We’re very sorry to not be blogging from the con as much as we should be. The reasons are bad internet connections, bad phone connections and our own enfeebled state.

Saturday was mad crowded, San Diego or worse crowded, but good spirited. We hear (although we never saw it) that you have to line up for panels and the rooms were SRO even for topics you wouldn’t think would be SRO.

The logline for the show is definitely “What recession?” More than one person referred to the con as an “escape” from the realities of unemployment, and global deflation. Indeed, though many — The Beat included — feared that vendor sales would be dismal at the show, everyone we spoke with directly has had better than expected sales, and from the busy, bustling mood on the floor, you’d never know that January’s job numbers are going to be horrific.

ARE comics really recession proof? We heard a lot of informed news and speculation about Diamond policies, internet delivery, price increases and more to think we’re approaching some kind of new world for comics, but the buoyancy in the face of economic bad times is truly something to see.

The party scene at the show has been likewise busy. We started out the evening grabbing some Thai tea with ACT-I-VATErs, moved on to the ComicSpace party, and then hit the annual Chesterfest, CB Cebulski’s big shindig, which was a madhouse as crowded as the show. Unfortunately, all other revelry for The Beat had to be cut short, but it was a fine time for those who don’t have the plague.


  1. “ARE comics really recession proof?”

    No – I think there is just a slightly larger lag than in other economic sectors. I think once get into April’s figures we will see a truer picture.

  2. “you’d never know that January’s job numbers are going to be horrific.”

    Are going to be horrific? They already are horrific! 598,000 lost in January!

    And I have to agree with both of the posters above, comics are only recession proof if they’re downloaded. We have to wait for the numbers to come in, but orders for January will be bad. I’m skeptical about using conventions as an economic indicator. Cons usually give a rosier picture than reality is giving.

  3. Well you are in the know Brian – my impression from other retailers was that besides the obama wave, January was soft.

  4. A lot depends on who you talk to. Certain high-profile books and rising-star webcartoonists did very well, but a lot of other vendors had a tough time. Shoppers seemed to be very directed in the sense of looking for specific books and products. There was very little casual browsing. Vendors stationed in the front part of the hall did better than most of those in the back. The game companies in particular seemed to do very well.

    On the plus side, there was a lot of useful networking and information exchange going on, and even those of us with disappointing sales pretty much got our money’s worth in terms of intelligence-gathering.

  5. I wouldn’t use a popular convention as a barometer for economic charting. Much like an Obama or McCain rally those who show up are often the hardcore devotees. I appreciate them, but I suspect the majority of comic readers don’t always get to a convention.

    That said, comics (I believe) can weather the recession a little better than others. It’s a cottage industry with it’s own support system. Unlike, say comic strips who depend on the dwindling newspapers. The consumers of comics “go to” the source, rather than newspaper delivery, or magazine subscription. Retailers specialize in the product, so it’s not like depending on Walmart to distribute your book, or Macy’s to sell your comic theme T-Shirt.

    Not saying the comic industry is recession proof (like the video game industry appears to be, et.) but that comics might weather the hard times where other big fish who depend on other industries would panic.

    Comic conventions are just one of those legs propping it up.
    And let’s all be thankful for that.

  6. I was surprised at the success at the show for for Graphic Universe–much better, in terms of moving product, than last year, and we couldn’t give the wild discounts we did last year. We were located in the middle of the 1800 row, which was never completely mobbed like last year. But I feel we had a better line-up of books this year, and a particular title people were looking for specifically. And, for a small division within the Lerner company like GU, the barometer for a successful convention may be somewhat lower than for other publishers and vendors.

    But also… our books are primarily for young readers, and I got a sense of parents thinking both, “What can I give the kids that’s relatively inexpensive? Books!” and “We’re going to have fun no matter what.” But also also, everyone seemed cheerful, all the children were above average, and a lot of people who’d never heard of our books were spending money freely. Booksellers seemed to be searching very hard for just the right product, so of course we book publishers have to hope that our product is the one that they’ll both stock and be able to sell successfully.

    But also also also, it was a little distressing to be approached by so many authors and artists saying that modest budgets or page rates aren’t out of the question for them, as long as some work is on offer.

    In sum, I feel optimistic about the industry pulling through, but underneath it I’m afraid I might just be a Pollyanna hyped up on convention fever. And also feverish from whatever I caught at the convention.

  7. I got into the show on Saturday with a free pass — otherwise, I would not have attended. $40 at the door (after a $20 round trip train ticket) is too much for me right now. That didn’t stop me from spending $125 on Silver Age issues of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN … but on the train ride back to Trenton, I kept telling myself, “I shouldn’t have spent so much,” “I can’t spend money on old comic books,” etc. Had I pulled out the credit card, I would have spent more. Fortunately, there are no big shows coming up … and I don’t usually purchase on eBay.

    This was probably my Last Hurrah for Comics for a while …