The last time I was in New York I was 15-years-old, and amazed at how I somehow managed to make my way onto MTV’s Total Request Live. Ten years later, my life is very different, but the wonderment still remains. The city is such a melting pot of cultures, traditions, fashions, and ideas: A perfect place to hold a convention.
Over the weekend, New York Comic Con was held for thousands of fans of comics, graphic novels, anime, video games, toys, and movies. The 2009 convention drew over 77,000 attendees, this year it is expected that over 95,000 fans attended. From Stan Lee’s announcement to sneak peeks to amazing costumes, the gathering was celebration of all things comics.
A day before the show floor opened, ICv2 hosted a Conference on Comics & Digital. I had the pleasure of being a panelist on “Digital Comics and Graphic Novels-Where We Are and Where We’re Going” with David Steinberger, CEO of ComiXology; Michael Murphy, CEO of iVerse; and Dario Di Zanni, senior manager, marketing and business development, new media at Disney Publishing Worldwide. Discussion focused heavily on platforms, pricing models, and the future of digital comics.
As many in the audience were unaware of what a library’s role in the digital comics space was, I spent much of the time explaining OverDrive’s model and emergence into the digital comics world. As OverDrive grows, so too does the audience, and this includes comic and graphic novel lovers. Digital comics from Marvel and TOKYOPOP have allowed libraries to take a big step in having their digital collections mirror their heavily circulated physical ones.
My overview of the conference wouldn’t be complete without mentioning a wonderful appearance by Alison Hendon on the final panel titled “Print vs. Digital—War, Co-existence, or Collaboration.” Alison, the Youth Selection Team Leader at Brooklyn Public Library, challenged her co-panelists including David Gabriel, senior vice president of Marvel Comics, and Ted Adams, CEO of IDW Publishing, to consider libraries in the digital comics space. She, like everyone else attending the conference on digital comics, was not fearful that digital comics will replace their physical counterparts, but rather accompany them. Digital comics will never be a replacement for print comics; they will just be another way for people to enjoy them. The discoverability factor of digital comics through various apps and platforms can serve as a gateway to physical comics. A kid who stumbles upon a digital comic on his device uncovers a whole new world that he can enjoy in a variety of ways.
The conference was a step in the right direction to shedding light on an emerging form of entertainment, digital comics. While I didn’t have much time to soak in New York City in all its wonderment, I felt like Carrie Bradshaw, even for just a moment.
Lindsey Levinsohn is a collection development specialist for OverDrive.