On Business: The Local Con

By | Monday, July 20, 2015 Leave a Comment
This past weekend, I attended the Comic Book Mania Convention in Elgin, IL. It's not a big show; they only had about two dozen artists/exhibitors. I haven't heard attendance numbers from this year, but last year was less than 1,000 people.

Comic Book Mania Convention. Photo by Wally Lowe.
Show organizer Bob Cassinelli actually works for the Gail Borden Public Library where the event was held, and he noted that a large reason for the show was to draw more kids into the library facility itself. So the artists in attendance tended to work on more kid-friendly material and the panels were directed more at a younger audience. The two retailers who came brought mostly just comics that they were selling for a quarter or (if they were bagged/boarded) a dollar. There was a TV off to the side playing old cartoons (the couple of times I glanced over, it was Underdog) and the woman doing face-painting had a line of kids six or eight deep for pretty much the entire show. And, like any con, there were cosplayers, but mostly in the vein of Capatain America and Batman, not so much zombies or anything of the "sexy" Halloween costume variety.

Admission was free. The facepainting was free. Every attendee got a free comic book. (I'm not sure where they came from, but I got the variant cover edition of Archie #649.) The speakers were compensated, and I expect the face-painter was as well. I'm sure the tables were inexpensive, if not entirely free. As near as I can figure, the show is entirely run on some portion of the Library's budget, the same as if they'd had a magic show for kids who participated in the summer reading program.

You know, it's not really a show with grand ambitions to draw in thousands of dollars utilizing the star power of famous actors or wrestlers or anything. Most, if not all, the talented people who showed up are local. (Well, fairly local. I know a few folks who drove upwards of three hours to get there.) Cassinelli has expanded things from the initial show from a few years ago. Last year, they had their first panel, but there was only the one. This year, they had three. But his goal is primarily, I believe, to get people in the library and interested in reading. Particularly kids. And while that doesn't need to be (and, in fact, probably shouldn't be) the focus of every convention, I'd sure like to see more of them like that.
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