Saturday, June 02, 2007

BEA Day 2: In which I am believed to be escaping from the Chronicle Books booth.

BEA 2007I started out writing last night's BEA report under the title "A short post about a hot day." It didn't turn out as short as I had thought it would. How can I tell? HBO was running the complete Star Wars saga in series order last night (hey, HBO! Why this Friday? Why not last Friday?), and I started blogging during the last half hour of Attack of the Clones and finished just as Han Solo and company reached the remains of Alderaan in A New Hope. Yes, folks, I blogged all the way through Revenge of the Sith. I highly recommend that as a decent way to watch that film.

While the BEA show wasn't quite as hectic-frantic as it was yesterday, it was still plenty busy, with lots of publishers, publicists, book agents, and yes, the precious "blue badge" of honest-to-gosh booksellers moving through the aisles.

Luckily it was cooler than yesterday...still hot, but a relief after the balmy tropical weather of Friday. How can I tell? The tarps lining the ceiling of the Javits Center at irregular intervals were fluttering weakly in the air-conditioned half-breeze. Have you stopped at BEA, craned your neck upwards, and wondered what those tarps were for? Well, take a look at the corners of BEA aisles—look for empty booth spaces occupied by big plastic barrels. Now look upwards again and note that hoses connect those tarps up there and the barrels down here. Yes, folks, the Javits Center ceiling leaks and this elaborate makeshift solution drips the lovely, far-from-crystal Manhattan rainwater right down into those big tubs adjoining your booth. Because that's the way we do things in New York, baby!

Wandering down the aisles cheerfully whistling "Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head," I get to work for the day. Saturday is always a big day for author appearances and signings. From the balmy safety of the Norton booth I can see long, long snaking lines to see folks like James Patterson and Stephen Colbert. There's also no doubt massive crowds downstairs at the formal autographing areas, but today's you can't swing a cat (warning: do not actually swing a cat) in the publisher pavilions themselves without hitting a booth author signing. I don't stand on line to get autographed books or galleys mainly because I'm pretty busy with our own in-booth events! I am a little too short to help our authors directly (and we have wonderful sales reps helping them every step of the way), but there's always plenty of work for everyone to make a signing come off well: fetching and unboxing galleys, opening them and turning them to the correct page to be autographed, keeping the queue organized and lined up properly (don't block other people's booths if your line snakes outside your booth!) and the ever-important job of picking up after.

Since this is a working show for me, keeping busy with events in the booth means a little less time to wander the BEA show floor today, but I do get a chance to slip away and dash up a few aisles. First up: the Overlook Press booth to check out forthcoming editions of their P. G. Wodehouse reissues. Sadly, no one recognizes me as Bully, the Wodehouse-Blogging Bull, but with patience and perseverance, perhaps next year at this time they will be rolling out the red carpet to see me come into the booth. In the meantime, Jeeves looks happy to see me...hey wait, Overlook...isn't that the retired "Ask Jeeves" logo? Are you allowed to use that?

A friendly but warning sign in the Viz Comics section alerts me that while I'm in the booth, I may be filmed and used in upcoming promotional advertising material. To which I say, hooray! I'm gonna be in an anime cartoon, everybody! Hoo hoo!:

Costumed characters from Patrick McDonnell's Mutts comic strip are on hand to give BEA attendees much-needed hugs...except they're out to lunch when I stop by! Oh no! I coulda used a hug.

Some of the technology-oriented companies have display areas that don't even have any books in them. Ingram's booth area looks like an internet café. They would not, however, let me check my email.

I stopped by to see my good pals from, too. Hullo Miss Vicky! Hullo Miss Kim! Hullo Misters Rob and Brad!:

Entering the international publishing pavilion area, I am abruptly stopped by a sign in the plush rug. Eeek! Apparently I cannot enter this booth, as I did not bring my passport with me:

Chronicle has a cool-looking upcoming craft book (Knitted Icons) that instructs you how to knit dolls of famous celebrities like Madonna, Marilyn Monroe, Mister T. and Elvis. These are pretty cool and there are lots of knitted pals displayed around the booth, like the Fab Felt Four:

However, I was actually stopped as I headed out of the Chronicle booth because they thought I was one of their display dolls being carried away! Yikes! They were very pleasant and apologetic when they realized their mistake. Apology accepted from this little fuzzy guy, Chronicle. Now, knit me a Billie Piper!

Back in the Norton pavilion, I stop again in the Fantagraphics booth, where they are promoting a new book by Ellen Forney: Lust: Kinky Online Personal Ads from Seattle's "The Stranger". Yikes!! I do not think I am allowed to look at this book. I sure hope you glued on those stars pretty strongly, Miss Forney!:

I didn't pick up as much free BEA "swag" today as I did last year, but here's one of my favorites: The Onion is bringing out a brand-new book this fall, Our Dumb World: The Onion's Atlas of the Planet Earth, and I picked up the very funny promotional brochure they did for it (sorry, I wrinkled it a bit!):

I'm a big fan of The Onion, not merely because it's very funny but because it's free, but I'll gladly pony up the dough for this new Onion book as it's the first all-original volume since their first book, Our Dumb Century. Here's a sample inside spread focusing on "Chile: Preventing Argentina from Enjoying the Pacific Ocean Since 1818":

But when day is done and you head back to your assigned BEA hotel room to relax your achy achy hooves and crank up the AC to lower your temperature from the balmy day, the very best thing to have is a brand-new friend. You can't buy friends, but you can get one for free if you stop by the Regnery Publishing booth and pick up a happy squishy pig:

Because, in the end, that's one of the things I love best about BEA: the chance to meet new friends and see old ones again. The book world can be a demanding mistress, but there's a lot of great people working in it. I'm very pleased to be part of it. BEA oughta be fun...and it often is.

