When comics and pop culture meet you don't always get on the rainbow bridge to Asgard. Chris Hemsworth as Thor from the upcoming movie of the same name.
Last weekend we had three regional comics events in Canada, as well as one large convention in the US. There are hardly any reports from the smaller one day comic shows, such as the ones that were held in Edmonton and Vancouver, but there have been a few reports from the 3-day Wizard Toronto Comic Con.
I didn’t go – I was at C2E2 in Chicago, so my impressions are drawn from what passes for the reports posted online (thanks to Sequential and Comic Book Daily for the most coverage) or from the people who I’ve spoken to about it that went. Loud annoying music and temperature issues aside, some patterns are emerging.
As with last year the pattern was Friday – slow, Saturday – busy, Sunday – moderately busy. It’s the same trend everywhere, really. At C2E2 it was busy Friday, crazy busy Saturday and slightly less busy than Saturday on Sunday. General consensus among most reports from people that went is that Wizard should just ditch the Friday and go to being a 2-day show, as that’s the way the attendance seems to be defining it.
This is a comics-themed site, not a pop culture one, and I personally have no interest in those areas of these events. So when reading these blog reports it’s been tough to discern what type of comic book show this was.
Generally the reports divide along three lines:
— those that got in for free under media, fan table or dealer passes or as a volunteer for Paradise Comics. These people had a good time, with some caveats, but lack the perspective of a paying customer or paying exhibitor. Friday’s slowness aside, they got their sketches, they saw some celebrities and/or easily obtained the interviews they wanted to do, and those few who cared about comics wished there were more comic guests and noticed the absence of comic dealers*. They report a busy show in a smaller space on Saturday – the room capacity of Hall D at the DEC is 2300 people, so it’s no wonder the show looked busy.
— those that paid for the event. These people divide along two lines as well: 1) those there for comics – they felt ripped off and disappointed, and 2) those there for celebrity autographs – who were generally happy. In perspective – at $38 standard adult daily admission the show is more expensive than every other event of this type in the region, and I think that scares people away who just want to buy comics or get some items signed by the comic guests. The absence of new-to-Toronto comic pros for that price also hurt the event’s appeal to comic fans, as did the absence of almost all local and US comic dealers**. If you went to meet Star Wars and Buffy people you seem to be generally happy with what you paid, and if you dressed up you were not alone and people took pictures of you or oggled you, but if you went for comics creators or to buy back issues you were likely disappointed and maybe a little upset because there wasn’t much for you that you don’t get elsewhere (like TCAF or the other comic shows) for a lot less.
*There’s a legitimate reason why there are few comics dealers — at over $800 a booth (not incl. taxes) it’s the highest priced show in the region to exhibit at. So what if you can get 2 more boxes on a table, the bottom line is that the bottom line is too high and people are passing and watching to see what happens next. When you have to give away a thousand dollars worth of product to break even and your profit margins are tight as is, you tend to take these things into account, something your average blogger or opinionated fan doesn’t think about.
**The US dealers – an asset in the first year – chose to do Chicago’s C2E2, something I would probably have moved this show’s dates to avoid a conflict with and keep them, even though this show’s dates were announced first.
— finally, the many regular to the GTA creators recruited – some of whom reported deathly slow sales such as Tom Fowler, to some who had better than average sales such as Leonard Kirk. Kalman Andrasofszky, who I ran into on my way home on Monday, said it was better than he was expecting it to be. Sounds like it was a mixed bag.
If this show wants to improve: go to 2 days, lower the daily admission price, lower the table rates considerably, make sure it doesn’t conflict with other comics industry event dates (such as other March/April events in Seattle, Chicago, San Francisco and Orlando) , get your US dealers back, better advertise to comic fans, get better new-to-Toronto comics pro guests as draws, try not to book so many guests who’ve been to Toronto in the last 3 years and try to get the support of the GTA retailers.