Category Archives: Conventions

Comic-Con Economy: What a Difference a Decade Makes

SDCC Blog reports that Comic-Con International is expected to be the San Diego Convention Center’s top economic generator of 2018, “with 130,000 attendees and an estimated $147.1 million in regional impact.”

That’s a far cry from 2008, when the con was derided as “decidedly low-rent” and generated “only” $41.5 million, half the impact of the top biotech conference for the year. The rest of the top events are still medical conferences, but the #2 event, a conference by the Society for Neuroscience, is estimated to bring in $88 million.

That said, SDCC still brings in fewer dollars per person than those medical conferences (130K attendees for Comic-Con, 30K for the neuroscience event). Fans saving up all year to go somewhere for fun can’t compete against professionals with expense accounts, after all.

But it’s nice to see Comic-Con recognized as a vital contributor to San Diego’s economy instead of an embarrassing side note.

Convention Inflation

Next year’s WonderCon tickets are available now, and SDCC goes on sale next week. I noticed something interesting about the WonderCon price, because ten years ago, I compared a lot of convention prices.

How do they stack up a decade later?

  • WonderCon 2018 costs the same as Comic-Con 2008 did: $75. (WonderCon in 2008 was $30 in advance, or $40 onsite.)
  • Comic-Con International has gone waaaay up. They don’t sell full-weekend badges anymore, but if you’re super-lucky you could theoretically buy one-day badges for all 4 1/2 days in 2018 (if you’re really lucky), in which case you’d be spending $45+$63×3+$42 = $276!
  • Wizard World shows in general have gone from $45 in 2008 to $80 for 2018.
  • Flagship Wizard World Chicago has gone from $50 in 2008 to $95 in 2018.

There are some other conventions that need to be on this list today, but weren’t on the 2008 list. Some of them are new, like C2E2. Emerald City and New York Comic Con were around, but hadn’t gotten big enough for me to include on a list that was mostly California conventions plus the big names – which at the time were SDCC and Chicago.

  • C2E2 2018 costs $76.
  • I can’t find the prices for New York Comic Con.
  • Emerald City Comicon 2018 costs $120 for the full event.
  • Long Beach Comic Con started out around the same price as a Wizard World show in 2009, and is currently $60, so a little cheaper than a Wizard World show.
  • Stan Lee’s LA Comic Con launched with super-cheap tickets at something like $11/day to get people to show up (before Stan Lee’s name was attached to it), but by 2016 it was in line with other shows at $35/day. (I can’t find any prices on their website anymore, so I don’t know the full weekend price.)

So over all: comic convention prices have roughly doubled over the last 10 years, except for SDCC, which shows what happens when the demand for tickets goes up and the supply stays static. They can’t add more badges, so raising the prices encourages people to buy tickets for fewer days, freeing up space for other people on those other days. It sucks for those of us who want to buy tickets, but it’s textbook Adam Smith.

But wait! I looked at other fan conventions at the time as well!

  1. GenCon 2017 cost $90 for pre-reg/$120 standard, up from $60/$75 in 2008
  2. DragonCon 2018 cost $105, up from $90 in 2008
  3. WorldCon 2018 (San Jose) has only gone up to $210, compared to $200 for Denver in 2008
  4. WesterCon 2018 (Denver) is $60, same as in 2008!
  5. Loscon 2018 is $35, again, same as in 2008

These have climbed a lot less. GenCon jumped 1.5x instead of 2x, and the more traditional sci-fi/fantasy cons have only increased a little bit, if at all.

It reminds me of a discussion at Chicon 7, the last WorldCon I attended in 2012, about the changing face of fandom. Fan culture has exploded in my lifetime, but traditional sci-fi/fantasy con attendance has stayed static. Fans are interacting online, or going to anime/comic conventions instead. And that lines up very neatly with the prices of the comic conventions vs. the more traditional cons.

In any case, it’s worth noting: WorldCon is now cheaper than SDCC. And you get to vote for the Hugos!

A Short Visit to Long Beach Comic-Con 2017

We finally got the whole family out to this year’s Long Beach Comic Con on Saturday! That was the plan last year, but Katie and J. both got sick.

Whitney Frost (2/2)

Katie brought her Whitney Frost cosplay and managed to find not only an Agent Carter, but another Whitney Frost!

Sumo BotsAt 6½, J. wanted to spend the whole afternoon at a LEGO club’s booth, though we also managed to do a round of laser tag and check out some of the robots and telescopes at the space exploration area. He was in a very hands-on mood all afternoon, which was OK in some booths, but not in others (like the demo of the automatic embroidering machines).

I didn’t get to do much exploring myself, but I figured I’d make up for it on Sunday.

The con was back at the front entrance and lobby this year, so Lobby Con was back as well. Artist’s Alley continues to be the biggest part of the main floor. Space Expo had some cool stuff, and I think the Cosplay Corner was bigger than last year, and of course there were the usual small press, fan groups, and lots of vendors.

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Family Trip to WonderCon 2017

For the first time ever, we attended three days of a comic-con with the whole family. Including cosplay! (Well, one of us did)

WonderCon was back in Anaheim this year, and it felt like a homecoming. The Anaheim Convention Center is just a better fit for the con than LA. The fountain area is a better gathering spot than the LA lobby. The programming rooms are much easier to get to. Plus the food’s better, even before you add the food trucks, and the plaza in front is a better place to put them. (Speaking of food, just about every place had at least a vegetarian option, and there was a whole truck dedicated to falafel.)

Casual Cosplay

Katie broke out her Whitney Frost (Agent Carter Season 2) outfit for a second con. Since it didn’t start until afternoon, and we needed to wait for school to let out, we had the whole morning to do the effects makeup. She had much better results this time around: Lots of people recognized her, and lots of people asked for her photo. She even ran into a couple of Peggy Carters. On Saturday she went with something more low-key: Kara Danvers (aka. Supergirl), complete with a coffee cup labeled “Kira.” That one was more subtle, but when she was standing next to a Supergirl, someone would catch on every time.

Kara Danvers Cosplay Whitney Frost Cosplay

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Stumbling Through LA Comic Con 2016

Welcome to LA Comic Con BannerWe’re ready to swear off going to cons at the LA Convention Center. We tried to spend Saturday at Stan Lee’s LA Comic Con (formerly Stan Lee’s Comikaze Expo, formerly Comikaze Expo), but…well…

(TL;DR: Skip to the photos)

Getting There is Half the Fun^H^H^HDay

It took us as long to drive the two blocks past the off-ramp as it took us to drive into Los Angeles. I dropped Katie off so she could get in line while we spent the next hour looking for an open parking lot. (The only “try over there” parking signs were small and listed addresses, not directions.)

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