It's time for another installment of Newsarama's feature "The Q," where we ask one question to a variety of people in the comic book industry.
This time, we asked industry professionals to discuss the problems that arise when multiple comic book conventions are scheduled in the same city and sometimes even on the same weekend. The challenges faced by the industry will be even greater next year when, as we reported in October, Gareb Shamus' Big Apple Con was scheduled for the same weekend as Reed Exhibitions' New York Comic-Con and Anime Fast in 2010.
So we asked people in the comic book industry to answer this question:
- Do you think the comic book industry can support two conventions on the same weekends, what are your plans for those respective weekends, and why did you choose to participate in whatever manner you chose?
Jamal Igle (Supergirl, World's Finest): Absolutely. If the conventions are on opposite sides of the country and catering to different regional markets then you can have two conventions on the same weekend. Emerald City/ Megacon, Motor City Comicon/ ComicConn in Connecticut, are examples of that.
However if you are foolish enough to have a convention on the same weekend, in the same city, 20 blocks away from a major convention center holding the most successful convention in the NYC area in a decade. Also if that convention is being run by one of the largest convention organizing companies on the planet, I don't know how you can possibly think you're going to engender yourself to the fans or to the professionals who have to choose between the two.
I have conventions that I frequent on a regular basis either because I like the city the convention is being held in or I have a good relationship with the promoters. Heroescon, I think I've missed two or three in the last 15 years. Others I've had to skip because my schedule only allows me to attend one show a month, and with so many conventions I have to pick and choose carefully.I'm also attending a lot of new conventions this year as well, because the organizers went out of their way to invite me( A full list can be found on my website) and i always appreciate that. With the situation that's happening in New York in October, it really came down to "Who do I have a better relationship with?" New York Comic-con has, since their inception, gone out of their way to make me feel welcomed at their show and have taken good care of me. What Wizard had done, in my opinion, has been the height of bad form. This is not the first time of course they've done it; I remember them pulling a similar tactic against Shelton Drum and Heroescon a few years ago. Because of that, I haven't attended a Wizard show in two years, especially Wizard World Philly, even though it's a short drive away. In this case, it's truly inexcusible since they clearly knew in advance when NYCC's convention was slated for.
We have limited budgets, fans, creators and companies independent and mainstream. Why waste it doing business with a company who deals in shady business practices.
Jim Valentino, Shadowline (Image United): I don't believe that the industry can support two major conventions (for example; San Diego and New York), but it can support two small or mid-sized shows. These smaller shows tend to serve area fans and professionals (not everyone can make it to the larger more expensive venues -- Chicago, NY, SD).
I recently had three cons on the same weekend. Since I had never been to any of them, I had no data to base a decision on, so I simply went with the first one to ask (a good bit of advice there for promoters is to ask early!).
If I've been to a convention before, I'll know whether or not it was a good show for me. If it was, then it's a no-brainer to go again; if not, then I'll choose a competing show...if asked to attend.
That's my solution. Your mileage may vary.
Ron Marz (Witchblade, Angelus): I think when you have regional shows that are far enough apart on the same weekend, it's not a big deal. Emerald City in Seattle and MegaCon in Orlando are the same weekend, but they're literally on opposite ends of the country.
But having two cons in the same city, on the same weekend, like what's happening in New York in October, strikes me as ludicrous. The show at the Javits Center is established, well-funded and a proven success. It's grown each year. It's really second only to San Diego in terms of scope and importance. I have to think that's where most of the comic publishers and creators are going to be, including me. I assume the competing Big Apple show will offer an array of washed-up wrestlers and TV has-beens hawking autographed photos.
Sean McKeever (Nomad, Teen Titans: Ravager, Waiting Place): I can recall (via reading about it in CBG and CompuServe at the time) that 15 years ago, Philadelphia's ComicFest tried to go head to head in New York against the Great Eastern Convention. The end result of this particular game of chicken was a head-on collision. No more ComicFest in Philly -- nor any other major Philly show for some years -- and a greatly diminished (at best) GEC.
I can also recall still having a robust "weekend warrior" stable of local shows here in Columbus, Ohio, back when I moved here in 1997. Then two of the shows decided to go head-to-head, and that was the last Columbus saw of either of those.
