August 10, 2008
CR Sunday Interview: David Glanzer
I am aware that many hardcore comics industry followers and most of the casual ones are very, very tired of hearing about 2008's Comic-Con International
, now two weeks in the rear view mirror and the recipient of an enormous amount of build-up and post-game for about a solid month there. I feel your pain, and if it's too much for you right now to get into one more piece, I won't be upset if you click away. I hope you'll bookmark it, though, for later perusal -- I think it's a pretty good one.
Even as the news cycle heats up so that comics events of all kinds get processed more quickly than ever, my yearly post-con interview with CCI's David Glanzer seems doomed to remain scheduled a week or two after the show itself. One reason is that a slight delay allows me to take the temperature of other pieces spinning out of the show and ask questions about subjects that aren't part of my personal experience -- Chuck Rozanski's claim that comics retailers are losing ground at the show
being a prime example this year -- and so that I can see how Glanzer answers some of the questions put to him by reporters during and just after the show and hopefully tease more out of him at this later time period.
Mostly, though, I like doing this yearly interview the same reason I like doing all the interviews that appear here: I'm curious about the issues involved. Glanzer is a bright and articulate guy with an interesting job at a fascinating and important comics institution, one that I will follow every year I continue to cover comics, so I want him on the record. Among the subjects discussed: how Comic-Con worked with certain emphases in pre-con coverage so as not to instigate further demand in a show that required advanced ticketing already sold-out, whether or not the show will consider raising costs for attendees in 2009, and how they feel about the growing specter of off-site events taking place concurrently with events at the Convention Center.
I greatly appreciate David Glanzer's time, the care with which he answered the following and the patience he displayed with some of the more difficult and/or repetitive lines of inquiry.
TOM SPURGEON: Talk to me about the crush of pre-publicity for the show from your end. How was this year different from the last few in terms of pre-show publicity? How much work on your end was it for something like the
Entertainment Weekly special issue, and what would that work entail?
I think we have a pretty good relationship with a variety of trade and magazine publishers. Though we made a concerted effort to limit pre-show advertising and tried to limit pre-show publicity, there are some things that will happen regardless.
Because we limited attendance this year we were confronted with the problem of letting people know the show was around the corner, but we tried not to hype it too much as there is nothing worse than advertising a show people can't actually attend.
In fact, one network television show was amazingly kind and asked to run a special commercial featuring Comic-Con, but we, while very grateful, asked if the spot could be tailored in such a way as to not utilize our logo or name. And they did, and I would say I think it had a better impact for their show so it worked out well.
SPURGEON: Where are you in your post-Con process? If I remember right, you guys do a lot of self-examination and meetings that go over the con just past.
This is true. Right now we're in the process of trying to get everything back in our offices. The week of the show we physically move to the center, so now it's trying to catch up on old emails, making sure the computers are connected correctly and things of that nature.
SPURGEON: Is there a picture of this year's show developing from Comic-Con's end?
I don't know that we look at it in those terms. There are always things that worked and things that didn't. This year is no exception. There is much to go over and we're in the process of discussing those issues in the next few weeks.
SPURGEON: I have a hard time believing that this year's Comic-Con has yet to make a unique impression. Can you give me any example of something that worked well this year, or any example of a specific area of concern? If you can't, when will this begin to take shape from your perspective?
Oh, I think it has made a unique impression. But we really do spend the entire week putting out fires, so our impression of the show may be different than it actually was. In the coming weeks as we have our debriefings we'll get a better overall picture.
SPURGEON: Is there an example of something about the show where Comic-Con's perspective on how things went might be different from maybe the conventional wisdom about how that aspect of that show turned out? Is there an insider perspective on the show to which we're not privy?
No doubt there is an insider's view that the public doesn't see. The week of the show, and quite honestly, a few weeks before, is spent trying to make sure the show happens as smoothly as possible. We're literally trying to put out fires here and there. I'm sure our task is similar, in a smaller way, to an amusement park; the fun is in attending and having a good time. The "behind the scenes" aspect shouldn't impose upon that fun. Granted, sometimes it does, but we really do try to prevent that from happening.
