It was my first year attending Book Expo America, and like my venture to the Toy Fair at the Javits Center in New York, it was more of acclimatizing trip than an attempt to get to grips with everything that was going on at a trade show that has a representation for comics but isn't specifically geared toward the comics industry. But it was a lovely day for it, and the atmosphere of the Book Expo was upbeat, social, and generally the main floor of the Expo was easy to navigate.
There was simply so MUCH on the floor, however, with a well-planned use of constructed space, that doing one pass over the exhibit hall was simply not enough. I think in total, I wandered it completely four times, and each time found companies I hadn't seen before, and more comics cropping up than I expected. Diamond, Image, and IDW were front and center with what I'd call "mini" displays compared to big cons, but with all the necessary space for having short meetings with publishers, retailers, and libraries.
More far-flung were Fantagraphics, Nobrow, and Boom/Archaia, each couched more closely to their large distributors. Add to that the graphic novels published by Scholastic, and you have a pretty complete picture of comics at the Expo, though illustrated books and pop culture related books continued to crop up here and there, especially associated with children's literature. There were massive autographing events at the Expo, and maybe it's a good sign that one of the biggest was with Jeff Kinney of Diary of a Wimpy Kid.
Of the comics publishers and lines at the Expo, Nobrow and Boom/Archaia made the biggest use of the event (which is still ongoing Saturday and Sunday by the way, with Saturday open to members of the public) with a wide range of books and plenty of new and upcoming works on display. One of the things that I found most interesting, by the way, were the welcoming "country zones" where different nations introduced attendees to culture, literature, and related travel with lots of free information. That made the Expo truly international, and even created some "feels" about the ways in which a love of books brings people of all nationalities together.
Here are my visual captures of the Expo on Friday, May 30th: