What makes you decide wether or not to attend a particuler event
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 As both a seller and a buyer , The one thing I look for immediately is the exhibitor list 

 If the exhibitor list is weak like a few assorted local dealers , with no major players and LOTS of assorted merchandise 

I assume the show is a weak comic show, I will generally also look at the artist list, If I see the event has a good number of Artists 

I know this will probably be a comic-centric show 

Lots of Movie/Tv  people including the now Mandatory for (For Event shows) "Big Name" tells me the show

is an autograph show with a lesser emphasis on comics and the crowd focused on Autographs , It also tells me I am going to pay an

Increased booth fee to subsidize the "names"

What are some thoughts from a buyers Perspective as to how you decide which show to attend? 

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Artist lineup is the number one thing for me.  If it is a weak lineup I will not attend.  Exhibitors don't make a difference to me at all because I pretty much see the same dealers from Baltimore all the way up to Boston, so unless the have fresh stock I might check their both real quick, but then will move on.

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Exhibitors list is critical. I go primarily to buy comics. The older the better. If I don't see any or any I recognize, I usually pass. I pass on a lot of shows because of this. I recently went to a small local show. Out of 40 or so dealers, there turned out to be only 3 with any older stuff. I bought 4 books from 3 dealers. I also found an older guy with lots of older stuff. Big Little Books, Pulps, Premiums and old comic character pinback buttons. I found a button that is rare as heck. Turned out to be worth my time, gas and a $5. admission.

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1. back issue exhibitor list. Ideally a booth would cost less than $500 for a 2 day con so a :cloud9: fresh collection may show up from a smaller vendor.

2. con in same time zone would be nice

3. con within 4 hour one way drive (including rush hour traffic slow down).

4. con within 5 hour flight from home.

5. variety of artist/inkers whom I may pay for a sketch or drawing from since few creators sell published original art pages anymore. Many went digital.

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Buyer beware going to shows that have a ton of "media guests."  Media guests = cosplay = little vintage material.  Generally speaking.

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I’m going to the stir the pot a bit and from what I’ve seen it will get some eye rolls. The main attraction for me are the celebrities. I’m happy to drive 6-8 hours away. Fly across country if it’s the right person and a for sure opportunity. I’m very passionate about autographs and meeting in person. 

I completely understand (and do enjoy) an assortment of comics dealers. If there’s a comic book show within an hour drive I’d check it out. But no big shows close to me. Therefore I prefer special reasons for travel expenses. Any comic I’m in the market for I can find online. Why spend hundreds on gas and hotel and tickets just to buy things I can find at home and I can use that money I’m saving. I can see how that can be a party pooper mentality. And I know some books guys are looking for are hard to find online, or they are very passionate about grading so they need to see it in person. They might have a good rep with dealers and get a better deal anyway. 

I know the competition of online sellers can kill the buzz for dealers who put forth so much effort and money to provide their services at cons. But that’s just how things are, and with how expensive books can be, saving money anywhere one can is key. But of course it depends on who you are. 

The things that make cons worth the trip for me are the things I can’t do online. Like, obviously, meeting people I admire. Getting an autograph and having a short chat and sharing the memory of it for your whole life. And also cosplay. It’s okay that people like dressing up in costume right? We can understand that that can be a fun thing? You don’t have to be 5 years old? Sure we could put on our Spidey suit and go to the store if we wanted, but that can get awkward. So how about a place full of nerds to dress up together and have fun! Express creativity through making your own suit and/or adding your own style. I see a lot of sneers towards cosplay on the boards and it sucks. So one day Harley’s hammer was in your way or someone’s cleavage was so overbearing you almost had to call your therapist. Relax. This is once a year for some people. The real world can be a drag. Playing pretend is a great escape for a lot of people. 

Yes, I would be disappointed if I went to a convention and there were no single issue comic dealers. When I’m at a show they usually look pretty busy and I over hear dealers saying they are doing great. So I’m optimistic they will stick around for some time. There’s plenty of room for all types of collectors and celebrators of all things geek. 

 

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Robotman  & Zosocane , I agree Completely ,  Whenever I see an overemphasis on cosplay including a long list of cosplayers as guests, its seems that's a weak show for buying selling, Understand I absolutely do not have anything against cosplayers, They add lots of color and flavor to the show, Also the attendees Love the cosplayers, They are a free added attraction and people love to watch and pose with them.  However from From a dealers standpoint, they tend not to be buyers. But they also do not Take Huge amounts of Money out of the dealers room, as to the big Stars...   From My Standpoint My favorites are the Parents who dress up their Kids, For Some Reason Morristown Just past had a Lot of these, and at one Point I had a Toddler Justice League reunion in front of My booth which was so Cute I actually took a picture. 

