All the News That Fits We Print1 of 12So another major con has come and gone … and the winner is..?
Probably the con itself.
Marvel certainly took a proactive approach to winning the real estate battle for industry press. They showed off the most new stuff by far and its Secret Wars announcement and subsequent surprise Monday Civil War teaser will likely go down as the news people will remember most from this weekend. DC took a more laid back approach, not offering much up in the way of news, as they seem to be holding onto their card for their spring and summer 2015 plans. And as they often are, IDW and Dynamite were some of the more active smaller publishers.
Hollywood is slowly warming up more to NYCC, particularly on the small screen side of things. But Disney’s high profile and star-studded Big Hero 6/Tomorrowland panel may be a sign of things to come.
But all of the above plus attendance figures now eclipsing San Diego means NY Comic Con is probably not done evolving. We’ll have more on that in a few moments because 9 more of the 10 most interesting things (for us) about this year’s edition of NYCC.
A License To Print Money?2 of 12Gone are the days when licensed comics were considered pandering and inconsequential – some of announcements at NYCC were comic books based on licensed properties… even some you might not expect.
Dynamite kicked of the convention with a one-two punch, announcing their plans to do official James Bond comics and also a line of titles based on King Features Syndicate’s pulpy newspaper heroes.
Archie and Dark Horse followed that up with a crossover between Archie and the Predator (the latter of which Dark Horse licenses).
On the video game front we had several bits of news, from a EVE: Valkyrie series from Dark Horse and more news about Archie’s planned crossover between Sonic the Hedgehog and Mega Man.
We also had Marvel announce yet another Star Wars series, this time featuring Kanan from the just-launched Star Wars: Rebels animated series.
We also saw animation new and old come to comics in the case of Oni’s Rick & Morty and IDW’s Jem & the Holograms announcements.
All that, and James Patterson makes his Marvel with an adaptation of his Max Ride series.
Then there is DC’s Wonder Woman ‘77.
While DC of course owns Wonder Woman through and through, Wonder Woman ‘77 is unique because it has the license to use the looks of the actors and actresses who played the major roles in that series – Lynda Carter being one of them.
Can Superman ‘78 be far behind?
Disney Plays up BIG HERO 6’s Comic Roots3 of 12Hey, did you like that Marvel movie Guardians of the Galaxy? Well then, great… did you know there’s another Marvel movie coming out in November? You didn’t? Hmmm..
Although Big Hero 6 has been promoted for over a year now as Disney’s next big animated feature, it never really played up the project’s connection to comic books, specifically Marvel. But during its Thursday double-feature panel of Big Hero 6 and Tomorrowland they made sure people knew.
Over the course of their half of the presentation, the directors and cast mentioned Marvel by name at least five times, each time playing up the idea that this was a joint production by Marvel and Disney’s animation studio. Co-director Don Hall even name-checked Big Hero 6’s original creators, Duncan Rouleau and Steven T. Seagle, and even pointed out Marvel Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada, who was in the audience, and thanked him for his guidance “throughout the process.”
And in the final clip from the evening, there was even a title card saying “Inspired by the Marvel Comics Series.”
While Marvel has done little on their side to emphasize their connection to Big Hero 6, even balking at reprinting the original stories, something seems to have changed internally at Disney to play up the film’s connection to Marvel. Maybe it’s just a case of the lid being off the PR jar.
Whatever did or did not change, however, Disney can't lose by playing up the connection. Advance buzz on Big Hero 6 is growing by the day and there is literally no stronger brand in film right now than Marvel. Connecting the two as much as possible is a win-win-win, for Disney (and their Walt Disney Animation Studios that made the film), Marvel Comics, and their shareholders.
POWERS Comes to Life4 of 12TV was really all the rage at New York Comic Con; with more and more TV shows shooting in New York and along the East Coast in cities like Atlanta, it’s an easy trip (certainly easier than from Hollywood); with comic books taking over television, it was really only natural.
Powers had a “just missed” TV life on another network, but Sony Pictures Television came through with an innovative, Netflix-esque deal. At the panel showing off the series for the first time, they brought the cast, brought a trailer, and brought news: the show will be completely free for PlayStation Plus subscribers and hit the service this winter.
But they also notably brought the creators of the comic, Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming. Sure, Robert Kirkman has set this precedent with The Walking Dead, but it’s important to note in this way because Sony Pictures is a massive entity and an idea - even if it bares some similarities to Netflix original series - like this is new and risky. Bringing the creators out front-and-center to promote it, not to mention having Oeming appear in the series through his art and voice, and having Bendis write full episodes for the series… well, it feels like the dawning of a new age. Just as Image Comics is now attracting some of the biggest names in comics to go create something of their own, the Powers TV panel and how it was presented sure seems to mark a new era for that medium.
