Valiant Entertainment is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year with a nationwide tour that rolls into the Special Edition NYC Comic Convention this weekend.
While Valiant isn't a household name yet, that could change by 2017 when the first film based on one of the company's characters, "Bloodshot," hits theaters courtesy of Sony Pictures and the directors of "John Wick." Four more films are scheduled to come out in the film deal that the comic company signed in April.
But as Dinesh Shamdasani, CEO and Chief Creative Officer of Valiant, says, "We're something of an abnormality in comics in that we're happy to see ourselves as a comic book publisher first and foremost."
According to Shamdasani, the company features the largest independently owned library of superheroes.
"What began as a relatively small, upstart company shook the comic book industry to its core with a character-centric, story-first take on comic books that continues to resonate to this day," he says. "That is the spirit we still celebrate today."
With DC Comics having moved its offices from Manhattan to Burbank, California, Valiant has stepped up as the second-largest comic book company in the Big Apple after Marvel Comics.
"The comic book industry has flourished in New York for the better part of a century and we're incredibly proud to be a part of that legacy," says Valiant Publisher Fred Pierce. "The energy of New York is imbued in our comic books."
At the convention, the company will be showing off some previews of its upcoming crossover event "Book of Death," which Hunter Gorinson, director of marketing, communications and digital media, says "is a road map for what we will be doing over the next decade and beyond."
The 25th Anniversary Tour returns to the company's hometown for the convention, where it will be celebrating with free giveaways that fete both the past and the future of the company. There also will be a panel on Sunday featuring Shamdasani, Gorinson and some of the Valiant writers, such as New Yorker Fred Van Lente, where the company will reveal what's coming up for its stable of characters.
Special Edition NYC is an offshoot of the massive New York Comic Con in October, and is a far more low-key affair that is focused more on comic books. It has numerous comic companies and creators, not to mention many tables of comics, toys and other ephemera for sale.
"Valiant has some of the greatest fans anywhere in comics," Pierce says. "Conventions like Special Edition are perhaps the most important chance we have to speak to them up close. Having many of them all together in one room for an experience like a panel is something we all look forward to each and every time."
With 25 years behind them, Shamdasani says the company is looking to grow and be a trendsetter over the next quarter century.
"Today, we are the best reviewed publisher of comic books anywhere in the world," he says. "In 25 years, the sky is limit. Our universe is constantly being enriched by new characters and new stories that reflect the world around us, not 60-year-old ideals of what a superhero should be.
"We're more excited than ever for people to discover their first Valiant comic," he continues, "and find out firsthand why we fostered a reputation as the best storytellers in comics."
If you go: Special Edition NYC is Saturday and Sunday at Pier 94 at 711 12th Ave., for hours and ticket information, go to specialeditionnyc.com