Oh yeah, speaking of Comic-Con, there seem to have been an even greater than usual number of investigative reports on the show, what it means, how it works etc. I’ll link to a few below, but my own inquiries yielded a very interesting statistic. I was told by a reputable source that an independent study by a major film studio suggests that some 60,000 people some to San Diego without badges just to hang out, go to the theme parks, stalk celebrities, and march around the Gaslamp Quarter. Someone told me anecdotally that the figure was thought to be even higher this year, with as many as a quarter of a million people, all told, descending on Nerd Prom.
While that number may be an exaggeration, it’s still a huge number of people. On Saturday night all of Fifth St. was closed down and it was a madhouse. Obviously this has a huge impact on how the event works, and how people are going to approach it in the future. I’ll have more in my wrap up report, but here are the other voices, other blog posts links for now:
§ Calvin Reid and I covered the show
for Publishers Weekly in depth and there was the usual questioning of “why are we here?” but this time, I think, with a little more resolve:
Bennett said she has “issues with all the big Cons,” but noted that “Comic-Con in particular is too big, overwhelming, expensive, and diffuse, spread out.” She lamented that “the big cons have increasingly become ‘general audience’ shows,” and the fans they attract are not necessarily attending to buy books.
Retailer Peter Birkemoe of The Beguiling, Toronto’s premier comics bookstore and cosponsor of the Toronto Comic Arts Festival, expressed similar concerns about Comic-Con at the Drawn & Quarterly booth, where he typically works during the show selling artwork for the house and helping with D&Q book sales. Although D&Q had a great show, as always, and sold out of Jillian Tamakis’ new graphic novel, Super Mutant Magic Academy and D&Q’s huge 25th Anniversary anthology, Birkemoe had the same sense of apprehension over demographic changes at Comic-con as Bennett. “It’s harder to get in, and the audience isn’t necessarily here to buy books,” he said.
§ The “leaked” Suicide Squad footage caused headaches for Wb and they eventually had to put it online. While some might say this comes with the territory, Wired’s Jordan Crucchiolla pleaded Dear Idiots, Stop Leaking Comic-Con Trailers
You know that thing where you sit on your new sunglasses and your friend yells at you “This is why you can’t have nice things!”? That’s exactly what’s going on here. With major studios like Paramount and Marvel already opting out of a festival that’s practically become a criteria for relevance over the past decade, we need stop taking these exclusives for granted. Smearing content across the Internet isn’t exactly going to encourage studios to come back next year. And then we won’t get anything.
§ At The Verge, Jacob Kastrenakes asked Hall H of horrors: what is Comic-Con doing about the worst line in fandom? with a harrowing account of fighting off giant water bugs in the night:
But as the day went on, things started to go downhill. The air began to get cold. No one in the area was selling food or water. The convention was supposed to issue wristbands so that we could all go home and come back in the morning, but two hours after they were supposed to arrive, we hadn’t heard a thing. Also, there were cockroaches. A lot of them.
“He’s killed like four so far.” Jill Hanson was sitting in a small group about a hundred people ahead of me. She and two men were all bundled up in sweatshirts, which they’d borrowed from another line-sitter they’d met that night. “It’s kinda disgusting, and it wasn’t like this last year,” Hanson says. “We’ve also seen a couple mice jumping around in the rocks.”
§ There were many complaints about Hall H this year as always. Was it different? Not sure. I do know at least one person told me he got in and found many empty seats inside while a huge line was still waiting to get in, but that could be due to safety measures for crowd control. I would like to draw your attention to this post by Nick Eskey on the Talk Back panel and the subsequent comment threads as it deals with disabled attendees and the line wait. While to some hearing a fellow complain about not having a place to plug in his CPAP machine while waiting for Hall H may seem the height of folly, but you know, physically challenged fans have the same right to experience whatever it is they want out of Hall H as anyone else.
This is that guy that only slept 16 hours and needed his CPAP machine. You apparently only caught part of what I was saying, which is, that if they had not removed the outlets I could have used my CPAP machine and slept outside just fine. Besides that, however, you missed the point completely which is not everyone with disabilities can sleep outside. Because of that they should be given special consideration for their placement in line. What other convention gives ADA this sort of consideration? Try Emerald City Comic Con and PAX Prime, both in Seattle and both allow ADA to ALWAYS be first in line. Try DragonCon in Atlanta, where ADA have volunteers that will guide them through the convention, hold their spot in line and generally assist them in whatever way needed. I was on the BoD for OkCon and we bent over backwards to assist our ADA. Maybe because we had people on the board with disabilities.
§ Finally, comics writer Van Jensen went back to his journalistic roots with a brilliant piece for Grantland: How’s Your Show? A Comic-Book Writer’s Thoughts From on the Ground at a Rapidly Changing Comic-Con
“How’s your show?”
It’s the default conversation starter among those of us who attend Comic-Con International as professionals — writers, artists, publishers, agents, and retailers. Over five days in San Diego last week, I lost count of how many times I heard the question or asked it. The question — “show” is industry shorthand for convention — normally works as a quick way to ask several questions at once: How have your sales been? Have you had any luck networking? Did you line up any big meetings?
This year, conversation after conversation, that question took on a new subtext. It became: How is the convention? Doesn’t the attendance seem light? Aren’t there far fewer big advertisements and displays? What is happening to Comic-Con?
I’d hesitate to say that 2015 was more reined in than 2014 because the off-sites were huge. Was the anxiety just the usual or the sign of something new? I welcome your comments.
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.