Friday, March 02, 2007

NYCC REPORT (better late than never!)

This past weekend was a bit of a whirlwind: Evan & I flew out to New York to stay with our buddy at Columbia and attend NEW YORK COMIC CON! And yeah, basically everyone else has already posted their con reports, but it's taken me a few days to get this thing pieced together. In between freezing our asses off, hanging out all night with new & old friends, and dropping by a few touristy spots, we managed to get to NYCC for a few hours on Friday night and most of Saturday.

As some other bloggers have mentioned, NYCC itself was a mixed bag this year, as far as programming & exhibitors go. It wasn't nearly as well-planned or glitzy as San Diego, while at the same time the indie scene kids that show up at things like APE were nowhere to be found. I have high hopes for future incarnations, but so far the con doesn't seem like it really knows what it wants to be about yet: celebrities? manga? media tie-ins? the mainstream comic hegemony?

[EDIT: Here is the best recap of the con I've seen yet, in 4-panel comic form by Michael Kupperman!]

- Taking an actual vacation from work and going on a cross-country trip like Evan & I used to do in the old days.
- Hanging out three consecutive nights with an utterly awesome crew of friends (me, Evan, Nate, Anne from Vertical, Eric & Michelle from Giant Robot) for drinks, Oscars watching and karaoke madness.

NEWS & NOTABLES FROM NYCC (according to Same Hat):
  • Vertical in 2007 is lined up to be the new manga powerhouse and moving into awesome territory. At their booth, Vertical handed out thick manga samplers highlighting their upcoming titles. I picked up my official copy of To Terra Vol.1 by Magnificent 49er Keiko Takemiya, and that book does NOT disappoint. I'm about 2/3 through it as of right now, so I'll post properly once I've had a chance to digest it (and read the Vol.2 preview!).

    Their Aranzi Aronzo line of toy/craft books are off and running (and so damn cute), but the big news for us is the summer release of Tezuka's APOLLO SONG. They describe it as "Philip Roth meets Philip K. Dick," and it'll be another immaculate huge-form edition similar to Ode To Kirihito. What more could you ask for? Other upcoming manga releases in late 2007 include 3 volumes of the Guin Saga manga, Takemiya's Andromeda Stories and Tezuka's MW (I know, HOLY SHITBALLS!).

    Also from Vertical, on the purely textual front-- David Kalat's J-Horror tome looks to be very solid. We've included pics & clips from his talk below.

  • Good & bad news on the horror manga front from Viz & Dark Horse. I wouldn't go as far as to say that Dark Horse stopped caring about horror manga in 2007 (ouch!), but that was definitely the image they were projecting at NYCC. To be clear, we still love Dark Horse and have been buying up all the adventurous & high-quality horror manga they've been putting out. However, we are slightly worried about their committment to these titles, and the booth presence didn't help to assuage these fears.

    Their booth was Star Wars & Hellboy-d out, with a few copies of Trigun on the table for effect. They DID feature a really gorgeous MPD Psycho banner (and the DH guy I know via work was really excited about the series), but no Ito, no Umezu and no Housui Yamazaki. Check out this note on the MPD Psycho DH page: "Originally licensed by another U.S. publisher, MPD-Psycho was deemed too shocking for them to release. But Dark Horse is always prepared to give manga readers what they want!" Interesting stuff-- does anyone know who originally licensed this one?

    We did get official word though (as if you couldn't guess it): Museum of Terror 4 (and beyond) is NOT happening. Bummer x1000 on that one.

    In other horror news, Viz confirmed officially that they will be re-releasing Gyo & Uzumaki under their Signature imprint (home to Drifting Classroom and Golgo 13). This is great news because 1) the titles have become semi-out of print and hard to track down and 2) the Signature editions will be unflipped in the original Japanese format. Nice work, Viz!

  • The old dudes still know how to work it. NYCC didn't feature any of the contemporary artists I've been dying to finally meet, like Charles Burns, Michael Kupperman or Lynda Barry, but the old guard of white dudes was in full effect, including JIM STERANKO, STAN LEE and... ROB LIEFELD?? See below for pics!

  • Meeting lovely people is easy (when you know where to look). We had really good luck meeting and hanging out with the Giant Robot kids, Brigid from MangaBlog, Stephen from Fanfare, author David Kalat & book designer Chip Kidd. Pictures below!

  • The Indie comics/Manga/female readership thing is NOT HAPPENING: the overarching vibe at NYCC. Eric nailed this on his blog, saying "Comicons are usually about comics and what's around it, but NY is still in the dark ages. Comics reign. The toy thing isn't really happening in NYC." We really had a fucking blast, but I certainly felt the comics old guard was in full effect both among attendees and a majority of exhibitors.

  • We missed some people this time-- APE, San Diego here we come! Unfortunately, we didn't get a chance to run into a few bloggers/readers that we were hoping to meet in person. Typolad, Pedro, Chris-- sorry we missed you! Let us know if you'll be at APE or San Diego and we'll remedy this with a quickness! (FYI: Same Hat is tabling as part of the Bang Gang at APE again this year, with our friends Derek, Hellen & Anthony)


The very generous Stephen Robson, editor of Fanfare/Ponent Mon, hooked us up with free books and told us about his upcoming releases. We're planning to do a big post soon, featuring the beautiful graphic novels they've put out, including the award-winning Japan: As Viewed by 17 Creators, amazing Jiro Taniguchi books and Kazuichi Hanawa's Doing Time.

Manga blogger powerhouses finally come face to face! We were absolutely delighted to meet & chat with Brigid Alverson of MangaBlog! Anne & I decided that she'd basically be the coolest aunt ever, and are demanding she adopts us. If you don't already read it, (You don't? Are you a loooser?) MangaBlog is basically THE place for a daily round-up of all things manga-related on the web. I check it every morning over my first cup of coffee :)

David Kalat, author of Vertical's new J-Horror: The Definitive Guide to The Ring, The Grudge and Beyond, gave a really informative and well-researched talk with lots of video clips (including a Bollywood remake of The Eye!). Hopefully we'll be able to feature an interview with him in an upcoming post as the book's release gets closer.

Clip of David talking about the codification of J-horror standards: black hair, white dresses, scary female ghosts:

David talking about the J-Horror trend of filmmakers making & remaking the same stories:

Dark Horse's house of comics & film tie-ins (but not manga)

Wait, I lied-- Here is their MPD PSYCHO banner!

Tokyo Pop's fully-stocked store/booth.

HANDS DOWN, best cosplayer of the entire con! The Stormtrooper King!

Spiderman cosplayer is bringing sexy/black.

Fanboys abound, including this dude with the BEST SHIRT EVER. (yes, that is a silk ninja vs. viper bowling shirt)

After seeing this, my current obsession with the new Dr. Who will never be the same.



Living legend (and Karl fucking Lagerfeld look-alike) JIM STERANKO! We bought beautiful calendar pin-ups of naked female superheroes from him.

STAN the man LEE, famous for his numerous film appearances. Oh yeah, and inventing every superhero archetype ever.

Somehow Rob Liefeld honestly hasn't aged a single day. He still draws thighs the size of oak trees and heads the size of Beanie Babies.

After the con, we found our way to Kinokuniya NYC & BOOK OFF:

Death Note...coming soon to American theaters?

Out on DVD already, the MAIL movie adaptation?!

The Cromartie High School live action film on DVD!

TOKYOPOP we love you, but how can you beat the original Japanese covers of Dragon Head?

BLOWS YOUR MIND: Dragon Head Volume 1 original cover

...and Volume 4

...and Volume 10

Well, we'll be back in NYC again soon, most definitely, but for now:

Goodbye snow!


Anonymous said...

Is the Dragonhead manga any good? I saw the live action movie a while back and it was boring.

Ryan said...

k0ma: Yeah, I heard the movie was pretty awful from a few people. The manga is definitely slow, but I think it's one of the most tense & creepy series being publishing right now (and it's only 9 bucks a volume!). I am anxiously awaiting volume 6, coming out next month.


