by Bryon@miniworld

(Here’s an op-ed written by a veteran vendor who attends many comics events a year. We’ve been hearing a lot of viewpoints on the comic-con explosion from creators and publishers but here’s the view of someone in the trenches behind a booth. It has been edited slightly for flow.) 

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO COMIC-CON?

Below is a rambling on my part. It’s been a long two weeks, so this will read funny. Its more so a collection of thoughts; I am not a professional writer… I am a professional vendor. The structure of this is all over the place; my mind works differently than some others do.

I have talked about posting this for some time, so if you are interested, I will give you the perspective of the state of the industry from a long-term vendor.

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If anyone wants to question my credentials as a vendor, I have been vending since I was 14 years old. I am now 42. So, 28 years of perspective shows a ton of wear on my soul, and my business experience.

The current state of the convention industry is on the edge of a burst, but not terribly in a bad way. The industry has become incredibly oversaturated with “Major” conventions, to the point where it’s almost impossible to even find enough vendors to fill the halls; Some shows have also added roofing companies, insurance agents etc. to the list of vendors to fill spaces but in some instances these people purchase booths like anyone else.

Unfortunately, the industry has also priced itself totally out of the perspective of some vendors. With major conventions requiring $1000 to as much as $2000 per booth, the ability to profit from any “major” show has become an issue.

With each show now having the burden of “This year has to be better than the last” guest wise, and attendees feeling the same, it has put the crunch on the economics of the industry. By say having Superstar A at a show, with a $200,000 guarantee, that puts a lot of pressure on the promoter, and usually that is taken out on the price of booths for the vendors. The issue with that is if the people all line up to pay superstar A $150 for an autograph, there’s no money left to spend with the vendors.

It certainly is a trickle-down effect. What can be done?

At this point, I have been listening to many vendor friends, and I have been told that sales starting sometime last Mid-Year (June/July), have been on a sharp downturn at conventions. Some say as little as 10% but many claim 30-50%. Now, if you take 30% of sales away from an already burdened retailer, you leave them no choice to not return.

I myself have seen about a 25% downturn; but, I have also adjusted my product base to counter it.

We have seen the average customer spend less and less at every convention, and it’s not due to stale product. It’s mostly due to oversaturation of guests, price of tickets, and the general economy.

Now, the industry as a whole isn’t seeing this effect. We have seen a sharp upturn in 1 and 2 day show attendance versus the “big box” shows showing a downturn in attendance
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A lot of people will say “Well SDCC gets a bajillion people”. Sure, they do. There is no arguing that. But, how did the vendors do? I spoke to many vendors who have pointed out rising costs and ability to do the show have almost left them broke even after decent sales. Just because you get 100k people does not mean you have happy vendors.

One and two day “small” shows seem to be coming back as they were strong 10 years ago; If you are a vendor you may want to look into smaller show to see if your profit margins rise better. I have seen some pretty dramatic attendance at shows at fairgrounds and hotels.

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One serious issue is anyone can put on a convention these days. Now, I’m not here to pick sides or badmouth any conventions or promoters. I say just this: Always research where you are going to a show. Ask questions. If they claim it’s a first-year show and say “we are expecting 20,000 people” your vendor radar should be shouting at you. Expectations are different then results. As of lately, there have been multiple conventions in multiple areas of the US alone that have had dramatic losses and has made the industry as a whole look bad. No vendor wants to go to a bad show. No agent wants to deal with that either.

The industry is about to go thru a renaissance of sorts, many of us have seen it before, and the smart vendors are preparing for it. You will finally start to see rows of old comic boxes, books, and artists having their moment again. Its already starting to begin.
Vendors, take a moment out and breathe. The industry needs us just as much as we need them. The influx of new vendors is insane, mostly because of the “Funko Wave” as its called. I am happy that a company has found such success, but nothing lasts forever. If you like what you sell, keep selling it, your customers will come. Booth prices will start to drop, as more and more shows realize not everything can be put on vendors back.
The industry needs to heal, and remember what its built on. The only way it can heal is if you open your mouth to promoters and tell them the issues. Some will actually listen.

