Robot 6

Comics A.M. | WonderCon attendance likely surpasses 39,000

WonderCon

Conventions | Although final figures aren’t yet available, WonderCon organizers confirm attendance likely surpassed the 39,000 fans who came to last year’s convention. [Publishers Weekly]

Publishing | On his always-interesting new blog, Jim Shooter reminisces about the genesis of Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars: “We went through a number of ideas for names for the toy line and series. Mattel’s focus group tests indicated that kids reacted positively to the words ‘wars’ and ‘secret.’ Okay.” [Jim Shooter]

Publishing | Longtime print broker Chikara Entertainment, which also offered book packaging and consulting services, has closed. [ICv2.com]

Retailing | Sarah Cohen provides a snapshot of South Florida comic stores struggling amid a weak economy and a changing marketplace. Some retailers have changed their strategies by diversifying their merchandise, holding events and reaching out to customers via the Internet. Others, however, prefer to do business the way they always have. “Making events and using social networking is pushy,” says Jorge Perez, owner of A&M Comics and Books in Miami. “It might help business, but then you would be on the computer all day doing stuff like that.” A&M, the oldest comic store in Florida one of the oldest in the nation, has seen business drop by about 40 percent since 2008. [Miami Herald]

Retailing | Jamie Dirom briefly profiles Michael Bower, owner of the 17-year-old Phoenix Comics in Calgary: “I think part of the reason for the success of the business is being willing to admit when things aren’t working, and changing. That’s how a lot of businesses go out. They keep trying to do the same thing that’s not working over and over until they’re gone.” [Calgary Herald]

Retailing | The Fort Collins, Colorado, newspaper spotlights 19-year-old Nathan Tigges, who opened New Genesis Comics last month with his 18-year-old friend Andy Ricciardi. [The Coloradoan]

Galactus, by Moebius

Creators | Geoff Boucher profiles 72-year-old artist Jean Giraud, aka Moebius, who discusses his career, his failing eyesight, and his influence: “Someone wrote, ‘Moebius is a legendary artist.’ I put a frame around me. A legend — now I am like a unicorn.” [Hero Complex]

Creators | Gene Yang has joined the faculty of Hamline University’s MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults program. [The Cool Kids Table]

Creators | Dan Parent talks about the upcoming Archie Comics miniseries starring Kevin Keller, Riverdale’s first openly gay resident. [The Associated Press]

Creators | Tiny Titans artist Art Baltazar is the subject of a longish profile in his local newspaper. [Daily Herald]

B.P.R.D.: Monsters #1, by Tyler Crook

Creators | Tyler Crook chats about following Guy Davis as artist on B.P.R.D.: “Coming after a dude like Guy Davis is rough. He put such a strong stamp on the B.P.R.D. world that it’s hard to tell sometimes what parts are just Guy’s style and what parts are really part of the world. But my goal is not really to fill Guy’s shoes. I’m not going to be doing a Guy Davis impersonation. Instead, I’m trying to bring my own energy and my love of the material and see if I can bring something different and good to the world. Working with Mike and everyone else has been awesome in this regard. They’ve encouraged me to just do my thing. And I’m trying my damnedest to do it to the best of my ability.” [Bloody Disgusting]

Comics | Todd Allen spotlights nine titles selling fewer than 20,000 copies that he thinks deserve more attention. [Indignant Online]

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Comments

6 Comments

“Making events and using social networking is pushy,” says Jorge Perez, owner of A&M Comics and Books in Miami. “It might help business, but then you would be on the computer all day doing stuff like that.” A&M, the oldest comic store in Florida one of the oldest in the nation, has seen business drop by about 40 percent since 2008.

I wish the man nothing but sunshine and rainbows, but that kind of reads like cause and effect.

Simon DelMonte

April 5, 2011 at 8:16 am

So if all these people are attending WonderCon and C2E2, which are primarily comic book cons and not just geekfests like SDCC, why aren’t comic books sales higher?

Earth-2 Chad has it exactly right. Yes, comics are an old-school hobby, but that doesn’t mean that we have to be archaic in our approach to sales and marketing. I’ve got a facebook page that we update with new arrivals, events, and new “old stock”. More days than not, whenever I post about new back issues, I have someone in THAT SAME DAY to go through the new collection. It takes me 5 minutes to post and translates to more sales.

Two comments. First, WonderCon attendance was WAY, WAY UP. This my tenth year, and the floor density with people was easily as packed as SDCCI. This despite the fact that the floor space grew (not sure exact footage, but it was very obvious. The space space for line management and registration is getting small. Last year’s attendance figures for WonderCon, clocked in at 39,000, is about what Comic-Con was about 8 years ago. Then SDCCI jumped from 45,000 to 60,000, then to 75,000, then to 100,000, then to 125,000 and now it’s maxed out. I would not at all be surprised to learn than WonderCon attendance is between 50,000 – 60,000 people. And with the announcement that the 3 day passes, and Friday and Saturday passes being sold out for the first time – well, don’t be surprised if they sell out on line very quickly. The good news is that WonderCon is only filling up Moscone Center South. They can always spill over into Moscone Centers North (across the street) or West (right around the corner.) And I might add that the amount of people were pretty evenly distributed throughout the convention floor. From the artist alley/celebrity booths through dealer alley all the way past the large exhibitor booths of DC and Marvel, the crowds were amazing. Lines everywhere. And the amount of cosplay seemed to be increasing both in quantity and quality. I noticed the presence of more media, from local TV station coverage, to web news coverage, G4, and Sirius X. I enjoyed myself at the show, although it seemed that the amount of diverse programming was down a little.

Second comment. Comic book stores closing, or long time retailers complaining about business falling off. Well, we can certainly thank both the recession (yes Virginia, there is a recession and it is the worst one I have seen in decades) and the changing dynamics of the comic book industry. Some retailers complain about the lack of cross promotional help from the large publishers/movie studios that keep cranking out comic book movies – but yield very little trickle down effect toward in store sales. Now that may well be, but nothing is stopping any retailer from creating their own buzz. Create “Captain America month” and give away Cap books that have been sitting in the 25 cent bins for years. Encourage your customers to submit their own artwork to promote the movies, and then have the customers vote on the top five submittals. Then give out prizes. Sell T-shirts at cost. Encourage people to have club meetings in your stores to learn more about comics, or cosplay or SOMETHING relevant to your stores specialties. If something doesn’t work, then drop it and move on. Take advantage of the current media fads, whether it be Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, YouTube, etc. I have seen so many of my favorite shops close up in the last few years and it is sad. If the attrition continues, or most business bleeds over into Ebay, the brick and mortar stores will be a thing of the past like blacksmiths and video rental stores. And if the stores go, so goes the print media, and it will affect the dynamics of the comic conventions. If everyone can get anything through wireless electronic distribution, the need for conventions begins to deteriorate. I fear for this industry, if we don’t react and think outside the box.

Sorry for such a long comment. I tend to get passionate. Live long and prosper.

Gary

“A&M, the oldest comic store in Florida one of the oldest in the nation, has seen business drop by about 40 percent since 2008.”

How can a store still stay in business, much less remain profitable, losing 40%?!?

Honestly, Wonder-Con is simply a smaller SDCC, minus really gigantic booths from the big movie studios. Sure, there’s plenty of comics, but ECCC is much more a comics-oriented show, at least in my experience.

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