Attention 80% of U.S. comic book conventions, you just got your ass kicked by Greece
It’s about the attendance stupid.
In case you are new to my general attitude because this blog has been passed along to you, I am no Europe loving hippie liberal. I believe that the U.S.A. is the greatest country on earth and everyone else would be better served just applying for statehood. I say that so you know that it pains me to inform you that unless you are C2E2 (or it’s sister show in NY), San Diego CCI (and thier sister shows), Mega con, Phoenix Comic-con or MNCBA con you have allot to learn from Comicdom Con in Athens Greece. A…LOT. Please pay attention because for a country on the brink of financial ruin to be putting on a comic book convention that makes YOURS look like a bad flea market is UNACCEPTABLE.
Let’s start with one of the mistakes you people make over and over and over and over…the venue. If i have said it to one of you promoters I have said it to 100 of you- PEOPLE HAVE TO KNOW WHERE YOUR SHOW IS AND BE ABLE TO GET TO IT! I don’t mean that you have a google maps link on your website. I mean it has to be a venue that once named, they know exactly what building you mean and where it is…AND BE ABLE TO GET TO IT EASILY. So many of you numbskulls pick a venue based on size or based on how nice it looks or based on how cheap it is …ignoring the fact that if they don’t know where the briarwood hilton is and/or can’t get to it with public transportation, you now have two barriers against people attending. The convention in Greece was right in the American Hellenic Union building downtown Athens (they actually call it the Hellenic American Union…but as we all know “American” should be first). As soon as you say Hellenic American Union Building EVERYONE KNOWS WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT AND WHERE IT IS…AND HOW TO GET THERE. They WISELY have placed these two things above the building itself being perfect. The building is small. it is several floors high but each floor is only about the size of a large walgreens or CVS pharmacy. I am sure you are thinking to yourself “well I have grander plans than that…how many people can you get into a building that size?
How about …oh…9,000. IS THAT ENOUGH FOR YOU?! 9,000. Nine thousand people filtered through this building over the course of three days. NINE …THOUSAND. You idiots. NINE THOUSAND PEOPLE attended this show.
Now, how did they manage that?…how did they get 9,000 people in and out of that building without it being a clusterf*ck? Well, one they were very organized. This show had all the organization and professionalism of a C2E2 or CCI. The panels and workshops were organized and you had to pre sign up for many of them so that during busy parts of the day many of the attendees were on different floors. Saturday afternoon should be the busiest day so they had the wildly popular cosplay contest going on in one floor, the workshops going on in another floor and the largest draw , some Italian guy who’s name escapes me signing autographs somewhere else. It created a flow and ebb that counteracted the massive attendance of a saturday afternoon. ORGANIZATION get it? am I talking to fast? Organization …planning. That is how you get 9,000 people into a small building without them turning into an angry, crabby, mass of humanity that regrets walking into the door and doesn’t come back next year, or even tomorrow. Oh course you only have to worry about that if you manage to get 9,000 people to your show. so…how did they do that?
Well, to paraphrase how the Grinch stole Christmas “they did it without ribbons or boxes or bows”. They didn’t have a ton of stores, or guests, or old t. v. stars or washed up wrestlers. They had a few local stores, they had about 6 guests, they had some discussion panels and they had a cosplay contest. That isn’t much to see …unless of course you get everyone excited about it. Unless you and all of your volunteers are excited about it. Unless you and all your volunteers see the thrill of it and the fun of it and PASS THAT GOOD ATTITUDE ALONG TO EVERYONE ELSE. In the end, seeing one or two comic book makers is a more interesting afternoon than playing video games or watching a movie like you could do any other weekend. All of the promoters and volunteers where excited about this and where able to get everyone else to understand that it is in fact pretty exciting. No one was in a bad mood, no one was acting like you were a pain in the ass because you didn’t know where a specific workshop was. Here is a nice example of the difference between your shows and thiers…at one point during the show an attendee asks where a certain discussion panel is – the volunteer , instead of sighing in an annoyed manner and telling the person to check the program, said –
“oh it’s on the third floor , right up those stairs to the left…hury up! you don’t want to miss it, it’s going to be good!”
do you see the difference? hmmmmmm? Can you understand how a little example like that multiplied by a thousand over the course of three days is the difference between everyone being in a good mood and telling all their friends to come over to the show, and being crabby and annoyed and not coming back next year? do you? I hope so. Because a comic book convention in the U.S. of A should not look bush league next to a con in a city that was in between RIOTS.