Economic influences also cause issues. We have a new president, and with that some people worry about the economy. It happens every time. Remember the average person only has so much money to spend at a convention. If you take into account autographs, pictures, food, etc., they are only left with a set amount for those items they want to buy. Unfortunately, it is not always a $5,000 comic, or even a $10 trade. Consider bringing some cheaper items to your booth. We do quite well with lower priced items and I have noticed an uptick in the sale of those items.

Its only 19 days into January and I have heard vendors panicking about the industry. I myself am trying to stay as Zen as possible about it. There have been 2 major shows already in the year; Just a few years ago, major conventions didn’t start until March. Now we are in a time where no less than 7 major conventions are on one holiday weekend. Think that out. Each show will claim a ridiculous attendance (I will leave a further comment out here, I stress to people these words: If you give a free one day ticket away, it’s not counted 4 times)
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Basically put, there are too many conventions in the industry.

What? Too many? Yep.

The amount of conventions is creating a choke hold on the economics of the fan base. There is only so much “disposable” income for a fan to have. When you have 7 conventions that will claim attendance of 50-100 thousand people on the same weekend you have to start scratching your head, not to mention the months of March, April, May, and June having multiple major conventions on the same weekends, with every weekend seeing a major convention. This is causing the fans dollars to shrink due to the amount of money it costs to attend every show they want to attend.

Shrinking dollars equal shrinking profits. Many customers do not understand how hard it is to vend conventions. As a full time vendor, there are times I’m not sure what day of the week it is or where I am supposed to be. Unfortunately, customers do not usually know how much it costs to vend a convention on the major side of the circuit. Even after booth cost, there is cost of goods sold. It has become harder and harder for profit margins to work against paying insane amounts of money at major conventions for even the most seasoned of vendors to be there.

If the downturn in the industry keeps moving the way it does, we will see a giant fall. As with any business you cannot continuously throw money at a problem unless you address the real problem: Costs.

It does cost a ton to rent a facility, staff, etc.., but, Look at the ticket prices. If you are charging $1000+ for a booth and $75 for a 3-day pass, I hope that as a promoter you understand that your profit margin could be even better if you listen to your vendors. Vendors are the key to the success of a convention.

A vendor is your true link to everything on the floor. We see everything and hear everything. As vendors, we know when the bathrooms are backed up, what celebrity is being rude, and what is selling, how the crowd is and such. Unfortunately, the vendor is a tool that is not being utilized. This needs to change.

I myself make sure the promoter knows who I am and I am there if they want to ask a question about the crowd; Thru the years I have made many friends that are promoters for shows it helps when they know they can rely on you.

Perception of the industry is totally wrong. The promoters think that the industry is bustling because of ticket sales; The issue is ticket sales are derivative of guests, at least that is how things are now. Just 10 years ago, people were happy to see the convention itself, now it’s “who has the better guest”.

The industry will heal, only after we see a change in the structure. There is no bad guy in the industry. No secret force purposely raising prices (well maybe), when people think Show “A” purposely made the date for the following year on the same weekend as another show, they fail to realize some conventions are booked YEARS in advance. Sometimes it basically boils down to that’s the only available date that month. There is no side way out of this, this year will be the most populated convention schedule in the history of comic-con. Think that out. Where will things be when the dust clears?

The average vendor has so many dollars without “blowing a house payment” as a good friend said to me. Promoters: Think about that. Yes, you have to recover costs, but do not put the guest costs on your vendors. Attendees: take time out to visit artist alley, and the vendor room. We came to see you too.

With the urge to promote the “big guests” the biggest place that has been hurt is Artist Alley. The industry has forgotten these are the people whom built the industry and are the future of it. When I enter a show floor and see the artists tucked into a corner I shudder; I recently attended a show where the artists had their own hall. Considering the layout of the building I understand why and I think that it was a great thing that it was well lit and signage was there. A whole hall of artists is a spectacular thing.

As a long time vendor, I walk into a convention and ask myself “How the hell did it turn into this?”, video screens, bands, guests that are certainly overpaid… I look around and say to myself “Whatever happened to comic-con?”

