LIVE! From The Baltimore Comic Con Retail Breakfast

Bright and early on the first day of the newly expanded 3 day Baltimore Comic Con, retailers turned out to hear about new announcements from publishers and new tools from Diamond.

The presentations opened with Diamond online developments to aid retailers, similar to the presentation delivered at San Diego Comic Con featuring sell-sheet generators. Launched 2 weeks after San Diego, they are having success with this generating method so far.

The Diamond Liquidation list is receiving a new format style this month, and a shift to having Merchandise on one week and comics the following week. They are going to be doing "more aggressive pricing" on these to help retailers move stock.

Halloween ComicFest is coming soon, shipping imminently, and this year the first Saturday before Halloween, October 25th is the set date for ComicFest rather than floating for store needs to prevent confusion from shoppers.

Geppi's Entertainment Museum is giving free admission to retailers with their badges this weekend as an extra perk. Diamond Booth #2010 on the con floor will also be supplying "Special Sales" sheets, ComicSuite Demos, and the availability to meet with members of the Diamond team.

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Diamond Select Toys took the stage next and started off by showing their Youtube video intros used weekly on their Youtube Channel. At least 50% of the product that Diamond Select sells are driven by specialty shops. DST believes in "Evergreens" they said, believing that a good toy is a good toy and they keep toys "active" as long as they are driving new customers. They specialize in "variety" they explained from a range of prices to products and licenses, focusing on something for every store. Discounts are another key focus, tailoring to shop needs.

On-time shipment is paramount, and they promise that if an item is late and there is no longer a market for it, retailers should get in touch. Licensing this year is geared toward existing customer and new ones, like their current Godzilla lines, arriving this week and next, Sin City products like articulated action figures, mini-mates, Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill, which will receive mini-mate figures, and articulated figures for Pulp Fiction at the end of the year. Batman 66 classic resin busts will be appearing as well as a full line to accompany heroes and several villains, bottle openers and ice trays. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a new license for DST, with mini-mates, banks, bottles, and even a pizza cutter. Pathfinder products are coming up from plush to mini-mates. Aliens will be featured with similar items.

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Boom! Studios was the first up among publishers, hosted by Filip Sablik, President of Boom! Last year, Sablik said, their big focus at retail presentations was about "who we were, what we were about" and this year, their focus is the question of "why", why they get up in the morning and do what they do. They hope to reach retailers with the same question of motivation. They continue to believe, Sablik said, that the "best comics are yet to be published". Ross Richie cited Keith Giffen, who was in the audience, for his belief in a partnership model where the company would have a stake in a comic and therefore care as much as the creators. Nine years later, Sablik said, Boom has grown enormously to 35 monthly titles by the end of the year. They consider their fans their "partners" too, Sablik said, and are constantly "engaging" in that way through social media, growing into Tumblr and Instagram presence. This year they expanded into Youtube episodes, which are shareable on social media, the "Buzz on Boom!".

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Working with Fox, MGM, Frederator, and more, with more Cartoon Network properties coming this year, they've entered into some "first look" deals with properties to be developed into both mediums, from comics to TV and Film and from TV and Film to comics.

One of the things Boom! is proud of, Sablik said is that they not only work with classic voices, but also with new voices, often bringing in voices from outside of comics into comics. Ritchie commented on the link between this and innovation, as well as modes for bringing in new readers. Lumberjanes, driven by a webcomics and Tumblr audience, was a specific example. Boom! original ideas, Sablik said, he wants to be genre-open and not limit the content of comics type in what they publish. This is particularly important in creating the next generation of fans, through comics like The Musical Monsters of Turkey Hollow (Roger Langridge and Jim Henson, on FOC this Monday), The Amazing World of Gumball, and Mouse Guard. As they move toward their 10th anniversary, Boom! will be looking toward "building the future now". Boom! presented a video featuring their staff members self-describing, illustrating the "We are Boom!" tagline, and there was a lot of youth and energy there, matched to types of titles. They closed out by urging retailers to innovate.

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Valiant presented next, commenting on the extreme number of Harvey Awards nominations this year, with Quantum and Woody as the year's "most nominated" series. They are coming out of their Valiant First initiative, starting with Rai #1 and recently with The Death-Defying Dr. Mirage #1. The Delinquents #1 was a "funny sell" that did very well. Throughout sell-outs they've continued to do multiple printings to meet demand. They feel like they've only "scratched the surface" on Valiant readership, and want to make it as "easy as possible" not to lose readers. That's why they go to second or third prints quickly. They know Valiant is still in "early days" and so are still making a great effort to help retailers.

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Rai #1 with 5 imprints of the first issue, was a massive success, and it's their best reviewed title yet. A $9.99 trade paperback in coming in October, and issue #5 will be fully returnable.

Eternal Warrior: Days of Steel #1 artwork was shown, and if retailers order 12 copies, it's 100 percent returnable.

The Valiant is also a massive development for the company, their "biggest intro piece" yet and hope that for many people it will be their first Valiant comic. It's going to be their "most inclusive arc" yet and introduce people to "step into this product". Their goal in the coming year is to get that "next reader" in steady growth. #2 of The Valiant will also be fully returnable.

They are doing "thousands" of The Valiant First Looks coming up, some being given out at the con, and these will be available to all shops who want them if they send in a list of their subscriptions. It's a 16 page free book. There's going to be a full-sized retail poster for the Valiant you can "opt in" for, and they will be using massive press push for the release of the Valiant, including social media, a podcast, and some things they've never done before (guarding that announcement against other publishers in the room).

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Bob Wayne assumed the dais for DC Comics as the final presentation today, and thanked retailers for their support of Batman Day. He spoke about their largest initial manufacturing run of the Joker Mask and Batman: Death of the Family graphic novel set. Batgirl #36 is going to be on sale in October with the new creative team, with substantially higher initial orders than prior books, and they'll be offering 15 % discounts to retailers on qualifying orders.

Arkham Manor is coming up, as well as Gotham Academy, written by Becky Cloonan and Brendon Fletcher in December. Gotham By Midnight is coming in November with art and cover by Ben Templesmith.

Wayne quipped about the upcoming Harley Quinn annual, which is definitely not "scratch and sniff technology" but will be poly-bagged for retailers protection from many "smells".

They are going to Absolute the first hardcover editions ever of Transmetropolitan and Y the Last Man.

The new DCU weekly series will be Earth 2: World's End, Deathstroke in a new series, Superman continuing in #36, and the new creative team debuting on Wonder Woman #36.

Multiversity #1 is ready for re-order with a new covers, and Multiversity: Society of Superheroes is coming up.

In November, Lego covers are arriving, and some copies are available for re-order of the lenticular covers for Futures End.

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At Vertigo, Sandman: Overture #4 is coming in October, and a new edition of Sandman Dustcovers as well as the new book of covers, Dream States with a brand new story in each by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean.

Gallery Editions of Kelly Jones' Batman and Frank Miller's Ronin are coming up too.

And that was it for a very convivial retailers' breakfast at Baltimore Comic Con, with thanks to Diamond for their hospitality and to the companies for their presentations and a peek at the developments in retail this autumn.

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About Hannah Means Shannon

Editor-in-Chief at Bleeding Cool. Independent comics scholar and former English Professor. Writing books on magic in the works of Alan Moore and the early works of Neil Gaiman.

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