Hollywood: Give Us Back SDCC!

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I’m not going to rant here, that’s too easy. But San Diego Comic Con needs to be broken up in to two separate events, as the comic portion of Comic Con is all but lost. I’m not the first to notice this, but I’m going to stand up and state my displeasure of how SDCC has degraded to nothing more than a Hollywood parade of stars.

sdcc-tweetsI watched the #SDCC column in Tweetdeck fly by at incredible rates these past few days. Few to none, that I could see, were about comics. Yes, it’s great to see actors like Betty White or Benedict Cumberbatch, but what do they have to do with comics? Nothing. Most of the tweets were about “industry” news. Not the comic industry, but rather Film and TV. As you can see, Benedict Cumberbatch, “Lana” from “Archer” and Hot Wheels cars fill up the #SDCC hashtag. Where are the ones about Artist Alley? Oh, yeah, no one Tweets about that.

Now, I’m as a big of fan of comic-books-turned-movies as anyone out there, but this is ridiculous. We comic geeks have been shoved out of our own convention!

The answer: San Diego Comic Con needs to be two events. One for Comics, one for TV/Films.

With LA and Hollywood just up the road from San Diego, the TV and Film industries have crashed our party and taken it over. We’re so excited and star-struck to have Robert Downey Jr. show up at Comic Con that we forget there’s an Artist Alley full of folks looking for you to buy their art or comics. Remember them? No, you didn’t, as you stood in line for 4 hours waiting to see the next Marvel/DC film trailer or sit through an hour long panel of an actor ranting about various subjects.

Some of you may argue that if not for the Film/TV stars, the crowds would be much, much smaller. Granted, that’s a no-brainer. But, the percentage of the attendees now who actually give a rat’s-butt about comics is extremely small anyway. So why deter your target audience from getting to your table by having tens-of-thousands of Film/TV fans getting in their way. Or, if they even come at all as tickets for SDCC are a hot commodity. Not because of comics, but because of the stars that are going to be there.

These TV and Film industry people are NOT interested in your comic. Sorry, they’re not. So, if you’re living the fantasy that Stan Lee will walk down Artist Alley, see your book printed at Ka-Blam and go “Damn! Sign this guy up for a million dollar movie deal!” it’s just not going to happen. Period.

But what will happen is that a publisher, also near Artist Alley, may see your work and sign you up for a publishing deal. That DOES happen, and all the more reason to make SDCC two events. Give us comic folks some room to breathe so we can actually reach out to our fellow comic geeks. You know who you are. You’re the one walking around SDCC with a box full of comics on a small hand cart behind you so you can get your favorite artists to sign the covers. YOU are the person I want to reach out to, as YOU will more than likely buy my book. But all you’re doing now is irritating the folks there to get free T-shirts from a movie studio or stand in line to see an actor. Wouldn’t YOU rather have a Comic Con about comics? Yes, you would.

SDCC wouldn’t be the gaudy spectacle it has degraded into if the LA and Hollywood crowd would stick to their own territory. They’ve taken our stuff, and won’t give it back. This is High School all over again. The cools kids have kicked us out of the prime seats in the cafeteria and are making fun of us behind our backs again. I say we stand up and stop this.

To the organizers of San Diego Comic Con: GIVE US BACK OUR COMIC CON! Send those Hollywood folks back to LA so we can actually sell some comics.

Oh, that’s right, you won’t. As Marvel will spend hundreds of thousands of dollar on their booth and advertising, and sadly, I can’t. So who gets to take over SDCC? You guessed it. The LA bullies. But if we make our voices heard, perhaps we can make a change. We should be able to walk SDCC without the fear of getting our underwear pulled up to our earlobes by Hollywood moguls. We comic geeks/nerds need to rally together and take back OUR Comic Con.

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Posted in Conventions, Conversations, Debate, Featured News.

18 Comments

    • SDCC is a lost cause. If another company has the guts and capital to bring a real comic con to San Diego, then you’d see a lot of real artists and comic creators bail on SDCC.

      If we can’t reach our audience, then why go? It’s as simple as that.

