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What goes up, must deal with thinner oxygen at higher atmospheres. The last two years have seen unprecedented growth in comic cons/ media events around the world, with many showing spectacular growth.

But as we keep pointing out in our “When a con is crap” recurring feature, this also means a lot of fly by nighters and unprepared rookies are jumping in and not achieving the results they might have hoped for. And along the way, unsuspecting vendors, guests and attendees are getting caught holding the empty oxygen tank.

Although run by industry vets who are neither fly by nighters or rookies, the cancellation of Detroit Fanfare is the most prominent in a bunch of recent shows that will not go on as planned.

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The Cherry City Comic Con in Salem, OR, scheduled for March, has been cancelled and, oh, by the way, vendors didn’t get back their deposit money: 

Savannah Glitschka is among the vendors left high and dry when the organizer of the Cherry City Comic Con canceled the event – and likely kept her deposit money.

Complaints about the event were filed with the Better Business Bureau. Organizer Mark Martin – who registered his business with the Secretary of State in June — remains unavailable, despite repeated attempts over days by KOIN 6 News to talk with him.

Glitschka is a college student who paid the $60 deposit for a spot at the event scheduled for spring. She paid the money in August for a table to display and sell her art work at the Cherry City Comic Con.

“So not only is the Con not happening, we don’t get to sell out stuff out, we don’t even get our refund for the money we spent in the beginning,” she said. “And that sucks.”

According to the latest post on the show’s Facebook page, the previous organizer, Mark Martin, is no longer in charge, and the show has been transferred to something called B.A.M. Solutions, Inc. File under “Developing.”
Apparently something called The Lonestar Comic Con did much the same thing earlier last year.
Heroes Expo,  “the newest anime, gaming, and book convention in South Texas” was to be held this very weekend but…not any more.

And then there’s ConComics, which was planned for San Antonio TX in March 13-15. But oops! Better unpack that suitcase.

While I’m not aware of the details surrounding these cancellations and postponements, I do know word is out among vendors to beware of shady organizers. Inflated attendance and guests who were never actually booked are becoming more and more common, and with people STILL getting into the convention business in droves, “con games” are a very real thing.

So you know of more cancelled cons or suspect exhibitors? Let me know and help spread the word.

3 COMMENTS

  1. ConComics seems to be a Latin America chain.
    http://www.concomics.com/#/
    But then… the upcoming Acapulco (! five blocks from the beach) show in March seems to lack programming information…
    No box office ticket sales, and all that’s available online is the MEX$130 (US$9) two-day pass (via PayPal). Daily passes may have sold out?
    HOWEVER, artist tables are free. 1.2 x 0.8 meters. (half a table, 10 sq.ft. of space)

    With so many shows available, it’s probably best to wait a year and judge the show.

    By all means, attend as a fan, especially if it’s nearby. New shows should be supported, and you’ll get an eye-witness account of what occurred. Take the money spent on a table, and buy people drinks at Bar Con.

    Warning sign #1: The first show is held at an exhibition center instead of a hotel. That usually suggests bad planning (too much money spent on rental), and pie-in-the-sky expectations. It’s better to sell out at a smaller venue than to have a ghost town at a larger venue. There’s always next year to expand.

    Warning sign #2: The Guest List. Most SF cons have category guests-of-honor. Perhaps five to ten big names which are given spotlighted programming, and then ancillary guests who generally pay their own way. (Many of them former GoHs who return because they had a good time and made money.) Anything with more than ten “big names” at a new show, and it seems that budgeting wasn’t done correctly. Also, who are the guests?

  2. I think Torsten’s made some good points about warning signs. If you are a vendor, there are a lot of questions to ask before you invest your money, time and effort. Other critical info: What are they doing to promote the show? Word of mouth is not advertising.

    I also think we’ve reached a natural point in the evolution of the convention market expansion. The shows that are professionally produced are going to get better and there will always be the shady ones but hopefully they will be less and less.

    The next real expansion for the market is in the professional development aspect of programming. There’s a great deal of opportunity to provide workshops and seminars for teachers who are looking for support as they increase their use of comics in the classroom. It would also be nice to develop programming for artists on the business of publishing, promotion and marketing.

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