The return of the BEA to New York led to big crowds in the aisles, with near-gridlock occurring frequently around heavily trafficked booths. The graphic novel category maintained its high profile, established last year (see 'Graphic Novels Take Another Step Up at BEA'). Graphic novel exhibits at the Graphic Novel pavilion and other locations throughout the floor kept the visibility of the category high. And graphic novel programming was SRO, with continued growth in librarian attendance expanding the crowds.
It seemed to us that the expanding female audience for graphic novels was a theme of the show, with the announcement that Dark Horse will be publishing Harlequin manga one of the most important developments in the graphic novel business in recent years (see 'Dark Horse to Publish Harlequin Manga'). Manga publishing has firmly established the teen and young adult female audiences for graphic novels; the expansion of the market to include significant numbers of adult females opens a huge market of reading consumers who have not been purchasing graphic novels to date.
We participated in a shojo panel hosted by Heidi MacDonald (Publishers Weekly, The Beat); along with Steve Kleckner of Tokyopop; Eric Searleman, a contributing editor of Viz's upcoming Shojo Beat magazine; Tania Del Rio, who gave Sabrina its manga makeover; and Betsey Mitchell, EIC of Del Rey. The standing room only audience was probably 75% female, and 30-40% librarians. The well-moderated discussion ranged from a primer on shojo and its recent growth to a discussion of yaoi, age ratings, and other important aspects of the shojo phenomenon.
Viz was once again the most visible graphic novel publisher, with clings on the exterior windows, a gigantic banner in the foyer, and publication bins with the Viz sampler at the entrances.
Many important graphic novel creators attended, including Neil Gaiman, who was promoting his upcoming novel Anansi Boys, and Frank Miller, who we saw signing at the DC booth on Friday and the Dark Horse booth on Saturday.
Overall, it was another great show for the graphic novel business, and a good portent for the coming year.