  1. These days MOST comic conventions are really pop-culture conventions, celebrating comics, toys, games, movies and TV. Comics is still the driving force of most of these cons though, and I say forget it as a ‘comics’ event. It’s sort of like how the Super Bowl is increasingly less about the game and more about the spectacle.

    Chuck Rozanski, the founder of Mile High Comics (one of the biggest comics retailers in the country) announced he would not be taking a presence to San Diego after this year, because the publishers offer so many high dollar, Con exclusive products that SDCC has become a money loser for his company to the tune of about 10 grand. People won’t buy a high quality high dollar back issue, when they need their money for an exclusive variant cover.

    He reported doing extremely well at the (still very new) Denver Con and would be focusing his energies there and other regional cons where it makes economic sense to do so.

    http://majorspoilers.com/2014/07/27/sdcc14-mile-high-comics-wont-return-convention-next-year/

    Support your regional and local conventions where comics are still a big deal and the big draw. Many of these cons are growing and becoming big draws in their own right. SDCC is now a giant press conference for media companies, with a comics presence that lends its name to the event. I doubt it will ever go back to being comics-centric at this point. It is too valuable for drawing attention to movies and television shows that make more money than most comics COMPANIES.

    • Thank you for that information, Bruce, and you’ve confirmed what I have felt to be true all along.

      Yes, most comic cons do have pop-culture/entertainment industry vendors, but they keep a nice balance. C2E2 (Comic Con/Entertainment Events, thus C2E2) is exactly that, but they have maintained a well-balanced show. I don’t feel ignored in Artist Alley, and not all the news is about the Film/TV stuff. SDCC has lost that balance and honestly cannot be called a Comic Con anymore, in my opinion.

  2. There are those conventions that actually still focus on comics. I know that Intervention is one of them.

    Windsor, Ontario’s two one-day Comic Cons (now one in August and the Christmas Comic Con (C3) in December) is strictly just about Comics and that’s just off the top of my head.

    Sure the spectacle of having Celebrities is a draw for many people, but add onto that the extra pricing for autographs, getting a photo taken, the long lines you have to wait and eventually it just starts to wear on you.

    At what point do you stop and think, why am I doing this? If it’s to support your local comic retailers or comic artists/writers that you know and love… (if you can find them among the masses) Then keep supporting them while you can and you’ll be more than happy for it.

    • Yeah, the lure of seeing a big-time star has a lot of folks drooling like Pavlov’s dogs, and due to this drooling, their brain forgets why it’s called a COMIC con in the first place.

      I won’t go back to Chicago’s Wizard World as they treat Artist Alley as steerage passengers. We’re in the back of some dark dungeon while the event’s stars are placed prominently in the front, thus blocking the view back to Artist Alley at all.

      I know Comic Cons need a draw in today’s market and it has become almost expected that big-name actors are going to appear, just do it with a balance.

  3. I wonder if SD would consider doing something like SXSW’s Interactive, Film, and Music festivals, e.g. make comics and film separate but back-to-back events.

    • The problem as I see it is that even if ALL the artists in Artist Alley left SDCC, they’d never miss the income as Marvel or DC or some other Film/TV studio would buy the space up as the show has become nothing but a grand media event.

      I dig your idea though. Tied together but separate shows. A huge trade show called NAB (National Association of Broadcasters) is a week-long show held in Las Vegas. Everyone just takes the time off and goes to the show. If SDCC did the major Film/TV stuff say on Thursday/Friday and then did an actual Comic Con on Saturday and Sunday, that would getting your/my idea of two shows but simply held back-to-back.

      Once again the problem is we comic geeks do not carry enough weight (money) to influence SDCC to change.

  4. Isn’t that what APE essentially is? Well, not for mainstream DC/Marvel stuff, but for all the COMIC pieces of a comic-con? Granted, it’s way smaller than any major con, pulling in only around 6000 people, but I thought that was kinda their two-con solution, since it’s run by the same group.

