Okay, enough of that.
Seriously, it was busy and humid at the Javits Center for the first day of BookExpo America. It's always busier at BEA when the industry's big trade show is held in New York, the King City of Publishing, but this was more crowded and packed than I have seen it in years, including the last NYC BEA. The crowds poured into the aisles smack-dab at nine AM and never really let up: there were even big crowds right down to the wire at the show's 5 PM closing, a time when the throngs have usually thinned out. I'm sure the masses of people didn't help the Javits's apparently overstrained air conditioner systems, because (as I may have mentioned) it was pretty dang hot at the BEA today. If you stared far, far up in the overhead rafters of the big hall you could see some of the tarps that line the ceiling fluttering, but not much of that coolness was getting down to us on the big blue carpet of the Norton booth, and I do believe it passed eighty on the floor today. We were all pretty sweaty by the end of the day, and believe me, a sweaty bull is not something you want to be close to.
I'll say this: a busy day makes for a fast day. There are people to meet 'n' greet, catalogues and galleys to restock, places to go, people to see, and...one of the nicest perks of BEA, plenty of freebies to get...but like I advised you last year, don't be greedy! Don't grab every book you see, even if they're up for offer. In other words, don't be like this guy, loaded down with four bags of galleys and books a mere fifteen minutes after BEA started:
It was a worthwhile and productive day but I'm going to make this a brief post: my hooves, they are a-mooing, and I'm beat and tired. BEA oughta be fun, and it is, but it's hard, hard work! So sit back, relax, be grateful you're home in your lovely cool home, and imagine room temperatures creeping to eighty and above as you peer at my photos of BEA, Day One:
Everybody who's anybody is coming to the fabulous Norton booth! Why can't you see me? Because I am running underfoot carrying catalogues to and fro:
Fabulous Fantagraphics guy Eric Reynolds glances suspiciously at me as I attempt to take more than one free copy of Unseen Peanuts. I promise I am not going to sell them on eBay, Eric!
One of the best things about BEA is meeting face-to-face people I've only "met" so far over the internet. Here I am shakin' hooves with Dandy Douglas Wolk, the mastermind behind the definitive 52 Pickup blog and author of the amazin'-lookin' forthcoming book Reading Comics:
Douglas gave me a cool promotional postcard for the book (you can see it here on the book's MySpace page). Check out his "Seven Strong Opinions About Comics"...they make a compelling springboard for a different kind of book about comics and I'm very excited to read it when it comes out in July. (I pretty much agree with each of the seven points, but especially number seven: "Also, comics are awesome.") Preach on, brother Douglas!
There are all sorts of events and seminars to go to at BEA. One of these days I will be hosting one on how to blog if you are a cute stuffed animal. (Not for you, Giraffo...I said cute!) In the meantime, why not attend this fine event? I ain't needing any help because me write grammar good, but you may find it entertaining:
Like I said, there are lots of great giveaways and freebies at BEA. But sometimes the sweetest giveaway doesn't have anything to do with books at all! Remember though, don't' be greedy! Filling your pockets or tote bag are frowned upon:
Houghton Mifflin's forthcoming The Best American Comics 2007 features Chris Ware as editor and cover designer:
I love working in the book industry, but now I truly know what I wanna be when I grow up: a world-record balloon sculptor.
Adrian Tomine signs posters at the Drawn and Quarterly booth. Also exciting: a new Moomin collection is coming this fall. Hooray, D+Q!
At a busy BEA, it can be tough bein' a little stuffed bull. So it's especially lovely to meet a new friend just my size!:
I of course had to make a pilgrimage to the graphic novel section of the main floor, dominated by the DC mega-booth. Hey, it's the goshdarn Batman!:
I was taking photos in the DC booth when a booming voice called to me: "Hey, no photos of stuffed animals in the booth!" Far from being a tough security guard, it's actually old pal John Cunningham from DC, and we have a lovely chat for a few moments. I'm jealous of where he works, and we discuss the relative merits of working someplace where you not only get to see all the cool new comics, but also you don't have to wear a necktie to work. Now that's a dream job!