I remember One show last year where a particularly lets use the word "effective" Harley Quinn Couldn't walk 2 feet without some guy or group wanting to pose with her, and she was very nice about it, meanwhile I've also been at shows where D list actresses charge $20-40$ for the same Privlage 

punksdropdirtysrh  I have a few questions, Like what,s  reasonable for a celebrity autograph?  At WW Chicago Jason Momoa is Charging $80 +$15 ww authentication , I looked online and PSA authenticated autos are selling in the 50-$60 range, non authenticated are numerous in the $10 range . AT Ace Chicago Brie Larson Is charging $200 for a single signature What are you thoughts on the pricing for these ? And if I understand you correctly, That's your priority... Autos first and comics Second ? 

T

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1 hour ago, punksdropdirtysrh said:

Any comic I’m in the market for I can find online.

 

Yes, I would be disappointed if I went to a convention and there were no single issue comic dealers.

 

You could see how your first statement might affect the second statement. If the buyer pool spends all their money online why should dealers do the (very hard) work of setting up at any shows? Not blaming you personally, but while online sales are convenient they are no substitute to the superior experience of buying at shows. 

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Posted (edited)

 

 This is the Constant conversation I am having with promoters 

A superstar who charges $200 per autograph or $600 for a VIP package leaves attendees with little or no money for the vendors who like myself spend a Average if $2,000 just to set up 

 Why should I set up at a Superstar show where my break even is 5K.  And after admission, travel, and signing fees  a huge percentage of the attendees are lucky to pay for a 7$ hot dog (actual price at eternal con for a skinny nathans Hot dog, 2 for $13) 

 The answer from Most is that these people Bring in Lots more attendees who help subsidize the booth prices and make the show possible, Meanwhile I can't think of a single media Guest who were  at East Coast or Heroes this year , and Both were and Are Spectacular shows by any measure. Plus the HUGE guest shows Tend to charge Higher booth fees, so it seems to me I am subsidizing the Superstars, Not the other way around 

 Also, does it kind of tick anyone else off that the Comic Movie Superstars who have become wealthy Icons, In large part due the comic fan audience,  charge so much for a signature, I mean geez man, You just signed an $8 million dollar deal for your next Movie, MAYBE give your core audience a break and charge a price that's less then the Daily 8 hour shift pay for most Americans for a three second signature?  Why do you think ENDGAME  broke records? I read where One guy alone was trying to see  the move 200 times!

Edited by Golden Memories
aDDED TEXT

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Golden Memories said:

Robotman  & Zosocane , I agree Completely ,  Whenever I see an overemphasis on cosplay including a long list of cosplayers as guests, its seems that's a weak show for buying selling, Understand I absolutely do not have anything against cosplayers, They add lots of color and flavor to the show, Also the attendees Love the cosplayers, They are a free added attraction and people love to watch and pose with them.  However from From a dealers standpoint, they tend not to be buyers. But they also do not Take Huge amounts of Money out of the dealers room, as to the big Stars...   From My Standpoint My favorites are the Parents who dress up their Kids, For Some Reason Morristown Just past had a Lot of these, and at one Point I had a Toddler Justice League reunion in front of My booth which was so Cute I actually took a picture. 

I remember One show last year where a particularly lets use the word "effective" Harley Quinn Couldn't walk 2 feet without some guy or group wanting to pose with her, and she was very nice about it, meanwhile I've also been at shows where D list actresses charge $20-40$ for the same Privlage 

punksdropdirtysrh  I have a few questions, Like what,s  reasonable for a celebrity autograph?  At WW Chicago Jason Momoa is Charging $80 +$15 ww authentication , I looked online and PSA authenticated autos are selling in the 50-$60 range, non authenticated are numerous in the $10 range . AT Ace Chicago Brie Larson Is charging $200 for a single signature What are you thoughts on the pricing for these ? And if I understand you correctly, That's your priority... Autos first and comics Second ? 

T

A reasonable price will always be subjective. For me it depends on the celeb. I like the $60-80 price point. If it’s more than $100 it has to be someone I really want to meet. I still haven’t paid that much for an auto. All the big money celebs (Norman Reedus, Mark Hamill, Brie Larson come to mind) I don’t want to meet them so it hasn’t been a dilemma for me. I’m thinking I might have a chance to meet Emilia Clarke, and I would pay the $200+ for her. There’s only a few celebs I’d easily pay that much for. 

