As I write this, I’m attending Fan Expo Dallas in the Great State of Texas, and it’s been a very good convention. Last weekend I was in Washington, D.C., for Awesome Con, which lived up to its name, frankly. The weekend before that it was SC Comic Con, as I previously wrote about. I enjoyed each one of them!
Recently I heard that there was some unfortunate news about Wizard World’s cons, a group of conventions I used to get to quite frequently. However, I haven’t been to one in months, so I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised by what I read.
Turns out Wizard World reported a loss of $5.73 million for the financial year of 2017. Word has it that number would have been even bigger if they hadn’t made an accounting change. Their net worth is reportedly under water by $3.37 million.
I don’t want to be like Quark from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and read spreadsheets to Klingons (and other good people). So I won’t. I’ll look at it from my perspective instead.
When I attended Wizard World Philadelphia two years ago, things went swimmingly! One thing that helped was that people attending the con entered and passed by the exhibitors and Artist Alley folks to get to the celebrities. If folks were in a hurry to get in line for the autographs they wanted, they still had to pass by the dealers on their way out. That turned out great for my friends!
The following year, they changed the floor layout. That time, you encountered the celebrities pretty much as soon as you entered the front doors. No need to waste time looking over what exhibitors were selling or what folks had brought to Artist Alley! Needless to say, the income dropped significantly… and disappointingly.
This year, I don’t know of any of the dealers and artists planning to return. Granted, I don’t know everyone who has been there, so please take this perception with a grain of salt. However, I can say that the folks I know are not planning on going again. They just can’t afford it.
Of course, that’s just one thing I think didn’t keep drawing people to Wizard World.
I’m sad to see this happen. Honestly, though, that first Philadelphia con was the best of the Wizard Worlds’ we had attended. We went to cons in Chicago and Columbus, to name a couple, but they didn’t live up to Phillie’s success. When even that con was less than hoped for, well, people looked elsewhere.
ARE THERE TOO MANY CONS?
One other thing that could be influencing this situation is the fact that there are a lot of cons, many times two or three every weekend.
For example, while I’m here at Fan Expo Dallas, C2E2 is going on in Chicago. Also, the Silicon Valley Comic Con is happening in San Jose, California. And then the Empire State Comic Con is happening in Albany, New York. There’s also the Garden State Comic Fest in New Jersey, the Saratoga Comic Con in New York, just to name a few. Granted, I’m not actually in each location, so it may be that some of these haven’t actually happened.
Still, that’s a LOT of conventions in one weekend! Then, when I look at next weekend, I see eight other cons!
Eventually, people run out of money to spend and time to devote to conventions!
What will naturally happen is that competition will eventually weed out some of them. Not every con can be a success, after all. With this many conventions going on, something’s got to give!
SHOULD WE SIT BACK AND WAIT?
There are some things we can do in this situation. We can go to many different ones, maybe go one day each to cons in our area. We can try to go each weekend to at least one.
Or we can sit back and wait to see what happens. This is the one I prefer — go to the ones you want, but don’t do any more than that. After all, many of us have to live on a budget.
Also, eventually someone will lose out in the weekly battle of the cons. Voting with your dollars and your feet which ones should survive seems the most realistic way to proceed, seems to me.
I mean, in a perfect world, we could sustain eight different conventions in a weekend. But this is hardly a perfect world, so I would suggest going when and where you want when you can. More than that is propping up an organization that likely should fold up its tents and go home.
I know that sounds cold-hearted, but we need to support the ones that deserve our time and effort. Perhaps Wizard World will make the cut, perhaps not. We’ll see.
What do you think? Should we try to support as many cons as possible? Or should fans pick and choose where to go, when and where cons are located? Or should conventions make radical changes to survive? Be sure to share your opinion and thoughts in the space below!