But please crank up the AC tomorrow, Javits Center!

Saturday Morning Cartoon (Special BEA Edition): Have You Got Any Castles

"Have You Got Any Castles," directed by Frank Tashlin (1938)
As I'm a great lover of books, this is quite possible my favorite Warner Brothers cartoon of all time. (But warning: some politically incorrect imagery.)
Here's a page on the cartoon's hidden gags and inside jokes.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Friday Night Fights: Bad animals/Bad animals/Got to push the grain or go insane

It's really ADVENTURE COMICS #364. But wouldn't YOU buy a comic where this happened issue after issue?
Bahlactus started it, but Streaky's gonna finish it.

BEA Day 1: Cool books, hot show

BEA 2007It's hot today at BEA. How hot is it? It's so hot that if this were San Diego Comic-Con, the Stormtroopers would be keeling over left and right. It's so hot that if Bahlactus's Friday Night Fights were held on the floor of BEA, both fighters would be dropping into the floor in a pool of sweat. It's so hot that if the Human Torch wandered into your booth, you'd be clustering around him just for the cool relief.

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, 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 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: 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 amazing—I 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.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Cow news: The New Moo-tants

Let's read today's newspapers and see if there is any decent cow news, shall we? Oh, here's one:

Mutant cow produces low-fat milk

Mutant cows could soon be providing the world with ready-skimmed milk and butter that spreads straight from the fridge.

Scientists in New Zealand reckon their discovery could help people live healthier lives.

A team of experts is working on getting the herd to produce low-fat milk straight from the cows' udders.

Due to a mutant gene, the animals they are breeding produce milk that contains less fat.

According to the New Zealand Herald, their butter is spreadable without waiting for it to soften like others currently on the market.
The benefits are spreadable butter? Creamier milk? Healthier dairy? Pfui on that, I say. Everybody knows the benefits are now cows can join the X-Men.

Unlike the Fantastic Four, who reject bovine membership application:
FF puts the cows out to pasture

BEA Day 0: Books and boxes and bulls (and teamsters, oh my!)

BEA 2007Hullo folks hullo and greetings from BookExpo America 2007, the nation's leading trade and exhibition show for publishers, booksellers, authors, agents, publicists, media, and Nancy Pearl, Action Librarian! All these fine folks and more will converge upon the Enterprise-sized Jacob Javits Center in beautiful west side Manhattan over the next four days to see upcoming books from the big fall holiday season. How important is BEA? Let me put it this way: they even have their own blog.

BEA opens to paid industry members tomorrow, so today is technically "Day Zero"—set-up and installation of display booths on the big main floor for the zillions of publishers and other exhibitors (like Norton, the publisher that yours little stuffed truly help out sometimes to sell books). That means today is a heavy lifting day, so bring your tape gun, Velcro, and extra-strength Advil to help unpack boxes and crates and get ready for the event of a lifetime year! Until BEA 2008 in Los Angeles, of course.

I'll be working in the Norton booth all weekend, so watch out for me underfoot as you pass through—I'm the one darting back and forth between people's shoes restocking free catalogues and giveaway book galleys. When I get back to the lovely Jolly Hotel (the happiest hotel of them all!) I'll try night to log on and blog on (unless I'm really exhausted...believe me, it's hard work!). I'll try to give you the skinny, reporting on trends, events, and humorous giggle-worthy sights from the show floor. Will Marvel Comics learn the lessons I so sternly gave them in my BEA report of last year? Judging from recent events, no, probably not.

In the meantime, here's Bully's Very Special Scrapbook of adventures on Day Zero, unpacking crates, opening boxes, stacking galleys, and just generally havin' so much fun that only a flurry of photographs can capture the sheer glee:

Wearing the proper outfit is very important for an event like BEA. Here my very good friend Miss Carol helps me get dressed for the weekend:

You should really wear work clothes for set-up day, but I just couldn't resist getting dressed up all special 'n' stuff. And look! I have my official BEA badge on!

What's in these boxes? Somebody open 'em up fast so I can see! I would do it myself but I am not allowed to have a box cutter.

Booksellers and publicists will want copies of our Fall catalogue so they can see what we're publishing! I am helping to stock stack and stacks of catalogues in our racks. Come on by and help yourself to one!

Many publishers give away free "advance reading copies" or "galleys," which makes BEA a dandy way to get an early "read" (tee hee) on forthcoming books. Don't be greedy; only take one of each!

More galleys, artfully arranged. I'm making base camp here, and I'll head for the summit in the morning.

Hey, where are the Fantagraphics guys! Hurry up and get here to unpack your boxes! I wanna see the new books!

Much of the heavy lifting and construction is done by trained and licensed teamsters. Here's two of the best! These guys are burly, brawny, and very friendly. Nobody drives forklifts better! Thanks for the dirty jokes, guys!

Uh oh...I think these crates may have vampires in them. Let me go get some garlic before I open 'em.

This crate contains Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. Come on out, Harvey! You don't have to hide...Grindhouse wasn't that bad!

I made myself a little fort out of discarded pallets.

More boxes to open! That's pretty much the entire day, in fact. My hooves are aching from carrying boxes like these.

Many booths will have appearances by authors...swing by and meet and greet 'em! These fine authors will appear throughout the weekend at the Norton booth, signing galleys or broadside posters. Please do not ask them to sign their book to "Lucky eBay winner."

We are also giving away these ultra-cool Paul Krugman "Conscience of a Liberal" buttons on neat collector cards to coincide with his new book. I am wearing my special "Conscience of a Little Bull" button. I hope Paul doesn't mind.

Mmmmmmmmm, pie.

Mmmmmmmmm, ravioli!

It had been a long and busy day and my hooves hurt from carrying boxes and books around. Tomorrow: BEA Day 1: when the action really starts!