I just returned from back to back Comic Conventions; Big Wow in San Jose and Phoenix Comic Con. Both shows are well run and I was treated extremely well at both shows. At the Phoenix Con I had an interesting conversation with several other artists about the nature of what I call Comic Conventions but what are fast becoming Multi-Media Cons or in some cases Cosplay Cons.
At the Phoenix show it would not be an exaggeration to estimate that almost 30% of the attendees were in costume. It did not appear the attendees were at the show to buy art or comics but instead to walk around in costume and get their pictures taken with fans and other people in costumes. In fact, one pro suggested to me that out of the 40,000 attendees, half were in the convention hall and the other half were out in the lobby area taking and posing for pictures. There was also a large contingency of TV actors and wrestlers there as well.
At San Jose, there was still some costume presence but it had more of a traditional comic convention feel. Artist’s, Book and Comic Book Dealers and Toy Sellers is still the main focus. There were TV and movie celebs there but the biggest draw was still Stan Lee.
Back when I first started going to the San Diego Comic Con (now appropriately titled “Comic Con International”) in the mid to late 80’s, it was the biggest con I had ever seen. One convention hall filled with artist’s and comic book dealers and the other with publishers and their representatives. In fact, I got my first comic job by showing my samples to then Marvel editor, Terry Kavanaugh. It was truly the greatest Comic Book/Show Convention in the world.
Since that time though, it has become the greatest Multi-Media Con in the world and comics have become a miniscule part of the show. All of this begs the question, should there be separate cons for separate interests? Cosplay Con? TV/Movie/Entertainment Con? And the almost extinct, Comic Con?
I get why promoters combine these elements. The more diverse your show the more people will come through the door. The problem is for artist’s and retailers. The more diversity, the more of a battle for the buck. Some times I will appear at a show where 70% of the people there have no interest or knowledge of comics.
I may be old fashioned but I want to go to cons that are for comics! But then again maybe there wouldn’t be anyone there besides me…