So, sure, it's a brilliant idea!
Sarcasm aside, I think that the industry CAN support competing regional shows--the mid-size shows which largely attract local and state-wide attendees. But trying to place two major shows up against each other--whether on other sides of the country or other sides of Manhattan--is foolish.
As for me, I plan on attending C2E2 in April since I can drive up to Chicago and spend time with family in WI. Also, most of the publishers will be there, which is a big plus for me. And I've greatly enjoyed New York Comic-Con since its 2nd year and I don't see any reason to change plans for 2010.
Erik Larsen (Image United, Savage Dragon): It supports two cons all the time. Smaller shows are on the same weekend all year long. If you're asking if it can support two gigantic San Diego-sized shows -- no -- but it can support a couple smaller shows, no problem. If two guys are counter programming then guests and vendors will be forced to make choices but given the size of the industry and the number of professionals -- it should be able to make a couple mid-sized shows fly. Vendors are likely to have more problems than fans or pros.
Andy Lanning (Nova, Guardians of the Galaxy, Realm of Kings): I think it's pointless to hold 2 conventions on the same weekend. It's not as though the comic buying public is so vast that they could support 2 shows.
It doesn't strike me as sound business either, surely you want to be the only show in town so that you can maximize your attendance. By having 2 shows are you end up forcing potential attendees to choose one or the other, especially in today's financial situation, when most people would be hard pushed to attend one, let alone 2 cons over a weekend.
I don't get it, surely the best cons are put on for the fans, it's a chance for them to meet pros, get sketches, attend talks and discussion and generally enjoy the world of comics. Maybe I'm naive but it strikes me as purely profit driven exercise that wants to exploit the fans rather than support them.
That said, I'm available anytime, anyplace, anywhere should anyone want to fly me over, put me up and treat me!! - Andy 'the sell-out' Lanning
Filip Sablik, Top Cow publisher: I think it is possible for the industry to support two conventions on the same weekend, particularly if the conventions are serving very different regions (for example, East Coast show vs. West Coast show). Obviously it puts a strain on publishers to decide which show they are going to support. I'd hazard that most publishers only have one convention booth setup and limited convention staff so supporting two shows in one weekend is not something that's feasible. Top Cow is taking an aggressive convention stance in 2010 after taking a year of in 2009. In some cases we'll be able to support two competing conventions by exhibiting, in other cases we may opt to exhibit at one show and support a second show with a variant cover exclusive, door prizes or some other level of support. It all comes down to where do we as a publisher get the most value and maximize our interaction with existing and potential fans.
Nick Tapalansky (Awakening): My experience with dueling shows has been that, typically, one of those shows suffers pretty significantly. I've participated in Wizard's Philly show for the past few years and its (perceived) attendance, as well as featured guests and publishers, has decreased pretty dramatically, with many choosing to attend the Charlotte based Heroes Con instead. I think they only directly competed with each other once in the past three years but just being in proximity to one another seems damaging enough. It may be that they're close enough to one another that either becomes a fair option for both fans and exhibitors, while shows on opposite coasts may draw enough regional fans, creators, and publishers to make maintaining the same date for both shows worth while.
Setting up at conventions is a huge expense for creators as well as publishers, and forcing them to choose a show is probably not going to be as good for business as, say, choosing a date at least four to six weeks away from each other. Few people can afford to, or would choose to, exhibit at them all but at least you'd have a better chance at enticing exhibitors who won't be as travel weary and light in the wallet from all the freight and travel expenses. As I said above though, shows not in the same region might still be successful since they offer an alternative to those based closer to one show or the other.
The only competing shows I know of this year are the NYCC/BACC shows in October and, if I can make one at all (I'm getting married on October 1st which, I suppose, takes precedence) Alex and I will be at NYCC exclusively. We debuted Awakening there in 2007 as a home-printed issue in a binder two months after signing with Archaia and we were greeted with nothing but awesome soon-to-be readers excited about what we were doing. Every year since has been a fantastic experience, both because of those readers, as well as the new folks we meet each year as the show grows bigger, and the great job Reed does organizing the party. It's kind of a no-brainer, especially after the silliness that was Big Apple Comic-Con this past October. I'm not going to get into details or point fingers, but attending that show for just three hours made this decision pretty easy.