Oni Press, publisher of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim graphic novel series, is the latest example of a small press property turned major media phenomenon thanks to the combination of a great book and a carefully managed movie deal (the sixth volume in the series has just sold through its 100,000-copy first printing). The first thing visitors at this year’s show noticed was a mammoth promotional Scott Pilgrim mural clinging to the sides of the Hilton hotel. Image Comics, meanwhile, had its own public relations coup as its booth was mobbed by fans buying copies of Robert Kirkman’s Walking Dead series in anticipation of the new AMC TV series, set to debut in the fall.
Old-school Comic-Con attendees lament the impact of Hollywood on the show, but the invasion of the studios is a measure of how critical Comic-Con has become to Hollywood and in turn shows off the importance of a film and TV relationship to an independent comics publishing program. The combination of tens of thousands of knowledgeable and passionate fans makes Comic-Con the promised land for generating media buzz and for film media and licensing deals of all kinds. For publishers big and small, meetings with agents, producers, and directors are now as much a part of the San Diego Comic-Con experience as the Eisner Awards or a visit to Ralph’s.
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