Tag Archives: Worldcon

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!

Chicon 7: Something for Everyone at Chicago’s Worldcon

Chicon 7Our family vacation this summer was a trip to Chicago, partly to sightsee, partly to catch up with my brother and sister-in-law, and partly to attend this year’s Worldcon, a.k.a. Chicon 7.

What’s a Worldcon?

I grew up going to sci-fi/fantasy conventions, but over the last decade I’ve mostly been going to comic cons of one sort or another. The World Science Fiction Convention is a more literary and, in some ways, academic con than the glitzier media cons like Comic-Con International, or the celebrity-oriented cons like Wizard World. The guest list is more focused on writers than on actors or media personalities, and panels tend toward discussions rather than announcements.

Worldcon itself travels around from year to year, essentially a convention franchise where members of one year’s convention vote on who gets to put on the con two years from now. Last year it was in Reno. Next year it’ll be in San Antonio, Texas, and in 2014 it’ll be in London. Certain elements remain constant — there’s always a masquerade, an art show, a Regency Dance, and of course the Hugo Awards — but the tenor of the con can change wildly from one year to the next.

Chicago River at Night

Lead-Up to the Con

We flew into Chicago the weekend before the con, met up with my brother and sister-in-law (who were also attending the con), and spent the next few days sightseeing before the convention started on Thursday. We explored the nearby area, took day trips out to the Lincoln Park Zoo, Museum of Science and Industry, had some real Chicago pizza (this is important, after all), and made a point of getting up to one of the tallest buildings’ observation decks. (We picked the John Hancock building over Sears Tower, mainly because it was closer when we decided to do it.)

There was an allergy close call the first night there, which put us on alert for the rest of the week. And we all picked up a cold: I got it first, on Tuesday, then J on Thursday, then Katie on Friday, then Marti. You’re supposed to get the con crud after the convention, right? Continue reading

Conventions and Distance

You may have noticed I’ve been thinking about fan conventions lately. πŸ™‚

It started after last year’s Comic-Con, when I decided I wanted to go to something a bit less…intense. 😯 Last year’s Wizard World LA was nice, but a bit sparse, so I went looking for more comic and general sci-fi/fantasy cons within driving distance of the LA/OC area. Surprisingly, I didn’t find much. Gaming conventions, costuming conventions, Anime Expo, sure, but sci-fi? Pretty much just Loscon, which we both gave up on after 2002 (and from what I’ve heard, hasn’t picked up again). I asked around a bit on some forums, and someone on either the Comic Bloc or Newsarama forums suggested WonderCon, and suggested considering the city as a vacation destination, not just a place to find a hotel for the con.

Since WonderCon worked out so well, I’m looking at what else might be fun. That’s part of why I did my price comparison last month, and Kevin Standlee’s comments got me looking at WorldCons and the like again. Not for this year, but maybe a few years out.

Looking at all these cons, I realized that beyond a certain threshold, distance doesn’t matter. Only the destination. If it’s far enough away that you have to fly, the only thing that distance impacts is the cost of your plane ticket. Whether your flight is 5 hours or 10 hours*, it’s still going to take up most of a day or night when you factor in dealing with the airports. Everything else, from hotel prices to whether you need a passport, a phrasebook, or currency exchange, is a factor of the destination.

WonderCon, I think, was at the boundary of driving distance from here. We could make the trip out in one day, but it was a lot more fun to break it into stages and make it a road trip. San Diego is at the boundary of commuting distance. We could drive out there in the morning and drive back at night (and I did that with my parents for over a decade), but it’s not practical to do for more than one day. Whereas if I wanted to, I could easily commute to Wizard World Los Angeles 2 or even 3 days. (As it was, we only went for Saturday.)

With two cons in Q1, and San Diego coming up in July, any traveling we do later this year is probably not going to be convention-related. As it is, we’ve talked seriously about three possible non-con vacation spots. But it might be worth casting a wider net for cons in 2009 or 2010.

*Katie and I were talking about this, and realized that it’s probably different if you have kids. In that case, a 5-hour flight probably would be significantly harder to manage than a 3-hour flight.

Comic Book Convention Prices Compared

I’ve been trying to decide whether to go to Wizard World Los Angeles this year. On one hand, it’s close. On the other hand, I just went to WonderCon last month. The astonishing thing is that a one-day ticket for WWLA costs almost as much as a 3-day membership to WonderCon. This got me thinking about comparing convention prices.

So I looked up the comic conventions in the area, plus the other two Wizard World cons that have prices up.

