Reed Makes 2010 Chicago Con and NYCC Move to Oct. Official

Reed Moves NYCC in 2010, Adds Chicago

Effectively confirming a Monday morning report by Newsarama, Reed Exhibitions has officially announced that they will move New York Comic Con to the weekend of October 8th-10th in 2010, and launch the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo (or "C2E2") on the weekend of April 16th-18th, 2010 at McCormick Place in downtown Chicago.

"The new show will be structured in the spirit of New York Comic Con (NYCC) which was launched by Reed Exhibitions in 2006 and saw attendance grow from 33,000 in its first year to 67,000 in 2008, making it the fastest growing comic and pop culture event in the U.S.," reads Reed's official press release. "Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo comes in response to significant customer demand. Reed officials note that customers of New York Comic Con have frequently and repeatedly asked Reed Exhibitions to bring a major pop culture event to downtown Chicago."

“We are delivering this event for the industry and for the fans,” states Lance Fensterman, Vice President and Show Manager for NYCC and who according to the announcement will also be overseeing C2E2. “We have heard their wishes and we are thrilled to bring what we hope will be another massive comic and pop culture event, in the spirit of New York Comic Con, to an eager audience in Chicago and the entire Midwest. With April dates in place for Chicago, this has also provided us with a perfect opportunity to balance the sequence of our events by moving New York Comic to permanent dates in the fall.”

On that latter point, Reed reports that the new 4Q/October dates for New York Comic Con will be "permanent and sustainable" to "avoid shifting dates from year to year" and will allow for the show to grow within the Jacob K. Javits facility.

As for "C2E2", according to the announcement, Reed is planning a "major launch".

“We are aiming big,” states Fensterman. “We plan to apply everything we have learned in launching and building New York Comic Con to our Chicago event and we intend for it to be a major attraction right out the gate. Of course, this not only means providing a customer friendly atmosphere but also providing dynamic programming that boasts top talent from across the pop culture spectrum, including artists, creators and celebrities from Hollywood, TV, comics, books, video games, toys, anime, manga and all other applicable aspects of the popular arts. But, most importantly, we will also seek to make adjustments so that our show reflects the essence of Chicago. This will be critically important. The city itself will form an important part of our identity.”

Making it clear the new Chicago show has the support of major industry exhibitors, Reed's announcement includes statements of support by Marvel's Vice President of Merchandising & Communications Michael Pasciullo, and DC Comics President Paul Levitz.

"The expansion of Reed's Comic Convention schedule to include a Chicago show is very exciting news," says Pasciullo. "They have proven in just four short years through the success of the New York Comic Convention that Reed can bring together comics, TV, and film in new and exciting ways for both the industry and fans alike. Marvel is looking forward to being part of their new Midwest experience.

"We're pleased to be building on the success Reed has had with the New York Comic Con and looking forward to their adding a Chicago show to their schedule,” adds Levitz. “Our Midwest fans have a great history of celebrating comics at conventions, and we hope this will be the beginning of a memorable run of events for them."

Echoing issues analyzed by Newsarama earlier today, Reed also noted that in addition to industry support for a C2E2, there has also been "widespread agreement that a balanced con calendar is essential", which they qualify an "important consideration as Reed Exhibitions looked to implement its plan".

“The major players in the various pop culture industries are behind us,” states Fensterman. “We are pleased with the new timeline and see Chicago as anchoring the spring con calendar and New York Comic Con as ending the con calendar with a major exclamation point."

A "C2E2" website has already been launched at http://www.chicagocomicandentertainmentexpo.com.

So could these announcements have any fallout, or ripple effect for the 2010 comic book convention calendar and moving forward? Newsarama asked two convention veterans, Charles Brownstein, Executive Director of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, and Jim McLauchlin, President of Heroes Initiative and a former Wizard editorial executive for their input. Conventions are vitally important for both organizations as fundraising opportunities, and as such both have unique insight into the issues raised by the announcement.

We asked both how significant Reed adding a 2Q Chicago show and moving NYCC to the 4Q 2010 will be for the industry, particularly in wake of the current economic climate?