But there is more…the real key…the point i have ,in vain, tried to get you all to understand. People don’t want to pay 20.00 just for the privilege of walking around looking at old overpriced books and meeting a-hole comic book illustrators. You know how much it was to attend this show? ZERO. It was free…F_R_E_E. free. Now perhaps you are thinking “well, I’m not going to put on a show and not make any money.” If you are thinking that you are not as smart as the Greeks. Because THEY have figured out that if you put on a show, in the middle of downtown and get 9,000 people to attend…the businesses around that building will want to advertise at that show. Did a light bulb just go on over your head? I hope so. They fund this show via sponsors. Sponsors who would luuuuve to get into the brains of 9,000 young people with disposable income who are essentially going to be loitering within walking distance of their businesses. Sponsors who would luuuuve to get into the brains of young people in ways more meaningful and personal than their competitions magazine ads, radio ads, and other standard crap that is easily ignored. Perhaps you are still stupid…and are thinking “I can’t make enough money getting sponsored by the local arcade”. If you are thinking that then you are not as ambitious as the Greeks. Shall I name some of their sponsors? T.G.I.Fridays…heard of it? Think they have a few dollars to spend on advertising? How about MTV? hmmm? think maybe MTV has a few bucks? Here are a few others you maybe have heard of…COCA COLA, THE HITLON, EA SPORTS. Those are just the sponsors you would have heard of, they also got sponsorships from the local taxi service, a condom company, a candy bar company, 2000AD Publishing, and a few other companies, that I admit since I cannot read Greek, I could not tell you what they did /made/ or what service they provided. I can tell you that 9,000 young people with money to spend do. And How much more do you think you could charge for a booth if your show had 9,000 people with EXTRA MONEY in their pockets because you didn’t rob them for 20.00 to get in the door? Do you think you could maybe get better guests? hmmmm?
“but how did they contact these companies?”
“how do i get my convention to just jump to 9,000 people to get sponsors like that?”
“How do i blah blah blah whhaa whaa whaaaaaa booohooo”
I don’t know, you could ask the Greeks, but they are probably too busy planning for next years show. If I were you I would start with the basics (all of which i explain every single year)
You are getting out capitalisted, by people who barely understand the concept of capitalism. You are letting the home team down. You know how much it pained me to admit to these people that their show was better than most of the shows I attend in the U.S.? It felt like I was kicking myself in the nuts. “how do you like our show? How does it compare to U.S. conventions?” POW RIGHT SQUARE IN THE NUTS. I wanted to grab you each by the ear and drag you over and point “THIS ….NUMBSKULL… IS HOW YOUR RUN A COMIC BOOK CONVENTION”…and then make you sit there and watch 9,000 people enter in a good mood, and leave in a better mood, and exhibitors enter in a good mood and leave in a better mood, and guests enter in a good mood and leave in a better mood, and SPONSORS enter in a good mood and leave in a better mood. And listen to all of them talking about next year. And then let YOU ANSWER THE QUESTION OF HOW IT COMPARES TO YOUR SHOW.
Now get it together.
As for my fellow pros…IF you can find a way to get to this show…AND ARE PREPARED TO WORK YOUR ASS OFF FOR THREE DAYS ( and i mean THREE DAYS, i started signing autographs when the show started and didn’t stop until twenty minutes after it closed)…I suggest you start your groveling now, because there isn’t much room.
In closing I would like to thank Jemma Press and Comicdom con for having me out there as a guest and it is my sincere hope that if I am invited back next year…and am asked “How does our show compare to U.S. shows” I will be able to shoot my mouth off about the things they are doing in the U.S. that the GREEKS could learn from ..instead of visa POW versa.
As for my faithful readers here in the U.S. I will be at the mighty C2E2 (Chicago) in a couple of weeks to restore my faith in the U.S…hell I’m so upside down right now I may even sleep with some attendee just to get my mind right, I just hope I don’t shout “Greece” at some point during the act.