Comic Conventions and Popular Culture

Photos and Video Tom Abbott

Editor’s note, the graphic at the end of the video is from Affinio Data.

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(Feb 20, 2016) San Diego Comic Fest had a panel discussion on Fandom and the Culture of Comic-Con. The two speakers were Rob Salkowitz, a culture reporter and David Glanzer Chief Communications and Strategy Officer for Comic-Con International. They actually got rid of his older title, Head of Marketing. This is partly why:

Comicon, according to Glanzer, has “more people that want to attend, than we can accommodate.” This is one of the reasons the convention has grown, and now there are events outside the convention hall. This is important, not all of them are sanctioned or connected to Comicon International. In other words, buyer beware.

Comicon San Diego also counts attendance by person, not by days attended. So if you get a four-day badge, or you get a one-day badge, you are counted, once. Other conventions count people by day. This, in his view, can distort the data.

He also talked about Hall H and the effect it can have in media. The fans are what is known as Influential fans. You go, you see the cut, you go crazy, and you tell your family and friends. So the new movie gets a boost in marketing. However, sometimes it does not work that way. Why? Fans are pretty good about what they want. So when fans do not like something, this production, whatever it happens to be, might not be the hottest ticket in town. This leads to questions as to the influence of fans. But that is how much influence the fans have.

There has been incredible growth in the field of conventions, and Rob Salkowitz went into that. At one point in 2013, for example, Willian Shatner headlined four of them, in the same weekend. How large is the industry? In 2013, the value of the industry was at $4.32 billion dollars. We know from going through the city budget every year, that San Diego Comicon leaves the city with over 20 million dollars for the General found in sales taxes, and transient occupancy tax. This translates to $150 million of economic activity to the region.

This is not small potatoes. This is also why San Diego’s economic heart is tourism.

Now we know many fans will indeed watch the panel. So we are including the stitched together video of the panel. This is as complete as you can get. The DLSR stops at the 20-minute mark. Yes, we did ask about the expansion, and I do understand why a dry discussion on the ToT and all that was not going to happen.

Also a small gallery:

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