Time changes everything guys and gals. I think that a lot of us need to reflect on what makes us do the crazy job we do. Maybe some of us need to think about our schedules better; If you’re doing 4 shows in one month and realize that you’re just spending the profit from one to do 3 others, take a moment and re-think. Don’t give a house payment when you can do 3 small shows instead.

Also, just because a show had 50k people a year prior take that into consideration. Was there some big guest? I have seen multiple shows raise the prices of the next year’s show because of an uptick in tickets sold from the prior year due to a major guest. Just because you sold 50k tickets one year does not translate into a successful next year. If you are a vendor pay attention to this, many shows are doing this and it’s pretty unfair. Raising booth rates due to ticket sales for a prior year show is not a good way to treat loyal vendors.

This is not a stab at the community of promoters, it is me speaking for many. I listen, people ask me my opinion constantly. I bring years of experience to the thought process. If I have a question I ask other vendors whom have all been in this longer then I have;
Promoters: how the hell do you call yourself comic-con without comics? Sure, you have your artist alley, tucked in some dark corner. How about a company or two? There are many affordable companies that are great to work with. Bring the companies back to your show. Reach out to them. Without comics, there is no comic-con.

Support your local small show, you may be surprised how much fun it is.

I was recently able to attend Albuquerque Comic-Con. I loved the fact that there was not $20k in kiosks labeled for lines. Just some old school folding tables with handwritten signs that say “Cash”, “Credit” etc. this is the true spirit of comic-con.

Everyone just needs to remember where this all started. In a hotel, somewhere. A bunch of people wanting to hang out together and not worry about being judged. Yeah, some of them even had some comic books too.

[Reprinted with permission from FB.]

24 COMMENTS

  1. That was a good read. Thanks.

    It’s hard to say what the economy really does to the cost of various things, but all I know as a convention-goer is that ticket prices are going up for no obvious reason, and artists are charging a lot more for sketches. Just like everything else (sports, movies, etc) comics and conventions are pricing themselves out of their audience with the excuse that people still pay the higher prices. I wonder how much of the sales at a convention are credit and how much is actual cash. Even if they pay cash at the convention, it could be a cash advance from a credit card. What does not being left out cost these days and what’s the interest rate on it, that’s what I want to know. There’s a ton of stuff at a convention that I would love to buy, but I am not a sucker for a ridiculous mark-up.

    Having recently attended a convention, I have a lot of thoughts about what I experienced, but I don’t think I can get it all down nor do I have the time to do so. I will just say that I will not pay a celebrity money for a signature, and 90% of what I spend at a convention goes to artist alley or vendors. And what is up with all the damn prints for sale? Where do they all go? And all of these artists that have full commission lists, where does all of that art go? I mean besides ebay. Why do artists have to be so scared of putting out a decent art book because they like to draw licensed characters? Has the sale of Marvel and DC to companies that love to sue over their I. P. sucked all the fun out of artist alley?

    It is what it is. I don’t mind staying home. I’m getting too old for this shit anyway.

  2. In 2012 I went to Comicon San Diego with a friend of mine who hadn’t been there in 20 years. When we walked into the giant dealers room he remarked that it didn’t look at all like a comicon, but like the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Others have remarked on the increasingly small number of actual comic book dealers at the convention, which I think is a result of the staggering booth costs which have pushed out all but the larger comic book dealers. Even Mile High Comics has remarked on how they are considering dropping out of Comicon because they are lucky if they can just break even, as much as they like going to the convention. Who the guests are at a convention doesn’t matter to me as the people I used to enjoy seeing at Comicon (Jack Kirby, Ray Bradbury, Forry Ackerman, Ray Harryhausen, Harvey Kurtzman, Will Eisner, Al Williamson, Dave Stevens, etc) are all deceased.

  3. And what started out to some extent as a place for the outcasts, and those who didn’t fit in or socialize well, has become a place for the cool kids and the hot bods. The outcasts are slowly becoming the outcasts in the thing they helped invent.

  4. Excellent read. I hit a smaller Con last spring and it had only 3 vendors selling comics and the largest one there folded up and didn’t show on Sunday. I hope you are right in your assessment that promoters will remember why many of us are attending.

