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September 22, 2014

Cosplay Isn’t Killing Comic Cons, But What Is Changing Them Is…

hidden-truth

Recently Bleeding Cool published an article by Denise Dorman, wife of famed illustrator Dave Dorman, called “Is Cosplay Killing Comic Con?” You can read the article in its original location, but spoilers, it’s just an opinion piece with no facts to back it up, just personal observations.

The issue is not whether cosplayers are destroying conventions but why aren’t artists and vendors making a bigger profit at conventions? It’s an important topic, which I have seen some ponder about on statuses on Facebook. I have some ideas below of why that is so.

1) Price. Tickets are an all time high. Food, parking, photo ops with celebrities and other expenses have gone up to the point that are making my choices in the dealers room very limited. I remember when I was a kid in the 80s buying ten comic books for five dollars. Nowadays you can purchase only one comic book for five dollars and it is because of that I am very selective with my purchases. At Boston Comic Con, I spent most of my time with dealers selling half off or a quarter off trades and graphic novels.

2) Marketing and Press. How well are artists and vendors being marketed by the con? Granite State Comic Con for example did a great job this year marketing their vendors on social media — have other cons done the same? Conversely, how well are the artists and vendors marketing themselves? Again, citing GraniteCon, whenever they tweeted out a notice of a creator having a table at the con, they would tag the artist’s Twitter handle and that would trigger a series of retweets.

3) Expanded Fandoms. This might be the biggest reason, as it drives the first reason. Most large cons, and even many of the smaller ones, have expanded beyond simply being able to be called a Comic Con, no matter what it labels itself. San Diego Comic Con has become a Hollywood movie con, albeit one that focuses on the interests of the nerd community. As Dorman pointed out in her own blog, one of the earliest comic book retailers at SDCC, Mile High Comics, has said publicly that it will not be returning to SDCC for that very reason.

With many attendees at a con there to see voice actors, or movie stars celebrity guests, or even famous wrestlers or classic rockers, it is no wonder that fewer people are stopping at the tables or booths of the creators. Dorman lays the blame at the feet of cosplayers, but go to any con and see how big the lines are for a cast member of The Walking Dead versus that of any cosplayer, even the ultra-famous ones like Yaya Han or Jessica Nigri. There is no comparison — the TV celebrity wins hands down.

Dave Dorman is best know as an illustrator of Star Wars-focused material. I would like to see his results at a Star Wars-focused con like Celebration or any of the many Star Wars Experiences. I bet there is a noticeable, if not significant, difference in his favor.

Does this mean that Dorman is wrong? Of course not, at least not about the effect on her family’s income — her conclusions are based on her own hard numbers. But those conclusions are wrong — cosplay isn’t getting in the way of Dave Dorman making money at a convention. Nerds taking over the world is the reason, with the result that more people are trying to make money off them (us) and more fandoms are embraced by what used to be only comic book conventions.



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