We don’t know about you, but Occasional Superheroine has been slaming it out of the park on a regular basis and is definitely on our absolute must-read list on a daily basis now. Following her trip down to Baltimore, Val took a look around what is a charming but “mainstream” con:

The truth was that the sense of willingness to try new things on the part of the attendees — seek out new books and talent — was relatively small. At least much smaller than San Diego or New York.

Some webcomics creators expressed frustration about the con, noting this lack of attendees who were even receptive enough to take their flyers.

“In a few cases they actually gave my flyer back and refused to look at it” one webcomics exhibitor reported. “In all the many conventions I’ve been to, that has NEVER happened.”

The same exhibitor noted that their success in anime conventions has been far greater, even though their webcomic is not related to manga. “Anime fans just have much more of an adventuresome energy, and want to try new things.”

While we wouldn’t wnat to fault the Balitmore show — it’s truly a relaxing oasis in a summer of tensions and anxiety, and everyone has a good time — the comment about anime cons is very interesting. We had quite a few conversations at the retailer summit about whether manga fans would make the reverse commute to read Occidental comics. Are they more open minded? Any anecdotal evidence from the peanut gallery?


  1. Whenever American comics come up on the manga boards at Anime News Network, it seems that the only people who actively read American comics are those who went from American comics to manga….the reverse, manga readers trying out American comics, seems very rare. But then, the hardest of the hardcore manga fans posting there, so take that for what it’s worth.

  2. To play Devil’s Advocate, why should superhero fans be expected to demonstrate interest in another form of the medium? At this point, they probably already know indie, manga, web comics, etc… exist, may have tried some and moved on. There’s a connotation that (a) if they only gave it a chance, they’d love the ignored forms of comics, and (b) that they’re wrong to like superhero comics.

    Right or wrong, if these folks showed up to check out what was going on with superhero comics, that’s what they showed up to do. It’s a bit like going to the movie the movie theater and being distressed that folks weren’t going to see “Becoming Jane” and were filing into “Die Hard 4”.

    This Con seems to have a different audience and focus than the pop fest in San Diego. I’ve seen this covered here and elsewhere and I’m not sure why this is a story.

  3. It seems like the Manga fans are the Manga fans and the traditional comics fans are traditional comics fans. I am a Comic Book fan who reads some Manga and watches alot of anime. I am probably the exception to the rule. Most popular manga are aimed at girls and women, not men. There is nothing wrong with that because comics (I include Manga in this) need women to be a growing business. I hope the Shoujo generation becomes the new generation of Female comics readers.

  4. My elder son is an anime/manga fan and not at all interested in American comics, with one exception: anything by Jhonen Vasquez.

    Extrapolating from one data point is not recommended, but this does serve to illustrate that perhaps if American cartoonists want to attract manga fans, they’ll need to do something both Really Different from the comics mainstream and, in the case of boy-fans anyway, definitely edgy.

  5. I attended the Baltimore Comic Con this weekend and sat behind a table promoting a web comic with my fiancee. Over the past year we’ve hit 3 comic book shows and 2 anime conventions, one of those shows being Otakon.

    From what I’ve seen, people who go to anime shows are much more likely to be open to different things. I do think if the major comic book publishers were to go to the major anime conventions such as Otakon and the major convention out in California, they might open that audience to traditional American comics.

    I would guess, not actually having facts, that a large percentage of people who purchase Manga probably purchase it at Barnes and Nobles or Borders. My local comic book store does not carry manga, and there is no demand for them to carry it. Yet if I were to drive 5 minutes to the local Barnes and Noble there is a whole section devoted to hundreds of different mangas.

    I think Marvel and DC are trying to capture that audience by releasing certain titles in a digest form, but if it isn’t placed in the same section as the magna, that audience is never going to find it. If Marvel and DC were to have a presence at these shows, displaying titles such as Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane, Runaways or the Minx line, I think the anime/manga audience would respond to it. I feel these titles could easily be gateway titles in a sense to other books, or at least help usher in a new female population that the anime market has grabbed.

    I’ve been to quite a few anime conventions and I’ve been shocked at the energy and the vibe that they posses. The fact that the artist alley can stay open as late as midnight during a convention can show you how hardcore these fans are. And you as an artist, can easily be there selling books until midnight. These are a new breed of fan who are passionate about this medium and spend hundreds of dollars collecting arts and crafts from other fans.

    I think if a presence of American comics were to be at these shows, the audience would be willing to try it out. If a fan is going to Borders to buy their manga all the time, how are they going to know anything about American comics unless they are somehow introduced to them.

    Sorry for the length. It’s just something that’s been on my mind for awhile.

  6. I wonder if the kind of “people who are more open to new things” would be going to the Baltimore Con if SPX was not just a few weeks from now and not all that far away.

    If there was no other Mid-Altantic con this time of year (or anytime during the year), maybe there would be more of a willingness to get out there, especially since would be SPX exhibitors might be at Baltimore too.

    (said as someone who has exhbited at both shows over the years)