The 2013 edition of the New York Comic Con may be behind us, but the myriad of announcements, releases, and comic book related news items featuring companies besides the "big two" will be shaking the industry for weeks to come. From panels to press releases emailed to virtually everyone with a press pass, a summary of the best of these may still be a hefty task! Still, look below for the best of these news items from the last 48 hours!
Move over San Diego! The NYCC's tallies are in!
Reed Exhibitions is the company which has been hosting and organizing the New York Comic Con since 2007, and once again organized a great and exciting con. Vice president Lance Fensterman claimed that over 130,000 attendees visited the convention this weekend. It is a drastic increase from the 116,000 fans who clogged the Javits Center last year and the 15,000 who turned up for first such con in 2007. This number is extraordinary considering that efforts were made to prevent people getting in with fake badges, which was a reported problem last year (and previous years). This attendance number is roughly equal to the annual San Diego Comic Con held every summer in California, even if that con attracts more media giants and movie stars.
Despite dozens of indie comics publishers having a presence at the con from Archie Comics or Image Comics to smaller ones such as Big Dog Ink, for many it was Dark Horse Comics who rose above the roost for announcements this year. The biggest of which was an announcement that Dark Horse would unite with Dynamite Comics to have a crossover between their licensed "Conan the Barbarian" book (written by Brian Wood) and Dynamite's "Red Sonja" comic (written by Gail Simone). Specifics weren't known but what was known was that both Wood and Simone would co-write the joint venture together and that it would count within each book's continuity. It has been at least 15 years since the characters last met, back when both were under license to Marvel Comics.
In addition, writer Greg Rucka (formerly of DC Comics who is currently rocking sales for Image Comics with "Lazarus") is launching another creator owned comic called "Veil" with Dark Horse. He will be teamed with artist Toni Fezjula (a regular artist at Dark Horse, having worked on "Ghost" and "Buffy the Vampire Slayer") to tell the story of a mysterious girl with amnesia who wakes up in a subway station who seems able to kill anyone who attempts to harm her. The cover for the debut issue seems to imply that she can control rats. While Rucka proved expendable to both DC Comics and Marvel Comics (his "Punisher" run sold poorly), he's since gone on to increase his star power with his own projects.
Dark Horse also made the official announcement that Joss Whedon's "Serenity" would return as a licensed comic with the company. Zach Whedon would be in charge with the scripts for the series with "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" artist Georges Jeanty; Joss Whedon will likely be credited as a co-writer or plotter although he is busy with films and TV shows for Marvel these days. It will be "a cornerstone of Dark Horse's 2014 line up". In additional "Whedonverse" news, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" as well as spin off comic "Angel & Faith" would return in 2014; it would be considered the "tenth season" for the former. "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" is written by Christos Gage and drawn by Rebekah Isaacs, while "Angel & Faith" is written by Victor Gischler and drawn by Will Conrad. Considering that Dark Horse's lucrative "Star Wars" licensed comics will soon come to an end since Disney's purchase of both LucasArts and Marvel Comics, Dark Horse has settled on relying on a different mix of licensed properties, creator owned series and relaunches of old series to thrive.
David Lapham will also be kicking off two creator owned series with Dark Horse, which he will both write and draw. The first, "Juice Squeezers", is a four issue mini about an eclectic team of tweens who wind up being the sole defense of a small town against a legion of giant bugs. The second, "Kid McAlister", is a five issue mini about the ghost of a 50 year old gunslinger which finds itself inside the body of a 12 year old boy. "Juice Squeezers" goes on sale on New Year's Day 2014, while "Kid McAlister" starts up May 7th.
ComiXology teams with more companies and analyzes readers!
ComiXology, the major comic reading application available on most mobile and computer devices, made a series of announcements before and during the con. The biggest was a collection of data in regards to their readership as their 200,000th digital comic was downloaded. While Marvel and DC Comics have held surveys and focus groups at retailers and online sources to try to take tallies of their readership, ComiXology is in a unique position being the major distributor of digital comics. Such facts include only 25% of digital comic readers are pirates, 2/3rds read comics at night and most readers spend over $100 on digital comics a year, with 25% spending $400 a year. The most notable is that their female readership has increased 20% within the past three months; this seems to confirm evidence based on Tumblr, Twitter, and attendance at comic cons that many women enjoy comics which are not manga.
In addition, ComiXology has arranged distribution deals with VIZ Europe (and its French side group "Kaze") as well as Avatar Press to sell their digital comics exclusively. This continues the rise of the company within the past seven years as the heavyweight champion of digital comics selling - the Diamond Distribution of online comics. As comics become more available outside of comic shops and available on any hand held device from phones to iPads, this allows the audience for comics to expand beyond the stereotypes of a generation ago. The companies that adapt to that will thrive, and the ones who dig in their heels will struggle.