"If present trends continue, I predict with more than a small measure of sadness that comics will be a very minor part of this convention within five years." -- Chuck Rozanski, President, Mile High Comics Inc.
The San Diego Comic Con has metamorphosed into a monster, with all the good and bad connotations that the word "monster" carries for fans of speculative fiction and entertainment. The decades-old convention has grown into a spectacle of monumental proportions, the center point for buzz on almost all the major projects that fandom cares about. It also has become a key marketing venue for Hollywood, and the core of the Comic Con -- comic books -- has become diluted.
This morning, I received Mile High Comics e-newsletter, and Chuck Rozanski had some sobering thoughts to share about the state of the convention this year and what the future holds. Enthusiasm for Comic Con is still stellar, and it will still be an attraction that fans should mark on their calendars and attend. With genre content continuing to go mainstream and continuing to make a profit for studios, Comic Con is still the place to be every year where fanboys-and-girls can get a sneak peak at all the great speculative fiction stuff to come.
But Chuck makes some good points: "After paying for tickets, parking, and hotel rooms it would appear that most of the fans here at the show barely have enough pocket change left for lunch...Mom-n-Pop comics retailers, publishers, and creators are now being asked to pay the same cost per square-foot as the international corporate giants. That being the case, it should come as no surprise that we comics exhibitors are rapidly being priced out of our own house."
So with content providers using Comic Con as a forum to generate publicity for projects that often have little to do with comic book properties or, in some case, little or nothing to do with science fiction / fantasy, and with economic woes and other factors making convention attendees spend less and less money at the booths, where does that leave comic book vendors as the annual convention continues to grow?
As Chuck says, "While the cash flow for the dealers exhibiting at this year's convention is down significantly, everyone is seemingly still having a great time. The crowds are quite large, but also very well-behaved and polite...You can only lose so many comics exhibitors before all critical mass is lost...I genuinely hope that they (those who run the convention) will recognize that it will take some serious effort, and perhaps even some measure of economic subsidies, to keep the comics portion of this show alive and vibrant."
I firmly support Chuck's description of Comic Con as "the most incredibly wonderful media convention in the world," but I also fear that comics, the medium that was at the foundation of it all, might be getting marginalized at its own convention as movies, television shows, video games, and other content continue to grab a bigger portion of the spotlight.