SPURGEON: Could you provide an example of how these views might diverge, say from a past show?
Well in regard to press this year, we were inundated with a large number of people wanting to register on-site, more than in past years. So while we were prepared for some on-site registration, I don't think we were as prepared as we could have been. We augmented our staff a bit to try and accommodate that.
SPURGEON: How did selling out in advance change how the show operated on the ground during the four days plus one? Did knowing ahead of time you were sold out actually relieve the pressure in a certain sense? How much demand was there for tickets from exhibitors, studios and the general populace and how did you deal with those extra demands so late in the game?
Knowing we were going to run out of tickets was an incredibly frustrating development for everyone. One mainstream newspaper characterized the running out of tickets as "That was good for the event's planners..." which couldn't be further from the truth.
Having a show that people cannot attend is never a good thing. And the demand from exhibitors, studios, press and professionals for additional tickets was more than any of us could have imagined.
With limited attendance, we will need to look at how badges are allocated to certain segments of our attendee base. I have no doubt this will be a major topic for discussion.
SPURGEON: How many people were at the show at any one given time, do you think?
With the exception of Wednesday night, there were probably about 60,000 people in the facility at any given time.
SPURGEON: What about Wednesday night?
We don't have official numbers yet so I really don't know about Wednesday night. The 60,000 number for the other days is based on past numbers which should be about right for this year I imagine.
SPURGEON: Speaking of Wednesday, will there be any changes to what is now an exhausting addition to the con calendar? It hardly feels like the bonus to four-day con supporters that it was once presented as being. Will you give any thought to regulating exclusives on Wednesday or in general? Is the con happy with the way Wednesday nights have developed?
Preview Night served an important purpose for us. It was a way to reward, and hopefully entice, people who register early. I don't know that regulating exclusives is on the schedule for discussion, but I know Wednesday has become much bigger of a night than any of us had originally imagined, and this too will be discussed in the coming weeks.
SPURGEON: It seemed that except for some of the upstairs programming areas flow was greatly improved over previous shows. Can you talk about what you might have done to improve those kinds of issues? Were the aisles wider? Was security employed at potential bottlenecks?
Some aisles were increased in size, and we hired even more personnel to troubleshoot line issues. This is something we began last year and then augmented it this year. Again, there is room for improvement and I think we learned some things this year that will help us deal with line issues next year. Again, something that will require a complete debriefing.
SPURGEON: Speaking of the security, they seemed different than past years. Is it true that they supplemented their normal staff with military personnel this year? Was the performance of security markedly different this year?
Security is always a paramount concern for us. We talk about security in only the most general of terms. It's difficult with a show of our size, even some staff aren't fully apprised of last minute changes and I'm sure the same can be said of some members of the security team. But we are trying to make it work much better and I hope this year saw some improvement.
SPURGEON: Was security supplemented by military personnel this year? I'm told that this is true. Beyond a vague wishing that things went well and improved, does the show hold security to a standard of performance? How is this ensured? Since you brought it up, is communicating with security a concern?
I'm sorry, I don't feel comfortable discussing who or how security is hired. But my understanding is that hiring practices were not changed this year from any other year.
Do we hold them to a standard of performance? Of course we do, and we do so with anyone we pay to provide a service to us and our attendees.
I didn't mean to imply communicating with security is a concern. My comment was simply to illustrate that sometimes I, myself, am unaware of a room change or a line change and the same could be true for security. With their bright red shirts they are oftentimes the first people attendees go to for directions or information. If some program changes elude me from time to time, I would imagine the same might be true for some members of the security team.
SPURGEON: Talk to me about your relationship with the City of San Diego right now. There seems to be a lot of noise out there that it's somehow lacking: that you're impatiently waiting on promises to be kept for 2013 and beyond, and/or that you might not get the respect in terms of dollars spent you think you deserve. Is either perception true? How would you describe your relationship now that you've had another successful year?
