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

September 10, 2014

Festivals Extra: Salt Lake City Comic Con Draws Expected 18 Kabillion People

Local and regional news is reporting staggering attendance figures for last weekend's comics convention in Salt Lake City.

imageI like all the models for comics conventions. I don't understand wanting to go to a convention center to stand around in a costume, but a lot of people love it. I'm personally fond of a lot of the fantasy properties that connect the various experiences on display. I think it's clear that there's a huge disconnect between the crowds for such shows and the reading of comics, even though when you add 40 thousand people to your baseline attendance that likely means that at least several dozen of them are going to be into comics and comics art. I mean, people can quibble, but I think that's an understood thing, right? People aren't moving to the Salt Lake region to open massively successful comic book shops, at least not as far as I know.

The surge in attendance for certain kinds of shows, in certain markets in particular, likely does have an effect on the ability of all shows, proposed and existing, to reach comics readers and do things that serve comics' readership. At least I think so. But that effect is likely to change market to market and is hard to track. What I'll continue to do is to look for good comics shows, period, whether or not they come with a lot of other things -- a prose book festival with a comics pavilion, or a big convention with a devoted, curated comics element, those things are interesting to me. One of the things that worries me right now is the infantilization of the arts, by which I don't mean a snap judgment of content but the reduction of all arts to hobbies and the artist/audience relationship force-morphed into shared fan experiences. For me, at least, that is likely to be a factor in how these shows will be perceived moving forward.

Heidi MacDonald looks at the figures a bit more closely. I'm not all that interested in the Jose Arcadio Buendia element of these shows, although I understand for pr/branding purposes why different shows are claiming top and near-top attendance figures.
posted 12:15 am PST | Permalink

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