Experiences are going to be good and bad depending on your perspective, but if we focus on the lessons learned we can always view it through a positive lens. Every San Diego Comic Convention since my first in 1974 has taught me something. In the beginning Comic Con was all about fans appreciating comics and the creators behind the art of these stories. Writers, artists, publishers, merchandisers, all gathered for this large show and tell of popular art culture to be seen as well as trade and sell their products. Comic Con grew on this simple premise.
The film and television industries were always present at the event but more on the fringes. Over the last decade the tables have turned and promotions for the large media conglomerates have taken center stage, literally. This has changed the fan base. Serious collectors that flocked to the event are becoming rare. I was elated to see Mr. Katz, one of my best patrons stop by the booth. When I asked why he had not been to the Con in nine years he waved his hand toward the FOX and Warner Brothers islands and said, “I could do without all this.”
Ric Meyers (writer and presenter of the Kung Fu extravaganza at Comic Con) mentioned “the artists and merchandisers are being pushed towards the walls, and disappearing into them.” Many of my favorite artists do not come to Con anymore because it is too expensive.
This year a group of Pixar artists started an event called “Tr!ckster” across the street from Con in response to what they consider an impersonal giant. It’s fascinating that a group of artists who make their livings strapped to a corporate entity are putting together alternate events to Comic Con. This highlights the dilemma I see in the corporate world all the time. Artists become addicted to the salaries they receive working for industry, yet yearn for independence. The challenge is you have very little time to do your own work once you are locked into that system.
The shining light in all this is that your fans, your patrons and collectors will stick with you wherever you are. Some of my collectors who I met at Comic Con years ago stopped by to see me and purchased art (one is the Batgirl painting above that I worked on at the booth). I love my supporters, they make the trip to San Diego worth while. Also seeing my artist friends at this event is enjoyable.
There are other conventions popping up around the U.S. I was speaking with Arnie and Cathy Fenner about Spectrum Live to be held next May in Kansas City. It is an event that is focused on the artist. I will be there with a booth and as well as presenting an Artist As Brand ® workshop. Yes, stay tuned, Spectrum and Artist As Brand ® are aligning.
What did I learn this year? Comic Con is becoming less of a place to sell and more of a venue to promote. The big question is if it’s worth it? That being said my Crescoptiscope from The Visions of Vespertina was a hit and brought many curious eyes to the booth. I wish you could have all seen it in action. Had to be there!
For those of you who could not make it to San Diego, I have a few Masters of Science Fiction and Fantasy Art left. See some of the book here. I am in it with Brom, Kinuko Craft, Dan Dos Santos, Donato, Charles Vess, Stephan Martiniere, James Gurney, and more. It is an awesome collection, with insightful commentary by the artists. $25.00, shipping included. You can purchase it at Amazon for the same price but mine comes signed.