I think our relationship with the city is a good one. I certainly hope it is. We have been in San Diego since our beginning and we hope to stay. We have tried to be a good neighbor and, quite honestly, I think we've gone out of our way to make that point.
When we extended our contract a couple of years back, we did so knowing we were, at some point, going to have to forgo growth. This wasn't an easy choice for us as we had been approached by other cities wanting our business. We heard very loudly that our attendee base didn't want us to leave San Diego and we didn't want to leave either. At about this time we learned that the convention center was hoping to expand its facility. This was great news for us.
We are still hoping the expansion will occur. We haven't seen movement on that, but that doesn't mean it isn't happening, we just aren't privy to any insider information on that at this point.
In regard to dollars spent; the city has figures based on an economic impact study that shows Comic-Con spending at roughly $40,000,000. I'm not sure of their formulation, but our own survey, showed that attendee spending alone (this does not include our own expenditures for center rental etc., or exhibitor expenditures) topped $60,000,000. And that was just for attendee lodging, food, and purchases. Again, that figure does not include exhibitor expenditures, movie studio expenditure, or our own expenditures in putting on the show.
SPURGEON: Since this is likely to be an item of contention, can you tell me how your survey was generated? If this was something you did, or supervised, or caused to be done, why on earth wouldn't you include things like your own expenditures in putting on the show?
Ours was not an economic impact study. Ours was a survey, conducted by an outside organization that we hired. We survey our attendees, from time to time, to gather information to help us better run the show. And among the questions last time was money spent and where.
SPURGEON: Let's talk about the decision you'll be making in the next couple of years to extend past 2012 with San Diego... or not. First of all, when do you expect to make that decision? Second, what factors are you looking at in terms of movement between now and then? What would constitute enough progress in terms of the show's space needs for you to re-up with San Diego? Is there any make or break factor that hasn't been discussed openly?
Typically we negotiate our contracts about two years out. This last time we were asked to sign for a four year deal I think because someone was challenging our dates for 2011 or 2012. So I would assume right around 2010 we'll be looking to see where things are with the city. If the expansion is underway, I think the decision would be a simple one. If there is no expansion underway, then we'd have to look at all options once again.
SPURGEON: When was the last time you heard from the Anaheim or Las Vegas city/convention officials? When do you expect to hear from them again, or do you?
I don't mean to be coy or evasive, but any discussions or negotiations wouldn't be served well by discussing them in public. This is not to say that there are discussions going on, but I would hate for anyone, whether it be the City of San Diego, or any other city to think there are discussions going on and they were not a part of them. Again, I don't expect much movement will happen before 2010.
SPURGEON: Is operating within a morass of rumors and speculation a bad thing in and of itself? Does Comic-Con feel the effect of operating with so many people thinking you might leave, for instance?
Well, to be honest we don't want to move. I mean I think you and a few other journalists who give me a ring and ask, point blank, "are you leaving" get the correct answer. No, we're here until 2012. Do we want to move? No.
We have tried to limit attendance this year and while it might have worked on some levels, I think it was problematic on other levels.
Let me be very clear about this; we want to stay in San Diego. We were even willing to forego growth to do so, so I think our dedication is well documented. We just need to be sure that any decisions made about the future of the event take into consideration the attendees of our event and the costs associated with it.
Inflation alone will increase costs of doing business in San Diego, we expect that, but limited attendance and limited exhibitors means we're going to soon be flat in income.
That isn't a prospect any business is happy about.
SPURGEON: How much does the convention worry about a continued recession and the impact of high oil prices on the ability of exhibitors and attendees to come to the show in the next couple of years?
We're all very concerned. I spoke with one family who had come to Comic-Con from Minnesota. This was their yearly vacation. The woman I spoke with -- mother of two -- said they typically had three trips a year; two very small three-day weekend trips and one big vacation. They opted out of the two smaller trips and made Comic-Con their annual trip.
