August 14, 2013
Go, Read: Comics Beat On Minneapolis Convention Wars
There's an interesting post by Heidi MacDonald at The Beat
on a letter that's been circulating -- apparently for a few days, although I just got it hours ago -- claiming that the Wizard convention business is settling in on a date near that of an established Minneapolis show with a show of their own. It was from a "Fredric Wertham," a person I'm guessing is not the resurrected anti-comics crusader nor an actual namesake. Let me try and upload it here in case you want to read it.
I understand being upset. It's a dick move, and nobody likes dick moves. Plus there are issues of perception -- having a "comics show" in your area that is fundamentally different than yours can change the perception of what that mean. Also, the margins may be pretty tight, and losing a little bit of business can have a drastic effect. That said, a Wizard show nearby or close to your weekend isn't the dire threat it once was. Certainly there was no dimming of Emerald City's star when Wizard threw an event in nearby Portland just before that show. Wizard has a sort of unique approach to booking their shows that features a lot of genre television stars rather than programs and guests built around comics reading, so there's rarely overlap between what they do and more traditional show. I'm also not sure how big a breach in etiquette, let alone ethics, putting your show close to another one is right now. Lying about it is; or suggesting that you're constrained from any other option, and the number of open dates at other times on the schedule seem to indicate a not-truthfulness on Wizard's part, claims to the contrary. But I'm not sure just wanting to have a show on a desirable part of a calendar is a heinous act. I mean, I
wouldn't like it; I wouldn't go to a McShow that had creeped up on my regional show. I suspect a lot of shows are going to remember who treated them well and who didn't and make their decisions accordingly. At the same time, it seems like competition for certain bits of calendar real estate is inevitable given how generally successful comics shows are and the extent to which they represent a sort of low-threshold entry option for a lot of aspiring businessmen. It'd be interesting if Wizard's response was, "We put on a better convention, and you bet we're going after that other show," but people would probably freak about that, too. Plus, that'd be a hard one for them to back up.
This may be one of those comics things where it's hard to figure out what's going on because the comics industry is so bend-over-backwards and tolerant in encouraging most expressions of comics and comics-related culture that it's hard to figure out where a line should be drawn given those values. I think Wizard conventions are gross. They sadden me. They have little to do with what I like about comics, an exciting and vibrant and diverse art form. I barely cover those shows and I always encourage people to find and support shows that value what they do and that are an overall good for the community in which they choose to work and express themselves, if only as a patron. I've never been convinced that's a Wizard show. In other words, I would be against the proliferation of Wizard shows if they let other conventions choose dates for them
, so seeing this as a gauntlet-tossing moment kind of perplexes me. Hopefully, as was the case with HeroesCon several years back when a Wizard show in the same region was a much more dire threat, I hope this show and others like it use the proximity of a Wizard event to crystallize their own approach and blow the carpetbaggers out of the water.
posted 5:50 am PST
Daily Blog Archives