This week marks yet another passing of the great nerd mecca that is the San Diego Comic Convention.
Every year something like 125,000 people flood the shores of sunny San Diego California in search of the chance to meet and speak to the creators of their favorite comics and maybe pick up a few cool exclusives. At least that’s the theory.
Over the years, as Hollywood has taken on more and more licenses from comics and scifi properties, they have come to see the value in SDCC. Quickly but quietly, Hollywood has taken the San Diego Comic Convention, gave it the “buzzier” name of Comic Con (or Comicon, as most people call it) and turned it into Geek Sundance. I saw an article yesterday in Vulture, discussing the 10 Most Anticipated Panels at Comic Con. Take a look at the list. Notice anything odd? Give you a hint, the name of the convention is the San Diego Comic Convention.
Yep, not a single one of those panels is about comics. Not a one. Sure, Marvel and The Walking Dead are listed, but it’s not panels for the comics. Its about the movies and TV shows. Bear in mind, there are loads of panels dedicated to comics at SDCC, but apparently that isn’t what the convention patrons are there to see. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Community (I stand with Dan) and Marvel studios movies. I would beat someone senseless for the chance to see the entire Firefly cast reunited on stage. But that shouldn’t be the focus of Comic Con! Twilight is one of the most anticipate panels? Are you kidding me? There are enough of those people out there to start their own convention. Do that! And can anyone tell me what Django Unchained has to do with comics? Is it a scifi western? It can’t just be because Tarantino is a geek. What about Breaking Bad? Why are these productions present at the greatest nerd spectacle of them all?
The answer is simple. Comic Con has lost sight of its mission.
First and foremost, a convention is a business. The companies that put on conventions (or sometimes people, like Ronnie Prudhomme’s locally created NOLA Comic Con) don’t do it as a favor to us. A convention has to produce money. SDCC has become big business because it has embraced the Hollywood spectacle. That’s fair. I understand that. But the only reason it has become such a viable option for Hollywood to bilk is because people like us either want to or have been going for all these years.
A friend asked me yesterday to guess how many of the people at Comic Con this week have never once picked up a comic. Obviously, I haven’t got a clue, but I’d be willing to guess its a majority.
It should be about us, not the people who want to see a first glimpse of the werewolf kid without his shirt on for the 3,000th time. Some poor 57 year old woman actually died on Tuesday to see that nonsense. That has nothing to do with anything; it just makes me sad.
There are exactly two reasons I have always wanted to go to SDCC. To see the beautiful city of San Diego and to meet some of my favorite writers and artists, some of whom only attend major conventions. I’m not going to spend that much money to see someone debut footage from Iron Man 3. That would be cool and I’m excited to see the movie, but that’s not a reason to go.
The reality is that I have never been able to go to Comic Con and I don’t know if I ever will. I can’t afford it. It would cost me something like $1500 to go. Ask around your local comic shop. You’re going to hear way more people like me, than you will people who have been there.
I have a short list of artists I want to get sketches from. Jim Lee is probably never going to happen, though I wish it would. JH Williams III, Ryan Ottley and David Aja are possibilities. The problem is they have never (to my knowledge) attended a convention within 500 miles of here. I’m not putting this all on them. I’m saying a lot of my favorite creators don’t have the time or money to attend every convention, so many of them only go to a few big ones.
It’s always been something of a sore subject. The major conventions has always been in far off places. San Diego, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco. Even Image comics own convention was in California. Comics don’t exclusively sell in California and New York. Fanboys roam this great country from sea to shining sea. And with SDCC, even if I had the money, only a certain amount of people can attend. Why should I lose the chance meet someone I’ve admired for most of my life so that some dude can see footage of the new Matt Damon movie? I’m not saying he shouldn’t get to do that… I’m saying why do those things need to be mutually exclusive?
I’m putting this to you, writers and artists of the industry. If you can only afford to attend one convention a year, do not go to San Diego. Get together with groups of your friends in the industry. Try to pick one of the many other conventions that exist. Maybe someplace in the middle. Colorado, Houston, Kansas, Tennessee, etc. Or if you can afford to go to a few cons, spread it around. Take the comics out of comic con and maybe give the rest of us a chance.
And then its on us. If you want to meet your favorite creators, give them a reason to come. Save your money and spend it on them. Part of the reason creators go to San Diego and New York is because they’ll make money there. Again, they can’t do conventions as a favor to you. Most of them don’t make that much.
The comic book industry is losing readers all the time. The chance to get to meet the people who create them is a proven tool to spark interest. It gives the writers and artists a chance to sell their books in person. And hey, writer that complains on twitter about indie comics not selling, maybe if you were able to pitch your book in person, we’d be more inclined to buy it. You are your own best salesman.
I’m not saying forget San Diego. Like many of you, I still want to go. But I also don’t want it be the only reason I never got an Invincible sketch.