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

August 6, 2006

Chicago and the Weekend in Cons

The Collective Memory: Wizard World: Chicago 2006 entry is a work in progress. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) I've added about 25 more entries to Collective Memory: Comic-International 2006 since I hastily claimed I was done adding links.

As for Wizard World: Chicago itself, I'm hearing from friends and readers it was a dull show that lacked that furious fanboy edge even though it was targeted to the devoted superhero fan and superhero comic book purchaser to a greater degree than ever before. From-the-floor attendance estimations varied wildly, although Saturday was certainly healthy. Since Wizard was suspected of including tumbleweeds in its count at their less than packed Philadelphia show, any reported number will be met with great suspicion. points at convention exhaustion and competing cons for the lack of a sharp show, factors which no doubt played some role, although 1) when I think of Wizard working on full cylinders, I don't think of gaming companies and manga, and 2) if you put on your Eltingville hat and look at the comics people signing and what was announced from a distance, it doesn't sound like an exciting show on paper, either.

My guess is that people are extra tired from conventions this year because the season started in February, it's a hot, miserable summer and both airport and car travel have become much more difficult in a rabbit being cooked in slowly heated water way, and the mainstream North American comic book companies were caught at a down cycle in terms of hype. If you think about it, what is naturally up to be announced isn't the Next Big Event, but the calm before the Next Big Event, the brief return to kicky-punchy status quo after DC's multi-year Cosmic Rape Odyssey and Marvel's Civil War ("What Side is Captain America On?") miniseries before whatever new pair of line-spanning sagas stomp in and plop up top of the sales chart. For the mainstream comics fan, Wizard World: Chicago sounds like it was going to the cineplex and getting trailers for all the movies that open in March.

No matter the reason, if I were an official at a mainstream comics company I would take note of and be slightly worried about any fall-off in enthusiasm from the historically dependable Chicago/Midwest meat and potatoes comic book reader.

Baltimore's manga and anime expo Otakon plays the role in anime and manga expos the old Chicago show used to play for comics -- the recognized number two con, with approximate attendance of 20,000-25,000. Anime News Network ran this general summary of industry panels, and a lot of sites had news of a new yaoi manga company. There will likely be some comics culture heat on the Tokyopop announcement of on-line exclusives, as a perfect chatroom storm of something manga-related and something on-line related and something retailer-relations related, but my gut says this isn't a significant enough move to be anything other than noted and filed away to see how it develops. I have a pretty poor record with manga predictions, though.

The British small press show Caption was this weekend, too, I believe. Not much in the way of reports as of yet that I can find, but I do see a few anticipatory blog postings. In some ways, small press shows are more important to those cartoonists than big shows are to the big mainstream writers and artists.
posted 10:30 pm PST | Permalink

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