Comic Con Week is underway, and between today and Wednesday morning, when this blogger arrives in San Diego, it will all rise to fever pitch levels. This is the third time me, Zennie Abraham, and Zennie62.com, which also goes by Zennie62Media, will cover Comic Con (2010, 2011, and now 2012) in San Diego and the second time Tout.com has come along as sponsor.
Last year, I made 193 Touts from Comic Con, and this year, the plan is to surpass that number. What I realized is I had a tendency to stop making Touts – 15 second videos using an app for iPhone or Android – when there was no internet connection; I will not do that not this time.
What Is Comic Con?
For those of you who’ve never heard of Comic Con, it calls itself “the home of the largest comic book and popular arts convention in the world” but what’s fascinating is how it has grown since 1970. I must note that there are 10 Comic Cons today, but the one I’m going to, the San Diego Comic Con, is the oldest and the largest one. It’s also arguably the only real one – the one that caused the others to adopt the name Comic Con.
The Internet And Digital Media Fuel Comic Con Growth
Comic Con was started in 1970 by what Wikipedia calls “a group of San Diegans, which included Shel Dorf, Richard Alf, Ken Krueger and Mike Towry who eventually called it the “San Diego Comic Book Convention.”" Between 1970 and today, Comic Con San Diego’s growth was fueled by digital media.
As more comic book content flowed onto the Internet, and more communication about the event itself happened online, and a young demographic that got at least half (now almost all) of its information online grew, and Hollywood studios started sending stars to it, audience attendance jumped dramatically between 2001 and 2006. Between 2001 and 2002, Comic Con added 10,000 new attendees. That was trumped by another 13,000 between 2002 and 2003, bring attendance to 70,000 people. Then 2003 to 2004 saw another 15,000 people, with a kind of growth cooling off period in 2005, as Comic Con added 7,000 more and topped the 100,000 person level for the first time, and the now famous Hall H was opened and Comic Con took up all of San Diego Convention Center.
Then, just when you’d think the growth would stop, Comic Con added its largest number of people between 2005 and 2006, as 23,000 more people came to Comic Con that year and the official guest list doubled according to Wikipedia records. Since then growth topped 130,000 in 2010 then dropped to 126,000 last year.
Hollywood Takes Over Comic Con
The other factor fueling Comic Con’s growth during this period has been what some call the take over of Comic Con Hollywood studios. A studio’s decision to use Comic Con to promote its film sets up this dynamic I have personally observed: the larger the budget of the film and the more comprehensive its Comic Con exposure, the larger the buzz for Comic Con itself. If more than one large budget film is at Comic Con, the overall exposure helps each film, and Comic Con itself, as a whole.
The best example of that dynamic was the Comic Con marketing for the movie Scott Pilgrim Versus The World, which was arguably over-exposed at Comic Con 2010. But since Scott Pilgrim Versus The World‘s popularity was basically born from the graphic novel that was presented at Comic Con years, before, the movie was in its prime audience base.
That year Comic Con drew its largest audience yet: 130,000 people. Scott Pilgrim Versus The World, helped by the appearance of such stars as Angelina Jolie for Salt and Sylvester Stallone and Bruce Willis for The Expendables, was the talk of the Comic Con and caused got Scott Pilgrim to get so much buzz that one rightfully expected it to do well at the box office – it tanked badly.
I think Hollywood at Comic Con is a good relationship that needs to be improved on. The dynamic I point to draws social media and media coverage that spills over into smaller production efforts of all types, from DVD movies to apps and to traditional comic books. That’s because today you have movie producers visiting Comic Con looking for that next comic book or graphic novel that just might be a hit movie. That’s what a number of comic book artists hope will happen for them at Comic Con.
The one problem that needs to be cleared is the clumsy way Hollywood PR reps handle media and the public at Comic Con. Volunteers complain about how studios set special seating for their people. Most good digital media folks are left out in the cold in availability of stars because many Hollywood PR reps don’t know how to evaluate social media impact, and just go with who they know.
So if you’re a name brand, like CBS, you get better treatment than Ain’t It Cool News or Zennie62, both of which do better at blogs and social media than CBS. For example, I have more Twitter Followers than CBS – 61,000 for CBS Television versus 64,000 for Zennie62. Plus, I have a 70-blog network and a YouTube channel seen over 30,000 times a day – few media outlets can match that.
Is Comic Con Too Big?
Is Comic Con San Diego Too Big For San Diego? I think that’s up to San Diego itself. In my 2011 interview with Comic Con Marketing and Communications VP David Glanzer he talked about how San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders “went to bat” for Comic Con to remain in San Diego, and said there was talk of creating a “campus atmosphere.”
Considering that Comic Con brings about $162 million into the San Diego economy, why not grow it? Comic Con is San Diego’s best breakwater against bad economic tides, and its best catchspill of great economic tidal waves. For this week, America’s pop-culture attention is focused on one place, and that place happens to be San Diego.
Stay tuned for more about and from Comic Con, and follow me, Zennie Abraham and Zennie62 on Twitter and on Tout.com.