NYCC’s Batman Promotional Poster

Batman Francis Manapul

Batman Francis Manapul

DC released a promotional poster this week for the upcoming New York Comic Con this fall. The art is by Detective comics artist and co-writer, Francis Manapul.

I’d love to have this poster available as a print but I suspect only attendees will have a chance at it. If you want to go to the con, better go over to their site and snap up the last few remaining single day tickets ($35) for Thursday. I highly recommend going on Thursday—it’s the least crowded day and also the day many exhibitors tend to hand out freebies.

The Search for Kids’ Comics at NYCC

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Our haul from this year’s NYCC. Photo: Amy Kraft

New York Comic Con is an increasingly popular event, and kids day sold out faster than anyone could believe this year. But what happens when you take an 8-year-old voracious reader to her third consecutive NYCC? Comics are hard to find.

GeekMom Nicole showed us awesome cosplaying kids, and GeekMom Jackie talked about all the great toys, costumes, and clothes to be found for the young ones, but I went with wallet open ready to take home kid-friendly comics. And lots of them. Much of what was available for kids was in the form of graphic novels from reliable sources. We already owned everything my daughter wanted in the Abrams booth, including Surprise Attack of Jabba the Puppett, the latest in the Origami Yoda series.

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George O’Connor signs his books for my little Leia. Photo: Amy Kraft

Our biggest stop every year is First Second books. This year we grabbed the handful of their books that we didn’t already have. In particular we were seeking Hades: Lord of the Dead and Poseidon: Earth Shaker, the two books in the Olympians series that we don’t have, and were delighted to happen upon George O’Connor signing them. We also bought Zack Giallongo’s Broxo, which has a princess and a young warrior battling the walking dead. I also grabbed Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant, thinking it was good for my daughter. It was a little racy and complicated for her, but older kids may enjoy this badass heroine as I did.

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Gorgeous Adventure Time compilations from Boom Studios. Photo: Amy Kraft

But what of straight-up comic books for kids? I’ll admit that my daughter isn’t so interested in the traditional superhero stuff, so booths like Marvel held no interest for her. We did pick up the first few Adventure Time comics because she’s just started getting into the show. Beyond that, though, there wasn’t much for kids on the main floor. We headed to what is usually the promised land for finding stuff for kids—Artist Alley.

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Gary Fields signs Rocko. Photo: Amy Kraft

Yehudi Mercado was there with his new Pantalones, TX, but alas we have that one already. Vendors we saw last year didn’t have much that was new for kids, but I was able to pick up a few vintage copies of Rocko’s Modern Life signed by Gary Fields himself.

My plea to comic creators is to look at these adorable faces of kids at NYCC and think about making things for them. They’re a hungry, enthusiastic audience. And my plea to NYCC is to court more kids’ content. We hope to come home richer in new comics next year.

New York Comic Con Has Changed…In a Good Way

All photos in this post by Jackie Reeve.

All photos in this post by Jackie Reeve.

I’ve been to New York Comic Con (NYCC) once before, in 2008. That was the first year they held a kids day, and at the time I remember it being pretty disappointing. A lot has changed in five years.

At the time of my first visit I wrote a pretty disheartened post on my personal blog about the kids day misadventure with my brother and eight-year-old nephew. Lots of disorganization, cosplayers who didn’t really want to talk to kids, and a general lack of stuff for kids to do made me write off this con. There were some definite highlights, including panels with Mo Willems and Stan Lee, and an awesomely kid-friendly drawing session with Paolo Rivera. But I haven’t been back since, so I was curious what would be in store going back this year for GeekMom.

I spent two days at Comic Con; Friday on my own, and Sunday with my 18-month-old daughter. There was so much stuff going on for Sunday’s kids day, and I saw lots of happy faces having a great time. My daughter was definitely young for the kids day activities, but she still got a kick out of the atmosphere. She even had her picture taken with Batman.

All photos in this post by Jackie Reeve.

This cosplayer loved photo ops with kids. He was camped out by the main entrance all day.

