October 4, 2013
Festivals Extra: Is Attendance Still A Contest?
A participation deal between Diamond Comic Distributor and the convention Stan Lee's Comikaze Expo is the hook into this generally laudatory article
at the hobby business news and analysis site ICv2.com. The article is worth noting for the ambition of the organizer profiled -- anyone simply trying
new shows in a field where Reed and Wizard and any number of independent actors are in play would seem to me worth noting in terms of potential impact.
One thing I'm a bit confused by, though, is the rough comparison of attendance figures that frequently comes with articles like this one. Attendance figures for conventions are really hard to verify. Heck, in the past it's been hard to count on the same basic standard used show to show. Some shows count individual attendance across a number of days, some shows count a multiple-day attendee as one attendee. There are shows that are cheap and even free and those that cost money, too, which would seem to me to have an effect as a comparative tool. Mostly, though, I'm confused when shows are compared numbers-wise by the implication that there's a battle going on there. Are most shows really in competition with each other for bottom-line numbers except in some abstract, publicity-driven way? I don't even get the sense that most shows are all that alike these days. A show revolving around celebrities in a "comic convention" context doesn't seem to me the same as more of an industry show with those elements; neither seems anything like a small press, arts-driven festival. There's also an alchemy to shows where bottom-line attendance frequently isn't as important as a delicate blend of ratio of attendees to exhibitors, or the number of serious buyers in a room, or from the convention's standpoint what exhibitors might have paid to be there.
Comics culture has had this underlying value for decades where everything is processed in terms of getting at a limited audience. The audience for conventions seems to me not only a large one but that isn't exclusive to one show or another in any way you'd choose to see that. Comparing conventions based on attendance figures seems to me comics' equivalent of sports-radio talk of the "greatest quarterback" variety. A lot of these shows do really well; a lot of them have substantial audiences.
posted 5:35 am PST
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