By | Saturday, June 03, 2006 Leave a Comment
This weekend is Wizard World Philadelphia and it got me thinking about comic book conventions in general. Like most comic fans on the Internet, I'm well aware of many of the larger cons. They're generally well-reported these days and it's not at all hard to find out the news from the big shows. I've only attended a handful of different conventions personally, though, and only two of them are really worth mentioning: Wizard World Chicago and Mid-Ohio-Con.

There are several reasons to attend any convention. 1) Lots of dealers gives you a huge selection of items. You can find all sorts of hard-to-get treasures to round out your collection. 2) The bigger cons are attended by comic professionals, which allow you to meet and talk with them, get sketches, and have books autographed. 3) Many cons have a variety of panel discussions that often provide first-hand information that's not always easy to come by. There are often how-to type panels, pro roundtables, and news conferences. 4) Lots of independent creators attend shows to try to promote their creations. Often, it's one of the easiest ways to learn about new books. 5) Many people attend cons to have fun and simply immerse themselves in comic book culture for a weekend.

When I was a kid, before the days of the Internet, my primary interest in cons was to buy things. I could find all sorts of goodies that weren't available at my local comic shop, and I used shows to fill holes in my collection. As I grew older -- and the Internet began to allow you to buy pretty much anything any time you wanted -- the other elements came into play more significantly. But several of those hold less interest to me than they did even a few short years ago.

Most of the pros are online these days and provide a wealth of information on their own web sites and through e-mail. Indie creators are getting more press attention on the comic news sites and through blogs. So one of the greatest draws of a convention for me is the immersion factor.

What's interesting, I noticed at the end of last year's Mid-Ohio-Con, was that I got done what I wanted to get done. I shopped for some specific things I wanted, I talked to some creators and got their autographs, I attended some panels and indeed learned a few things... but I did it all by myself. It was interesting and immersive, but it wasn't particularly fun. I think it stood out fairly poignently for me last year because there were a couple of people who I had planned to meet at the show who weren't able to ultimately make it (through no fault of their own, mind you). I was left trying to enjoy the experience without anyone to share it with.

One strange problem I've had, too, is meeting people at shows. I mean, there are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of people milling about with a relatively common set of interests, and I find it nearly impossible to just strike up a conversation with them to make a new friend.

I think, in the future, I'll skip out on conventions unless I'll be able to hook up with someone I know. I just don't know that it'd be worth it to me, otherwise.
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