We certainly are concerned.
SPURGEON: Is the convention planning at all for 1) this run of fantasy movies that love Comic-Con as a place to promote to cycle out, which admittedly seems less likely than it might have a few years back, or, 2) for changes in the way that the big media companies use Comic-Con that might not be as generous as they are right now as they get used to what works and what doesn't at the show? In other words, is the Con ready if suddenly there's not the same crush of interest from Hollywood?
I think we need to be prepared for anything. We have a team that is really very practical.
In terms of generosity, we are both lucky and grateful for the presentations by major studios at our show. And while some companies spend a lot of money while in San Diego, it isn't always with us. I think the city and local businesses do very well with large off-site displays, parking lot buyouts, parties, street teams hired to promote a project, actors dressed in costume and carrying signs and things of that nature. The revenue generated is a plus for the local economy. Of course we don't charge for program presentations or panel time, so in most cases the revenue generated from companies are limited to the cost of booth space. I will say, however, that this year we did try to tap into that revenue stream a bit by making additional onsite signage available.
I should also point out that when we decided to convert Hall H into a 6500-seat meeting room, we consciously gave up the revenue that would be generated by selling that space as exhibit space. It made more sense for us to try to accommodate our attendees as best as possible. Obviously if there were no longer a need for that space as a meeting space I would imagine we would make it available to exhibitors.
But it's obvious that many attendees enjoy these presentations and certainly for their sake I wouldn't want to see it end anytime soon.
SPURGEON: Have you been in contact with IDW given Ted Adams' statement they might not be back?
I hope you don't mind if I take a pass on this question. I don't think it would be good to discuss specifics of individuals or companies. But I can certainly speak in generalities.
SPURGEON: What do you say to the general notion that the convention simply doesn't work for a lot of publishers, that the costs outweigh the benefits. Before Marvel became a movie studio it wasn't showing, and several smaller publishers have stopped attending -- Alternative and AdHouse spring to mind, although AdHouse may return, and I think PictureBox might be out after this year. How much is this a concern for you, a slow squeeze of these quality publishers?
Well I think to say that Marvel wasn't at Comic-Con until they became a movie studio isn't remembering the long history of Comic-Con and Marvel.
Of course we would love to accommodate everyone who would like to exhibit at the show. This isn't always the case. Sometimes there isn't enough floor space; sometimes an exhibitor makes the decision to sit out a year. The reasons for an exhibitor not exhibiting can be many fold. If it is a decision based on costs outweighing benefits, that's a difficult one to argue.
I would ask first, what is the goal of attending the show? Is it to have the biggest presence possible? Is it to sell product? Is it to market to the public? Is it to interact with press? There are any number of scenarios that I can see being worked out if a company is not meeting their needs. But, in this economy, I also understand that sometimes hard money costs are a factor. And that is something we, too, have to deal with. But I would hope any exhibitor who has issues with the show knows they can contact us and, perhaps, together we can come up with a scenario that works best for everyone.
SPURGEON: Are you telling me there's no special, specific concern for 1) comics publishers and 2) quality comics publishers leaving the show? Are you in effect saying there's little difference between the issues facing those exhibitors or your concern for them and, say, the issues facing and your concern for a company offering a computer program or selling t-shirts? As much as your answer on Marvel cites their history at the show, many folks to whom I've spoken believe that Marvel wouldn't exhibit right now if it weren't for the changes in their profile brought about by the increased role of movies at the company -- that as a comics publisher, they might not do the show. Does the departure of publishing companies indicate that no scenario is possible for them?
I am not saying there is no special concern for those companies. What I was trying to say is that each company, publishers, and retailers included, may have different reasons for attending the show.
A imagine the reason for a retailer to be at the show will differ from a publisher who has no retail outlet. It doesn't mean one is more important than the other, it simply means they might have a different criteria by which they must judge the success of their presence at the show.
