I know many people say that the San Diego Comic Con has gotten too big. I disagree. To say it is too big is to limit it to what you believe it should (or could!) be.
Having said that, continuing to call this show Comic-Con is really a misnomer unless it’s still being used solely as an acknowledgement to it’s past. In the past 40 years the show has transformed. It’s no longer a showcase of comics and comic creators. While those elements are still present, it’s grown to encompass so much more. So much in fact, its roots in comic books have been greatly overshadowed.
Is this a good thing? It’s good for the show. Comics alone could never bring in these kinds of crowds. It’s certainly good for San Diego. It’s fair to say that Comic-Con is the single largest event in San Diego each and every year. It’s a huge boon for local business. It’s good for the movie studios – building up that all-important “buzz” for their latest crop of big budget films.
But where does that leave comics, and their creators? Where once they were the raison d’être, they’ve now become little more than a lamprey, latching on to the shark-beast that is the Comic-Con. They (comics and their creators) certainly benefit greatly from the Con though…absolutely, but only in a peripheral way, they are no longer the driving force behind the show.
If you wish Comic-Con weren’t a misnomer, here are three ideas to keep the show as large and unwieldy as it is, but bring the focus back to comics.
1) Acknowledge the creators! The reason the show is so huge is expressly because of the ideas and work of the creators. Without these guys and gals there wouldn’t be a Comic-Con! Don’t tuck them in the back corner! Artists’ Alley (as well as an equally organized Writers Alley) should be at the center of the con – not the back corner. Many artists over the years have grown both tired of this second class status in “the alley”, and/or they themselves have become so large in the industry that they’ve set up their own booths. I applaud and encourage this. But those individual booths should be together in one large Artists/Writers area in the center of the floor. By spreading them all it diminishes their impact. This costs nothing, but would have a very large impact on the tone and focus of the event.
2) The Eisner’s – If these are truly the “Oscars” of comics, they need to be VERY prominently promoted. We need to get all the big name Hollywood talent that has been using comics as their inspiration – if not their source material, to be very much a part of this event. Celebrity hosts and presenters, both from the comics field as well as Hollywood. Talk with the Cartoon Network, or SyFy (I cannot believe they changed their name to this!) to televise the event. The worlds of comics and Hollywood are very tightly connected. The people creating comics are very often the very same people working in Hollywood behind the scenes. Add new award categories reflecting such. Best Character Design, Best Storyboards, etc.
3) Booth rates. While I don’t know what the rates are for a booth at Comic-Con, I do know, just from being there and seeing who is set up and who is not. The rates don’t support an average comic seller. For the most part the only people selling comic books at Comic-Con are high-end, silver and golden age dealers. Sellers for the investment market, not the geek masses. Booth space needs to be made available to make it financially feasible for a comic dealer to set up shop and sell comics. If that means charging Paramount Pictures more, so be it. They’ve got the deep pockets. Cut rate space will obviously be highly sought after. You’ll therefore need to set up a lottery for those coveted spaces. Only those dealers strictly selling comic books need apply. No toys. No games. No statues. No bootleg videos. No plush toys. Comics. A minimum of 7-10% of booth space needs to be solely for this purpose. Unlike the artist’s booths, these sellers should be spread evenly throughout the con.
So there you have it. My thoughts on what Comic-Con has become, and what I’d like to see move towards. What are your thoughts and ideas?