This will be the first of 2 or 3 Montreal Comic Con posts, as it was a busy weekend. The con was well attended and well organized, but not without some bumps in the road.
First I should make it very clear that I was impressed by the Montreal Comic Con. The market can definitely bear the convention (a feat made all the more impressive by its proximity to Fan Expo) and I expect more growth each year. The crowds were great and every fan that I talked to had a great time. This is, of course, the main metric that I use to see if a show is successful or not. Unscientific perhaps, but I feel pretty confident about my methodology.
I was happy to see the number of Quebec artists and fans of bande dessinée. French language comics have a huge tradition in the medium and are woefully under-represented in English-speaking North America. While it may be a harder sell, I would like to see more work from these artists and writers outside of Quebec and Europe. Their talent is immense and you are really missing out on great storytelling if you pass them by. Also it will help you learn French (which everyone should do).
The dealers were a mix of vintage comics, newer trades, toys, t-shirts, and bargain books. There were some dealers that had newer items including some very pricey DC #1s. I even saw the JLA plus digital copy going for $20! No word on if this sold, but the sheer absurdity notes mention.
The market seems young. That is I got a lot of neophyte questions. Good questions mind you, not stupid ones, but still questions from collectors that are new to the hobby. This is very encouraging. It also seemed that there was a higher percentage of women and children at the convention than one might see at other cons. This is also great to see.
The guests were great and the fans were very excited to meet and chat with stars of all genres. I got a chance to talk with Sergio Aragones and Stan Sakai. I tried not to fanboy out too badly but Groo is the comic book that got me into collecting. They are both master storytellers and genuinely kind and nice men. I hope I get to chat with them again at another convention.
I did splurge and get a Stan Lee signature. Staff didn’t really seem to fully understand the process and there was some confusion on what type of VIP badge holders got to fill in the express line. Confusion on the part of the volunteers is an easy fix and I would urge organizers to make sure that all volunteers are equipped with correct information. I guess I got to “meet” Stan Lee but his signings are somewhat of an assembly line. I got my book signed and said hello; that is all. There was an empty table in front of him so shaking hands was out of the question. At 88 years old I don’t blame the guy, and if any fans wanted a more personal experience the convention offered both a photo op and a meet and greet cocktail party.
The overcrowding issues have been discussed online by several sites and angry trolls, but I’ll add my piece as well. The line up to get into the show on Saturday was ridiculously large and snaked throughout the convention hall; however, the longest line seemed to be people waiting to buy tickets, not those who were there to pick up already purchased tickets. So while it is true that the fire marshall cut off admittance and people got sent home, it seems that those who already had purchased ticket just had to wait longer to get in and those who were already in the con and left for lunch were let back in without too long of a wait.
That isn’t to say that overcrowding isn’t an issue. It is and organizers will need to decide how they want to proceed for subsequent years. Now Stan Lee isn’t going to be at every convention, so there must be some number increase for that, but the con is growing and with a passionate fanbase in Montreal more must be done to ensure that all who wish to attend the convention have the opportunity.
I got a chance to chat with Chuck Rozanski about starring in the Morgan Spurlock documentary and the state of the business. I’ll post more about my conversation with Chuck later as it merits its own article.
The con needs more companies set up in sponsor booths. The convention had sponsors but they needed a DC booth, Marvel booth, Rogers, G4, and the Space Channel section that Fan Expo has.
For dealers this show was a mixed bag. The load in was great. Easy, lots of carts, lots of room behind the tables. Load out was trickier as there were still many fans on the convention floor. Subsequent years of the con need announcements clearing out the fans. Once the con is over it is over and lingering around makes it difficult to pack up and can be unsafe for convention goers.
As for sales most dealers I talked to were pretty happy. Solid sales on trades, toys, and t-shirts. Vintage comics had some sales but were not the main draw of the room. If there are any dealers on the fence about doing the convention again or doing it for the first time I would urge you to sign on. The convention is growing and needs a variety of product to appeal to a wide fanbase. This is a good con which will be a great one in a few years.
I cannot wait to see this convention grow and thrive. Montreal has such passion for the medium that the con will get better each year. There are currently some wrinkles but I expect they will be ironed out. Organizers should give themselves a pat on the back; they put their hearts into this con and it showed.