In 2006 we had 155 booths dedicated to comics (Golden/Silver/New Comics), in 2008 we had 173 booths. In regard publishers, in 2006 we had 363 booths that were taken by publishers and in 2008 that number increased to 403 booths. And we still have publishers and retailers that are on our wait list for space.
Yes, they are very important to us, and as I mentioned earlier, I wish we had the space to accommodate all of those who would like to exhibit at the show.
In reference to Marvel, I don't doubt that people you have spoken with have an opinion of why Marvel is back at the show. Based on our long business history, I just don't agree with that opinion.
SPURGEON: Chuck Rozanski asserts in one of his convention reports that the show may have lost its traditional role as a place for high-end comics collectors to shop, and may be slowly losing the dealers in general. First, is his characterization that the number of comics sellers has declined in the past few years true? Second, is the con making this an area of special concern, and what can they do to reach out to this traditional area of exhibitors at the show?
Well as I mentioned earlier, our retailer exhibitor space continues to grow, so, I would disagree with that characterization. In regard to high-end buyers, well I imagine the economy may have a factor in that, or it may simply be one exhibitors product over another. Last year one exhibitor sold a very high-end comic, and this year sold one or more in the $3000 to $5000 range, so I'm not sure if that characterization is entirely accurate either.
SPURGEON: Exhibitors tell me you're raising prices. Can you characterize the extent of that raise, perhaps in terms of percentage points? What led you to that decision?
The standard price for a booth at Comic-Con will be $2,200 this year, an increase of about 9.25 percent.
However, if an exhibitor chose to sign up at the show, they would have received a $600 discount, so the amount would have been $1,600.
I would also point out that most booths are taken up on site and very few exhibitors ever pay the final price. We are usually sold out months in advance of the show and, obviously, months before the last price point.
We also offer multi-show discounts for those exhibitors who choose to exhibit at WonderCon
In the past we could count on a large segment of the exhibitor base purchasing their booths closer to the show. This is really no longer the case. The decision to raise exhibitor prices wasn't an easy one, but because of the prospect of limited attendance and limited exhibitors, the decision was made to move forward with this scenario.
SPURGEON: Will prices rise for attendees as well? And if not, why not, considering the massive demand? When will you know what the prices will be for 2009?
There are no plans to raise prices for attendees in 2009. While I can see an argument for raising prices as a way to decrease attendance, we need to keep in mind that exhibitors at our show count on attendees. Whether they are retailers, publishers, independent or small press, all rely on traffic flow to meet their needs. So if we can continue to meet their needs in this regard, and at the same time meet our budgetary requirements, I think we'll be okay.
This is not to suggest that we will never raise attendee prices, but for now I think we can operate with the steps we've taken so far so that attendee prices for 2009 should mirror 2008.
SPURGEON: I have to admit, that's a little baffling to me given your issues with limited attendance. Are you suggesting that demand is soft enough that raising prices, say, 10 percent, would risk a severe attendance drop even considering how demand outstrips available tickets? How can you negotiate with city officials or, really, anyone else from a position that you are "flat in income" when you're offering your tickets at a price that seems obviously lower than market demand?
I think, given the current state of the economy, asking a kid to shell out more money to attend Comic-Con may not be the wisest decision, especially if we can meet our budgetary needs without having to do so. Again, this does not mean we will never raise prices, I just don't think we needed to do it this year.
SPURGEON: You have a massive number of press on hand now. You've always admirably been really loose with your press policy. Will there be any refinement of that policy? Will you consider steps such as publications showing past coverage for past years of attendance?
We actually started being a little stricter with press beginning the year before last. While we still consider online press our mainstream press, and welcome nearly 3000 members of the media. We will have discussions in the next few weeks of how best to limit press without inhibiting reporting.
Requirements for press access are listed on our website. While we have made no formal decisions as of yet, I imagine, because of capacity concerns at the center, that we will only have pre-registered press next year, and will probably have to limit the number of badges issued to press guests.