1 hour ago, mysterio said:

You could see how your first statement might affect the second statement. If the buyer pool spends all their money online why should dealers do the (very hard) work of setting up at any shows? Not blaming you personally, but while online sales are convenient they are no substitute to the superior experience of buying at shows. 

I know what you’re saying, I tried to speak on that a bit. Instant gratification is always best. My comic wants have changed a lot within the past couple years and I’m very picky with what I choose to spend my money on. I do still spend money with dealers whenever I go, it’s just not what pumps me up the most when I go to shows. Until I find that $100 book in the dollar bin anyway lol 

Edited by punksdropdirtysrh

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When it comes to millionaire celebs charging big bucks...IMO it’s their time and their choice, and by the looks of it, people still pay up. Plus, I would think the celeb probably (hopefully) takes the crowd a bit more serious when they’re spending so much money. I try to take it into perspective as much as possible too, just imagine having to meet hundreds of strangers back to back. Yes they are “living the dream” and are crazy rich but that can be stressful for anyone. They want it to be worth it for them. 

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 I'm a die hard capitalist , I do not deny their right To charge whatever the market will bear, I'm Just saying, Honestly, I think a little appreciation might be in order for their hardcore base, And you are correct, It is certainly a buyers choice, and they can always refuse, Brie Larson Is already sold out, and I can't imagine what Kit Harington  will be  charging.  

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Posted (edited)

I have been getting back into Cons recently.  I go for the comics / magazines/ pulps / occasional OA only.  That being said, I don't choose the cons based on a large roster of big name exhibitors.  The big name dealers tend to have the hottest, keyest, highest graded, most expensive books, and little time or inclination to haggle with a buyer who's not dropping 4-5 figures on a sale.  I look for a large exhibitor list with at least a handful of dealers I know to be fair and honest.  I also rely on word or mouth and/or the boards to figure out which ones will be worthwhile.  I buy primarily lower to mid grade GA books, some of the usual suspects that everyone wants, and some less common books and runs.  I find that cons are a good place to find the books I want in the grade I want, and get decent deals for them.  I also occasionally find unusual gems that I would not have otherwise found. 

While I don't really care much for cosplay myself, I like the carnival atmosphere and energy that cosplayers bring to cons.  I believe some cosplayers are comic fans and collectors, so having them is a positive for attendees and exhibitors.  Same attitude for artists and writers.  While I have enormous respect for some of them and have on occasion struck up conversations with them, I'd never spend my time to stand in line and pay to have them deface my books.  Celebrities and media types are of zero interest to me.  It seems to be popular opinion that celebrities draw a crowd that has little interest in buying comics, and also inflate the price of booths and tables for exhibitors, thus driving up the price of books for the collectors.  I hope con organizers are hearing the rumblings and realize that celebrities do not significantly increase the number of actual comic buyers attending their show, making it unreasonable to up-charge exhibitors to subsidize a large celebrity guest list.  Keep the celebrity autos / photos/ meet and greets separate from the exhibitor halls and treat them like 2 separate but related events within the same venue (Event stage and auditorium with AV light/sound show, set props, security, tiered seating sections, elaborate decorations for the celebrity guest events.  Sparse conference room / dusty basement ballroom with plain tables and chairs for exhibitors and buyers.  Charge exhibitor and attendee prices accordingly to their respective event). 

Edited by davet75

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Posted (edited)

Hello all,

As the showrunner for ACE I can give you another perspective. I will try and be as succinct as possible. You have to look at the events as a full eco-system. If you charge $5 for Admission and $500 for tables, the likelihood of survival are small. You saw this in the sports card industry. The comic book industry is aging out and you see this in the monthly sales charts. There will always be local events catering to this part of the market (as do sports cards, coins and stamps, all of which have aging out problems). So in order to survive and bring in new people, you have to bring in younger crowds that create the next generation of fan. Today, we have Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, WB Online and many more options. Just like you have in the event space.

These folks no longer want to be spectators and go through long boxes. They don't even want to be in their seats entertained. Like Coachella, Lollapalooza and many other festivals they actually want to PARTICIPATE and be part of the action. That's why you see Arenas and Stadiums catering to this new type of ticket buyer. It's not just in our space. When you go to a Yankees game, people are on their phone, in the gaming areas, eating food, in the restaurants, etc. In many cases, doing everything EXCEPT watching the game. You can fight it, but that's the new reality.

