Fan Expo | Changing with the Times

Over decade ago when the Canadian Fan Expo made the big leap to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre (MTCC) I really didn’t like our booth placement on the convention floor. We were placed out of the “comic book alley” where most of the other vintage comic book dealers set up.

The Big B Comics booth seemed even more disconnected to the “comic book alley” when the ever growing Fan Expo expanded into the much larger south building of the MTCC.

Looking back at the just completed Fan Expo 2012 I couldn’t be happier about the placement of our booth. We were situated near the middle of the room with the DC Comics display just on the other side of the south end of our set up. This is really the heart of the room, kind of bordering all the sections (corporate, anime, horror, old comic, and toy) on all sides, like a crossroads.

To me the Vintage Comics segment of Fan Expo is getting less and less relevant each year, it seems a smaller portion of the crowd coming in is specifically coming in to look for old collectible comic books. This phenomenon has already happened to a greater degree in San Diego. They say that if you want to escape the crowds at San Diego Comic Con just duck into the Vintage Comic section.

That said we still sold a truck load of old comics but as the Expo has changed so has our booth. This year we carried many different lines of products, products that are more pop culture and less niche collectible. T-shirts were flying, new graphic novels were selling out and the latest toy lines were being snapped up fast. Fans were in the room looking for the latest cool pop culture offerings and the booths that invested in these products were rewarded for it in strong sales.

My quick dealer survey (done in the trucking bay as we passed each other loading up to go home) showed that many dealers exclusively selling new pop culture products did very well.

Conventions like the Fan Expo are still growing and the mix of patrons is ever changing. Much like comic shops, convention booths must keep adapting to the changing demands of the crowds if they wish to succeed.

Walter Durajlija
Walter Durajlija

Walter Durajlija is an Overstreet Advisor and Shuster Award winner. He owns Big B Comics in Hamilton Ontario.

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  1. The problem is that some dealers are overpricing their products. I saw an ASM #50 graded 3.0 and the dealer wanted $170 for it. Even some raw books were overpriced, I saw A Tales of Suspense # 52 that was in pretty rough shape most likely a VG- copy for 150. Prices like that are discouraging to shoppers and they don’t feel like negotiating because either way they are going to end up paying above guide for lower grade books.

  2. Thanks for the feedback Eric.

    I once told a US dealer that he had a book overpriced, he looked at me and told me it wasn’t overpriced though he did concede he priced it aggressively. I had a good laugh but the term has stuck for me!!

    The problem for dealers that price aggressively is that they end up taking the stuff back home with them.

    I’d still give it a shot, give him the price you are willing to pay and let him think on it. Guys might cave in more than you think!

    Hope you found at least a few bargains!

  3. Eric, I agree. I find the major keys to be overpriced (or “aggressively priced”, thanks Walt) at cons. Perhaps the dealers think that the general excitement created by the show will cause collectors to pay a bit more. Or they could be trying to snag a few uninformed, casual fans.

    On the other side of the coin, I overhead one dealer giddy with excitement after he purchased a key off of a patron at a pretty big discount to market.

    Perhaps that’s why the vintage section just isn’t popular. If you’re a serious, well informed collector then it doesn’t make sense to go hunting (or selling) at the major cons.

  4. We avoided back issues completely at the Comic Book Lounge booth and brought mostly books — discounted books as well as a sampling of recent book releases (trades, graphic novels, art books) as well as some statues and toys as well as a CGC submission centre and I’m extremely pleased with the end result. People were buying in force. We sold out of almost all of our featured books like Scott Pilgrim 1 Colour Edition, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Century (1910, 1969, 2009), Batman Earth One, Batman: The Court of Owls and other New 52 hardcovers, The Underwater Welder, Infinity Gauntlet, among others.

  5. The items under the table were discounted to $5-20 depending on the initial price. The items on the top, aside from a few exceptions, were US cover.

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