Back from HeroesCon… Back to the blog… Not quite back from the dead, but here goes..
Heroes was my first comic book convention, and it was an eye-opening experience in a number of ways. Going to a convention definitely gives you a new perspective on the industry. And I must say that after seeing footage and hearing stories of other cons… Heroes seems to be one of the cooler ones. The “dress-up” was kept to a minimum… lots of cool creators that were very approachable… a manageable size… lots of indie books.
Among the things I learned:
1. For the most part comics creators are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met.
I was blown away by how nice and supportive everyone was. There is something unique about the comis industry… and I believe it’s due to it’s size. No one is in comics to become famous or rich (because it doesn’t happen)… they are there because they LOVE it. And there is an immediate connection over that. Creators want other creators to become successful. They want to embrace new readers… to grow the industry. There is a love of craft that I haven’t found in any other industry. It reminds me of the local music scene growing up. Special thanks to Kevin, Dennis, Chris, Ray, Renae, Margeaux, Jared, Erik & Van for letting me hang out & get to know them over the weekend.
2. The industry takes the online vocal minority WAY too seriously.
I sat in on a few panels over the weekend, which were mostly enjoyable. But one thing I realized after a Comics Journalism panel & a “state of the industry” panel, is that the journalists take themselves too seriously and the companies listen way too much to the online community.
In the state of the industry panel, I saw Dan Didio being VERY defensive about his decisions at DC. Who is he defending against? He clearly listens to the online community, which is great, but he gives them way too much power. The truth is, with all business, that sales speak louder than words. Dan, if you want to know if a book is successful, stop listening to the vocal MINORITY of the internet, and start looking at sales. I know that DC ultimately does this, but man, did I get a sense some bitterness from him. If reading how much people hate your crossovers makes you angry and bitter, maybe you need to stop reading it. Someone’s always going to hate what you do. What these big publishers need to be looking at it sales. If an event is successful, do it again. If the comics community thinks it sucks so bad, why do they keep buying it? I stopped buying the big crossovers because I haven’t read one yet that truly impressed me.
Now, there is a use for the online community, but I think this has to do more with smaller titles and smaller publishers. These publishers can’t exist without that small community. And with smaller titles, the online community is a great way to get feedback and see which books are hits or misses based on quality and not just sales (because there are some titles that just due to the state of the industry, aren’t going to sell well, but they may be the book that helps push the envelope of what a comic book can do.)
(More on journalists in a future post)
3. The independent comics industry is even smaller than I thought.
There is a LOT of product out there, and NOT that many people to buy it. When I visit my local comic book store, it’s easy to be fooled into thinking that there are only a handful of books outside of the top 4 or 5 comic book companies… but at Heroes, my eyes were opened to a world of DIY creators & much smaller publishers. And the thing I had to realize is every idea that I’ve had to “grow” the industry or market comics in a new way… it’s already being done.
4. The comics industry is not all 30-something white males.
It was very refreshing to see a crowd that ranged from male to female, toddler to elderly, black to white, & everything in between. I did not expect this as I’m constantly told that this is an “issue” that needs to be overcome in comics… but I would have a hard time finding a voice that wasn’t represented at this convention.
5. Disney’s Kingdom Comics are going to kick ass.
I sat in on a panel for this with the guys running the company, Ahmet Zappa & Christian Beranek. Here’s the company in bullets:
• 9 books re-imagining some of Disney’s live-action films from the 70’s & 80’s.
• They are also looking to do new original books.
• Scott Lobdell & Steve Niles are both on board to write one book each.
• All the books will be PG-13 adventures with eccentric adult heroes (think Pirates or National Treasure)
• Yes, they are looking for potential film franchises if any of the books are successful, but that’s not the driving force behind the company.
• They will have the full force of Disney marketing behind them, but exist on their own.
• The first book will come out in late summer 2009.
• No titles have been announced but Zappa teased with “What is Disney’s Batman?”
My guess? Condorman.