ATLANTA, Ga. — The ComicsPRO annual membership meeting wrapped up on a note of optimism and looking toward the future, as ComicsPRO president Thomas Gaul led a casual Q&A to close the meeting. Overall, the 2014 ComicsPRO meeting spurred a lot of discussion. Comic book writer, digital publisher and comic shop owner Mark Waid struck a collaborative tone in his keynote, talking about his years working in all aspects of the industry, and how he had underestimated the strength of the community created in comics retail.
Eric Stephenson, the recipient of the ComicsPRO Industry Appreciation Award, drew lots of attention in the meeting and on the internet with a speech, given at Image’s sponsored breakfast, about the strength of the direct market and his belief that the best possible items comic stores could push are new stories and situations original to comics.
“The full scope of what comics are and what comics can be is what will ultimately bring the world into your stores,” Stephenson said.
The increase in sponsors and vendors for the event actually led to an event that was sold out on the sponsorship side. The desire of more vendors to get in front of direct market retailers speaks to the continuing strength of that market, which according to numbers reported by Diamond Comics Distributors, saw another sales increase in 2013.
- The Andre the Giant biography from First Second seems likely to draw a lot of attention, as does “Wrenchies” by former Oklahoman Farel Dalrymple.
- Image Comics had a preview of “Shutter” from Joe Keatinge and Leila del Duca to show to retailers. The fantasy-adventure series debuts in April.
- Dynamite said fans can expect a consistent trade dress across its line of comics based on the Gold Key properties.
- Dark Horse is promoting “Hellboy Day” on March 22 to celebrate the character’s 20th anniversary; Mike Mignola was on hand at the conference to talk to retailers about the property. Dark Horse will produce an all-new sampler comic featuring two stories from Mignola: “The Ghoul” and “Another Day at The Office.” The sampler will also feature two new stories by Mignola, Fabio Moon, and R. Sikoryak.
- Louise Simonson will write “Super Secret Crisis War!” from IDW, featuring a crossover starring heroes of some of Cartoon Network’s most popular shows.
- Valiant Comics hosted an opening night reception, and provided samples of its upcoming chromium variant comics tying into its “Armor Hunters” storyline. It also provided retailers a sneak peek at the upcoming launch of “Rai,” which will be previewed in a sampler sent to stores.
- Papercutz plans a large rollout for its latest LEGO comic, “Legend of Chima,” including store contests.
- Oklahoma note: Local writer Rob Vollmar’s “Bluesman” was mentioned as an NBM property still under option for motion picture development.
- ComicsPRO members received a special edition of the Archaia comic “Hacktivist,” created by Alyssa Milano.
- Boom! Studios had video messages from several creators and showed art from several comics, in addition to its bombshell Paul Levitz announcement and its Innovator program with retailers. ”Lumberjanes” could be a sleeper hit.
- Unofficial estimates were that the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund raised $18,000 at the ComicsPRO auction.
- Titan’s biggest announcement included details of its upcoming “Doctor Who” series, which will include series starring the 10th and 11th Doctor to start.
- Archie Comics hosted a cocktail reception and provided variant covers to its hit comic “Afterlife with Archie.” Artist Francesco Francavilla also made an appearance to visit with retailers and sign copies.