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

October 15, 2014

Festivals Extra: A Few, Brief Notes On NYCC 2014

Three things jump out at me about the coverage of NYCC. The first is the attendance figure and its accompanying claim to be bigger than Comic-Con International in San Diego. The second is the number of articles I'm seeing about the diversity and inclusiveness of the show, a bunch of which I also saw on this nicely presented round-up by Heidi MacDonald. The third is ReedPOP doing a show in Paris in 2015.

Initial opinions:

Congratulations to those involved on making a successful New York show. With the near total absence of the kind of publishing I find most valuable, it's not a show for me, but the reason there wasn't a big show in New York for years and years and years is because it represented a variety of obstacles. Those have been surmounted.

That said, I don't really care about the attendance figures and whether or not they beat San Diego's or whatever as a measuring contest kind of thing. I don't care about the Salt Lake City claims that way, either. Obviously demand to attend both shows -- and a few others -- is tremendous, and you're going to have constraints in terms of where shows are, convention center capacity and ability of the town's greater infrastructure cropping up at these high numbers that are issues distinct from demand and appeal.

I do think this makes San Diego's branding mission tricky right now, and for the next few years, because they could always fall back on the biggest claim as a badge of distinction. That's a branding element with clarity: it's a number. Most of the other choices, like "best" or "grandest," have subjective elements. The attendance for comics panels and the ability of those publishers to get roughly the same effect PR-wise as San Diego, that would probably be a more important measurement. In the same way that a lot of publishers -- mostly small, mostly alternative -- have stopped going to San Diego because they can get their needs met more directly elsewhere, Comic-Con International now has reasons to worry on that front with a whole different group of comics-related businesses.

Lance Fensterman and ReedPOP have also done a seemingly excellent job of reading and responding to the culture's current desire for ways to negotiate issues of inclusiveness and belonging. I would never accuse anyone of not being on board or not being serious about an issue because they have a different set of strategies than I do, and sometimes inside me dies every time that rhetoric comes to the surface in comics. However, these are issues of great importance and great urgency and to settle into a defensive posture seems to me a really dangerous thing. There's an opportunity here, and it's time for everyone to do everything they can, whatever that is. It's no longer satisfactory for anyone to explain that they're doing enough.

The Paris show is interesting to me, too, and not just the idea of a big American-type show in Paris, which is something that strikes me as a very good idea from a business standpoint. That's going to be a hit, and what it may do for NYCC is allow it to better present itself as the model for shows in a way that the spiritual connection between all of these new shows and San Diego simply doesn't facilitate. I wish it did. I think all of these show are capitalizing on SDCC, flat-out and directly in a way they're not building on previous models or on cons more generally. When George Clooney says he's spending his honeymoon at comic con he's referencing a wider social entity and reality that did not start in NYCC, let alone is encompassed by it. But success begets success and the winners write history, and Paris may allow ReedPOP to move themselves up several chapters. They'd be closer to the front of the book already if C2E2 were a bigger hit. They'll get there much sooner if the NY Super Week events find greater traction in the years ahead.

Interesting times.
posted 12:15 am PST | Permalink

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