Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

February 19, 2014

I Am Reminded At Least Three Other Shows Could Feel The Impact Of A June ReedPOP Comics Convention

imageFor some reason that seem quite in line with a series of slow-to-process-things weeks this site has been having, my piece a while back on a leaked letter indicating that ReedPOP was doing a June NYC comics event contained mention of there being two local shows that weekend -- Eternal Con on Long Island; New York Comic Fest in Westchester -- but my piece this week on the Reed show being confirmed dropped that entire line of thinking. Let's pick it up. Both previously announced New York shows have guest lists (1, 2) that would indicate the kind of show an active, involved fan in that region might want to see -- enough so that one imagines, given that a Reed show would have a similar list, that if the three shows were on three different weekends some fans might want to see two of three or three of three.

The second day of the proposed Reed show is also the day of the next Albany Comic Con in upstate New York, and one would have to expect that a smaller subset of fans will be disappointed they can't attend all four shows, and will have to make a choice similar to the one made by the fans in Long Island and Westchester. For that matter, the Grand Comics Festival is a week earlier, but of all the shows described it's hardest to imagine overlap in the form of people having to choose between one or the other.

Some brief thoughts.

First of all, four comics shows on the same weekend you could reach with a half-tank of gas is pretty crazy. I have no idea how there were three shows planned like that, to be honest with you; I should have noticed that before now. None of them suck up the oxygen in a room like a Reed show, though. Reed showing up makes an odd situation laugh-out-loud weird. Conventions have surged in popularity with such force that there have been some events bumping right up against one another, and that is going to continue. I do think the ethics are a bit different now. I think 10 years ago you would have had shows complaining about another show in their region, period, and something within six weeks would have been the equivalent of walking into someone's house and slapping all the family members while they eat breakfast. My perception is that people aren't even as likely complain when a show is two weeks away now, not for the most part, and that can be true of similar events in the same city a few weeks apart. I'm not saying that people get psyched about this, but they're not rolling in the aisles anymore ripping at their clothing. In fact, I think you'll start to see people doing shows where proximity and competition is basically the point, and they'll be praised for their smarts in doing so.

imageSecond, I wonder if Reed scheduling this show when it did had any of these shows primarily in mind. Primarily. Like I suggest in that first point, I'm not sure there's automatically a strategy to poach. If this is being done to stunt the momentum of one of these shows, I could see that -- if one of the shows was ready to move into the Javits next year, say. Even then, this a weird, haltingly aggressive move from a company that prefers more direct confrontation (and an industry that rewards them). They're going to lose the perception war, for one, no matter what. They'll give each show a little boost, also, just for this story: someone with deeper roots in New York or a freelancer there is likely to run interviews with the show-runners that they never would have done without the excuse of perceived provocation by Reed. Reed is also entering into things late enough that they've basically thrown in the towel on a lot of creators popular in that region: if it's a show of strength, it's a vastly confident one because they're starting off at a disadvantage they wouldn't going full-bore a year later. At the same time, I am not going to blame any of those people involved with the shows to think they've being directly targeted. I would. And the effect is the same: there's a big new show and it's likely to have an effect on yours.

Third, there may be a chance all four could work for this one year -- a lot of people like going to conventions now, and there are certainly enough fans in general vicinity of New York to make for 40,000-45,000 people spread out amongst the four events on a June afternoon. Like I wrote above, I'm actually surprised we don't see more show-drafting and counter-convention planning at this point, period, and I think the culture will allow for it when it becomes a thing. Having written that, long range planning is different. If Reed wants to continue mid-June, and that's their nature to build things, I think organizers of other shows might think of moving or otherwise adjusting, or at least of becoming much more aggressive and combative about staying in that place on the calendar. So the same way this could have a long range effect on big shows on the calendar for that month, this could certainly have a similar effect on shows that want to continue in June.

Update: After posting this, a pair of readers wrote in to remind me that Denver's getting-bigger show is that same crazy weekend in June. It's a sign of how things have changed that Denver and all these New York shows aren't seen in conflict (neither are Linework NW and SPACE, for example), although this will put further pressure on shows that want to assemble a comics-focused guest list for this weekend and this month. Another reader reminded me that this roughly the same time of year that used to be owned by the MoCCA Festival, which is another good point in of how attractive that part of the calendar may be. June in New York!
posted 1:35 am PST | Permalink

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