Channel the entity "Jeff Parker" from beyond the Ether

Friday, July 16, 2004

The Oracle Predicts... Pain 

Only a few days away from Comicon International 2004, and I'm already shaking with cold sweats! I'm sure I'm not the only one. Just imagine a bunch of people who work in dark quiet rooms at home all day, maybe seeing the Fed-Ex or Airborne guy once a week. Now imagine them in a BRIGHT room thumping with soundtracks and themesongs nonstop, and being beset by a thousand people a day asking questions. Forget having quality time with anyone who's work you enjoy, there's signings and panels to get to. Still, this is the best opportunity to make some money and keep the bills paid, right? Wellll....maybe. Also maybe the opportunity for comics folk has peaked and will be sliding down on a flow chart.

Parker, you're like...like... the Negative Man or somethin'! Why, attendance grows by thousands every year! Now the biggest celebrities in the world put in appearances! Lucasfilm, Bandai, Hasbro, every major player is exhibiting!

And yes, imaginary arguer, that's why I say that. Hey lookit, here's a carefully marked dissection of the Comicon floorplan...

The premium floorspace is dominated by companies that make toys, film, and games. Publishers get to orbit around these Titans, and the bulk of comics people are literally pushed to the sides. Now the show takes up the entire length of the San Diego convention center, which is filled with attendees: no mean feat to navigate through. A fan trying to see the whole thing and visit a creator may have only one chance, especially if just in for the day. If any exhibitors go to the bathroom or off to buy a $5 pretzel, odds are good they're going to miss people who wanted to see them. Even if they stay put, really. This could be fixed by putting all comics folk center and the giant multimedia display exhibits at the far end; the same kind of placement good bookstores and supermarkets use to drive traffic through the maximum number of attractions. But I think we can be sure that's not going to happen. What is happening though, is that the show is bearing a closer resemblance to E3, the yearly Electronic Entertainment Exposition in Los Angeles. It attracts more people, but they're people coming to collect freebies. Last year many complained of kids (and adults) snatching comics and prints from their tables assuming the stuff was free promotional material. I think it's safe to make some guesses here...

-There's no more floorspace on the bottom floor, and more big exhibitors want in. Well, there's that outdoor area under the sails upstairs--now, what contingent of exhibitors can't pay as much for boothspace.... hmmm... and hey, those hippies in Artist Alley aren't paying at all! Off you go, pikers! And booth prices will quickly outstrip the return comics retailers make, bam, you're outta here fellers. Except maybe Bud Plant.

I'm not saying the comics community will be shown the door, but I do believe we may be seeing the end of the lucrative side of Comicon. And even though most of us are no good at math, once it makes no financial sense to go, many creators will stop going. And who cares-- Jude Law and Jennifer Garner are upstairs in 6B! And I think Buffy is going to be there!

Okay, enough sour-pussing. My next few entries will focus on the positives. And then I go dive into Thunderdome.


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