SPURGEON: A number of press folks complained about the fact that the press pass does not grant special access to areas of coverage. Now in past years, this always seemed to come from comics people that couldn't attend their favorite TV show panel, but I'm hearing it from people that actually cover the area they're trying to get into. Are you considering reform of the press access situation? Is closed circuit viewing possible in the next few years? Pooled coverage? A separate press track for access? How do you ensure that press will be able to cover the events you're presenting to them?
I think pooled coverage is an excellent idea and while it might work for some I don't know that it would work for all.
Closed circuit viewing is certainly an idea, and one we've discussed. It is, however, still logistically a challenge, not to mention the potential cost involved. As we are completely out of space at the center, it really is a challenge.
I might add that with so many hours of programming I think it is impossible for one reporter to catch all it is they want to report. I know one major newspaper sent a team of reporters this year for that very reason, which is something many online sites have been doing for some time.
I should point out in the case of Hollywood programming; our press list is made available to each studio before the show. It is they who pick who it is they want covering their program and give special access. We have nothing to do with that.
SPURGEON: While we're on the subject, it seems as if there's an enormous amount of complaining about the ability of attendees to access panels. Now, if we consider that part of the risk/reward system of the show, could there be something done so that people don't stand in line and then not get into an event? Have you considered an advanced ticket system? How will you work on this growing area of dissatisfaction in future years?
In the past we have implemented ticketing for some events. However we have to be aware of, and never want to be in a situation where people begin selling their tickets to a panel or program. We would then be faced with a scalper issue that already seems to be rearing its ugly head in other areas. I'm not sure if there is a clear answer, but we'll surely be discussing it in the coming weeks.
SPURGEON: Since you've brought it up, how bad was the scalper situation and what might the con do about it?
I think all of us thought it was really bad. No one wants to see that type of thing go on, especially when some people were selling counterfeits. This is an area we will be discussing in the coming weeks.
SPURGEON: Now that a number of professionals in different industries are attending, there seems to be more of a discussion of the laxity of the professional designation. One longtime comics professional once looked at the professional registration line, decided they didn't qualify, and walked to the front of the line. Will there be any changes to that way of folks attending the show?
No doubt professional registration will see some changes next year. What those changes are is unclear at the moment, but there were a number of issues that need to be addressed, and we are committed to trying to find those solutions.
SPURGEON: Might there be a processing fee added, for instance?
I don't think we ever want to overburden professionals, many of whom give of their time and expertise on panels and programs, with making it more difficult for them to attend. But something does have to be done, and it's one of the areas that I know will be discussed.
SPURGEON: A new area of concern for some this year is that the traffic flow of the show is such that by placing, say, artists and illustrators and the comics/small press at different ends of the show, that instead of encouraging a flow you're actually having people not even making the attempt to cross the big media areas. Is there any thought to gathering all of the publishing into one area?
We have configured the floor in a variety of different ways over the years. This seems to be working out best, though best doesn't necessarily mean perfect. I might point out that each exhibit hall has doors to the lobby. Those not wanting to wade through the media areas can walk to the lobby and avoid the lines and enter another hall from there which a lot of people seem to be doing.
SPURGEON: As someone who likes comics of all types, I reject outright the notion that the only exhibitors from non-comics media should be those that reflect some sort of fantasy element in what they're exhibiting. That being said, how do you answer the concern from people that things like
The Office doesn't have a place at the show? And how do you make those decisions as a show what to allow to exhibit and not exhibit?
I think it was in 1970 that we screened Orson Welles' Othello
. I would imagine if we held a screening or a panel on that film today we would meet the same sort of objections.
While I am not comparing Othello
to The Office
, many people feel that we shouldn't allow any panel, guest or exhibitor that doesn't have a direct tie to comics. And while I appreciate that point of view, I would have hated to turn someone away like Ray Bradbury
, George Clayton Johnson
, Frank Capra
or any other geniuses in their field because they didn't have a comics tie in.
