The addition of Raleigh Comic Con to Wizard World's circuit is just one part of a larger picture. WW is a publicly traded company (OTCBB: WIZD). It is a business and one that has to be successful, otherwise they'd just scrap the whole thing. They're adding this new show in Indianapolis in February, which is just one more addition to the ever-growing convention list for the city. Tony at Geeking in Indiana has a great post about the saturation of the market in Indy and with the addition of Wizard World shows to cities, this presents a similar problem across the country. More and more "franchise cons" are cropping up, like Awesome Con, Fanboy Expo, another con in Louisville that I don't like talking about, etc, and those are just cons on the East Coast. I'm sure that are even more franchises across the country. I know many folks who wanted to go to both LCTC and Louisville Comic Con this year, but wasn't sure how they'd be able to afford both, including autographs, photo-ops, merchandise, and more.
I'm not sure why Wizard World decided to withdraw their show from Kentucky. As someone who has now been to quite a few conventions, I will say that especially on Friday, the vendor hall/show floor was not well attended. Saturday was very steady, in my opinion. But the huge draw for this show was the Doctor Who representation. Karen Gillan and Matt Smith were both an absolute delight to get to see. And while photo-op and autograph prices were much too rich for my blood, I was thrilled that I was able to attend their Q&As. Regarding that, I would have thought that WW would have considered the show a success based on the attendance of those two events alone. They were turning folks away from the Matt Smith Q&A. Once the VIPs were settled in the hall, the overflow was being held in the same hall in which Derby City Comic Con started out. The overflow filled that hall almost 3/4 full. Maybe WW's definition of success is different than mine, but I would have thought that the numbers for Matt Smith alone would have been impressive enough to call it a win.
Maybe it was a scheduling issue. Perhaps KICC couldn't find a date for Louisville Comic Con. Perhaps the powers that be felt that it was a better move to take their shows to Indianapolis and Cleveland, the latter of which from my observations had not had much in the way of conventions. Could it be that the only dates for Louisville would have conflicted with other large conventions? But it just seems like a coincidence that they would scrap what could have been a profitable convention and pick up a date 2 weeks prior that just happens to fall in line with one of the fastest growing independently owned conventions in the South.
I have seen different sides of the convention world over the last few years. I have seen the profit-driven mega-cons who want to win the favor of the market by bringing in big-name celebrities. I've seen conventions that are an epic fail in terms of PR and the way that they treat their guests (and celebrities in some instances) but still manage to book huge celebrities because their organizers are smooth talkers. I've seen franchise cons move into areas which already have great local shows in an attempt to saturate the market and make the hard-working every day folks who want to have a good time choose. I've also seen the folks who want to run a show for the fans because they're fans themselves. The people that would bend over backwards for their guests, for their attendees, and for their staff.
In the end, I'm disappointed that Louisville Comic Con will not be back in 2015. I actually had a good time, especially considering I gave my first solo presentation at a convention. I was absolutely delighted that their programming director reached out to me as Kentucky Geek Girl because he wanted to feature a panel with someone local. There was a Doctor Who fan panel, but I don't know if they were local folks. I think that there was a panel with some Louisville-based artists, but I feel very honored to have been approached to be a part of the show.
Conventions are popping up all of the country at an alarming rate. I'll help do what I can to be a voice in the Kentucky community to let you know what conventions are going to be worth attending, but in the end it's the convention-goer's job to be discriminating and decide what convention is going to support the community but also be the most cost-effective.
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