Fan Expo: Recap

Another Fan Expo has come and gone and the folks at Hobbystar must be congratulated for producing another top-notch con that excited fans of all genres.

It is necessary to mention last year’s overcrowding debacle, if only to note that no such issues occurred. The South Building venue allowed for easy access and a steady fluid movement of the ever-increasing crowds. There were different access points for multi-day pass holders and single day ticket purchasers, and the extra space allowed for a much-needed food court area. The extra day (Thursday) aided in battling the crowds and also allowed for more programming.

The fans were treated to a myriad of events this year. I would even say (and I am sure that Kevin will correct me if I am wrong) that Fan Expo 2011 had more events than ever before. Panels, Q&A sessions, Photo Ops, Signings, and Contests, there was something for everyone at this convention. However, for some fans what you are interested in might be a smaller part of the convention.

If you are an old comic book fan (let’s say someone just looking for gold and silver age titles) there were quite a few good dealers with some excellent books. But this is becoming a smaller part of the convention and I talked with a few regulars before the show who told me that they would not attend this year. Paying $25-$40 to spend 2 hours looking through 10 vendors is just too much for them. The joke at the San Diego Comic Con is that if you want relief from the crowds you head to the old comic book section. I see this becoming a trend.

The convention is not just for comic book guys anymore. It is for the fan. You are not paying an entry fee to gain access to some discount merchandise. You are purchasing an experience. You are visiting how-to panels, you are hearing your favourite creators talk at Q&A panels, you are getting your picture taken with your favourite horror star, and you are participating at the completely full Nerd speed dating.

That doesn’t mean that if you are an old comic fan you won’t find what you are looking for. You will. Top, top dealers come to this show. But old comic book fans need to realize that you are a smaller part of the fan world now. And you will need to share. And maybe embrace the new experience. Even if you are only looking for 9.8 key books there is still probably a panel or two you will enjoy.

I got a chance to talk to quite a few dealers at the convention. Sales were good. Solid. Some key books got snapped up and success is being found by selling high-grade Marvel and DC keys as well as discounted trade-paperbacks. Some reported to me that this was possibly their best show ever, but some also said that it was about as good as last year. This is an important distinction. The extra day is great for fans: the crowd is spread out and there is an extra day of events, but the extra day brings extra costs for dealers. There are the staffing, set-up, food, and accommodation costs that are now increased for all dealers. So these extra costs will eat into a profit that is being made. For example if you did just as well this year as last year but this year you have higher costs than at the end of the day you have just made less money for more work.

Dealers will still do the show as they make fine money by selling their wares, but I do think that we will see a shift in what gets sold at the convention. I wouldn’t be surprised if $1 bins become obsolete. It is just too expensive to sell items that take up that much space at that low a price point. A dealer would have to sell a lot of $1 books to make the a profit.

We will see an increase in trade sales and we will see more big-ticket items such as statues and rare toys, and as the public looks to comic collecting as an investment we will see more demand for high-grade keys.

All that being said, the fans were wowed by this years con. Fan after fan that I talked to were having a great time. They were excited to meet their favourite star, they were happy to pose for a picture or two in their costumes, and they were ready to spend their hard-earned money on their passion.

I was also happy to see more parents and children at the convention. Some great costumes by the young ones and their excitement is priceless; I will never forget the look of excitement when a little girl met the Little Mermaid.

Fan Expo 2011 was a great success and I know that the fans are already planning for 2012. Excelsior!

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Anthony Falcone
Anthony Falcone is a freelance writer living in Toronto and he is the Ayatollah of Rocknrolla. You should definitely follow him on Twitter.
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15 Comments

  1. You are absolutely correct – there were more events than before. A full day’s worth actually! We’re all very relieved that things went as smoothly as they did this year. There were still some hiccups and Hurricane Irene was on the minds of our East Coast guests, but overall I think that the hiccups can be fixed if upper management wants to fix them. I often hear that the cost of admission is to high for those that just bin dive, and I have no answer for them really other than to wait it out for the low admission one day events. There are no conventions of this size and scope charging little or no admission price. Events like FanExpo are experiences — come on Thursday night for $25 or Friday (or Sunday) for $30 and factor those costs into your budget and recoup your investment by following Scott’s lead and haggle for deals or look for the deals in the discount bins. I see that the Fan Expo ASM 666 variant from the Premium package is currently selling for $40-200 online.

  2. Wow… with this kind of exclusive coverage, I hope CBD is getting paid well from FanExpo… Goodness knows they can afford it.
     
    Ka-ching!

  3. Nothing exclusive about it: Newsarara, Comic Book Resources, Comics Alliance, iFanboy, Bleeding Cool and The Beat to name a few covered Fan Expo. We don’t get paid for any of our coverage. Don’t know where you’re coming from with the comment in any case…

  4. The internet makes lots of money. I’m sure you are owed millions of theoretical dollars.

  5. Sorry, I should say “extensive” not “exclusive”. Since Fan Expo charges for everything and everyone it seems fitting the CBD should get paid in return for “black out” coverage… or is it “white out”? I guess it’s more of a symbiotic relationship. Content in exchange for hype.

  6. FanExpo charges admission to the show… Is that everything? Any other charges are from exhibitors and guests.

  7. I was actually in line for 20 mins on Thurs but it wasn’t moving fast enough so I turned around and went home. To be fair, these shows aren’t really geared for people like me. I’m not a star gazer and the real deals for back issues are online. It would have been nice to say hi to a few people and chat up the creatives but to wait 1-2 hours in line to drop $30 was not the best use of my limited time.

    Besides, I was fearful of some local online personalities who I’m convinced are looking to rough me up and dump my body somewhere icky. I wont mention Anthony’s name.

  8. The buzz is that the show was a great success, thanks in part to your efforts Kevin, congrats. And don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a problem with businesses making money… If CBD gave me that kind of free exposure, I wouldn’t advertise with them either.

  9. Well, as far as I know it, CBD is a news site, and the best place for a local news site to generate content is by attending events like FanExpo. They also gave the Wizard show and TCAF a lot of coverage back in March and May respectively, so it’s not like they are exclusively covering just our events. They’ve historically been active in covering everything they can.

  10. Thus the “symbiosis”. How about a trade off Kevin. Whenever there is a Toronto event, how about you guys post a link to CBD on the FanExpo web site 3 months in advance with a statement like… “For complete coverage visit CBD for insight as it unfolds! CBD: More than news.” I think this is more than fair… as well it combines efforts for the greater good of the community.

  11. Oh Charlie, I was actually looking forward to meeting you. Putting a name to a face and all that. The line moved pretty fast on Thursday and I didn’t talk with anyone who waited for 2 hours. I think that you missed out on some deals because there were a good number of dealers with the kind of books you love. AND you would have gotten to meet Walt and get his autograph. 

  12. If anyone ever asks me if I’ve ever heard of a man name “Kevin”, from this day forth, my reply will be YES. He is an international man of action.

    I think next year you guys can coordinate and exchange ad spaces. I’m eyeing that space right under the twitter/facebook box on the front page.

    Awesome Kevin.

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