Spider-Gwen And The Things You Can’t Engineer5 of 12As mainstream comic books become more and more brand-oriented - as marketing continues to drive more and more of the creative process - it becomes fascinating when a small idea takes on a life of its own. It reminds us there’s often a chemical reaction greater than the sum of its part that happens that publishers can’t purposely engineer ... that branding and marketing can’t create or replicate through sheer willpower.
As Dan Slott admitted over the weekend, “Spider-Gwen” was one line in a Spider-Verse script that Marvel and the creative team Jason Latour and Robbi Rodriquez ran with and expanded into a tie-in one-shot.
But of all the five characters featured in that Edge of Spider-Verse series, Marvel probably had no idea what an instantaneous reaction fans and retailers would have to Spider-Gwen specifically. So much so that Marvel clearly fast-tracked an ongoing series to try to capture the moment. Indeed, even Latour himself told Newsarama, “I can’t think of another example of the public voting so fast and having it turn around.”
And it’s not like Spider-Gwen is some brand new concept - she’s just a clever amalgamation of already fan-friendly concepts, and who knows how long her instant popularity will last. But if does serves to remind us that sometimes the hits … the things that speak to fans … can’t be built in a lab or created at an annual retreat. Sometimes the least expected idea will have the biggest impact, and maybe that’s something both of the big publishers can take to heart.
The Big Con6 of 12Comic-Con International: San Diego has been known to the mainstream public as a kind of “mecca” for American comic book fans – but its time on top of the mountain might be precarious. This past weekend, NYCC organizer and head of ReedPOP Lance Fensterman told us that the convention had over 151,000 unique attendees this year – which would be over 20,000 more than what San Diego’s latest estimates. And there’s no reason why New York might not do it again, or go bigger next year.
For San Diego’s part, they have a good reason why they’ve been eclipsed in attendance: the San Diego Convention Center and the city itself only holds so many visitors – again an estimated 130k being the limit. The convention organizers have taken steps to increase the capacity – from lobbying the city of San Diego to expand the convention center, as well as hosting events outside of the convention building in secondary locations.
Critics of San Diego’s convention say that while “comics” remains in the name, it’s being overshadowed – in booth space, and in attendance – by films, television, video games, and other media. And while George Clooney surprising the world with an appearance Thursday at the Disney panel probably helped raise the NYCC profile in Hollywood, New York still isn’t quite up to par with its cross-country rival in terms of that mainstream media x-factor.
Whether that’s a good or bad thing depends on who you ask. New York and San Diego attendance figures won’t be the only basis for comparisons in the coming years, the evolution of their respective souls will be closely watched as well.
The End Is Fourever, And The Silence Is Deafening7 of 12Most interesting about Marvel “officially” confirming the cancellation of Fantastic Four with next year’s #645 wasn’t what they said, but what they didn’t say.
The fact that FF was ending was an already established fact prior to the weekend. Hachette is Marvel’s official mass market book distributor and there is little ambiguity in the Marvel-generated solicitation copy that found its way online a couple of weeks ago.
Rumors are now widespread that’s there’s a relationship between Marvel’s handing of the Fantastic Four and friction between Marvel and 20th Century Fox over the properties film rights - rumors that aren’t just contained to the often-insular online comic book community. Entertainment Weekly, Deadline, and IGN are among more mainstream entertainment outlets that have recently cited the rumors (with Deadline just adding they’ve heard Marvel Studios want to use the characters in future Avengers films), and Marvel isn’t doing much to combat them right now.
The publisher offered no reason why their oldest running series is going away indefinitely and offered no insight into their future, which neither confirms the rumors or means the FF have no future, but is still conspicuous for the lack of info. Asked by Newsarama this weekend to address the perception that exists between the cancellation of the FF and the Marvel-Fox friction rumors, Marvel editor-in-chief Axel Alonso mostly declined, though briefly commented to call the rumors a “conspiracy theory,” suggesting there’s no relationship between the two.
Marvel may have another, more accurate story on their side, but the Internet, like nature, abhors a vacuum. So until Marvel breaks their silence, the perception’s roots will likely grow deeper.
Wait… Marvel Likes Women??8 of 12We kid… we kid… of course they don’t… [rimshot]
Thank you, we’re here all week. Try the veal. Please tip your waitress.
Seriously now, the issue of gender representation in comic books is a much larger one than we can judged by one poorly executed variant cover, and indicting a publisher on how much it values its female customers and members of the creative community over it was probably something of an overreaction in our opinion.
But that said, it is interesting that just a few weeks after Marvel suffered something of a public black eye over Milo Manara’s Spider-Woman cover, they took the occasion of NYCC to announce several female-friendly initiatives.
