The monstrous growth of American Comic-Cons

13 JUNE 2014

Happy Friday the 13th. Are you claustrophobic? Then you may experience mild panic upon reading this article talking about the relentless growth of Comic-Cons across the country, which seems to be accelerating at an uncontrollable rate. This proves that it's not only SDCC experiencing rising demand; we just got there first. Consider these numbers.

  • Denver Comic-Con launched in 2012 and saw a 120% increase to 61K attendees by 2013
  • Emerald City went from 20K attendees in 2010 to 70K in 2014
  • Phoenix jumped from 55K last year to 78K this year
It's never going to stop. Everyone wants to go to Comic-Con. They don't even know what it is or what happens there, but they know they want to go. There just aren't venues large enough to meet all of the demand in all of the cities. Something has to give - and while ReedPop's expanded direction for NYCC might be an answer, it isn't one that will satisfy everyone.The follow-up article discusses ways to create a smoother Con experience (mostly in NY) but the basic problem of supply and demand will continue to grow.

The article also noted something we attendees don't often consider; what the growth means for vendors. If you spend $$$ and major PR capital at the Con, only to be buried by 8000 other announcements and vendors - is it worth it? Possibly other companies will follow Image's example and create their own expo, saving their major announcements for that while still having an SDCC presence.

I kind of want to pontificate on why there's such an insatiable need for Cons. It's not just nerdism going mainstream. It's not just the media stories that show all of the fun and none of the tedium. I feel like this is a statement on the hunger people feel for community and connection, especially those who don't do major music festivals, religious retreats or huge sports events. At the Batman panel I attended last weekend, some participants got up at the microphone and actually wept as they explained the role a television show played in their lives - and while the Con may not stir all attendees at that emotional depth, it does seem to fill a unique and powerful need.

No doubt by 2025 we'll have Space Colony Comic-Con, and we'll all be complaining about how the organizers need to terraform Mars faster, and how the passenger flight sale failed to connect to some people's payment circuits. Or maybe the Con experience as we know it now will implode into something currently inconceivable. At least we seem to be on our way to learning from San Diego's lessons and creating better solutions.


  1. I totally agree with Brian's suggestion in the follow-up article about a cosplay red carpet. As a regular guy, the sketchy perverts who assault women at Cons is so wrong. It would give well-deserved attention to the cosplayers for the time and effort they put into their outfits; keep the bad guys away from the female cosplayers; and give the rest of us normal folks a chance to appreciate all of the glorious badassness of cosplay at Comic Con without wasting people's time in the hallways. How do we get Comic Con to consider this?

    1. I thought that was a good idea too. I think cosplayers would love it and it would help people actually see them all in a designated area, instead of just seeing whoever they wander past by chance.

      CCI in the past hasn't seemed that open to suggestions or modifications (unlike other Cons that actually survey attendees and ask what they can do better.) But I think they're trying to change that - they had a panel last year inviting feedback - so this might be worth putting in the proverbial suggestion box. If you can find it. :)