  5. Hope this message finds you, I just want to tell you that i’m not from the states, have been to NYCC 2 times, but mostly i attend (and work) at local cons in Argentina, where i’m from. And we are facing this exact same problem.
    Just wanted to say that, your post reflects what it seems to be a problem for the industry everywhere. Obviously the difference here is that we don’t get the big stars you might get. But the funko wave, the highly increase in conventions (and i’m talking about 4 major events per year, and at least 2 events every weekend, and only in ONE CITY!!! can you picture that??)

    I hope the situation gets better for everyone, Thank you! :)

  6. Very interesting read! The other thing I wish promoters would remember is that cons are a place to have some FUN with other people who share the same interest. With the focus on big-name guests, so much of the time ends up being spent waiting in line (for vendors, that means less time for people to shop) and being corralled into huge auditoriums that can be overwhelming. It’s time to pump up some more of the fan-led panels and game rooms. For promoters, this should be seen as a great thing – no need to pay the people leading the activities, and sometimes it’s another income if it’s actually the gaming company coming in to run it. Instead, even these are being drummed out. My uncle used to lead games at Comic Con for years, but he stopped doing it a few years ago because it’s gotten to be too much of a hassle.
    As for most vendors areas, talk about a nightmare for introverts – of which there are many among the target audience. The booths are crammed in so tight sometimes it becomes impossible to get through without pushing and shoving, which not everyone is willing to do.

  7. I will be doing constant convention reviews this year and posting them to our facebook page. Many thanks to comicsbeat.com for reposting and cleaning this up a bit, it means a ton. There is a link at the bottom of the article to our page.

    I will go more into detail as the year goes on to see if things change for everyone!

  8. Went to a great, smaller comic convention in St Louis last year and George Perez attended. It didn’t have any B list celebrities charging $40 to 100 for an autograph. It was just about comics and I had a great time, looking through $.50 boxes for various issues. Reminded me of conventions in the 1980s and 1990s. I enjoyed it much more than the last several comic conventions that I went to.

  9. What a great bunch of “ramblings.” My business partner and I are relatively new comic convention promoters. We started Garden State Comic Fest after attending many so called comic cons and found them to just be celebrity conventions. We have nothing against those, but like you, we wish they didn’t call themselves a comic con. Yes, we have a few celebrities and yes we have cosplayers, but we have made GSCF a convention that concentrates on and celebrates the comic books and their creators. We tried to follow the blue print of conventions like Baltimore Comic Con, HeroesCon and TerrifiCon. After every one of our events, we ask every one of our vendors and guests for constructive feedback. We compile the results and try to solve any issues for our next convention. Our vendor space costs have risen slightly, but we have kept them the least expensive in New Jersey and we use all that money pay for the facilities and promote the hell out of our convention.
    I’d love to have you as a vendor and get your feedback on GSCF. Let me know if you are interested.
    -Sal Zurzolo
    GardenStateCF@gmail.com
    http://www.GardenStateComicFest.com

  10. i am a con-goer/cosplayer in the UK and the amount of con’s that are going in is getting out of hand. I now prefer smaller con’s to the larger ones because they are cheaper and its not all about who is going (major celebs) ive been going about 10 years and I have seen a huge huge change in how things are but when you try telling others they don’t understand.

    I don’t know what con’s are like in the US but I would personally like to see more cosplay related stuff at con’s that maybe I can finish off something with or add to, (ribbon, materials, naruto headbands, full cosplays that maybe have an area that can be tried on (know this would be more space and more money but coud get more sales if can be tried on to check)

  11. This is a great article and spot on from a vendors point of view. I started out in Artist Alley several years ago and eventually became a vendor because I needed the extra space. The booth prices have definitely skyrocketed with the rise of the popularity of special guests in recent years. I understand that special guests do bring in a lot more people…which is a good thing but as the author brilliantly pointed out, the cost to vendors, and patrons is taking its toll. This increase in booth prices (and decrease of patrons spending dollars) has caused me not to vend shows that are not within a days driving distance because of travel costs.
    I agree with the author that small shows and conventions are where it’s at right now. I tend to do better financially per capita at smaller shows. Plus they are more fun as you can communicate with your audience more closely instead of feeling like a monkey behind the bars of your booth. I think the popularity of comic-cons have been a boon to artists like myself in recent years, which is great but a lot of us are own the edge of being priced out of the mega-cons. All I can say is thank goodness for the internet. My internet sales combined with several small comic-cons a year make for a decent living. I don’t think that was possible 5 years ago.

