The history & future of Cons

3 MARCH 2016

You may be irritated by the "Look how important Comic Cons have become & all the odd folks who go to them" articles that run with increasing frequency. But this one in the Wall Street Journal is worth reading, not only for its exploration of your "groupie passions" but for a few factoids and historical gems like:

  • ShowClix tallied 519 fan events in 2015, up from 469 in 2014. Wizard World went from 8 events in 2013 to 24 last year.

  • Comic-book writer Len Wein claims to have coined the term "Comicon" in 1964 when he was 16. "It was just an offhand phrase - it's not that hard to come up with." Wait, does CCI know this? This could change everything in the CCI vs. Salt Lake Comic lawsuit.

  • William Shatner was invited to about 100 events this year and will attend 31 of them. Remember that he's 84.

  • An Illinois Con called "DashCon" tailored for Tumblr users tanked so miserably that they had to beg for emergency donations and the Night Vale cast canceled their appearance.

  • Anyone who's seen attendees weep over meeting celebrities knows this: certain fandoms "can carry an emotional weight." Cassandra Peterson (aka "Elvira") had a dozen different people cry at one Con when they met her, because they watched her show with a now-deceased loved one. Also interesting for anyone who knows the history of Vampira vs. Elvira: Peterson makes her primary income from licensing and merchandising.

And predictably, people foresee the fall of the Comic Con empire. My prediction: more like a gradual cooling. The article suggests that these intense, all-consuming events are so popular because they're the antidote to Internet life; I think there's something to that, a kind of physical veracity that may become more and more prized as daily life - and eventually humanity? - becomes more virtual. But I think Con popularity is driven by other factors as well and that's why events like QuiltCon and ParanoiaCon are created.

WSJ blames "an obsessiveness bred by the Internet." And certainly it's true that you have to be a little obsessive to get into Cons like San Diego - but I'm guessing obsessiveness bred the Internet as much as it bred us.


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