Anonymous said...

Alright, I'll check it out sometime.

By the way, this is a cool blog. I've been reading it for a long time, actually. You guys seem to like some of the same stuff I do.

adrienne said...

Ryan! That's some crazy sh*%! Wow! So that's why you were there!! You might wanna know that some cool Japanese anarchist bibycle punks will be in your neighborhood from March 8-22nd. Look at my blog for contact info.

Ryan said...

k0ma: thanks for continuing to read the blog-- it sounds like you have good taste (!) . We're working on posting more regularly, and appreciate the support :)

adrienne: it was a really wild weekend! i have some silly pics of nate & i singing danzig & the dead kennedys, etc. etc. Oh, yes-- I AM planning on attending the SF anarchist book fair, so I will try to look up your bike punk friends. Thanks for the head's up :) Hope I get to see you again before too long!


Anonymous said...

Damn, those Dragonhead covers are bloody amazing. I didn't even see those! nooooo~!!! Why in the hell were they changed??...I only read the first two volumes myself, not bad. That's too bad about the movie being awful, I didn't acctually watch it so as not to spoil the story for me...

As for comics I ended up buying mostly french stuff at the con (alot of Joann Sfar, specifically "Dungeon" which I just recently got into). But I did stop by Vertical and it was really great to see all they're doing and planning to do. I'm curious about Tezuka's Apollo's Song now, after reading their sampler.

Sounds like you guys had a cool time.

Ryan said...

pedro: I'm the same way with the Dragon Head movie--- it actually came out to theaters when I was living in Osaka, but i've resisted renting here in SF until I've read the entire manga. I just finished volume 5, and it's one of the best volumes since the beginning of the story. There were more than a few "HOLY FUCKING SHIT! NO WAY!" moments along the way. But yeah, the Tokyopop covers look a little like adventure meets silent hill something, and I prefer the design-centric, strange coloring, weird typesetting on these japanese editions.

Oh!! I just really got into Sfar as well, and have read the first two books of Dungeon myself, over Christmas. I seriously think that Dungeon: Duck Heart vol. 1 is one of the funniest comics i've ever read. Vamprire Loves from :01 is really really sweet and very 'european' to me, whatever that means. Let me know what stuff you like... He is writing a Mummy love story that will be coming out from :01 in a few months, I think :)


Brendan said...

I cannot wait to get MPD Psycho in English, that makes sense! Woooo

Anonymous said...

Those original Dragon Head covers are so much better than the English-language ones. You've got to wonder why they changed them.

Ryan said...

brendan: yeah, us too! MPD was floating around in scanlation form for a long while, but as it's release is imminent, most of the files have been taken down. As much as we love and support scanlations, I'm most happy when series get a proper, nicely-packaged release. The main question--- will DH put out ALL 10 volumes ??

jones: I KNOW! it was tempting to buy the entire series from book-off just to have them as eye candy around the house. I was gonna say that it must be a cover/copyright restriction thing, when I remembered that the German editions of Dragonhead (published by Panini Comics) retained the original japanese covers. See the german editions here!


Anonymous said...

Yes. The german editions have the original covers. And what´s even better: The series is already finished over here. (Even though book 10 is out-of-print, one of the smartest marketing moves imaginable).

I really loved Dragon Head, although it suffers, in spots, from either bad translation or general unintelligibility - I couldn´t yet figure out which of the two.

Brendan said...

Yeah I got through about 6 volumes of the scanlations.. hopefully it get's a full release so I can finish it off ! :)

Love the blog by the way, it's been a great learning resource for me getting into more horror manga :D

Ryan said...

myk: The US edition of Dragon Head hasn't yet hit any patches of unintelligibility (here's hoping that remains), but Dragon Head is a very different type of comic-reading experience--- similar to other manga, but a very extreme version of some trends in horror. The term that I've heard thrown around is "Decompression" and Dragon Head DEFINITELY exemplifies this-- check out the wikipedia entry here for more details and share your thoughts.

brendan: Thanks for the support-- always glad to share the wealth and learn as much as we can from you guys.