Now that they are starting to resurface, it’s time to talk about comics conventions and how they continue to grow in their influence on the industry. There’s money to be made there, as pros, exhibitors, and other creators seek to earn enough dollars to allow them to continue to make their wares available to fans in the various locations.
More than ever, I have noticed there’s been a battle taking place between artists and comics creators, especially when it comes to Artist Alley, where many of these people have booths for fans to visit. Granted, some creators show their stuff as exhibitors, which is more expensive, but many are in this space apparently set up specifically for them.
IT IS CALLED ARTIST ALLEY, AFTER ALL
One thing that’s become apparent to those of us selling comics is that fans who go to Artist Alley often are really only after prints and other pieces of art by the artists. I mean, I get that – I mean, it is called Artist Alley, after all.
However, there were many creators there who sold comics as well as art, so the line is sometimes blurry. I’ve seen one convention refer to it as Creators Alley, and I think that would be more appropriate.
IT IS CALLED A COMIC CON, AFTER ALL
Still, it’s discouraging when you really hope people coming to a “Comic Con” might actually buy at least SOME comic books. I have watched people stop at the artists around us to look over their various posters, then see that we sold mostly comics, causing them to quickly pass us by. I had one friend, completely frustrated by all this (at a different convention), yell out a profanity laden, “You come to a f****** comic convention and you don’t want to buy a single f****** comic book?” Nobody paid attention, and it didn’t cause anyone to buy a single comic, anyway!
I always fume when I hear that usually two-thirds of paying fans attending a convention like this do NOT go there for the comics. Instead, they want to get the autographs of their favorite stars. I understand that Norman Reedus from The Walking Dead charges $120 per signature. That hardly leaves any money for comics with many of the people there! I don’t begrudge Mr. Reedus cashing in while the iron is still hot, but really!
Again, if you aren’t about comics, then change the name! Many have already done that, like Florida Supercon and Wondercon, so there is a precedent here. I understand that San Diego Comic Con has developed a “brand,” and fans expect conventions to be like that. I just think it’s more honest to take the focus off comics if that’s what you don’t put your main focus on.
FIGHTING ART WITH ART
What further muddies the field here is that many comics creators have decided to try and grab a share of the art dollars by making their own related merchandise. There are Stabbity Bunny t-shirts, stickers, posters and mini-posters, for instance. Sometimes they sell better than the comics!
Then, too, artists will have comics with blank variant covers that they have drawn their art onto. I often hear fans asking if that’s their own comic. Artists aren’t always honest about that, frankly. It’s enough to make fans not know what’s what!
So, what’s to be done about this?
I would again recommend calling them Creators Alley, which makes the range there broad enough to include writers, artists, and everyone else who works in the industry. Also, tell people what you have and haven’t made truthfully, which will end a lot of fan confusion!