New LGBTQ Comic-Con launching in NY

29 JANUARY 2015


If you're a rainbow nerd, you know that the LGBTQ presence has claimed a seat at the Con table in recent years. Panels, booths, parties and mixers: we're here, we're queer and we play Magic: The Gathering. (Well, this switch-hitter doesn't, but they did just announce a trans character so that's my shout-out.)

Recent queer-themed Cons have been springing up like BentCon in L.A., and now GeeksOUT has announced a new one in New York. It's called - wait for it - Flame Con - and its inaugural event will kick off Saturday, 13 June, in Brooklyn. So if you're traveling to NY for Pride, you'll be a bit too late to make this, but it still commemorates the spirit of the month. What did our Stonewall ancestors fight for if not the right to do Princess Leia drag?

From the formal press release description:

"People from all corners of the LGBTQ community will be given a unique opportunity to meet up and geek out over a range of artists, creators and vendors creating to all kinds of queer interests and tastes. Provocative and intelligent panels will explore ideas and questions not discussed at traditional cons. Other Flame Con attractions include an onsite art show, an anthology comic <of course - editorial note> and a cosplay parade leading the way to a nearby after party. <double of course.>"

So there it is. Since I'm in NY quite often, I may attend and I'll report back if I do. Regardless, it should definitely be of interest to the many Brooklyn and tri-state area nerds who'd like more queer-themed content in their Comic-Con life.

Tickets are available now for:
  • $20 for basic admittance
  • $25 for the Con and after party
  • $10 for just the after party

Oh and you can do 2 other things:

And whatever you do, don't miss that after party.

Change your address with ECCC now if you need to

29 JANUARY 2015

The Emerald City team has announced they will start shipping passes in February. Stunningly enough, February starts Sunday.

That means that if you've moved since buying your pass, or just need it mailed to a different address, you need to change your address immediately.

You can:

It's all starting to get very real.

Good advice on ECCC lines

28 JANUARY 2015

Emerald City has posted some answers to the eternal question of "When should I get in line?"
Definitely worth reading if you're going - but skip it if you're not because line estimates are different at every event.

Oh, and they said they're going to announce about 20 new comic guests in the next week or so, including some big names. Just to keep you tantalized.

SDCC Souvenir Book submissions are open

26 JANUARY 2015

It's here: the chance to show off your art and writing chops by submitting work for the SDCC Souvenir Book. You don't have to be a professional, whatever that word means to you, but you do have to be good. You also have to tailor your work to reflect one of this year's anniversaries, which are....

The big 75 for:
  • Will Eisner's The Spirit
  • Catwoman
  • The Joker
  • Robin
  • Shazam!
  • The First DC Comics Heroes: Flash, The Atom, The Spectre, Hawkman, Doctor Fate and Green Lantern

...and the 50th anniversary of Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.

In other words, DC fans should be able to go full-tilt crazy with stories. Marvel fans - well, this isn't your year so much, but you should find something to write or draw about. Everyone, don't let the fact that there will be an avalanche of Joker-Catwoman work submitted stop you from exploring the same.

Also, be aware that you can't commingle characters from different companies/universes and that you have to keep it clean. So if it was your dream to write a steamy Catwoman-Nick Fury takedown-turned-hookup, keep your filthy thoughts to yourself. Oh, and you can't insert your own characters or try to promote your own company. This is about pure fan-fevered imaginings.

(Random suggestion: It would be beautiful of CCI to post a digital magazine of runner-up work that doesn't make into the book, or just post it on their Toucan blog. I'm sure the pool of work that doesn't get selected each year has some high-caliber pieces in it. Seriously, I think a lot of people would appreciate that as much as looking through the cosplay galleries.)

If you're new to Comic-Con, the Souvenir Book is a very pretty color trade paperback handed out to all attendees. In addition to fan articles and art, it features information of Eisner winners and nominees and is generally a nice keepsake people like to collect.

The deadline for submissions: 17 April 2015. Make sure you read all the rules and regulations on formatting and such before submitting.

