The Trouble With Comic Con

There are so many things I am working on that I’d love to tell you about here… but I can’t yet. One is a major announcement that I’ll post soon. Until then, why not complain about Comic Con?

Me & R2_cropped

The San Diego Comic Con is a beast. We all know that. Ever since I was a teenager in Ohio, I heard about this wonderful utopia where a hundred thousand nerds got together with movie stars and filmmakers and celebrated every toy and comic and movie I’d ever obsessed over. Since moving to Los Angeles, I’ve gone every year for eight years. I love it. Even with the increased crowds, sensory overload and long lines, I just embrace the crazy for four straight days. I’m the guy making final purchases on the exhibit floor on Sunday when they close the place down. So when I criticize or analyze what it has become, I’m doing it because I love it.

What’s been happening to SDCC is what happened to Sundance: it’s gotten so popular — and now wields so much promotional power for the industry’s following year — that it has become too big to be enjoyable for most. The fans feel like they are paying too much for panels they can’t get into and exclusives that disappear too quickly. The pros feel like they can’t even do any business or see any fellow professionals on panels because they can’t compete with 50,000 fans who are willing to sleep on the sidewalk to get into the same event. And even with professionals being comped a pass, many pros can’t even get online fast enough to secure a badge. That’s what’s amazing: a working comic book artist, screenwriter or even a major producer might miss out getting in. The feeding frenzy has gotten ridiculous and the pro badges sold out in 24 hours this year. I’ve heard that some disgruntled professionals have sworn off Comic Con and just won’t go anymore. The hurdles have begun to outweigh the benefits.

I was one of the lucky ones who got a badge… but I literally sat at my computer at 10:00 am on the pro registration day, in the exact same way the dweebs on “Big Bang Theory” did. I was counting down just like Sheldon Cooper, pouncing on the “enter” button like a trained squirrel.

So if the FANS aren’t happy and the PROS aren’t happy and they BOTH want to get more out of this event, I have a solution. It’s just a stab in the dark, and I am completely uninformed on the inner-workings of organizing something like this. So keep in mind, this is just one man’s uneducated opinion… but a thought that might change this madness:

What if Comic Con became TWO SEPARATE CONS? One for fans, one for pros?

They might be on two separate weekends, or just stretch the convention time into a whole week… then split the thing right down the middle. It would give everyone some breathing room, vendors would make tons more money, and so would the city. And heck, you might even be able to get a hotel within ten miles of the convention center! The panels could repeat themselves or be tailored slightly for fans vs. pros. In this era of niche marketing and narrow-casting, why is SDCC still trying to be all things to all people? Both fans and pros are feeling the friction… why not give them both what they want? I’m both a fan AND a pro, and it seems to placate a lot of concerns and complaints I hear from both perspectives.

And for those of you who might say the studios wouldn’t parade out as many stars and surprises for the pros as they would for the fans, I think they would. Look at ShoWest — put on exclusively for theater distributors. They bring out Johnny Depp, Hugh Jackman and loads of exclusive clips, etc. What about NAB? Isn’t that┬ájust for broadcast professionals?

Why fail at serving both demos when you can spread out your reach and serve both demos in a much better way?

Two Comic Cons. That’s right. I said it. Maybe my idea isn’t sound, or it has logistical and financial problems I can’t see yet. Like I said, I’m no event planner. But unless Comic Con makes some kind of crazy, game-changing move, a lot of people are simply going to stop attending, and possibly start up conventions of their own.

Don’t bloat ’til you burst, Comic Con! I love you too much to see you explode and die.

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