Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Diamond Comics retailer summit


This past weekend (actually Sunday-Tuesday) Diamond Comics had their annual retailer summit at Ballys here in Las Vegas. Diamond Comics is of course the distributor of over 95 percent of all of the comics that comic stores receive. I hadn't been to one of their summits in a few years as they've been in Baltimore. Anyway they had one here in Las Vegas this year so that more of the West Coast stores could attend. These summits exist to allow retailers to communicate with Diamond's upper management on a one to one basis, allows publishers to give presentations of upcoming projects (actually this aspect of the summit is less and less valuable in this internet age as publishers can't talk about things that they don't want spoiled five minutes later online), and a great way for retailers to talk amongst themselves and maybe take away new things that would work in their shops. Probably the biggest benefit for attending these summits is the workshop panels upon which stores can hear ideas about how to improve their stores and or do better outreach.

On Monday night Marvel had their upcoming publishing presentation and as their special guest they had Brian Michael Bendis. Brian was very entertaining with his teases on what's going to happen to the Marvel universe post Secret Invasion (and all that was talked about was already on Newsarama yesterday morning). I'm actually not "feeling" Secret Invasion so I really hope it does have the strong ending that they're saying it will and not just be a lead in to their next event. I'm especially awaiting Bendis' and artist Alex Maleev's long awaited Spider Woman series as their four year run on Daredevil was excellent.

The highlight of the summit for me though was DC's presentation late Monday night and their special guest Billy Tucci. Before I get into why this was a highlight for me, I'm going to talk about my previous dislike for anything Billy Tucci ever did in comics (prior to his talk at the presentation Monday night). Billy Tucci's claim to comic book fame was a character called Shi which he wrote and drew starting in 1994. Actually I always thought that Shi was a poor man's Kabuki, which also started in 1994. I'm not saying that Tucci copied David Mack's Kabuki as I really do think that it was just a coincidence that they both came out at the same time, but I lament that Shi was always more popular. My problem with Shi was I thought it had potential (even though not on the personal level as Mack's Kabuki), but instead Billy Tucci hardly did any of the writing and art on Shi before he farmed it out to others and he always seemed to have his eye more on Shi happening as a movie than any concern for the comic (Tia Cararia was long attached to that project that never happened).

So a few months ago I was groaning upon hearing that Tucci was going to be doing an upcoming Sgt. Rock comic as I thought that character was amongst the farthest away from what he was capable of doing as a cartoonist. Well Monday night Billy Tucci sold me on his Sgt. Rock actually being good (and I'm thinking that maybe he was just young and inexperienced when he was doing Shi and the crazy Hollywood money or promises of such just distracted him). The Sgt. Rock mini series he's writing and drawing is subtitled The Lost Battalion and is based on the U.S. army unit during WWII made up of mostly Japanese Americans who in a campaign in 1944 saw huge casualties, but also was the most decorated unit in U.S. history. Billy Tucci even invited three of the surviving Japanese Americans (one of whom lives in Henderson) that were part of that unit to the Diamond summit and from hearing Tucci talk it was obvious that he was very passionate (and had done his research) about doing justice to their story in his Sgt. Rock mini series. The first issue comes out November 5th, about a week before Veterans' Day and I think it'll be great for a new audience to find out about that units contributions.

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