Tell ECCC about your fandom

24 JANUARY 2015

If you're the kind of fan who likes to bond with others in your fandom, you may have been to a fan meetup before. At some Cons these are organized by outsiders and take place in bars and coffee shops; at Emerald City, they're within the convention and will be scheduled by the organizers. This isn't to say that outside meetups won't take place - people who hang out in specific forums have a way of agreeing to meet each other and that turns into an "event" - but ECCC is eager to hear your specific requests. Bear in mind you'll need a pass to get into the meetup since it's inside the Con.

According to their Tumblr, they've already received the following suggestions:
  • Rat Queens
  • Carol Corps
  • Sailor Moon
  • Avatar/Korra/general Bender meetup
  • Over the Garden Wall
  • Arrow/The Flash
  • Nerdfighter
  • Disney
  • My Little Pony: FIM

Those are .... some very specific requests. No Star Wars or Star Trek? No Doctor Who or Sherlock? Well, what do I know. If you're not already on Tumblr, go ahead and join and then tell them your ideal handpicked group of strangers. Who knows, maybe you'll make a new best friend in March.

The Comic-Con business survey

24 JANUARY 2015

If you're curious what kind of money vendors actually make at Cons, check out this survey from The Devastator and The Beat. 107 vendors weighed in on their 2014 sales and the results were rather shocking - to me, anyway.

Such as:
  • The average income per convention is only 1K. It breaks down to 1450 per Comic Con and 615 for indie Cons.
  • Craftspeople tend to average 4500 in revenue; publishers, artists and cartoonists hover in the 800-1100 range.
  • Exhibitor booths bring in an average of 2255, while Artist Alley and Small Press make 845 and 900 respectively.

The top-earning shows were - no surprises here - SDCC, Denver and NY. But when rated by survey respondents, the winners were Toronto Comic Arts Festival, Phoenix Comicon and Small Press Expo. The majority said sales were up and almost a third said they would be at more shows in 2015.

Still. When you consider that many artists are only making 900 bucks over the course of 4 days, you can see why many wouldn't want to pony up for airfare and hotel rooms and floor space. It's clear now why so many popular artists and writers are sitting out Comic Cons. It's just not worth it for them to attend. Of course, I've heard this from creators for years, and I have one friend who barely recoups his costs even though he's constantly busy on the floor. Still, it's surprising to see the dollar amounts when my friends who are bartenders, strippers and psychics all pull down that kind of cash in a night or a weekend.

The survey also ranks marketing channels and other data significant to convention pros - so check it out if you're in any way considering selling something at a Con in the future. You'll have a better idea of what to expect in revenue and which convention - if any - could be profitable for you.

Do you want to volunteer at ECCC?

23 JANUARY 2015

If you were toying with the idea of becoming a Minion at Emerald City Comicon, they still need people - so go on and apply if you're over 18.

ECCC says "your placement will be based on your experience and feedback in a specific area of our convention" - which I think is just a fancy way of saying you'll have some input but your skills and background will count too. You get a free shirt that says Minion and you'll "probably" get a free badge for one day you're not working. While that's a sweet deal on its own, remember that volunteering usually leads to meeting interesting people - attendees and guests - and sometimes opens a door to behind-the-scenes access.

We're closing in on March, so don't wait much longer if you've been considering this.

First look at ECCC merchandise

23 JANUARY 2015

If you're looking forward to seeing Emerald City exclusives in March, they've put up a preview on their site. So far there's a scarf, a lanyard, shoe laces, socks, ball cap, tote bag and of course Monsters and Dames.

The socks are definitely my favorite but it's the scarf that bring home one of the stronger differences between SDCC and ECCC: the weather.

More items will be announced next month.

Will SDCC become Los Angeles Comic-Con?

22 JANUARY 2015

Imagine the perfect Comic-Con of your dreams - plenty of badges to be had, easy hotel reservations, and of course all the Hollywood starpower and new games and comic book legends you could cram into five days. Could that happen in L.A.? Would it still be the Comic-Con of your dreams if it did - if you weren't banging around the Gaslamp at night but maybe visiting Disneyland or going into West Hollywood?

It's a question worth considering, with the expansion plan on hold. Yes, CCI recently said they were open to compromises to stay in San Diego, but other cities have come calling - namely Anaheim and L.A. Here's what we know.

The convention center expansion

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer wants to hold onto us and is trying to find another way to finance the $520 million convention center expansion. He's been quite open about this.

Alas, the San Diego Chargers want a new stadium built blocks from the convention center, and want this new stadium to also be part of the expanded center. The local hotel industry is against this - they want a contiguous convention center expansion - but the Chargers are threatening to move to L.A. if they don't get it.

San Diego Comic-Con's other suitors

CCI has stated they want to stay in Southern California. That narrows the competitors to two: Anaheim and L.A. Let's break them down.

Anaheim, near Disneyland, has the largest exhibit hall space at 815,000 square feet, with another 200,000 square feet currently being added. 9 new hotels are being built within a mile of the convention center, adding another 1500 rooms to the current 13,000 available - a savory amount compared to San Diego's 11,000.

L.A. has made a play for SDCC before and failed. What it has to offer: obviously all the studios are right there. The convention center is also next to plenty of shops and restaurants. Where it falls short: only 5,000 rooms are within walking distance. This might surprise people but remember that Vegas draws most of the convention business in this part of the country - so it's not odd that L.A. never beefed up its own convention capacity.

Worth noting: CCI trademarked "Los Angeles Comic-Con" a few years back. Could they move to Anaheim and still call it LACC? Sure, why not. It'd be a stretch, but "Anaheim Comic-Con" isn't nearly as alluring.

What's actually going to happen - for now

CCI is supposedly going to sign a deal very soon to stay in San Diego in 2017 and 2018 - if hotels agree to make more meeting space available. This isn't guaranteed but given CCI's dislike of change, it's the most likely scenario.

My feelings and idle speculations

I no longer care where Comic-Con happens. Yes, I like it in San Diego, but I don't like the endless turmoil that swirls around every badge sale and Hall H panel.

Ideally I'd like SDCC to stay in San Diego and a new Con in L.A./Anaheim. Maybe CCI would own both. Maybe the ever-growing Con-monster that is ReedPOP would create a huge new show in L.A., having solved the hotel room issue with their bankrolled genius, and it would quickly become as big and magical as SDCC. Don't laugh; I see this happening. SDCC turns away thousands of people with their thousands of dollars every year and some smart capitalist is eventually going to offer them and their money a new home. It's inevitable. And ReedPOP has the ambition and vision to create a West Coast version of NYCC/Super Week. They've already shown they think bigger than most Cons and they would understand how to translate Hollywood proximity into new Con success.

And it wouldn't take anything away from SDCC, either. You'd just have two appealing choices instead of one and a more manageable demand for badges. Yes, it might split up some panel choices but you're already forced into reducing your options anyhow. And if you were local and could swing the time off, you could attend both.

I don't think this will happen overnight, but I do see someone - if not CCI - pouncing on the LA/Anaheim area fairly soon. It's hard to imagine SDCC leaving San Diego, given how important tradition seems to both CCI and attendees. But I'm sure they're as sick of the struggles and limitations as we are, and they may see a bright future in a move. Anything's possible. We'll just have to wait and see.

Do you want to go to WonderCon?

21 JANUARY 2015

Registration for WonderCon is now open. That includes badges and hotel rooms.

If you've ever wondered why WonderCon is not as big a deal as SDCC, the answer is, well, it's smaller. However, it's in Anaheim now, close to Disneyland, and it is getting bigger - and there are all the usual conventiony reasons to attend: an Exhibit Hall with toys and comics, a slight Hollywood presence, gaming, etc. In other words, there are worse ways to spend the weekend of 3-5 April.

So with that rousing endorsement, you can buy badges now (online only) and book a room through Travel Planners. And you can do it peacefully, with a nostalgic pang for the days when signing up for San Diego Comic-Con looked a little like this.