There were also lots of stalls and shops selling kids’ clothes, costumes, and toys. The publishers who turned up with books had some great stuff to look at and preview, and there were pretty good sales happening on the last day from other vendors. The shops in general were pretty hard to maneuver with a stroller (no big shock there), but The Block section of the convention had some great softies and toys for kids. I stocked up Hannah’s toy chest with these adorable Monster Factory dolls. They’re a Canadian line of dolls that’s just launching in the United States.

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We only stayed for a couple of hours on Sunday; it was way more packed than my first NYCC visit, and we were both exhausted after a while. I got a lot out of my solo time on Friday, though. I knew the crowds were intense, but having been to a much more low-key version in 2008 I wasn’t quite prepared.

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NYCC 2008 (left); NYCC 2013 (right)

I sort of stumbled around for a while on Friday, taking it all in. Then I found myself at the I “Nail” NYCC nail art booth and decided a manicure was in order to get the weekend started. I love my Harry Potter nails; I’m still sporting them a week later. Amy Vega (follow her on Twitter @ElSalonsito!) did an incredible job, and we talked about daughters and the Tumblr she started highlighting her crazy good nail art. I have never had anything but plain polish on my nails, and I am now addicted to nail art.

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I also spent some time talking to Lisa Judson, the General Manager for AMC’s new streaming movie service Yeah!. I’ll be going into more detail about their service in a separate post, but I’m in love with what they’re doing. Think a cross between Pop-Up Video and DVD extras for streaming. And their marketing campaign, “WTF is Yeah!” was pretty genius. It was one of the first things I spotted when I hit the convention floor, and all I could think was, “WTF is Yeah!?”

So I checked it out and loved it. I saw t-shirts and tote bags with that slogan all through the weekend; they were a big highlight for me.

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See the Yeah! banners in the top right of this photo? I was too busy capturing my daughter’s excitement for Transformers, but Yeah! was everywhere.

I was really impressed with the weekend. There were a few GeekMoms at NYCC, and we all came away with something different. There were endless ways to experience the convention, depending on what draws you in. I’ve definitely changed my mind from my last visit.

The Geek Kids Of New York Comic Con

Image: Nicole Wakelin

Image: Nicole Wakelin

This is the fourth New York Comic Con that I’ve had the joy of attending and this year, more than others, the number of kids and parents enjoying the convention created some of my favorite moments of the weekend.

There were so many adorable cosplaying kids! Sometimes it was just one little kid in a costume with her parents, but there were also groups of kids who had clearly worked together and a few parent-kid cooperative outfits. The one thing they had in common was that they were all having fun.

Who doesn't like a good Cheese Doodle? Image: Nicole Wakelin

Who doesn’t like a good Cheese Doodle? Image: Nicole Wakelin

It’s as difficult to go to a big convention like NYCC with kids as it is to go to an amusement park. There are lots of people and lots of things to see and it’s loud and crazy and in your face. It’s easy for parents to forget that everyone is supposed to be having fun. Fun. Not stressing out because everything isn’t perfect, because the fact that you’re sharing this time with your kid means that it is perfect.

Image: Nicole Wakelin

Image: Nicole Wakelin

Let them wander and see what they want to see. Don’t worry if they miss Stan Lee walking two feet away from them because they are completely immersed in the booth with those little electric cat ears that move. The ears are cool.

Image: Nicole Wakelin

Image: Nicole Wakelin

Take joy in the things they find and love, even if this means they discover they cannot get enough of the wonder of Batman and you hate Batman. I don’t know why anyone would hate Batman, but if you do, and your kid loves the guy, get over it and go along for the ride.

He Found Carl! Image: Nicole Wakelin

He Found Carl! Image: Nicole Wakelin

That’s really the key to taking your kids anywhere. Relax. Let them go. Find joy in their discoveries. Oh, and teach them how to cosplay because parent-kid cosplay done right is the most adorable thing on Earth and you’ll have the most embarrassing pictures ever to show their prom dates some day. No. I’d never do that. Just sayin’ it’s an option.

Check out all of my photos of New York Comic Con 2013 on my Total Fan Girl Facebook page.

ComiXology: The Changing Face of Comic Book Readers

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Screenshot of the ComiXology app. Take note of the “New to Comics?” section.

comixology-300x277Yesterday I peeked behind the digital curtain at ComiXology, the cloud-based multiplatform digital comics reader, as co-founder and CEO David Steinberger talked through what’s new for ComiXology, what’s been working well according to a recent survey of over 16,000 readers.

ComiXology just passed the milestone of 200,000,000 downloaded comics. A good handful of those have been downloads in our household. As someone relatively new to comics, ComiXology is my favorite way to read them. I like the shopping experience of having comic book discovery at my fingertips, and the guided view technology used make comics so beautifully cinematic. I’ve been pleased as well with their nice selection of independent and kids’ comics.

It turns out, I’m part of the changing face of comic book readership. In their survey of readers, they found that the core customer of ComiXology is who you might expect:

  • Male
  • Age 27-36
  • Has been reading print comics for a long time

But a new customer is emerging:

  • Female
  • Age 17-26
  • Newer to comics, with many reading comics for the first time digitally

Of buyers new to ComiXology in the last three months, 20% are women. That’s up from less than 5% when they started the app, and it’s a number that Steinberger says is changing rapidly. Comic book publishers, take note. The survey also found that of the readers who were reading their first comic digitally, many went on to buy comics in print. Again, comic book publishers, take note.

I suspect that the ComiXology Submit program is helping, and will continue to help, cultivate new comics readers. In fact, since its launch, Submit has become a top 20 publisher by revenue. Content creators can deliver their independent comics to ComiXology, and if it’s professionally-created, it will likely get approved. (Unless you use Comic Sans. Be prepared to face certain rejection.) Browsing through the independent comics, you’ll see a huge range of voices and styles represented, including many underrepresented voices in mainstream comics. It’s great for creators. Steinberger said he sees much more risk-taking here than in mainstream comics. And these creators can go from having their comics in a few shops to having an international marketplace to find their readers.

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Selections from the Guided View Native content, and new offerings from DC.

Here’s a handful of things I learned about ComiXology:

*  The average ComiXology customer spends about $100/year. A quarter of readers spend over $400/year. A single reader has spent $63,000 and counting. Is it you?

*  There’s a line of comics that are Guided View Native (GVN). These comics take deeper advantage of the deeper platform with cool effects on lighting, focus, etc. Motorcycle Samurai is a good example worth checking out.

*  Your local comic book shop can have a digital storefront that allows you to still give your business to the small guy while buying digitally. Stores can even run deals and keep pull lists for their customers.

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Infographic from ComiXology’s reader survey

Naturally, ComiXology also has some launches and deals to align with New York Comic Con, too:

*  There’s a new Android Holo release with a refreshed design. HD content will now be offered for the first time on Android.
*  Apps have a new Fit to Width function that helps the reading of portrait pages in landscape view.
*  DC graphic novels and collections are now available.
*  If you’ve ever thought about reading The Walking Dead, now’s the time. Issues #1-114 are on sale for $99.99, or $0.99 each.
*  Ape Entertainment is coming to ComiXology, with titles like Sesame Street, Kung Fu Panda, and game-based comics like Cut the Rope. Hurrah for more kids’ comics!

If you’re at New York Comic Con this weekend, definitely check out all that’s new with ComiXology. And have a look around and all of the different types of comic book readers you see.

Grumpy Catbus is Out of Service

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Out of Service by artist Tim Doyle. Image: Spoke Art

I fell in love with Spoke Art last year at New York Comic Con when I bought two prints from their Wes Anderson-inspired Bad Dads show. Then today I discovered this marvelous mashup of Grumpy Cat and My Neighbor Totoro, Out of Service by artist Tim Doyle. This lovely limited-edition print can be yours for a mere $40. I’ll add it to my shopping cart with my pink Mr. T.