    • Not that familiar with APE to know if it’s a good comparison or not, but what I do know is I’d rather be at a show of 6000 of comic-motivated attendees than 150,000 attendees motivated by free t-shirts or panels featuring movie stars. And, APE always features… wait for it… ARTISTS! Imagine that. 🙂

  5. Imagine being in the shoes of the event planners, you’d want to ensure that your con is a success and you’ll want to fill the halls with as many attendees as possible. The two common ways that I see planners do this is: invite special celebrity guests or curate the exhibitors (make sure the artists are up to the event planner’s standards).

    By bringing in special guests, more fans of Hollywood attend and by chance may wander the floor where artists are given the opportunity to pitch to the fans. (You like Star Wars? We’ll, my comic is Star Wars meets Muppet Babies with a smidge of Cyborg dinosaurs)

    Since SDCC has a long history, and is close to L.A., bigger celebrities make it out there and bigger crowds attend. This should mean more opportunity for exhibitors but it would seem that the artists are becoming smaller fish as the pond grows bigger. Only the more established comics artists draw a crowd and the invisible hand pushes the smaller artists into the red. Sorry, mixing a few metaphors in there.

    The desire to bring SDCC back to its roots is understandable but unfortunately it has graduated beyond our wishes. That’s not a bad thing as it gives other conventions an opportunity to step in and fill that niche that SDCC abandoned. There are now a lot of alternatives across North America. Seize those opportunities! They may have a lower attendance because Batfleck or RobDowJu won’t be a guest but that pond might be better suited for fish of our size.

    • Totally agree with what you said. In regards to SDCC, it is best summed up by a Darth Vader quote “It is too late for me, son.” SDCC has gone to the Dark Side for sure.

      Hey, I’m businessman and I know the lure of the all magic dollar. How would any sensible businessman turn down hundreds of thousands of dollars from Marvel/DC just to satisfy me? None. And rightly so.

      Yes, SDCC being a big success has made other, smaller (and in my opinion, better) comic cons the viable choice. I’ve done New York Comic Con and won’t go back. It too is too big… for me.

      I agree, I am a very small fish in a HUGE pond and therefore need to abide by that and go where my audience is. Great point, and I’m glad you brought it up. It would just be nice if San Diego had another comic con that was more my speed. Who would NOT want to be in San Diego? At least for a short time. 🙂

  6. SDCC’s view is “if it’s not broke, dont fix it”

    This show sells out in minutes and is at capacity (if not more) every day of the show. In SDCC eyes, there is nothing to fix as they are getting their $$$ regardless of how the COMIC part of the convention is doing.

    I think I can count on one hand, how many companies were actually selling comics. The rest was toys, shirts, games, art, and of course, Exclusives.

    It used to be that with the exclusives taking up the majority of peoples attention, you could casually walk down artist alley or the comic selling sections and swing a dead cat without hitting anyone. And now, you are so crammed in there, you feel like the dead cat.

    And the outside is no better. The sidewalks cannot handle the flow of people. To the point that, people walk down the street and the police are forced to shutdown about a 4×4 grid of streets to auto traffic. I’ve started calling SDCC the Nerd Mardi Gras. As the party never stops, even after the convention itself closes each night.

    Ive actually considered not attending, and with the money I would save, I could go to 2-3 different cons across the USA. I’ve never really left the west coast and there is so much more I want to see. C2E2, and even though Dawn says its getting to SDCC size, I would still like to visit NYCC just for the experience.

    Cory

    • Unfortunately, all that attention is not about comics. I would never waste my money on this show, it’s become too difficult and certainly would not be profitable.

      Comparing it to Mardi Gras is a great analogy. Except you don’t have all the strip clubs/bars and naked women running around (I’ve been to Mardi Gras, and it’s all about the party). At least there you KNOW what your’re getting into.

      SDCC is good for the Film/TV industries, but not for comics in my book.

      Do come to C2E2. It’s well run, well balanced and Chicago is one helluva town. Buzz me and I’ll show you the sites. Deep Dish Pizza is a requirement for all visitors to Chicago. 🙂

  7. If I go to Chicago and DONT try deep dish pizza, I deserve to get kicked in the balls by every homeless person on the way to the airport.

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