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One of the under-analyzed indicators of comics’ recently improved health is the seemingly exponential growth of convention attendance. Rarely does a Comics A.M. goes by where some convention, even a smaller, regional one, isn’t reporting how attendance is up from the previous year and they’re expecting even more the next; often it’s in the thousands, headed into tens of thousands.
That seems to be in direct contrast to conventional wisdom: Digital comics sales are increasing, most comics creators are a tweet away, and travel in this still-sluggish economy is still cost-prohibitive for a lot of fans. Yet, just as print sales in the direct market have been steady, and even improving, attendances at comics conventions is up virtually across the board.
The leader of this pack is easily New York Comic Con. In just seven short years, it has positioned itself as the comics convention of the year, providing stiff competition for the long-held leader Comic-Con International. In fact, New York Comic Con hit San Diego-sized attendance numbers this year.
Comics | Tierney Sneed went to the Women in Comics panel at New York Comic Con and then hit the floor to talk to creators (and also yours truly) about the mismatch between the number of women comics readers and the industries that cater to them, including the publishers and cons like NYCC (where women made up 35% of attendees but only 6% of guests). [U.S. News & World Report]
Digital Comics | I interviewed Darya Trushkina, vice president for business development of NARR8, a digital comics app that features motion comics with some gamelike features. Here’s what caught my attention: When I asked her why they went with motion comics, she said “It boosts our retention rate and boosts usage significantly.” Their retention rate—readers who return to the app—is 50%, and the average session is 15 minutes. [Good E-Reader]
eFX Inc. will offer a replica of Agent Phil Coulson’s S.H.I.E.L.D. badge as a New York Comic Con 2013 exclusive. However, fans can deputize themselves into S.H.I.E.L.D. by preordering the badge on Sept. 17 at 9 a.m. Pacific/noon Eastern from efxcollectibles.com. Those that preorder can provide a photo, name and birth date to add an extra layer of personalization to the included ID card, as opposed to just getting Phil Coulson’s. Badges must be picked up on site at New York Comic Con (Oct. 10-13).
According to eFX, S.H.I.E.L.D. badges are made from the “original master molds of the screen-used badge,” while the ID card is made from the original digital files. The personalized ID cards are only available through pre-order. Each badge is $50 and part of a 1,500-unit run.
Beyond inducting yourself into S.H.I.E.L.D., personalized ID cards also present an ample opportunity for cosplayers to put their favorite obscure character into the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s peacekeeping force. Personally, I can’t wait to see an ID badge with Amadeus Cho’s name and photo on it.