As for pricing, people want bigger and more and better. There are over 300 Cons in this country, so you can find EXACTLY what you are looking for. But if you wake up one day and that local favorite show is gone, do not be surprised. Costs are only rising, and everyone wants the same old pricing. Our model is different, it's a hybrid mix. We limit the # of dealers and illustrators to keep the ratio of attendees to exhibitors fair. Also, you would be SHOCKED at which illustrators have the longest lines at our shows. It's the folks with the largest Instagram or other type of presence that makes them stand out. I get it, I get it, you want Jim Lee and Todd McFarlane. And they are exceptional. But they can only do a few shows a year. 

Anyway, I could go on and on, but just wanted to show a slightly different perspective on this. And by the way, I suspect we do more CGC submissions at our show than maybe 10 other shows in the country. 

-Stephen

Edited by stephenshamus12

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    We seem to have existentially different ideas of what people are looking for. Or have completely different target audiences 

     You have made several statements which , while, in your experience are true, They are not what I see in the shows I do 

     It seems that The ecosystem  you are creating works for you as a business model, which I can see evidence of as Brie Larson autographs are Already 100% sold at between $200 and $600 per reservation, Now as too how many people are buying these autographs as part of an immersive experience and how many are simply engaging in a commercial transaction is another issue .

Now as far as Myself and almost every other comic dealer I speak to, They tend not to do as well at shows that are heavily media oriented, probably, because as you say your attendees do want to go through long boxes.  Okay, So the shows I want to set up at are the ones where the comic people do nothing all day long EXCEPT  go through long boxes . eg: Baltimore, Terrificon, Heroes, etc.  The people I want/need to see are not the cosplayers or autograph seekers, But rather serious comic people (not at all a dying breed, nor are we aging out)  

  You state the comic industry is aging out.  Meanwhile the comic back issue market has been experiencing an almost decade long boom,  like nothing I have seen in forty years doing this (way back to before you guys changed the industry with wizard price guide and actually started a boom)  The GPA on a Spider-man #1 in 3.0 went from $4k in 12/2015 to $8k  in 5/2019  Does that sound like a market that's dying out or one that should be disregarded? 

The most successful shows for me, and the ones that the people on these boards seem to gravitate toward are the ones which focus on comics and comic creators, For me, My 2 most successful shows this year were East coast and Heroes Con, Both have Huge attendance and both are 90%  or more comic oriented 

  And as far as Most popular artists , People wait 2 days for the chance to see Perez, Wolfman, and most of the even slightly known comic artists , In fact that's one of the big dealer complaints (Not me ) that attendees have to spend so much time on  with these guys they don't have time to shop the dealers room  . That is also an Immersive experience , For example at a recent show, a well known marvel artist did a remarked cover for a friend at 1/4 what some of these people charge for an auto, and took the time to speak with him. he was so happy he didn't come down for a week,  

 It seems to me that you agreeing with a number of people who post on these boards, That Autograph Shows and the comic Shows do not really compete with each other as you believe  its a different market

  I also speak to a LOT of people at these shows and consensus among the comic buyers is that they don't want to go a show where they have to pay $50 to get in  + travel + parking, Only to find the comic people few and far between . 

 

 If you read the posters on these boards it is clear that the Autograph shows are one world and the comic shows are another 

As far as $5 admission and $500 Booths, I never said anything like that. Baltimore is 25/35/30 or $65 for 3 days Heroes was 25/25/20 or $50 for 3 days,  which I think is dead on where tickets should be. As far a booths, Nobody charges $500 , except WW Just dropped their booth prices down to 500 I suspect because Like Myself, Too many comic dealers Were finding they could Not justify paying North of 1k and make the enterprise financially viable.   I find I do best where the booths are south of 1k, and frankly yes, I still do feel like I am subsidising people will make more signing autographs over a weekend, then I will clear in 2 years 

    It seems to me that your heavy focus on BIGGER AND more and better IS evidenced by your guest list, which are certainly impressive, But not condusive to the people I need to see when I participate is a dealer 

 

 One person on these boards actually had an interesting idea, Charge a reduced  booth price for Dealers who are defiantely going to bring the COMIC people people into the room, and  and a reduced admission price for attendees who have no interest in Media immersion. 

  

 Thanks for posting, I was enlightened to see your perspective 

 

   

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different admission prices is an interesting idea and I think it could work. One price for media access, one price for general access, one for cosplay only, maybe one for limited access only to comic booths, etc. Badges would be color coded for different access and each guest/booth could have a small fee for engaging people without the right type of badge (you have a media access badge but see a comic you want to buy, you pay $1 at the table which goes to the organizers or something like that).

