Even as folks tape up their combat boots for the San Diego badge scramble, more modest events are springing up everyone —
even Grand Rapids, MI, which is getting the Grand Rapids Comic-Con on October 12 in Wyoming, Michigan. Organizer Mark Hodges is realistic about this first time show—he expects 2000-3000 people to attend event, to be held at the Home School Building—but can’t ignore the visions dancing in his head of a future show that draws 30,000 people, even if he can’t afford Ron Perlman this time.
Hodges said he is using a slow-and-steady approach to build attendance in the years to come, but the promoter predicts Grand Rapids Comic-Con will one day be a premier source of revenue for the Grand Rapids area, just as other cultural attractions, such as ArtPrize, are.
He is basing his prediction, in part, on the success of established comic-cons in cities such as Atlanta, Las Vegas and New York City. San Diego’s single largest convention, Comic-Con International, is projected to generate $488 million over 2013 and 2015, including sales tax revenue of $442,000, direct spending of $207 million by convention attendees, and sales of 378,000 hotel room nights, according to San Diego Metropolitan Magazine.
Rarely have we read a “local man plans con” story of this kind that presents so transparently the mental clash of a first time con thrower, as coursing excitement of a cosplay/Stan Lee/Geoff Johns/Adam West type comics-palooza unfolding continuously runs up against that “Oh shit, I just put down a huge deposit on the Home School Building” feeling.
“This is a group of people who are passionate,” said Hodges. “These kinds of people are people I know. I can see this event in 10 years running on a budget of over $1 million with 30,000 people attending.
“With the first (Grand Rapids) Comic-Con, I expect fans’ criticisms,” continued Hodges. “We want input. We want their criticisms. This year is a glorified template.”
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.