Updated: please read if you have an Omni reservation

14 JANUARY 2015

Update: Hotwire is aware of the situation and refunding monies as appropriate. Also - Kerry from SDCC Unofficial Blog broke this story and she and the people involved like Transmute Jun deserve a lot of credit for preventing an epic hotel room horrorshow.

Two quick hotel updates... one kind of disturbing.

SDCC Unofficial Blog has uncovered a weird story of people who booked rooms at the Omni for SDCC 2015 through Hotwire - or so they thought. Omni had no record of the reservation and these people are now getting conflicting information about whether or not it's legitimate. So if this is you - do what you have to do to make sure you get a room this summer. You may have thought you could skip Hotel Day but that may not be the case. Everyone else: I know we all love the idea of finding that semi-secret backdoor deal, but they almost always turn out to be shady. Whether it's a hotel room or a badge or anything else, confirm arrangements as much as possible - as these people were fortunately smart enough to do.

On a brighter note, they've also confirmed (kind of) that Hotel Day will be on March 24. Yep, another Tuesday. That means of course that sometime over the next 9 weeks we'll have:

  • The Early Bird Hotel Sale
  • Open Registration

A word on Early Bird - I predicted last year that this would sell out this year for the first time. Why? Because after Hotel Day, when hotel reservations went live again (they always shut down for a bit after Hotel Day), it was the hottest mess ever. Worse than a badge sale. I suspect that experience will spur a number of people to play it safe with Early Bird. We'll see if I'm right.

As for timeframes, I'm guessing Early Bird will go live somewhere from late January to mid-February and Open Registration anytime from early February-early March. Emphasis on "guess."

So ReedPOP bought ECCC: my thoughts

14 JANUARY 2015

So everyone knows by now that ReedPOP, the owner of New York Comic Con & a jillion other events, has added Emerald City Comicon to its crown. Or in the words of euphemistic press releases, "partnered with" and "joined its family of leading experiental fan events."

I hate to start off on a negative note, but I have to say this - if you want to assure people that their beloved comic convention is going to stay the same, don't call it "a leading experiental fan event." Call it a comic convention. Call it a Con. Call it anything that doesn't sound like a word jumble generated by a cyborg publicist.

I'll say right here that I know my opinion isn't worth much in this matter. I'm not from Seattle, I don't have a decade-long history with ECCC, and as a complete outsider, I have no realistic idea how this merger will manifest. But as a lover of comic conventions, the kind with real comic book nerds, struggling creators and a slightly shabby ambience, I dread a future where Cons become slick corporate events.

I do appreciate the improved organization that can come with a sophisticated company at the helm. Emerald City could benefit in some strong ways from ReedPOP's power. But it's hard to deny that small independent Cons have a certain energy that will inevitably change when a major player like ReedPOP takes over. I think one reason people are freaking out about this particular move is that for many of us, ECCC was the comic-centric answer to SDCC's growth and glitter. Their social presence, transparency and attentiveness toward fans has given this Con a very community feel. Now we're wondering - is that going to be taken from us too?

All the reassurances have been made. From ECCC founder Jim Demonakos (cool name, by the way): "We are huge fans of what ReedPOP is doing across the globe in the pop culture space and the ECCC team is excited to have them help us elevate the fan experience at our event." You could read into that, if you wanted- as in "don't elevate anything, please" - but he also says that ECCC will be bringing their fan focus to ReedPOP's events. Which could be quite nice if it happens.

If you're not familiar with ReedPOP - and that's probably the case for many West Coasters - they're kind of like the Napolean of Cons. They recently bought up Paris Comic Con, staged events in Germany, London and Singapore, organized more events throughout India, and created an Australia team to colonize Down Under. I have no doubt they're working with NASA at this very moment to launch the first Comic-Con on Mars.

As for their mission and personality, they describe themselves as producing "exceptional experiences for fan audiences and growing the industries surrounding these passions." Okay then. I'm surprised they didn't throw in creating a disruptive B2C marketing opportunity for pop culture visionaries and innovators. And they say this like it's a good thing - that their philosophy has led to "burgeoning attendance." Hi, welcome to what fans DON'T want more of. The whole idea of more-more-more is exactly what so many of us are sick to death of.

