Uh oh, yet ANOTHER disappointing con. Comics Excitement was held last weekend in Los Angeles and according to reports drew less than a thousand people – 20,000 were promised. Nerd and Tie, a site not known for holding back, has the thorough details, citing yet again the “hubris” of first time showrunners. Among the big problems: the draw for the show was a $10,000 prize for a cosplay contest. Little other marketing was done. And the show itself was held the same weekend as ANOTHER LA SHOW, Anime Impulse.
According to people we talked to, Comic Excitement was run by a first time showrunner, who while reportedly talking to experienced con staffs, didn’t have any experience working cons himself. It also seems like any of the advice he was given was largely ignored. Frankly, this whole show was a mess, and I’m left scratching my head as to who the heck this was targeted at.
I mean, the marketing (with that weirdly massive $10,000 prize) was clearly targeted at Cosplayers, but the rest of the actual content of the show was clearly pointed towards a Comic Con audience. The people who want vendor heavy flea market and guest focused shows aren’t nearly as interested in that.
N&T also castigates Comics Excitement for a poorly written Harassment policy on their site, which consisted simply of the words “DON’T DO IT!”
On the scene tweets paint the lonely, lonely picture:
— Parks And Cons (@ParksAndCons) January 15, 2017
— CFG (@thecomicfreak) January 15, 2017
One can hear the howl of the aircon, the chill of the cold, hopeless wind blowing through the convention center and the stale smell of old $6 hot dogs just looking at those photos.
Julius Vergara at Movie Pilot has more grim details and actual quotes from actual vendors::
“One lady was in from Pennsylvania, and the owner had apparently said that there were 20,000 tickets PRESOLD, whereas the guy I talked to was careful to say “20,000 target.” She shipped a ton of inventory out here and flew out for the con, and she lost thousands of dollars. I was talking with one of the other vendors who saw her call out Scot, the owner, and she gave him a piece of her mind, to which he apparently just replied “oh sorry.”
OUCH OUCH OUCH. When vendors don’t even make back their parking costs, you have a real problem.
When will people learn? Vendors also need to get a little wiser about accepting invites to first year cons. It’s easy for anyone to say that they sold 20,000 tickets…proving it is another. Also, despite the proliferation of cons, Los Angeles is still a problematic location. The troubles with downtown (although much better) and parking and transport issues make it a challenge.
And now here’s the FUNNY part. Comic Outlaws, the FB page of the people who run another show who have been criticized by Nerd and Tie, put up a now-private post mocking Nerd and Tie themselves for having to cancel a show.
The fact is, we just don’t have the budget to put on another show in any of the available venues where we’d have any chance of breaking even. Either we’d have to limit our size too much in what we could offer, or the price was too high. We just don’t feel confident we could deliver an experience close to what we gave you the first time around.
And that sucks.
In the next week we’ll finally get around to posting the long promised official photos from the Nerd & Tie Expo. Hopefully, once the dust has settled (and we’re not forking out all available cash to our lawyer) we can bring back this amazing event.
Now you know what’s interesting about that? Cancelling an event because you know you don’t have the money to put on a successful show is called THE RESPONSIBLE THING TO DO. Get in front of the news, be transparent, own it, move on and hopefully come back. All these pie in the sky con promoters could take a lesson from how N&T handled this.
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.