier. They quickly went over the previously announced titles coming out this fall, including works by the creators of Soul Eater and Shaman King. Appleseed Alpha is delayed to June 2017, but as consolation will be hardcover. And the Akira and Ghost in the Shell del.uxe reprints look first rate.

This took up most of the panel, so sadly the Kodansha editor that came over did not get as much time to talk as planned, but he made the most of what he had. He works in the seinen genre, which he readily admits does not sell as well here. He’s edited Inoue Takehiko’s Vagabond, which comes out via Viz here but is a Kodansha series in Japan, and he talked very amusingly about Inoue-san’s workplace habits and how they brainstorm. He’s also edited Anno Moyoco, and talked about Sakuran (licensed here by Vertical) and Hataraki Man (sadly unlicensed). She apparently is known for tearing up her rough sketches when she gets different ideas, which can be frustrating. We also saw some rough sketches of Inuyashiki, but the panel had to end there.

After that, I ran into Erica Friedman, who was only going to be at the con today, so I hung out with her for a bit. I wanted to get back to the panels to get in early enough to make the Attack on Titan Anthology panel. As with most years, this meant I room camped into a panel where I had no idea what it was but it ended up being a big surprise. In this case, it was The Future of Comics in New Realities, a panel hosted by Madefire, a motion comics app that has turned a lot of heads.

On the panel was Christina Mancini, who’s in charge of Franchise Development at Fox; Ted Gagliano, who is also at Fox and is in charge of Post-Production; Nick Hooker, head of Frame Store visual effects; Matt Hooper from Oculus; and much to my surprise, Dave Gibbons, who was the artist on the old Doctor Who Weekly/Monthly comic strips back in the Tom Baker and Peter Davison days, and yes, also something called Watchmen, I guess. I did not get to ask him if he was nicknamed Funky Gibbons as a teen, which is probably for the best.

The panel talked about the impact virtual reality is having on creation, both in the comics medium and outside it. The use of comic narrative is as old as the hills (indeed, some hills contain cave paintings). It doesn’t have to be totally realistic, which allows it to be more powerful. And with VR, you can actually shift your perspective of the art away from a 2-D image. Indeed, with the arrival of comics on a tablet, the idea that print is a necessity is becoming a thing of the past. A comic artist doesn’t need $100 million to create their vision the way that, say, a visual effects studio might.

The other discussion of the panel was how to engage content that helps the brand of whatever Fox is merchandising. That’s what Christina is in charge of. I found this fascinating, coming from old-school fanfic writing which always had disclaimers out the wazoo and would never, ever be part of a corporate platform. But Fox is reaching out to find ways to make this work, and virtual reality can be a shared bonding experience. It can also be a tool for women and people of color to work in genres traditionally ruled by straight white men and sometimes co-opt them for other uses.

You’re also getting new, up-and-coming artists ho find that virtual reality is the best way to express themselves as craftsmen. Every new medium brings new ways to draw in both fans and creators – Gibbons talked about comic strips being used as a way to get readers to buy the newspapers, and they also mentioned Twitch TV’s recent marathon of Bob Ross, where the comments flying across the screen almost became an artform of their own – content commenting on content is a very new thing, and it uses new mediums such as concepts of virtual reality. It can be difficult – sometimes creators try to hard to be special or go above and beyond, when simpler ideas can be very effective by themselves. They then had an announcement that the Madefire App was going to have Motion Comics, the first ones to use virtual reality as a platform, with some nice panorama work.

After this came the Attack on Titan Anthology panel, with several of the creators involved. In addition to editors Ben Applegate and Janine Shaffer, we had Genevieve Valentine, Brendan Fletcher, and Jorge Corona, each of whom did excellent work in the Anthology itself. Most of them were drawn to the project through the anime, and Genevieve was drawn to the period before it began – the 100 years of peace they had before the Outer Wall was breached. For Brendan, this also conveniently came between the end of his team’s Batgirl run, and before they began a new project with Image; in fact, doing nice gory Titan art helped focus them on their new stuff as well.

This is not an anthology for the squeamish; in many ways, it’s even more brutal than the main series, and Ben joked about telling the writers and artists to kill more people in more horrible ways. One of then reasons people love AoT is that you’re never quite sure if the cast are safe or not. After discussing their love for the series, we got Q&A, and much to my amusement we had a guy who’d never even read or seen the series, but now wanted to pick it up! My favorite question was about the approval process from Japan, and Ben said they had no issues with the dramatic stories, but the comedic ones were more difficult, as Japan has a different relationship with violence and humor together. Ben apparently sent them Deadpool comics to show what it’s like here!

My final panel of the day was one on Marketing Yourself on Tumblr. Being fairly active in various Tumblr fandoms, I was quite curious about this. There were three Tumblr staffers there, as well as three creators – and this was very much a panel designed for the creator of content rather than the casual reblogger. Nick Tapalansky is a comic writer, Kendra Wells draws, and C.B. Cebulski not only is a talent scout for Marvel Comics (for which he uses Tumblr), but also has his own Tumblr foodie blog!

Microblogging is, of course, why most people use Tumblr. There are many ways a creator can both analyze their core audience and reach out to them. There’s Tumblr Analytics, which can tell you which posts are most popular. Suggested Artists and Tumblr Radar also help guide you to other, like-minded Tumblr blogs. You can also queue our posts so they don’t get spammed tol someone’s dash all at once (I am very bad at this, I will admit.)

Art theft was discussed, and it mentioned how copyright theft (someone took my art from another site I control and put it on Tumblr) is different from misattribution (someone took what I put on Tumblr, took my name off it and posted it as theirs). Tagging was discussed, and how monumentally important it is to gain readers and followers. You can use tags to ‘lure’ readers into your demographic, but don’t go overboard – that’s just spam. If you like site design, you can design your Tumblr site to look however you want. If you hate site design, use Mobile, where all sites look the same. You can have multiple Tumblr blogs linked to the same account, and art blogs are popular, along the lines of ‘Ask (Character XX)’. Most importantly, the best way to get popular on Tumblr is to do what you do – if you love your work, it will get noticed.

I had to leave early so missed the Q&A, but overall four very enjoyable panels, and I got to walk around the show floor when it wasn’t a madhouse (i.e., Saturday).

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