Joe Field, inventor of Free Comic Book Day and owner of Flying Colors in Concord, has passed along a video called WonderCon 1988 Review, created as a promo tool to get more exhibitors and publishers to attend the ’89 show — then called the Wonderful World of Comics Convention. With next week’s show being the 25th anniversary of the Bay Area confab, he’s been posting several historical videos to his YouTube account, and this one will blow your mind with its vivid depiction of the primitive conditions our comics forefathers labored under. In addition to a younger version of Joe himself playing Anderson Cooper, you see younger Stan Lee, young Fabian Nicieza, young Tom DeFalco, and several other young ‘uns in local TV coverage of the 1987 event.
Several interesting factoids emerge from the coverage. For instance, the size of the comics market is given as a $300 million a year business. (Today, it’s $680 million.) It’s also noted that about “3/4 of the comics readership is adult!!” Amazing prices of anywhere from — brace yourself — $12,000 to $20,000 for back issues is marveled at. The show’s 4200 attendees — up 25 percent from the previous year! — make it one of the biggest comics shows in the country. And Mark Bodé’s MIAMI MICE parody comic is reported to have sold over 180,000 copies.
Field mentions that there are about 100 comics shops in the northern California area in the video — compared to about 60 today.
The funniest thing about the video is how the news reports look like — instead of being a mere 25 years old — they could be 50 years old. The anchors are so slow and grave they could have stepped out of a Superman movie serial.
On the other hand, the convention scenes could be from today, if you just lowered the shoulder pads and jeans’ waistbands a bit.
Comic-Cons — an eternal pastime.
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.