Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The problem with Comic-Con

I don't go to San Diego for Comic-Con International. My days as a "fan-only" are long over and San Diego stopped appealing to me around 2005. In fact, most big conventions - namely San Diego and New York - no longer appeal to me. New York Comic Con - which I attended every year until 2011... and took the train to New York and rode a cab every day to the con... is no longer appealing for different reasons.

But here's my #1 issue with San Diego and calling it "Comic-Con." Tonight is preview night. There has been a smidgen of comics news... Francisco Francavilla announced the follow-up to his OUTSTANDING Black Beetle... Bleeding Cool reported on the indie Watson and Holmes selling out its print run...  Mark Waid even introduced a new series from Legendary Comics... BUT the majority of the news coming out of preview night - and the trend will only continue as the Con gets underway is the heavy emphasis not on comics... but on movies.

Look, I'm all for the masses taking part in these characters and material... but when print runs don't increase to pre-1990s or even 90s levels, comic stores aren't flooded on Wednesdays and Saturdays and indie creators are being overshadowed by the latest big movies... then the problems with the industry mount.

How can a small press creator with a great property compete with Marvel, DC or even Mark Waid? It's a serious problem, especially at the biggest show of the year. I really like small localized conventions like Boston, Albany and even Baltimore because the big companies don't go and the emphasis is on comics. The focus is on creators and passion projects - some great, some not so much.

Regardless, the pushing and shoving required for an event like SDCC is sometimes nerve-wracking and is often discouraging. Sure we've got giant Teen Titans balloons and Hobbit LEGOs, but who does Warner Brothers and Disney need to compete with at Comic-Con? 

I can only hope that indie creators do well, sell many books and get their projects out there and build an audience. You would think that with the 100,000+ that will descend on SDCC it would happen... but the truth is, most attendees have paid ridiculous amounts to go to San Diego, for tickets and on their costumes... with the bombardment of free stuff and exclusive the big companies will be offering... where does that leave a creator in artist alley or small press who paid a ludicrous about of money to even have a con space?

In my experience, I'm asked more if my books are free than I am spending time explaining what they are about.

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