Again, people forget that while comics are at our core, we have always been about film and literature as well. As comics audience have embraced games and toys, so have we.
panel -- which was well attended -- was to feature writers and producers -- and one star -- of that show, and is a great example of good writing, and good storytelling.
I have no doubt in ten years that it will be looked upon as a classic of good television. If we were to use the litmus test that fantasy or comics need to be at the foundation for any guest or presentation, then we would have missed Capra, and would never have screened Othello
SPURGEON: How does the Con feel about the growing number of social events and meet-ups that take place during show hours off site?
Events that happen off site during show hours aren't a bad thing. Sometimes that can make for better movement in the hall if an off-site event occurs during our busiest time. We usually like to be aware of those things as sometimes they may conflict with a special program or event we may have. But in general, we would love to work with people on exploring off-site activities for attendees.
SPURGEON: There was a lot of discussion among indy/alt types that they're at a specific disadvantage because the success of the show keeps a natural audience for their work out. In other words, the people that want to buzz down from LA and shop for t-shirts and get Robert Williams' autograph aren't the plan six months ahead crowd. One solution that's been floated is the possibility of doing an alt-show in conjunction with Comic-Con, the way that film festivals sometimes crop up outside of other film festivals. Would the con object to this happening for alt-comics, or maybe other industries that wanted to set up shop near the big show?
I think some of those Indy and alternative creators can benefit from the sheer number of people at the event. Hopefully their work will be visible to an audience that might not normally be aware of their work.
Were we to separate them, then their audience would be limited. Granted it would be a dedicated audience, but the opportunity to attract a new audience, I feel, would be diminished considerably.
No one wishes more than I, that people could just come down from Los Angeles, or even locally, and walk right up and buy a badge to the show. But whether it was the traffic accident of three years ago that blocked the major freeway between LA and San Diego, the major traffic accident on that same freeway this year, or limited ticket sales. I think most people realize that coming to the show has to be planned out a bit. And I think that's been true for a couple of years now.
Having said that, we do make ticket giveaways available to local radio stations in San Diego and Los Angeles the week before and the week of the show. While it certainly doesn't take the place of just being able to walk up to the show, we hope that at least those who are die hard attendees but haven't purchased a pass, can still have a chance to attend last minute.
SPURGEON: Unlike previous years when Comic-Con was the last convention on the calendar, you still have the Alternative Press Expo (APE) to go this year. What are your hopes for APE, particularly now that you're in the Fall season where the big alt-show SPX has traditionally ruled the roost? Where would you like for APE to be this year, and where would you like to see it in five years?
I don't think there is much crossover in attendance with APE and SPX, so I don't think attendance will be affected by that. I would like to see a successful show for APE which means good crowds and good sales for exhibitors. In five years I would love to see even more Indy exhibitors at the show, enough so that we could take the entire Concourse center. Not because we would make more money because it would actually cost us more to rent the entire facility than we could ever recoup in exhibitor or attendee sales, but that's okay. APE will never make a profit and it isn't supposed to. It's good for the industry and having more people able to exhibit means more people making comics and, hopefully more people being exposed to them, and that's always a good thing.
SPURGEON: Finally, David, what did you enjoy seeing or doing at the show?
Sadly I didn't have a chance to see much of anything at the show this year. Though I enjoyed running into the giant Brian from Family Guy walking through the lobby
. I actually ran, yes I said ran, to have my photo taken with him.
One thing I did do, for the first time in years, was manage to venture out at night to spend a few moments at a party where I accepted an award on behalf of Comic-Con that the party organizers were very kind in presenting.
And I stopped by another party; a glitzy Hollywood gathering, on my way back to the hotel. Or at least I'm told it was glitzy. I couldn't get in. [laughs]
* photos by me, 2007-2008: convention center, Ralph Bakshi, Darwyn Cooke, Joe Casey and Steven T. Seagle, Black Manta, the 2008 Ba/Moon Eisner array at the Image Booth
* please note that Comic-Con is an advertiser on this site
posted 8:00 am PST
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