Enough kvetching. Here's what we know:
- ECCC team will still run the show
- There will be "minimal impact" in March because everything's already finalized
- It will be a gradual transition
- There could be "additional entertainment aspects"
- The cross-pollination will go both ways - in theory

In the end, we won't know what's going to change for a while. Some people will love the changes, others will lament losses, but above all the shift will feel insidious and inevitable. And because there likely won't be a drop in attendance, any feelings of fan dismay will probably be ignored.

But I don't want to end on a gloomy note, so I'll say this - I think old-school comic book conventions will be around for a while, even if they're in addition to the behemoth conventions. San Diego Comic Fest, for instance. And who knows - when all is said and done, maybe Emerald City will retain its charm.


6 months from today, SDCC will be over

13 JANUARY 2015

The new year is barely standing up on its shaky colt legs, yet the pop culture dragon of the summer is already advancing: San Diego Comic-Con 2015 will be over and done with 6 months from today. Doesn't that seem incredible? 6 months from this moment, we'll be broke, tired, energized and slightly stunned, while already plotting ways to score in 2016 Pre-reg.

The means we have 6 months to:

  • live or die in the Open Registration badge sale
  • book a hotel
  • sign up with KiddieCorp
  • lock down a parking spot
  • figure out which outside events we want to buy tickets to
  • get our legs and lungs into decent walking shape
  • prepare all our portfolio and marketing materials
  • finalize our cosplay
  • sign up for the Masquerade, Portfolio Review & Comic Creator Connection
  • plot our game plans for buying exclusives
  • decide which panels are worth the lines
  • actually undergo the fiery crucible that is San Diego Comic-Con

Yeah, it's a lot. Of course, most of us will skip quite a few things on that list, but still: 6 months is not a lot of time. Obviously badge and hotel sales are on CCI's timeline, and hopefully we won't wait too long for those. Ditto the parking sale. But I think once things get underway - the studio announcements, the exclusive previews - it's all going to go very fast this year. Even though Con is only a few weeks ahead of its normal spot.

Comic-Con will be behind us, 6 months from today. It just seems impossible.

Nominate away: the Eisners are open

10 JANUARY 2015

The Eisner Awards have opened up for nominations. If you're a publisher/company who'd like to nominate someone, you have until 17 March 2015.

There are a ton of categories and specific rules on who can nominate and how. There's also this interesting sentence: "The judges may add, delete or combine categories at their discretion." I wonder how often that happens.

You can find out all the guidelines here.

Update on SDCC vs SLCC lawsuit

10 JANUARY 2015

You've probably forgotten all about this by now, but one of the bigger drama bombs from last summer was San Diego Comic-Con's lawsuit against Salt Lake Comic Con. The lawsuit centers on the two names being too similar, as well as SLCC driving a snazzy car around San Diego with their logo on it. Honestly, I can't rehash it all; you can read SLCC's exhaustive coverage right here.

What matters now is that both sides' attorneys will meet with SoCal Magistrate Judge Jan Adler on February 5 to see if a settlement is in sight. I'm guessing not; the feisty SLCC has expressed a wish to see the case go before a jury.

As for CCI, they've suggested SLCC change their name to "FanX" which to me sounds like an over-the-counter medication you take for your headache /exhaustion / constipation while at a Con. (It's actually the name of SLCC's other event.) However, given the abundance of "Comicons" and "Comic Cons" all over the world, I can't see SLCC capitulating.

ECCC unveils Monsters & Dames art book

9 JANUARY 2015

Very pretty: Emerald City Comicon has announced their 2015 Monsters & Dames charity art book. The beauteous cover is courtesy of Mark Brooks; more than 80 artists are featured inside. 

You can pick up this gorgeous book at ECCC for just $30 at the merchandise booth. Proceeds go to Seattle Children's Hospital. (Fun fact: since 2009, ECCC has donated more than $75,000.) Only 1000 copies exist, so don't dawdle once the doors open in March.

You can see more of the stunning artwork here.