Not even mentioning hosting a panel on diversity, Marvel announced a variant cover month featuring all female artists, writer G. Willow Wilson taking over the X-Men title, and no less than three new ongoing series starring women – Silk, Spider-Gwen, and Gamora, written by the big-screen Guardians of the Galaxy’s female co-writer Nicole Perlman.
In this tough-to-gauge cultural climate, Marvel probably shouldn’t even acknowledge one way or another whether the announcements were by design. On one hand you want to acknowledge and be responsive to your fanbase’s sensibilities, but on the other hand you might not want it to look likeeyou made a specific point to appeal to females, because then you’re acknowledging you had to - that three new female-starring titles isn’t just business as usual.
But that doesn’t stop us from wondering about it out loud and finding it interesting, whether it was intentional or not.
DAREDEVIL Footage, Cast Wows9 of 12Definitely one of the most buzzed-about events of the convention was the presence of Daredevil, Marvel’s first joint venture TV series with Netflix.
The clips shown at the panel looked like John Romita, Jr. drawings come to life. Vincent D’Onofrio’s bald head and appropriately imposing form was juxtaposed by a scene that showed subtlety and nuance - something superhero movies, and even moreso TV shows, are not exactly known for.
Whether it was the “Man without Fear” makeshift costume (more on that in a sec), the concept of “really, it’ll be more like a 13 hour movie” that Charlie Cox dropped, the clear enthusiasm from the actors, or just that one bald head, fans certainly grasped onto their first look at Daredevil, and talked about it all day Sunday after the Saturday night showing.
Marvel Studios didn’t need a movie at this convention to take over the conversation, not when a TV show can do it just as well.
And btw, it may have just been a coincidence, but Marvel sure responded quickly by pointing out the Frank Miller-JRJr.-connection to the black costume after the initial release of Joe Quesada art was met with a wave of "it looks like the Rex Smith costume" from fandom.
BATMAN Creative Team Reveals High-Selling Clout10 of 12When you have the top-selling ongoing comic for one of the two biggest comic book companies for three years in a row, guess what? It buys you more than a new pair of shoes.
When asked at a spotlight panel at NYCC if editors at DC have ever messed with their vision or tried to dial back their plans, the creators spoke up loudly and definitively.
"We really, Scott and I just plan to lock arms and really fight for our vision," Batman artist Greg Capullo said. "We even have an exit strategy for if we lose a big fight with them on it. Everything Scott does is really thought out, and he'll give you the best stories if you don't get in the way."
Snyder added definitively, “If they try to change a story after the initial approval process, we've always said, we will literally leave in the middle of a story." He said it only very rarely happens, and Capullo thanked fans as their sales give them a lot of leverage.
The pair had already demonstrated their power quite publicly by getting DC to retract a planned increase in the Batman cover price for “Endgame,” but it was very rare and very interesting to hear an active creative team speak so openly about exercising their power over a publisher, particularly when that publisher is the normally super-conservative-about-public-messaging DC Comics.
Marvel’s Anything-But-A-SECRET WARS11 of 12On Thursday evening with some pomp and circumstance, Marvel announced what’s being positioned as it’s big 2015 event: Marvel Super Heroes: Secret Wars. Twelve issues over twelve months beginning in May 2015, written by the writer of its main franchise -- Avengers and New Avengers’ Jonathan Hickman. From the early type and the Alex Ross teaser image, Secret Wars is being framed as Marvel’s biggest event ever – with Marvel Senior Vice President of Publishing Tom Brevoort particularly making an effort to describe the scale of the project as unprecedented.
And that’s kind of where Marvel has to be right now. At NYCC, the publisher announced four series or spectacles that could each be classified as an “event”: Secret Wars, Guardians of the Galaxy & X-Men: The Black Vortex, the “No More Mutants” teaser, as well as the finale of Fantastic Four in “The End is FOURever.” So not only is Marvel hyping that Secret Wars will be bigger than all that’ s come before (like the current Axis and Spider-Verse), but also bigger than things coming down the pipeline at the same time.
It’s all about an escalation these days– both in the marketing and publicizing of the “event” as well as the events within the event. In this case, Secret Wars looks to be a Crisis-style crossover of Marvel heroes from the main “616” universe as well as other universes such as the Ultimate U, the 1602 U, the MC2 U and others throughout both space and time.
If our guess is anywhere on target about their relation, Monday’s didn’t-see-that-coming announcement of a 2015 Civil War #1 only adds to the escalation factor.
But of course that’ll inevitably lead to the question – where they hell do they go from there?
One early totally wild guess - rhymes with heboot.
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