This weekend’s Denver Comic Con experienced the kind of exponential growth that one expects these days: up to a reported 84,000 people from 63,000 last year. However with growth comes expenses, and some dealers were not thrilled about the rise in table costs. According to one who wrote to The Beat:
I’m a dealer at the Denver Comic-Con and I was very surprised to learn that costs of the dealer spaces has gone from $400 in 2013 to $575 this year. Besides that it seem as if the dealer are now expected to play for there own loading expenses which I guessing would run at least another couple hundred dollars or more.I’m not naive enough to think that there wouldn’t be a rise in prices this year, but a frankly doubling the booths seems a very, very excessive. And I won’t be able to participate next year.
The Denver Post story quoted above includes what is, to my eyes, a SHOCKING amount of covering of behind the scenes stuff like drayage costs. Apparently the con sent out a letter saying drayage would be charged next year, adding $65 to $95 per 100 lbs. And this did not go over well, causing the con to send out fliers on Sunday saying no there would be no extra costs.
It’s a real breakthrough moment for con culture when a reporter accurately discerns that shipping fees are a bigger story than Adam West, even if it isn’t quite a pow, bam whap So kudos to the Denver Post’s Jesse Paul.
Wired’s Joel Warner also had a piece on “Con Wars” that goes in depth on some of the issues in today’s very competitive field. (warning: The Beat is quoted.) Including Wizard’s very consistent aggressive scheduling:
Wizard World’s Macaluso, however, denies that’s the case. “It has never been my strategy,” he says. “We try to put a show in city that does not conflict with other events. We are simply at the mercy of the schedules of the event centers.” But in practice, such conflicts have repeatedly arisen. Last year, for example, Wizard World Portland debuted just a month before the longtime Emerald City Comicon in nearby Seattle. And last month, Wizard World held its first convention in Minneapolis two weeks before SpringCon, which has been held in the city for 26 years.
I heard a lot more over the weekend about this kind of thing, enough for its own post.
Anyway, clearly Denver has staked its claim as a big show with big growing pains. And dealers must increasingly be mindful of the rewards of a show vs the costs. With rising table costs, dealers will have to be very judicious in choosing what shows to go to—and buzz on what shows are good and which aren’t will continue to be key to making those decisions. In other words, it’s going to get even more competitive.
Photo via Denver Comic Con’s FB page.
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.