We currently have 29 and counting comic conventions in the UK, from the local to the national conventions. We have seen a steady increase of new conventions popping up on the scene. But what does the future hold, we have heard rumours that some are finishing, yet there seems to be an ever increasing stream willing to take up the challenge to fill their boots.
Would you take the chance in a recession hit UK? Invest in a comic convention?
This year has shown us that big names can attract the crowds, just take February this year and the appearance of Stan Lee. This pulled in people in the 1,000s. But why can’t the other comic conventions manage to grab the crowds? Location? Advertising? What is it that makes one convention better than another.
In this world of competition there is no loyalty, you are as good as your last convention. Some conventions have suffered from this, not booking any big names to draw the crowds, not having right location, over priced tickets. Delivering on their 1st convention, but failing on their 2nd. Did they not learn form the last one?
There are those conventions that hopefully will grow and become massive and there are those that must learn from their mistakes. Some will not reappear next year but things must move on.
What could change with UK Comic Conventions?
Each convention should have an identity, don’t have one then forget anyone coming to your con. Some have got this spot on and others are still wrestling with theirs, shall we do just comics or shall we do film and TV as well. Some try and copy Comic Con (San Diego) and fail miserably, others have moved away from comics and offer a very small portion of their show to comics. Yes you may say Comic Con started off as a comic convention but it has adapted and now includes TV, Film and games, but this was after many years. So you have your identity sorted lets get the guests……
Guests in my opinion is the single most important factor for a comic convention. And they need to be fresh, don’t get me wrong it is great meeting up with the same faces con after con. Why cant the UK have the big names, seriously it is just a plane ride over and hotel for a couple of days. A big name gets the attention of the people. Look what happened with STAN LEE, some 10,000 people turned out to meet the man himself. Also with the guests make them accessible to their fans, don’t just let them have their allocated signing slots, don’t let an artist just turn up sign and bugger off to a back room so you the organiser and you best friends can hang out with them. People have come to see them, not have 10 seconds whilst they sign a comic and be moved on. Get the big names and let them meet the fans.
Cost of the ticket…now this is where it gets tricky, too cheap and it feels cheap, too expensive and people wont pay. Deal with the kids, make them free and get some form of entertainment for them. I take my son along to many of the conventions I report on. If only there was somewhere for me to drop him off for an hour. So I could look around without the constant buy this buy that. Also if I want to buy some OA, I would prefer him not to be in earshot or vicinity whilst I hand over £100s, things get back to mum and then mum wont be happy. A happy dad/mum at a convention means they will have more time to spend money.
Do a deal with a hotel/hotels for the con goers, possibly with a separate menu that is cheaper. Hotel food is never cheap. The less money spent at hotels equals more money spent at the convention.
The Goodie Bag
Make it decent, how many conventions have I been to that the goodie bag is poor. Not even worth the effort to carry it around. Get some sponsors, make a different bag for expensive tickets, and worth the difference in price. On a different note give us a lanyard, not some ropey wrist band that I means I can shower and restricts the blood flow to my hand. Con goers keep their lanyards, unless I am the only one. Make a decent program that wants to be kept, not some scrappy piece of paper that’s not. I personally have my LSCC program signed by Stan Lee and sent to CGC.
I could go on and on but will leave it for that for now. More will be discussed in The Future of Comic Conventions Part 2.