My first Comic-Con wish: Neil deGrasse Tyson

8 JANUARY 2015

Put this on your San Diego Comic-Con wish list: Neil deGrasse Tyson. He just got his own weekly late night science show called Star Talk, based on his popular podcast. It will feature scientists, celebrities and comedians and will tape in front of a live audience. And Bill Nye will have a 60 second rant in each episode. The show launches in April.

Science + live audience + TV + celebrities = a Comic-Con taping to my way of thinking. If National Geographic has any smarts, they should make this happen. Where else would you get such a fun live audience?

Wish really hard, everyone.

Saturday ECCC passes are gone

5 JANUARY 2015

Last year at this time, every kind of pass was still available for Emerald City Comicon. This year - as of our return from the holidays - only Friday and Sunday passes are left. And child passes.

Given how fast ECCC passes have been selling, I think most people who felt urgently about going already locked down a Saturday or 3-day pass. But I'm sure some people who just haven't paid attention will be surprised and upset when they get around to trying to buy one.

Only 11 weeks and change until Emerald City. It came up fast, didn't it? I think San Diego is going to come at us like a roar.

Hollywood predictions: San Diego Comic-Con 2015

2 JANUARY 2015

If you're one of the SDCC attendees grousing about the Hollywood presence, go ahead and skip this post. You can stay pure and self-righteous over by the Mile High Comics booth, pawing through back issues. (I'm not being glib - give Mile High your support if you can.) But for those of you who are excited about all of the big blockbusters coming to theatres this year, let's speculate on what we might see at Comic-Con.

Please note: the below is pure conjecture. I'm only listing movies that come out post-Con - no Avengers, Terminator or Jurassic World here.

The #1 pick - Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Can't you already feel the adrenaline? The cosplay, the action figures, the panels, the revelry. The repetitive jokes about feeling a great disturbance in the Force during the next badge sale.
Ant-Man comes out July 17 and Crimson Peak comes out in October. These have already made SDCC appearances but I'm sure the studios will flex their promotional chops. Ditto for Hunger Games, out in November.
The Fantastic Four reboot hits in August. No question here.
Thoughtful sci-fi tale The Martian comes out in November. I'm already planning to be at this panel, so don't put it in Hall H, Fox.
Jem and the Holograms is out in October. Panel-worthy? No doubt. Ditto Mission Impossible 5 and Quentin Tarantino's The Hateful Eight, out in December.
Pan comes out July 17, just a week after the Con. This is a live action film based on Peter Pan - as you no doubt were smart enough to guess, but I assumed it was about the hoofed and horned flute-playing god when I first saw the title. So if you're as literal as I am, there's your clarity.
Also on the live-action front:  Jungle Book comes out in October. I'm on the fence as to whether this would show up at SDCC, but I know the world will be a better place if Christopher Walken does Comic-Con.
Spectre, the next James Bond flick, probably won't be at SDCC but I may stand in my first autograph line ever if the beautiful Monica Belluci shows up.
Similarly, Everest probably won't be there either but you can never tell. Comic-Con attendees can definitely empathize with the tale of reaching goals against incredible odds. Maybe Universal will bring it.
Gangster movie Black Mass and Steven Spielberg's untitled Cold War movie may also seem atypical SDCC fare, but crime/war dramas have been creeping into the panel programming more and more in recent years. I wouldn't be terribly surprised to see them.

Are you anticipating anything I didn't list?

ETA: People asked about Suicide Squad, Batman vs Superman and the Harry Potter movie, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. All of those come out in 2016, but we'll obviously see content for some of them.

59,228 hotel room nights & other numbers

2 JANUARY 2015

If you're curious about how SDCC stacks up in terms of size and revenue compared to other convention center events, this article spells it out. Mostly there are a lot of medical conferences, a few tech and realtor events, and then us, "the top economic generator."

Our monetary might includes:

  • $133.9 million in regional impact
  • $80.4 million in direct attendee spending
  • $2.8 million in tax revenues
  • 59,228 hotel room nights

They mentioned that the delayed expansion isn't affecting anything this year; it's more that future events "may need additional space that isn't guaranteed yet." You don't say.