We haven’t had a crappy con tale in a while, but what happened at the Panama City Beach Comic Con in Florida seems to be a textbook case: the promoter (Greg Messick) announced a show (that was mostly b-list nerdlebirties and hardly any comics) a few months out and then just never paid anyone, and vanished on the day of the con, after promising that 6000 people would show up. (Only 600 did). The original venue cancelled the show a week out, due to non payment, and while a replacement was hastily found, the companies that had been contracted to bring in the guests ended up holding the bag.
One of the nerdlebrities, Tony Todd, the Candyman himself, was so miffed he even tweeted about it.
— Tony Todd (@TonyTodd54) December 7, 2015
There’s a much longer account of what happened on Facebook:
On Saturday, the promoter did not show up to the venue. We had been working with the management team at Club La Vela and stepped up to assist with the event- only to discover that Mr. Messick had left town, His partner, Greg (or Craig, I heard both names used over the weekend) Fox was there, and told all of us that Mr. Messick was in the hospital. The Director of Operations for Club La Vela called both hospitals in the area- and they had no record of a Mr. Messick.
My team and I began to talk to the guests as we tried to figure out a solution to what was happening. And the guests weren’t happy, as you can imagine. And neither were the VIP ticket holders who had no t-shirts. And the venue was confused, as only 600 individuals came through the door.
In text messages, Mr. Messick finally admitted that he had no money, he was gone, and that he was hoping at the door tickets would recoup the cost.
Needless to say…this is not how you do it. Messick apparently had a checkered past, and a lot of these kinds of folks seem to be drawn to putting on cons these days, thinking it’s easy money, but as faithful Beat readers know, it isn’t. The company that wrote the above account, Bloody Bombshell Entertainment, seems to have done a worthy job of pulling the debacle together.
The 600 people who did show up had fun, as shown in this Storify, and this blog post by local writer Tony Simmons. Simmons plugs a different show, the Panama City Creative Con, which started out in a library and has a very different focus:
Creative Con is entering its 6th year as a community event, with each year seeing significant growth. What started with six artists doing free sketches in the foyer of the Bay County Public Library has grown into a creative convention which brings artists and attendees from all over the tri-state area and fills Gulf Coast State College’s campus with vivid costumers and the sounds of celebration.
Not only does Panama City Creative Con foster career development for aspiring artists and creatives, it is purposed to encourage young people to pursue their passions and develop the valuable tools they already have in their love for the creative realms.
How, doesn’t that sound like a lot more fun to attend? 2016’s Creative con will be held September 17-18.
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.