Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Comic-Con Sold Out in Three Hours! Cue Whining.

San Diego Comic-Con 2011 is, effectively, sold out. It happened fast. It made people angry. Such is life in the genre universe. HDR first reported that the convention, held from July 21st to the 24th, sold out of Four Day Passes on Friday in a little under three hours. We’re talking thousands of tickets. We’re not even talking press passes.

Apparently the ticket vendor for the event was overwhelmed multiple times during the few hours the passes were available. That’s not surprising, but it did annoy a large group of people who considered their day wasted because they couldn’t get their passes. Technical failures aside, the reasons for the sell out are multitudinous and varied, but they are definitely worth talking about.

The sparkly elephant in the room is the promised presence of Summit Entertainment at the convention. The HDR article paints a very two-dimensional picture on the proceedings, stating:

"In a battle of screaming female tweens versus comic book faithful, Summit Entertainment will present new footage and the stars of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 while Marvel and Paramount will counter with likely the first public footage from The Avengers."
Is it really a case of us versus them? Is it truly the comic book fan versus the little girl? (Talk about a perfectly balanced fight) Yes, over the past five years Comic-Con has been in some ways appropriated by major motion picture studios. It started with comic book movies. Makes sense. Spider-man is a comic book character. Spider-Man the movie should have a presence at the country’s largest comic convention. Then major movie studios started to slip in genre films. And why not? Nerds like myself love a good fantasy romp. But then we started seeing the presence of flicks like Good Luck Chuck. Ahem.

The Twilight series is, clearly, one of the most profitable franchises in the world. It only makes sense for Summit to want to bring the glittering hurt to Comic-Con 2011. Yes, as a comic book fan I want to see more comic centric entertainment, but that’s just not the world we live in.

Comic-Con exploded over the last decade, but saying that it only got this popular because of the film industry take-over is only half right. It’s been a long time coming, but it seems that the nerds have finally made it to the prom. Chris talked about the shift in nerd culture on here before, so I won't go into too much detail.

Basically, you’re not a lone nerd anymore and it’s the internet’s fault. You’re not playing Dungeons and Dragons with three close friends who can keep a secret. You’re playing World of Warcraft with fifty thousand strangers. You’re not drooling over a mint copy of The Amazing Spider-man #298, you’re watching Spider-man 3 with your kid sister. The insular world of the nerd is over; we’ve reached the age of the sold-out convention.

Of course many people are up in arms about it and have suggested alternatives for the convention. Basically they fall into two main camps. Break it up or make it bigger.

The break-up enthusiasts suggest different conventions for different aspects of the show. Have one convention for the movie studios and one for the comic books. The problem with this solution is that it will only help to illustrate to the number crunches how much more money there is in movies than in comics proper. They’ll see the sold-out movie convention and the well-attended (but not blown out) comic convention and, well, you know how business works. We don’t need to give the major studios and financial backers much of a reason to squelch out the little guys.

The second suggestion is to make the venue bigger, or longer. Four days is a lot of time, whether it seems like it or not. Making it a longer event would give more people a chance to see everything, but it’s a drain on the area and the event would lose some of its immediacy. You may love dressing up like a Steampunk Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, but would you want to for seven days? Probably not. And aside from the panels and sneak previews, a lot of the convention floor can be seen in a day and a half. Making the venue bigger wouldn’t help much either. You can jam more people in, but then it really becomes an issue of quantity over quality.

So I suppose my answer is there is no answer. You can’t break up something so huge and you can’t just make it bigger. The status quo will have to do for now. So go on, put on your crossplay Deadpool costume and wade through weeping tweens. I guess this is the price we nerds, geeks, dorks and dweebs have to pay for finally reaching the mainstream. 

We, like the sports fan before us, must learn to buy scalped tickets for our favorite events.  

*Amazing title picture from the good people at Costume Pop