"I'm very optimistic about the prospect of a new Chicago show, and, hopefully, a firm fall date for NYCC going forward," responded Brownstein. "Reed has done a great job growing their New York show, and has a team in place that gets better every year at creating the blockbuster convention that New York deserves.

"I like the idea of a world class convention in each quarter. WonderCon in Q1, followed by Chicago in Q2, CCI: San Diego in Q3, and NYCC in Q4 create the raw materials for organizations that rely on convention income to pull in strong cash injections at regular intervals. I think this could be very good news for some smaller publishers who are feeling the pinch at the distribution level right now, and for artists whose original art sales provide a large part of their bottom lines.

"Having said that, nobody has any idea what the economy has in store for 2009, much less 2010. It's a big risk that Reed's taking, and that the business community will be asked to take with them. If the economic climate continues to decline, these shows will represent a tremendous expense to the business community that may not earn out. If the economic climate improves, they create the raw tools to generate more income and buzz. I think Reed's successful track record earns them the benefit of the doubt.

"The parts of this development that excite me most are, first, seeing a very large show moving into the metro Chicago area, and serving that region. And second, seeing NYCC moving out of the unpredictable winter climate and into the start of the holiday shopping season.

"Reed has shown a strong commitment to the industry, and are extraordinarily supportive of the CBLDF. I look forward to working with them in this new enterprise."

"I think adding a con is a total to-be-determined," replied McLauchlin. "It's also a risky move, especially given the economic climate. We are living in a day and age where the U.S. economy can lose 60,000 jobs in a day. Parallel to job losses, many potential exhibitors have commensurately lowered marketing budgets. It's happening everywhere. Take a look at sponsors flooding out of auto racing. Buick is ditching its sponsorship of Tiger Woods. The volume of media just sent to the Super Bowl was way down. It's happening on a macro- level, and as above, so below. I'd guess that whatever budgets the Upper Decks or Sony PlayStations or 20th Century Foxes might have to throw at marketing for 2010—the stuff that might creep into the comics world—will be down as well. I think Reed adding a show will add some competition for the tightening marketing dollar.

"Moving a New York convention on the calendar won't matter one whit. It's effectively a zero sum. I think they've already moved this show around already anyhow, right?"

We also asked what do they anticipate will be the most significant ripple effects (if any) on the overall convention calendar for 2010 and subsequent years?

"I don't think there's a ripple effect at all", responded McLauchlin. "Look at something like the Emerald City Con in Seattle. That con does what it does, and shows slow and steady growth based largely on sales to dealers and small publishers on the exhibit end, and ticket sales on the consumer end. It's not like Marvel Comics has ever exhibited there, and I doubt they ever would. They'll keep on keeping on, and I'd wager they'll continue to show slow and steady growth of a few percent a year.

"The same goes for the Orlando MegaCon, the Baltimore Comic Con, and so on. Those organizations typically start well over a year in advance in securing a kickass guest list, and I think that's what fans show up for. If they just keep on their game, they'll be fine.

"We already are in a day of a crowed—or overcrowded—calendar. I remember I was at the Orlando MegaCon a couple years ago when it was the same weekend as New York Comic Con, and both venues flourished. In fact, I know MegaCon has posted record attendance the last 2-3 years running. This year, MegaCon is the same weekend as WonderCon in San Francisco. Guess what? It'll do fine again. I see no ripples here."

"It's hard to tell," replied Brownstein. "But I think that small shows will need to be even more competitive to attract major exhibitors. There's definitely going to be some shifting in the budgets of major exhibitors to accommodate for the new Chicago show, and that will probably mean cutting or cutting back on some of the smaller, regional shows.

"That said, the best of those shows are run by very aggressive organizers who work hard to accommodate their exhibitors and attendees. I have no doubts that they will adapt to this situation, as they did to previous expansions of the convention calendar."

Look for even more information on the changing face of the 2010 comic book season as it becomes available.

Related:

New York Comic Con 2009 Video Page

Wizard Postpones 2009 Los Angeles, Cancels Texas Conventions 

Reed Teams with Penny Arcade for 2010 East Coast PAX

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