It’s windup day here. All the glittering art displays and carnivals are being taken down; everyone has gone home but the poor cast of Fringe, who were left behind to cover the retreat. And the comicos are also joining the caravan to the north and east.

We’ll have a lot more to say in the days to come but today is a crucial day for the future of comics at Comic-Con. Most everyone we talked to among the comics publishers and artists told us this has been a slow show for sales. People who were sold out by Saturday at HeroesCon are sitting on stacks of books. We don’t doubt that some people are doing well, but whereas in past years SDCC was definitely the biggest sales show of the year—justifying the enormous costs of attending—if booth sales slow, the exodus of comics talent may continue.

As we just reported, Bill Willingham has announced he won’t be back in 2013. At Tr!ckster last night, Mike Mignola told me this is the last time he’ll be setting up a booth here. To which Matt Wagner, standing nearby, said, “I did that three years ago and it was a great decision.” Another well known artist also mentioned he was giving up his booth for next year. Of course Wagner was still at the show, and Mignola said he would come for a few days to see friends and do business perhaps, but it is beginning to feel like an exodus.

Speaking of Tr!ckster, it was jammed last night. It’s been SRO every night. The vibe was something like a nightclub as dubstep blared out and people came in whirled through and dashed out, making the comics scene. Apparently sales were brisker there for comics than on the floor.

The Hyatt was a riot as usual, although security guards weren’t always allowing drinks outside as they did in past years. There seemed to be a general air of fearfulness from hotel staff that a full on donnybrook would break out at any minute. In reality,. people seemed more set on enjoying one last night of name-dropping and talking about future projects in development.

Still lots of good times here and lots of comics. Just different, as always.


  1. more and more people say NYCC and TCAF are the conventions to go to.

    if SDCC has finally turned into San Diego MovieCon and the tv/movie panel crowds are not interested in buying comics then it’s time to go.

  2. Damn, last year was the first year that I went to SDCC and seeing Mike Mignola & Bill Willingham were part of my highlights. However, I can understand that they won’t pay for a booth if they don’t make money from it. Hopefully they will still be around at least for panels.

    While Mike Mignola’s booth had little sketch books, most artists who I am a big fan of, I already own all their books unless they are debuting something new at SDCC. So I might be getting something signed that I already own, but even then I can only travel with so many books to San Diego knowing that I’m going to be bringing a lot of stuff back home.

  3. Maybe Comic-Con should just close while on top. Trickster, Nerd HQ and other shows across the country may be a good reason to let the people who organize the San Diego show a time to finally have a permanent break after 43 years of doing this.

    While they still have a contract until 2015, as I understand it, they have nothing after so this might be an easy way to bow out.

  4. They’ve turned Comic Con into a TRADE SHOW. A place for producers to promote upcoming product, and give away free advertising swag. It’s not really a good place to sell anymore — especially comics, books, or original art.

    Fortunately, there’s a number of great conventions growing around the country. I’m just sorry to have lost San Diego. I attended for 25 years and loved it, but it’s not the same show anymore, and I can no longer justify the expense or hassle.

  5. Why have a table/booth if you’re a famous cartoonist? Do some signings at publishers booths. Do some panels. Take some meetings. Hang out at Trickster.

    The evolution of CCI is not a surprise. As Comic-Con becomes more famous, that creates more interest in other comic cons. These seedlings eventually will grow to be large shows, but most likely without the media presence of CCI. (Except for NYCC, which could launch Fall television and Holiday blockbusters/Oscar contenders.)

    If you want Comic-Con without the media, go attend Dragon*Con. Of course, reserve your hotel room far in advance.

  6. When I see the photos of SDCC these past few years with booths of film and TV studios, video games, toys and clothing companies, I can’t help but think it’s The Licensing Show with the public allowed in.

    It’s great to know that the other cons throughout the country will thrive as SDCC evolves into something that has no use for comic creators and small publishers. I only hope the smaller cons, as they grow, do not also become media cons, and stick to their comic book roots. Should be interesting to see how this whole circus shapes up or shakes out.

  7. Torsten Adair: “Why have a table/booth if you’re a famous cartoonist? Do some signings at publishers booths. Do some panels. Take some meetings. Hang out at Trickster.”

    I don’t know from personal experience but I’m pretty sure even a “famous cartoonist” needs to make money. Everything about attending Comic-Con is expensive.

  8. “While they still have a contract until 2015, as I understand it, they have nothing after so this might be an easy way to bow out.”

    —do people read this stuff before they post it? what rot.

    God forbid The Beat report facts, not people’s bar sentiments.

  9. I would say 80% of the vendors I talked to today (small time, not corps) said they did not break even this year. Many said they were there simply for the advertising, rather than selling.

    With ticket prices likely to skyrocket yet again (guessing $250 for a 4 day), less and less people are buying and are only there for the free stuff.

    It’s just a matter of time before the SDCC implodes.

  10. I think the comics landscape is changing dramatically. No one _needs_ publishers anymore. Also, no one _needs_ to network with the old guard anymore. Today anyone can publish their comics on the web and it’s all about hits and unique sales, not selling enough books to break even.

    The big reasons to go to SDCC, to break even on the books you published for the year and to schmooze with the press and network with publishers, just don’t exist anymore. Cartoonists now do just fine with their webcomics and the comic press doesn’t even know they exist.

  11. I keep hearing about NYCC…
    But I’ve looked into the prices (flight / hotel / booth) and it looks very comparable to me. In short, still costly. NYCC, however, hasn’t been completely hammered with corporations and studios, yet. But from what I understand… they are growing that direction.

    Perhaps I should hit up NYCC soon.

  12. As for SDCC, I didn’t go this year (due to circumstances in my life), but I planned to return next year. However, hearing this news kinda depresses the thought. My only saving grace is that I live close enough to the Con that I can drive there, which saves money on travel… but if even that isn’t making the difference then I will consider my options.

  13. I think Chris Hero is right.I visited in 2011 for a portfolio review based on advice from Getting into the Business of Comics by Lurene Haines .It was a waste of Time and money.

  14. As a publisher, this year ended up being slightly above average for us. Kids day was a big day for us (hopefully folks are familiar enough with Ape Entertainment to know we have a lot all ages material) with Sunday winning the weekend.

    As a fan, this was the first time in a few years that I really enjoyed myself. Nice to see old friends and make lots of new ones. Eisners were great (even though my boys, Deron Bennett and Martin, didn’t win). Lots of interesting things happening around the show inside and out. FUN!

  15. Was anyone else a little disappointed with Trickster? It was crowded, hot, and had a hipper-than-thou vibe. I really felt like my teens and I weren’t welcome.