DC was displaying a lot of great upcoming stuff. I was told "this year for sure" on this eagerly awaited-book. We'll see!:
DC also had a great display of forthcoming titles from the Minx line, including some advance mock-ups of books and a nice sampler. I think even I want to read some of these. See, Minx comics aren't just for girls:
Hey, look, comin' this fall: 52: The Novel! I'm interested in this but I imagine the storyline is really truncated. We'll see:
Normally publishers at BEA only display their own books and products, but I think DC is pretty canny here in understanding they are also promoting their characters to booksellers when they set up a couple shelves of forthcoming books from other publishers spotlighting the DCU heroes.
And here's a cool display case of DC Direct action figures and statues. Not a wash bucket (or laundry basket) among them!:
Speaking of which, you may remember last year my lengthy discussion on Marvel's very tiny BEA display in comparison to DC. I'm happy to report their exhibition space, while still overshadowed by DC's, is much bigger and sharper this year. They're part of the big Diamond Comics stretch of booths and have a great slick professional set-up for this BEA:
Marvel had some busy traffic in their booth while I was there: Laurell K. Hamilton was signing copies of her Anita Blake comic to an eager line of fans. There is no truth to the rumor that beefy Marvel security guards were seen escorting Chris Sims to the exit, however.
As usual, Marvel was givin' away free comics (although they couldn't beat DC, who were giving away free copies of the Watchman paperback and the Alex Ross Justice hardcover!):
I'll give Marvel some "much improved" points for giving away The Dark Tower and Anita Blake, not to mention the bookseller-name-recognition of Neil Gaiman with free copies of Eternals #1. But Marvel, you've got to learn that giving away copies of Moon Knight #1 and last year's Free Comic Book Day offering of X-Men/Runaways aren't going to get you any interest from trade booksellers. And what's with that giveaway of Civil War: Opening Shot Sketchbook from over a year ago?
I ranted enough last year, so I'll keep it short here: Marvel, Marvel, Marvel. You have the number one opening weekend of all time for your recent movie. And you've got another massive movie coming out very soon. Why not promote and capitalize on those successes...and characters bookstores will recognize and perceive as ultra-popular...by giving away Spider-Man or Fantastic Four books...why not, especially, the Spidey/FF #1 comic that featured the Silver Surfer? But smart for Marvel, they did have an excellent flier of their top GNs with great sales potential for bookstores, plus a good display of Spidey graphic novels:
So, Marvel, I'll give you a better grade this year on your BEA appearance, but there's still plenty of room for improvement: "6 out of 10, can do better than this."
In addition to Marvel, many of the other big comics companies were well-represented by separate booths or half-booths in the Diamond Comics pavilion. Here's Image:
...plus Virgin, Udon, and a host of others:
Working at BEA can be tiring and hard work. Don't forget to keep your strength up with a hearty luncheon from the food court downstairs! Extra bonus: it's cooler down there. It is even cooler standing next to the hot dog grill than it is upstairs. Also, chocolate-covered peanuts!
Best non-comics book news of the BEA for this little stuffed British mystery fan: like last year, the announcement of a new Dick Francis book got me very excited and thrilled! Looks like he's working with his son Felix now. As many of Dick's books were written with the help of his late wife, I don't mind this development at all, just as long as I get a great horsey mystery out of it. Hooray! I love Dick Francis, If I ever finish my Wodehouse a Week project, maybe I'll do A Dick Francis a Week!:
Best book title of BEA (from Dilbert's Scott Adams):
This picture encyclopedia of DC action figures from Chronicle Books looks really cool!:
My little hooves were really hurty by this time, but I couldn't go back to the Norton booth without stopping off to visit Bully email-pen-pal Gina Gagliano at the First Second booth. Hi Gina! We will come over to play Trivial Pursuit some day, we promise!:
Gina was very kind to give me some ultra-cool stuff, including a beautiful Eddie Campbell Black Diamond Detective Agency poster and the new First Second catalogue. Their Fall list looks amazingI especially am looking forward to Laika: Earth's First Astronaut (the story of the first Soviet spacedog, with beautiful Tintinesque artwork by Nick Abadzis) and the wonderfully whimsical Robot Dreams by Sara Varon. Great stuff! Here's a photo of me with some of their current books...I'm a big little First Second fan and they are publishing some amazing work. Thanks, Gina!
At last it's five o'clock and the lights dim to remind us to get the heck out, and I trot gratefully out of the sticky hot Javits Center into the sticky hot Manhattan afternoon to begin to long trudge across town back to the Jolly Hotel. I'm tramping wearily up Thirty-Eighth Street when I spot these advertising posters:
After a day like this, I got to agree.