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Vegas Fan Fusion Cancelled – is this the beginning of a con bust?

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Vegas Fan Fusion was a show set for Sept 28-30 and run by the folks who fun Phoenix Fan Fusion (formerly the Phoenix Comic Con.) However, earlier this week, it was announced the show was cancelled:

It is with regret and our apologies that we announce that planning for Vegas Fan Fusion has been postponed and Vegas Fan Fusion 2018 will not be held as scheduled. A variety of factors influenced this decision, including unexpected costs to present the caliber of event you deserve.

If you have purchased memberships, signed up as a panelist, or have purchased exhibitor space, you will be contacted by our team directly.

We love the Vegas community and have truly enjoyed being a part of it.

Thank you for your support.

The Vegas show was to be a full fledged con with celebrities – Dan Fogler, Nicholas Coster-Waldau, Summer Glau – and comics folk – Peter David, Norm Rapmund, Jae Lee. 

This follows a number of downsizing moves for the show’s organizer, Square Egg. Earlier this year they cancelled Phoenix Fan Fest,  a fall show, and earlier this month, there were layoffs at the company. However August 3-5 they ran Minnesota Fan Fusion, which was a success by all accounts.

The Phoenix show – originally called the Phoenix Comic Con, then Phoenix Fan Fest, and now rebranded as Fan Fusion – helped kick off the boom era of comic cons when it launched with a near 6-figure attendance. It also made headlines in 2016 when an armed gunman was arrested outside the show, heightening awareness of con security issues.

I reached out the Square Egg to ask about the cancellation, and whether they felt this was part of a “con bust” that many observers have been bracing for. According to show runner Matt Solberg, it isn’t. “My business goals have changed and our staffing has changed accordingly,” he told me. “If there is any larger trend it is a continuation of one you’ve written about: it is hard work launching a new show, as has been the case for years.”

Kristin Rowan, Square Egg’s director of marketing, public relations and sales, elaborated on why the Vegas show was cancelled and what it said about the state of the con business. ” There were a number of factors that were considered [in the cancellation]” she told The Beat. “But the primary factor was the inability to host the caliber of show we and our fans are accustomed to and deserve given some last-minute unexpected and prohibitive costs.”

Moving forward, they are “focused on making Phoenix Fan Fusion 2019 our greatest event yet. Additional plans have not been solidified at this time.”

Rowan also declined to ascribe Square Egg’s moves to any larger trends. “Challenges in running a new or established show are unrelated to the layoffs and change in business goals.We don’t have the necessary information or authority to comment on any other events or the state of con business in general, but the support and interest in Phoenix Fan Fusion both in Arizona and across the country remains strong.”

8 COMMENTS

  1. The 2018 Phoenix Comicon (aka comicfest) struggled. There were noticeably less people in attendance and fewers vendors. One vendor mentioned the attendance was down 30% and vendor participation was 40% lower.

    I’m not sure if this was a bust. Many other factors may have contributed like a weaker celebrity list, higher ticket prices, and a larger security footprint.

    Square Egg has slashed ticket prices for the 2019 con. I still enjoyed attending with my family but my wife felt there was less for her to see and do. She is what cons need to survive – occasional fans of the medium.

  2. Cons have become too expensive-to get all the guests autographs could cost you in the thousands of dollars-also comic book fans are being increasingly left behind as comic book conventions become everything but about comics.

  3. I did not attend the Fan Fusion here in Minnesota either of the two years.i heard it was pretty bare year one. And was below the level of the locally produced effort held here for many many years even this year. Seemed like the package was too “slick” for me to be interested. The experience that really starts me to show like SDcc are the panels. Particularly the Comic Arts Confrence sort of experience San Diego offers. I uunderstand the drive to entertainment veneer with either books or movies but without the depth of a closer look the soul is undernourished.

  4. I think we are reaching a point of stabilization. Well-run cons will continue to grow and the ones who are run by untrained professionals will fall off the schedule. There are better standards for shows(for publishers, and talent) and there also seems to be a rise in genre specific shows-which is also helpful to the publishers and talent. The next bit of the math involved is how many major cons can fit onto the calendar and who has the manpower to attend and or exhibit? It is very likely that more cons will be announced and then cancelled in a very short succession.

  5. Wizard World Chicago seemed to have a pretty weak attendance – lots of people walking around not carrying anything, meaning very little buying. At least that is what I saw on Friday and some vendors & artist alley folks seemed to wonder where everyone was.

  6. This like all things will reach a saturation point and then dwindle. I really do not see the need to have people in your favorite whatever signing stuff for you. Do you think that you are going to make any impact on these people taking your money. If your looking for some form of human connection with a total stranger might I suggest a prostitute? You’d spend less money.

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