Friday, April 9, 2010

Conventions aren't all the same

If you notice all the coverage and announcements, you can tell what time of the year it is---no, not baseball season but rather convention season. It seems every week there is another convention to announce exclusive news from the various sites. If you’re a creator who attends a lot of conventions, the gauntlet has already started. Coming up next week is the new kid on the block, C2E2. For years, Chicago was the con, second only to San Diego in attendance but for many, had more alluring aspects. San Diego had the city and the trade show associated with it, but Chicago was the con that professionals loved to attend. Of course, then the con moved and soon after was taken over by Wizard and well, things have never been the same since. The organizers of C2E2 have picked up on this. They aren’t really promising much for this con but instead, hint more that the convention will be like the “old days” when Chicago was one of the Big Two. I really don’t know if moving the convention into the city itself is going to aid the convention. A lot of people going to the con may not want to deal with the headaches any downtown has plus for attendees and exhibitors, there’s a lot of extra expenses and hassles. Rosemont may not have had the flavor of a big city but it was a nice isolated little pocked with inexpensive rooms within walking distance of the con and you had the Hyatt bar which was sort of the con hangout. Not sure what’s going to develop at C2E2. It should be interesting to see how the aura develops for the con. However, I do think that this convention is going to be big. The people running everything seem to know what they’re doing and so whatever doesn’t work out this time, you can bet that they’ll fix it for next time. I believe that C2E2 will be one of the top 3 conventions and maybe after this inaugural event. One of the things I like is that they’re directing most of the attention to the comic aspect of the convention. Comic cons are beginning to delineate into different patterns. You have the “small” shows which focus on the independent publishers, self publishers, independent creators, and for lack of a better term, the “web” guys. But it’s all comics. Maybe the dedicated Marvel or DC fans may not enjoy them but it’s still comics. Although these small shows may feel like a niche market, they seem to do very well. The fans and exhibitors all have a good time. Then you have the media shows which have some comic guests but are structured around old TV celebrities, walk on cast members for big event movies, wrestlers, old playmates, and a celebrity or two who has ventured into the comic world with a title named after them but has no other connection. Many of the Wizard cons are like this judging from what I hear. I can only go by the one in Chicago and it definitely had that feel. Of course, you also have the conventions which cater primarily to the comic audience but are big enough in those areas to branch out to the media aspects without sacrificing the integrity of the comics portion. Shows like Heroes Con, Wonder Con and others. This is what C2E2 is shaping up to be as well judging from the guest lists and panels. Personally, I hate the media shows. If you’re involved in comics, I think that they actually hurt the comic aspect. Because of the media guests, the prices for attendance is usually pretty high and a lot of comic fans shy away from that cost. I find at Motor City for example (a media show) that most people wander over to the comic section simply because they paid their $20-$25 to get in, got the celeb to sign a picture of themselves from 40 years ago, and now the fan doesn’t have anything else to do. They want to find some way to use up their time since they paid all that money. They flip through the books on the tables, often dog-earring them, and often engage in what they will hope is a conversation about the merits of the original Battlestar Galactica versus the remake…or maybe this year, it will be V instead. The number of people attending the convention is irrelevant. I did a small show in upper Michigan (Cherry Capital Con) and it had maybe 10% of the people that Motor City Convention yet it was far more enjoyable and engaging. Again, it’s not the number of people that come through the door but what their interests are. I’m not trying to blast Motor City Con or even Wizard Conventions for that matter. It’s fairly obvious by their attendance that more people prefer their approach since the number of tickets sold is much higher than most of the “comics only” smaller shows. It’s just not for me. After running conventions in the past, I know you gotta do what pays the bills...I can certainly understand that. And many of them are not devoid of comic talent, obviously. A lot of shows that get blasted for being media cons have been running a lot of years so they’re appealing to somebody…just not me. I’m actually looking forward to C2E2 which is unusual as I look at most conventions with dread. It’s not that I don’t enjoy them once I get there but the time factor involved is always something that seems impossible to juggle. But once I get to the con, I find myself having a good time whether on the floor or after hours. I’m setting up in Artist Alley under my own name rather than for Transfuzion. I had planned on getting Transfuzion as part of the Indy Island but because of a miscommunication, that didn’t work out. But the folks at Haven Distributors will be on hand there and they will have all the Transfuzion books. I’ll be at Table E-8 right next to my Transfuzion co-hort, Rafael Nieves. So, in all but display, Transfuzion will be there. I plan to have most of stuff there and surprisingly, I think I’m up to about 22 books currently. I’ll be debuting the SIN ETERNAL trade which collects the Caliber series and I also have copies of the DEADWORLD: SLAUGHTERHOUSE graphic novel. I have a few hundred copies of the Image run of Deadworld that I’ll be giving away at the table for anyone that stops by and for anyone that buys anything at my table, they will receive a FREE copy of my young adult novel, SPIRIT OF THE SAMURAI, that is superbly illustrated by Rick Hoberg (of Star Wars and Spider-Man fame). I’ll also be signing at the Comic Related booth on Friday and Saturday and working with them to provide FREE copies of titles such as SAINT GERMAINE. Looks like it will be a busy show.


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