BY TERRY BEATTY
I suppose I could be convinced to change my mind by a great guest list or the promise of a trip to an interesting location — but I think I’m done with “comic cons.” I won’t call them comic book conventions, because they’re not that, really, anymore. The last one I attended that felt like a real comic book show was OafCon in Oklahoma — which is specifically themed around vintage comics and paper collectibles — and was wonderful. My SupaNova experience in Australia was great, because they LOVE The Phantom there. But the last few shows I’ve attended elsewhere have been disappointing.
There were good things about being a guest at Phoenix ComiCon yesterday — chatting with fellow cartoonists, meeting a few fans, and appearing on a few panels (thanks to the folks at ERB Inc. for having me on the Burroughs/Tarzan panel). But despite that, I found the experience otherwise disheartening.
The show was HUGE. Taking up multiple floors of a giant convention center — and tens of thousands of people poured through the doors. But for the most part, they weren’t “my” people. They were cosplayers and gamers and families just coming to look — and they were all having a great time — and that’s great for them. But I’m not a gamer or cosplayer and have no interest in that whatever (not a put down, mind you — it’s just not my thing) — and folks just coming to look don’t make discerning purchases of expensive original art from cartoonists. If somebody’s idea of a good time is joining hundreds of other people in a group to wave toy lightsabers around — more power to them — but, sorry, not my thing. Not at all.
Traffic was a pain, and it took me far too long to navigate around the downtown to find my (pre-paid) parking garage — there was a LOT of walking, as, again, the convention center was HUGE. And because of the shift in audience from old school comics fans to modern media fans, cosplayers and such, what’s in the dealers’ room has changed drastically. There are plenty of modern toys, costume stuff, swords, jewelry, anime/manga, t-shirts, caricature booths, and an artists’ alley that is three quarters people I never heard of selling prints (no “art thief” types, though, thank goodness).
I found ONE dealer in old books. ONE dealer who had a few 1960s vintage toys. There were far fewer dealers in vintage comics than I expected. I saw no Big Little Books, no monster mags, no pin-up paper, no movie posters, no model kits other than Gundam/anime, no ’30s character toys, no book dealers with things like the IDW comic strip reprints — no Pogo, no Dick Tracy, no Popeye or Tintin — no Raymond, Foster, Caniff or Crane. Maybe some of the vintage comics dealers had some EC — but I didn’t see any. No vintage fanzines, no art/illustration books.
But if you wanted a knit Minecraft hat, they had you covered.
So if this is what “comicons” are now — perhaps it’s time to let the folks dressed up like Adventure Time characters and wizards and zombie Ronald McDonalds to have their fun — but I no longer feel the need to navigate though thousands of people to wander an enormous dealer’s room, only to find there is nearly nothing there I give a damn about.
Maybe next year I’ll see if I can get back to Wonderfest, where I’m sure to find a dealers’ room full of delights — and people who share my interests. I’ll attend the Doc Savage Con again — as that was great fun. I’d go back to OafCon anytime, too — and despite the looooooong flight, a return trip to Australia would thrill.
But these events they call comicons now? Nope. I think I’m done with that. Sorry to say.
Copyright © 2016 by Terry Beatty. Reprinted by permission of Terry Beatty.
Terry is the current Sunday artist of The Phantom and daily artist of Rex Morgan, M.D. newspaper strips, both from King Features Syndicate, and part of his impressive body of work includes an 11 year run inking Batman Adventures, for DC Comics.
Please visit Terry’s website http://www.scaryterrysworld.com