  12. As a UK attendee and the occasional vendor, I completely agree with the author. Even I have noted that there are more and more events year after year, and common sense says something has got to give. As attendees we only have so many free weekends, and so much free cash, to spend at these events but I am not seeing the message trickling down to organizers.

    Living in West Yorkshire there are now planned comic cons in nearly every local town this year, which is just too much, Either being run by people with too little experience or at unsuitable middle-of-town venues. The worry is the general public will get a bad impression and this will discourage them from attending the larger events. It’s a shame, but it does seem what was once a niche is now common-place.

    I hope that the ‘crash’ doesn’t come at the expense of either the vendors or the fans/attendees,

  13. As one of the BIG show promoters this was a refreshing read. We mailed all our vendors at the end of 2016 and said pretty much the same thing, too many shows, too many vendors selling Funko and way too many promoters playing Wargames with big name guests.

    We have spent our time trying to find a balance and with guests have taken the view that “the only way to win is not to play”, so we will not go down the route of $200,000 a guest with $150 an autograph, in the end it kills the vendors. Has it hurt numbers visiting NO. Our numbers continue to climb.

    The big problem is that while we are looking at a overheating market all the other promoters fail to see the that it is not sustainable and keep announcing more shows, more cities.

    Short term thinking is going to lead to ruin for many.

  14. Very very nice read, and having recently attended Wizard World Comic Con in New Orleans this month i can agree with your analysis on the majority of the industry. Over the years i’ve had the opportunity to attend many conventions in many roles: attendee, vendor, speaker, and now con director. Having been able to do this, i feel that it’s given me a unique perspective,

    As an attendee i can honestly tell you that the very first thing i hit when i go to a con is the vendor hall. For me it is my favorite part of a convention. I absolutely love visiting each vendor and seeing all of the cool and interesting things that each one has for sale. Often you can find me browsing through boxes of comics trying to recapture the collecting days of my youth. What i never expected to see were lasik eye surgery information booths, heating pad vendors, and in one case a curtained off peep show booth (i didn’t actually go into this one so it may not have been as bad as it appeared). Just like the actual con, a vendor hall should be a magical experience for an attendee, and not feel like an afterthought like so many do today. I don’t mind paying $75 for a 3 day pass, but i want to feel that i got my moneys worth. Especially since to date i’ve only purchased one guest autograph, and that was for a friend.

    As a vendor it’s was always been hit or miss for me. Our set up was pretty time intensive, and took a bit of manpower to get everything ready in time before the doors opened. A lot of people don’t understand just how much it actually costs every time a vendor sets up at a con. When you account for booth prices+electrical, travel costs, hotel rooms, and meals it easily adds up. Usually we would start opening day around 2k in the red before we even sold the first item. and that’s not even including extra inventory costs associated with vending. So i can totally empathize with everyone here that vendors at cons. The costs to do so just seems to keep going up and up. To make matters worse, not only do the booth prices seem to go up every year for the same cons, but the conventions themselves do little to promote their vendor halls. More and more it seems to be all about the guests, and covering their guarantees/fees anyway that they can.

    On a side note, i’ve set up at both small & large conventions. It doesn’t seem to really matter what size the con is, it seems to come down to two things: how well the vendor hall is promoted by the con & how much saturation there is of each vendor type. If you have a smaller con with only two comic vendors out of 30-40 booths, then those vendors are going to usually do well. If you have a larger con with 30+ booths of comic vendors out of 200, then probably not as well. It should be about balance over the greediness of selling booths just to sell booths.

    As a con director for a first year con (and a rather large one at that), it’s about taking everything we’ve learned over the years and putting it all together so that the convention will be successful for everyone: attendees, vendors, & guests. This means that booth prices need to be kept down to reasonable prices so that vendors will feel comfortable that they won’t lose their shirts while vending at the con. Booth prices should pay for the convention hall and the expenses associated with it, not your guests and anything else. That’s what ticket sales and sponsorships are for. If the cost of this goes up, then so should the booth prices. If it doesn’t then they shouldn’t. One of our local cons has done this for the last four years. When they first launched, booth prices were low per booth, now they’re more than double.

