My annual preview of the San Diego Comic-Con is up now at PW, but I took a little different focus this year: In a World of Too Many Cons, San Diego Is Still King
This is the story that was taking up all my time a few weeks ago, but I managed to get insights from a HUGE array of people: David Glanzer, Jim Lee, Dan DiDio, Spike Trotman, James Lucas Jones, Martha Donato, Kurt Hassler, Peggy Burns and Top Cow’s Matt Hawkins, who says some day be may just live in an RV and do cons non-stop.
Lee and DiDio were frank about how the con schedule impacts DC talent. When artists can make a lot of money going to shows, deadlines may become less important:
DC Entertainment publisher Dan DiDio says, “we struggle with conventions almost every day here, both where we attend and who among our talent is attending. With the demand being placed on so much of our talent, it’s starting to impact a lot of our product.”
DC’s other publisher and chief creative officer, Jim Lee (who is also one of DC’s most popular artists), has even more experience at conventions in his long career, first as one of the most famous artists in the comics business, and now as an executive. His insight is unique into how the convention scene has changed. Lee agrees that generating revenue at comics and pop culture shows has become the standard for many of his creator peers.
“They aren’t drawing comics, but they’re selling on the con circuit. It’s become a viable platform for revenue,” he says. [snip]
Lee is well aware that the allure of the convention circuit is taking creators away from the drawing table. However, publishers are “not their parents or their business managers. But I think it’s shortsighted to think that this explosion of shows and demand for collectibles will remain the same. Creators will figure out what the water level is and how to manage their time.”
Also discussed appearance fees for comicsfolks, and establishing a “better cons bureau” of some kinds, something I’ve heard a few people talking about in very abstract terms.
The bottom line, which I hardly need point out, is that the proliferation/glut of comic cons and pop culture events is grueling, and beginning to cannibalize itself. I wat to see a vibrant healthy schedule in all markets, but the fly by nighters have got to go.
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.