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Golden Memories - I think we agree. As I stated, you have hundreds of shows to go to, and our shows are not the right fit. The record prices you are seeing for comics and cards does not indicate the age of the buyer. I said they were "aging out." That simply means people who are buying them are getting older, not that they aren't being sold at record prices. Those are two different matters entirely. We are appealing to a young audience that I suspect are not the people rifling through your boxes. I saw the end of those days around 4-5 years ago. Shows like Baltimore and Heroes Con have legacy buyers that go back 15+ years (very loyal base). New shows today that try and launch with just comics and mid tier celebs just aren't selling tickets. Those shows you list are anomalies not the norm. Everything else I agree with you. -Stephen

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Posted (edited)

Booking as I do (strictly comics creators) for a bunch of shows in a whole bunch of different markets, it's tough to find a balance on comic stuff - even tougher to find a consensus on what people define as comics. I have to approach my job as assembling a comics event independent of everything else happening. I hope there's crossover with media, but I don't plan on crossover, and maybe I'll look for creators with licensed work in their portfolio (such as Star Wars, Star Trek, My Little Pony, Rick and Morty, etc.). I can't say "oh these media guests are coming, no one cares about comics guests so I won't book any". I have to care about the comic guests and hope there's trickle down for the comics retailers.

Certainly the audience here on the boards who cares about comic creators is interested in either (a) classic creators (artists and writers) who worked on the books of their youth or (b) hot creators working on the biggest variant covers and hottest selling back first appearance back issues that captivate the new book market.  Toss into the mix the art collectors here and there looking for originals and commissions. But back issue collectors often don't care about any guests, comics or otherwise, which is why the back issue only shows are popping up again and making a case about not going to the media shows. 

We also have to deal with audiences that like comics that are barely mentioned here who are also fighting for attention. The largest of these would be YA Graphic Novels. Or art enthusiasts. These groups don't really attract the back issue buying crowd that (a) and (b) do, but maybe they'll become interested/care, we have to make them care (in general). 

I've been a comics vendor before, you either specialize or diversify. At a comics only show it's much easy to specialize on one product line (that is back issues, and yes there is specialization and diversification there too). But when you have a diverse crowd (there for different reasons), specialization goes in one of two directions depending on who comes out (aside fromback issues there's graphic novels, novelty items, Funko Pops, toys, statues, glassware, bust banks, buttons, art and prints, posters, etc. You have to see what sells and build from there, and sometimes what sells one year doesn't the next....

 

Edited by Kevin Boyd

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   I am perfectly happy to admit to being an anachronism at best, and a lingering legacy at worst .  The reason I mentioned the pricing at all was to point a simple economic fact, a boom market does not occour without a strong influx of NEW participants. A lot of this comes from the Marvel Movies which have in fact inspired a lot of new blood to come in the collectors end of it .

    I am not sure I agree with you about "Legacy" shows, Comic buyers  attend shows that focus on comics, seems pretty obvious, The aforementioned shows survive because they are outstanding venues for comics, not because of  geezers locked into habit patterns. You also have to take into account Shows like East Coast, and Terrificon, Both of which are  fairly new, I believe both are about 6 years  old and they both get stronger every year. You Also have the "Split the baby" shows which try to do both Like Boston And Rhode Island  Which are OK, with reasonable booth prices and a good comic crowd 

  I do agree the Wizard model of having  a lot of MID-TIER celebs with one big hook , while simply assuming   the comic people will show up regardless, does not seem to work anymore (from what I have heard) Which is why I praised them for dropping their booth prices, $500 for a booth at a show like their upcoming Pittsburgh show will draw in a lot more comic dealers which in turn will bring in a lot more attendees 

  As I stated your Model Of  A listers obviously works so your point is well taken 

   For now, I am happy to be an aging soon to be fossil dancing in the tarpits with my fellow anachronisms 

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Kevin said it perfectly. And I have stated many many times on many boards. There are over 300 events. Some are Supernatural, some are Stranger Things or Riverdale. Some specialize in Comic Art (Comic Art Con or Torpedo Con). Some have crazy artist alleys like Heroes and Baltimore. If you have that many choices, and you have the right product, you will do well. Despite the heavy criticism that media shows get on the CGC boards (I get it, it's the audience), we actually do have vendors that do very well at all our shows and keep coming back. They include T-Shirts. Mystery Box, Art Prints, Replicas (our replicas dealers clean up on very expensive Shields and such), etc. Kevin does an amazing job and I've said it before - he's the best in the biz. And he has a tough job, as do we. Most comic creators want fees now, and unlike celebs, there is no recouping on these fees. That's what makes it tricky. We've actually had some great comic lineups where we invested a ton in some of these artists and people still didn't show. I think it's a reflection of the loyalty to the legacy events.

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