    As for conventions in general, they should be more about the actual experience for the attendees. Too many cons seem to have fallen into the “cattle call” mentality. Get as many attendees in as possible, make enough money to cover your guests, and hope they return next year for a rinse and repeat. This is why Wizard World seems to be floundering. They forgot about the most important part of a con: the attendee and the experiences that they have while they are there.

    Finding a good balance is key. Vendors should be promoted by the con that they are attending. There’s really no excuse not to with today’s internet access, social media, and available app builders for mobile devices. A vendor hall should never be an afterthought, and should feel that they contribute toward the over all experience of the attendee. I feel that if more conventions took this approach that cons would eventually become successful for everyone involved.

  15. As one who attended SDCC twenty separate times from the 1980s up through 2012, it’s really sad to see the bloated hybrid press junket–pop culture overindulgence it’s become. It’s NOT about comics and artists and comic art any longer. Those three elements are there, certainly, on the peripheries of the event, not at its nucleus. When one can walk up to the likes of Bernie Wrightson (it appears he’s since washed his hands of SDCC) and Rudy Nebres and Wendy & Richard Pini — line? what line? — but have to wait hours to catch a glimpse of the cast of ;Iron Man 4: Stark Goes Starkers in Asgard’, then the entire POINT is lost. And the decline in the number of actual comics vendors is indeed truly woeful. Bud Plant Comic Art, now known as Bud’s Art Books, used to host a glorious multi-booth-large array of collectibles and scarce European art books. No longer. Now: a single booth. These cons cater to cosplayers and celebs now. Comics and artists are somewhere in the shadows.

  16. FYI Comix Cheech: Bernie Wrightson was a special guest at the 2015 San Diego Comic-Con and was inducted into the Will Eisner Hall of Fame there. Bernie has cut back severely on all convention appearances in the past few years because of health issues.

  17. I go to couple of cons a year in Colorado. I noticed last from late February to Early October there is 1 con every weekend some where in Colorado. Now they all aren’t comic-con some are anime cons and other type of cons but none less usually attract the same majority of the market. There are 2 cons that seemed to have a feud going on and honestly still surprised that they are still around and have a huge bad rep with hotels, guest, and attendees. I staff one con that slowly been dying I want to say because of ghosters, and the just the over-saturation in the area. Honestly if one of the Anime cons that are around the same time could join with the con I staff it would be are really great con. Other issue is Denver Comic-con the big con right in middle of con season. Denver Comic-con, SDCC, and Anime-expo all happen with in usually 3 weeks of each other. I’m amazed how some people go to all three. Honestly it gotten to the point oh I’m saving my money for con blah, in couple of weeks it just shows how over saturated the con to attendees have become. Yeah seeing guest is great and all but honestly the best time I had with guest are at the smaller one in hotels where the guest interact with the attendees. Peter Mayhew when he Attended the con that I staff he was walking around the con, going to different panels, interacting with the guest, it was awesome. You go to a big con you stand in line for 30min to 3 hours+ depending on the guest to get an autograph and spend what 2 min at the most then your sent on your way. I feel in the next couple of years you see the con bubble pop. Where the really cash grab type of cons will die while the ones dedicated to their fans will begin to recover. Honestly last year was the strangest odd felling for me at the cons. It just seemed out of place. When one of the largest Cons in the USA has maybe 100 cos-players in costume it means something is seriously wrong. Now even on the FB you hear people boycotting cons because of new costume policies that don’t allow less skin then a normal Bikini or they can’t bring airsoft because of issues with people calling the cops about people in star cosplays walking into a restaurant with realistic looking props. At that point its the inflation of cosplayers own egos. But I’m sure it will heal and work itself out.