Convention Thu Fri Sat Sun Full
LA Comic/SciFi (a.k.a. The Shrine) $8 N/A
WonderCon (advance) $12 $12 $10 $30 = $10/day
WonderCon (onsite) $15 $15 $10 $40 β‰ˆ $13/day
Wizard World LA, Philadelphia $25 $25 $25 $45 = $15/day
Wizard World Chicago $25 $25 $25 $50 β‰ˆ $17/day
Comic-Con Intl. (way ahead)* $60 = $15/day
Comic-Con Intl. (advance) $25 $30 $35 $20 $75 β‰ˆ $19/day
Comic-Con Intl. (onsite) none

And to compare to some non-comic-focused conventions, some nearby, some just big:

Convention Thu Fri Sat Sun Full
ConDor (advance) $25 β‰ˆ  $8/day
ConDor (onsite) $20 $25 $15 $50 β‰ˆ $17/day
Loscon (advance) $35 β‰ˆ $12/day
Westercon 61 (advance) $60 = $15/day
Gen Con Indy (advance) $35 $35 $35 $35 $60 = $15/day
Gen Con Indy (onsite) $45 $45 $45 $45 $75 β‰ˆ $19/day
Dragon*Con (advance) $65 β‰ˆ $16/day
Dragon*Con (onsite) $90 β‰ˆ $22/day
Worldcon/Denvention 3 (advance) $200 = $40/day

It’s interesting to note that WonderCon (San Francisco) and ConDor (San Diego) are extremely cheap if you sign up far enough in advance. Also, when you expand to more general cons, San Diego Comic-Con is right in the middle of the range, with several conventions being more expensive. I’d guess that the more volunteer-based cons like Westercon and Worldcon probably don’t bring in as much money from exhibitors, so they’d be more dependent on memberships to keep afloat.

In compiling this, I discovered that this year, Comic-Con International isn’t going to be selling any memberships on-site. It’s going to be pre-registration only.

I guess they’re expecting it to sell out again like last year, and don’t want people to count on something they won’t be able to deliver. Plus I’m sure it’ll simplify matters for the con, since they won’t need to deal with taking money for registration.

Update: Added Loscon for nostalgia’s sake. Also fixed some links; GenCon rearranged their website sometime in the last 4 days, and I somehow typed in the wrong domain name for ConDor.

Note: These are the 2008 prices, except for the ConDor advance price, which is for 2009. All prices were obtained from the events’ websites except for the way-advance price for San Diego Comic-Con, which is simply the price I paid last summer for this year’s con. For shows with multiple membership packages, such as Wizard World, I selected the most basic package that lets you walk in the door.

*CCI always has a booth selling pre-registration for the following year’s convention at an even lower price.

Worldcon Los Angeles / LACon IV: Through an Orange Haze

The cold that had been threatening me all last week finally hit on Friday morning, and I’ve spent the last four days in haze induced by a mixture of the cold and DayQuil. I actually went home early on Friday, dropped onto the couch, watched some Netflixed Justice League, and felt like I was staying up late when I went to bed at 9:00 or 9:30.

Out of sheer determination I dragged myself to Worldcon/L.A.con IV on Saturday. Katie stayed home since her main experiences with SF-themed cons were a few post-millennial Loscons, and Loscon was really going downhill at the time. Fortunately, this was more like I remember past Worldcons and earlier Loscons.

Classic Star Trek CostumesMy parents are SF fans, and they regularly took me and my brother with them to conventions. As far back as I can remember, it was a Thanksgiving Weekend tradition to visit family on Thursday, have Friday free, then go to Loscon on Saturday and Sunday. As for Worldcons, I’d been to three before: L.A.Con II in 1984, ConFrancisco(?) in 1993, and L.A.Con III in 1996. (Hey, if Worldcon is on the order of a 10-mile drive, you may as well take advantage of it.)

So I staggered through the dealer’s room, the art show, the exhibit hall with original Star Trek costumes, genre cars like the Batmobile and the DeLorean from Back to the Future, mock-ups of the lunar lander and rovers. I went to some panels on things like “What will future historians get wrong about our time,” the rise of theocracy, fixing things that go wrong in space, and what past sci-fi got wrong about the present.

There was a group (IIRC, from a local college) with a bunch of remote-control robots. As I walked by, there was a college-aged group sitting and eating lunch from In-N-Out, one of whom had placed her hamburger (still mostly wrapped) on a little remote-control car, and was driving it around the floor, dodging obstacles (like feet). Then tragedy struck, and the burger fell off.

While I was in the art show, someone started up music nearby. The song sounded familiar, but I couldn’t place it until it reached the chorus. It was the “Make your own kind of music” song that was used in last year’s Lost season opener! The music turned out to be the accompaniment to a dueling artists bit.

Cardboard box with rocks: Pluto thanks you!Someone had responded to Pluto’s demotion to “dwarf planet” and set up a display labeled Pluto Needs Rocks, all about a campaign to collect rocks and launch them at Pluto to increase its mass so it can clear out its orbit and get its status back as a planet. Yes, there was a collection box beneath the display. And yes, it had rocks in it.

I ended up running into my parents and some family friends, and we set up a time to meet and go to dinner. I figured I had enough time to drive home, pick up Katie, and come back, as long as we met outside the convention. Unfortunately, the freeway was backed up, and I realized there was no way we could have made it back in time. (One of the family friends had something to go to after dinner.) I called to cancel, and by the time I got home, I began to realize I wasn’t really in shape to continue driving. I realized later I’d been running on DayQuil and willpower, and my willpower had just run out for the day. So I ended up collapsing on the couch as soon as I walked in the door.

(Cross-posted from LiveJournal. Copied here & photos added May 2012.)

Current Mood: 🤒sick