Aiming to cut the fat from the bloated pop-culture extravaganzas, a new creator-branded model for comic conventions is drawing fans to a more curated and unique experience.
For decades, comic conventions have been building up (or “diversifying,” if you prefer) to include television shows, movies, video games, board games, toys, novels, scantily clad models, and new-media companies that used speech balloons in their marketing campaign that one time. Basically they’ve become magnets for any project with an air of geekery, regardless of the lack of any sequential art or cartooning. A number of cons can feel more like a pop-up strip mall in their efforts to be everything for as many people as possible. And con-goers feel it. You really haven’t had the full convention experience if you don’t hear someone grumble how the con used to be about the comics, man. It’s a chorus that seems to attract more voices each year.
Perhaps in response to the growing Grumble Choir, a number of event organizers have been testing more focused conventions branded under a single creator or identity. These conventions bring in vendors, guests and exhibitors that more directly reflect the name on the banners, resulting in a more authentic and cohesive experience. While it’s splicing a niche market to a niche within a niche, it’s also creating a more irresistible ticket item for people within that sub-niche. And those fans coming to see the name they recognize are probably super-fans eager to experience, sample and buy more at a deeper level than the more scattershot crowd under the general geek umbrella.
Publishing | IDW Publishing CEO Ted Adams discusses the company’s new IDW Limited program, which will produce small print runs of deluxe editions that will be marketed direct to the consumer. How small? The print run for the Blue Label edition of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Vol. 1 Deluxe Limited Edition will be 10 copies. “The only fair thing to do is to give the fans direct access on a first come first served basis,” he said. “We’re putting an incredible emphasis on quality, and that directly affects the quantity of books IDW Limited can produce. We’re designing new covers, building custom cases and paying the artists to do hand drawn sketch work to go with these books. The reality is that that’s all very expensive and unfortunately it makes it difficult for us to offer this line at the deep discount needed for traditional retail distribution.” [ICv2]
Libraries | Following the firestorm sparked last month when a youth library in Stockholm briefly removed Tintin comics because of their racial caricatures of Africans and Arabs, a survey finds that 10 percent of Swedish libraries have removed or restricted Herge’s books due to “racist content.” [The Local]
If you couldn’t make it to MorrisonCon over the weekend and are looking to experience aspects of the event beyond Comic Book Resources’ panel reports, British musician Akira the Don offers his take on the first day, which included lounging in “Suite Le Morrison to drink fine boozes, pore over immensely incredible art pages from Grant and Frank’s upcoming Multiversity comic and chatter excitedly about Jilted John and bath salt zombies and the new age of Horus whilst being filmed for a documentary.”
Even better, he has a slew of photos, some featuring Morrison (glowing and not), Gerard Way and retailer/convention organizer James Sime. You can see a couple of those images below, along with video of Morrison’s spoken-word performance with Way and James Dewees of My Chemical Romance.
They’re not exactly rival events, as the former is a fairly exclusive affair catering to 1,000 or fewer devotees of Grant Morrison who are willing to pony up $699 to $1,099 (including hotel) to rub elbows with the writer and a handful of other creators. The latter, meanwhile, appeals to a broader cross-section of mainstream comics fans (plus tickets are just $25 a day).
Clearly, it’s a good weekend to be a comics fan with some extra cash in Las Vegas. Keep your eyes on Comic Book Resources Saturday and Sunday for coverage of both events.
Conventions | Coming up this weekend: Stan Lee’s Comikaze in Los Angeles, featuring special guests Todd McFarlane, Neal Adams and Marv Wolfman. Attendance is expected to reach 60,000, which is a pretty big number for such a convention that’s only in its second year. [Hero Complex]
Conventions | James Sime, owner of Isotope Comics and one of the organizers of MorrisonCon, talks about, well, Isotope Comics and MorrisonCon, and what it was like translating the world of writer Grant Morrison into a comics event: “The *promise* of MorrisonCon is this crazy, life-altering weekend where you’re plugged directly into this swirling world of brilliant ideas, offbeat interests, mad obsessions, and personalities who fire Grant’s creativity. We had to make that promise real, to translate as many improbable concepts and even random off the cuff Morrison riffs as possible into the tangible world. To render all that into nightclubs and hotel rooms and meeting space chairs and places for awesome humans to meet and mingle. We all agreed, it just wasn’t worth doing unless we could live up to that promise, to truly make something worthy of the name MorrisonCon… and go far beyond it.” [Three If By Space]
If you’re a comics fan, you may want to go to Las Vegas the last weekend of this month. That’s where, on Sept. 29 and 30, there will be two competing comic conventions — Las Vegas Comic Expo and MorrisonCon — taking place just blocks away from each other. Comic-Con International has seen secondary events like Tr!ckster spring up to take advantage of the annual pilgrimage of fans, but these two Las Vegas conventions were planned without knowing the other would be there.
On MorrisonCon’s website, the organizers address this comic culture double-booking by saying the secretive nature of both events made it so they didn’t know their dates conflicted until both had signed venue contracts and announced dates.
MorrisonCon organizers have released the programming schedule for the Sept. 28-30 event, which brings together a limited number of attendees and such creators as Grant Morrison, Frank Quitely, Robert Kirkman, Gerard Way, Jim Lee and J.H. Williams III for an “intimate gathering” in Las Vegas.
Highlights include a spoken-word performance by Morrison and My Chemical Romance’s Gerard Way and James Dewees, a discussion of Morrison’s upcoming project (including Happy! with Darick Robertson, Multiversity, and Pax Americana with Quitely), separate panels with the event’s featured writers and artists, and spotlights on Kirkman, Williams, Jason Aaron and Jonathan Hickman.
Attendance is limited to 1,000. Ticket packages, which range in price from $699 to $1,099 (and include admission and a room at the Hard Rock Hotel), are still available at the MorrisonCon website. See the full schedule below.
Conventions | Despite the $500-plus price tag, the least-expensive tickets for MorrisonCon, the Grant Morrison-focused convention being held in September in Las Vegas, are already sold out. Remaining tickets cost between $699 and $1,099. Morrison says the high-priced event combines “visionary ideas, occult ritual, music and spoken word performances, art workshops, experimental films, DJ sets and in-depth discussions inspired by the comics.” [Hero Complex]
Publishing | Industry veteran Jim “Ski” Sokolowski, who was let go in October as Marvel’s chief operating officer ahead of a round of layoffs, has been hired by Archie Comics as senior vice president-sales and business development. The publisher also promoted Harold Buchholz from executive director of publishing and operations to senior vice president-publishing and operations, Paul Kaminski from editor to executive director of editorial, and Alex Segura from executive director of publicity and marketing to vice president-publicity and marketing. [Archie Comics]
Conventions | David Glanzer, Comic-Con International’s director of marketing and public relations, looks back on this year’s WonderCon, which was held in Anaheim, California, rather than in San Francisco, touches upon the uncertainty about the location for next year’s show — “we just don’t have dates at the Moscone Center yet” — and discusses changes to pro and press registration for Comic-Con. [ICv2]
Conventions | Grant Morrison talks about MorrisonCon, the Sept. 28-30 convention billed as “a once-in-a-lifetime experience.” “It’s not going to be ‘Come here and buy some comics and listen to a few panels,’ ” he says. “After two days you will be a changed person.” Tickets for the Las Vegas show, which is limited to 1,000 attendees, cost $767, and include a two-night stay at the Hard Rock Hotel, access to the guests and after-hours parties. [The Hollywood Reporter]