Sunday, March 28, 2010

Con Madness: The Redux

Holy Smokes.

It's that time of the year again, folks. The cold, short days of winter have finally succumbed to the long, warm days of spring. And soon (very soon), it'll be summertime, and there will be baseball games and and cookouts and afternoons spent sitting outside with a cool glass of iced tea, listening to the sound of crickets as you--okay, fine.

So who cares about the crickets thing, right? Sure.

And as comics/anime/gaming/whatever fans, we all know what summer's approach really means. Yep, it's Con Season again!

While all those fitness-types spend the beautiful afternoons of spring and summer outside, running and biking, and all those nature-lovers go out nature, any self-respecting fanboy or girl will be inside, pasty-white, and sweating as they fight for position in the battle-or-die arena that is a convention floor.

And this year is shaping up to be the mother of all con seasons, since it's not so much a season as it is a 12-month grind. Seriously, from here on out, there will be at least one major comics convention every, single month. And, in most months, there will be two or three.

Most significantly, the world-famous Comic-Con: International in San Diego won't be the last major show of the year. And the ramp up to San Diego--which usually entails a slow bleed of one or two semi-major shows a couple of months beforehand--is simply staggering.

There's C2E2 in Chicago (a show that will rival the New York Comic Con in size and creator presence), the Emerald City Con (which happened last weekend and was met with tremendous praise from fans and creators), HeroesCon in Charlotte (a fan, retailer, and creator favorite, year-in and year-out), the Boston Con in April (in a new, larger space this year)...

And that's not even to mention the 12 (I'm not exaggerating) Wizard World Cons that are set to assault the comics landscape this year and into next.

But it doesn't end with the summer.

The big New York Comic Con--the show that many have labeled, "San Diego East"-- rolls into the city that never sleeps in early October. Which would usually be enough to get any discerning comics fan through the fall months.

But this year, during the same three days as NYCC, Gareb Shamus' Wizard World convention company has joined forces with the Big Apple Comic Con to put on their very own show.

Let me repeat that--it'll be during the same three days as NYCC.

Think about it for a second. That's like having another major, mainstream comics show in San Diego the week of Comic-Con. Sure, New York is bigger and better equipped to handle two shows (and they'll both be sold out, and they'll both see steady streams of people during all three days), but, c'mon.

As a fan, how do you decide which show to attend? As a retailer, how do you decide which show to attend? Why, as movies like Kick-Ass and Iron Man 2 and Scott Pilgrim are primed to make silly money at the box office, does the comics industry feel the need to compete against itself?

The emergence of the two big (read: massive) New York shows in October has forced the much beloved Baltimore Comic Con to the end of August. That show belongs in the early autumn, as the Orioles are ending their season. It just does. I'm sorry--that's tradition.

I love the Baltimore show--by far, it's my favorite convention. The location and its close proximity to Camden Yards, the amazing guest list, the fact that it somehow feels like a neighborhood show even though there are tens of thousands of people there.


That's really all I can say about it being forced out of its slot. Aaugh. Like Charlie Brown.

Now, on the surface, more conventions seems like a good thing. It means that more fans from different parts of the country will get to attend a show this year when maybe, in past years, they hadn't. That's cool, and I don't mean to sound like a jerk--especially since my hometown is in a perfect location for con-ing.

Really. New York, Baltimore, Philly, and Boston are all easy trips for me.

So, yeah, I'm spoiled when it comes to having good cons in my backyard. But with the schedule so jam-packed this year, something has to give. Just as the slow trickle of variant covers turned into a multi-faceted monster that tried its best to take down an entire industry, I think this whole convention explosion might bite us all in the backside.

Sure, it's cool now. But soon it'll be tiring, and conventions won't be "special" anymore. They'll be that place we go to every other weekend.

Oh, well. One thing I've learned from my short time around comics is that, eventually, when mistakes are made, the people in charge of things figure it out, retrace their steps, and try something new. Sometimes it takes a few years, and sometimes the very same people fall into the very same mistakes a decade down the road, but hey, that's comics.

We yell and scream for everyone to take us seriously and to pay attention to us because we're worth it, and then we make sure we never, ever go away. But not in the timeless-fashion kinda sense of a Rolex, for example. With comics, it's more like the buddy who asks to sleep on the couch one weekend and is still there three months later.


I really didn't want to get all worked up over this. It's Sunday, there are bagels. But that's comics for ya. Whatever the case will be, though, if you are planning on going to a con--and, really, with as many as there are, you have no excuse not to--enjoy yourself. They're fun and different and weird and wonderful.

And, seriously, you do have to give me some credit, though. This topic afforded me a good way to discreetly mask a Sunday link post.

So there's that.

We'll be back soon with some more inane ramblings. Until then, enjoy your Sunday.


Scott said...

An optimistic way to look at two cons at the same time in New York is that the people who can't get into one due to fire codes can go to the other very easily, rather than feeling like they wasted a trip.

I used to be really into the IDEA of conventions, but after going to a few, they really lost their appeal for me. There are just too many people, it's too hot, too stifling, and I'm never interested in any panels. I always end up feeling like I wasted a ton of time and money getting there and being miserable. In the end, I'm really just a homebody!

The real reason I'm posting though, is to link you to this interview with John Romita, Jr. on the off chance that you haven't seen it. It's about Kick-Ass, so there may be spoilers:

(Appropriately enough, the word I have to type to post this comment is "innings.")

AJG said...

Good point about the fire code thing. Way back at the first NYCC, I was unlucky enough to get caught on the floor when fire marshals closed off the hall.

No one in, no one out.

There was literally nowhere to go--I just stood, packed in against a mass of people, for over half an hour.

Thanks for the heads up on the Romita interview--did you read the book?

Scott said...

I haven't read it -- I'm actually kind of tempted to wait and see the movie first this time around, then read the book to see what's "new," since the movie adaptations tend to leave stuff out. I always end up disappointed when I do it the other way around.

AJG said...

Typically, I'd say to read the book first, but I think this time it might actually be better to hold off before seeing the movie.

I'm interested in your take on the movie, then the book.

I think the film (if it adheres to the book) will be pretty shocking to mainstream audiences...