  18. Interesting article. I’ve done my share of cons over the years, and of course they have changed a bit. One big change seems to be the amount of people who come to the shows without buying anything. They’re there to walk around, collect poster giveaways, take in the vibe. They buy their tickets, so that is good for the promoter, just doesn’t help anyone else make money. I’m cool with that, as well as cosplayers. It’s all fun, and adds energy to the room. That there is a finite amount of money to be spent at each con, I think makes sense. The “star” Wars, getting the biggest name and spending big is a necessity in some ways, but I suppose it also diverts some money away from vendors or creative talent. Some people attend just to get a star’s autograph, no doubt, and maybe isn’t a drain on retailers. But the other thing is, I’ve seen both professionals as well as vendors with bad booth behavior, either being rude, or with their head down, looking at their phones, rather than smiling, and making people want to come chat and buy something. If you’re a vendor, and have the same exact stock as 10 others, what makes you more enticing? Price, sure, but also being friendly, and personable.
    My biggest gripe is with NYCC, mainly because they make it so hard to even get in. They, more than many, seem to only care about comic creators if they buy a table. I have to submit my info every year, and wait to be approved, in order to pay 40 bucks for my “pro” badge. Every year. I go because it’s a commuting show for me, and I get to see other professionals to chat. I have sketched a bit as well, but I’m not buying a table:). All of these shows were built on the backs of retailers and professionals, and pros used to get free tables and admission. Some shows still do that, which is great. But the NYCC has never felt like a friendly show. As for San Diego, they spend money every year to fly in Pros and create panels for the fans. They still seem to value the comics aspect, and offer that non promotional programming. I’ve had a lot of fun at Terrificon, in Connecticut, because it has always had a good comics vibe. The fans are generally there because they love comic books. I’m sure there are plenty of other shows like this as well. Help those shows out, and spend your money there. Why even attend some show you don’t like?

  19. Jackie, I’m aware of Bernie’s recent health issues. Glad to hear he was back at SDCC for his induction. I was thinking back to something he told a friend of mine around 6-7 years ago. I’m simply glad I got to meet and talk with him a number of times at SDCC before he stopped being a regular, Bernie was at Long Beach Comic Con a few years ago, too. I probably won’t be going to SDCC anymore since they’ve also made the registration process a pain and one must spend a small fortune in accommodations. I’ll continue to support Bud Plant and my other favorite vendors online and at other events where they continue to host.

  20. Thank you for a good read. I am somewhat new to being a promotor. I own Galaxy Comic Book and Fantasy Art Expo in Joliet IL, in the month of Sept each year. I am going into my third year and have enjoyed bringing together some really amazing artists and vendors over the last few years. I put this together because I wanted to enjoy a comic book convention like it was when I was a kid. Now 48 years old I have built a smaller comic book expo and hold it in a four level great venue . I keep both the vendors and artists ticket prices very cheep and also the tickets at the door. This way there is not a big over head for them to cover. If they (artists and vendors ) are sitting there worrying about how much they have to sell to cover their over head. Then they are themselves are not enjoying the expo and I want them to enjoy being there as much as a con goer. Then the tickets at the door are cheep so that the fan or family can get and still have plenty of money to buy signed art, an original piece, or even find that hard to find comic. Then still have the funds to get it and not just go ( cant afford this cause I spent to much just to get in) Bringing in families to meet artists there which work(ed) for DC, Marvel, Dark hose, Topps Trading Cards and others. This is where this expo becomes fun. Most can not afford to take the full family to a big mega con. Trust me, I did in Chicago one year and it was $200 just for me the wife, and two kids just to walk in the doorplus parking ,plus food plus gas we were just about $300 in the hold. Sorry artists and vendors but now no money to spend on you so we just window shopped so to say for the day. It was not a fun day telling the kids we could not afford to even buy a simple $25 print they wanted for their bedroom wall. With the families coming here it gives them the comic book convention experience and fun day together with money to go how with something nice. It may not be the MEGA CON but they were not mega cons when i was a kid. I thought of pretty much the full story published here and can see it all as it was written before I even started mine.. Most of all that I thought of is the same that upset me with the cons of today. Thus leading me to just to build a simple and fun expo like they were when I was a kid. You know what.. It was worth it. I see nothing but happy people, dealers and artists now. I have no reason to jump in the ring with the mega cons nor do I want to. Thank you for posting this story , I enjoyed reading it as it was well written. As they say, see you in the funny pages…

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