SAN DIEGO – Video games, collectables, and Cookie Monster? The 40th year of San Diego’s annual Comic Con proved it’s not just your father’s comic book convention anymore, unless your father would dress up like a Storm Trooper or a Transformer. Yes, the convention had just about everything, but what happened to the comics?
“The growth of the crowds is really been for the movies and the premieres and all that sort of Hollywood-based stuff,” says Terry Nantier with literary comic vender NBM Publishing.
The 40th year proved to be no exception. Disney’s hoping it’s better late than never for blockbuster hopeful Tron Legacy. They unveiled a teaser for the movie set to release nearly 30 years after the original.
ABC’s hit television show Lost also garnered a lot of attention. The sci-fi mystery show is entering its final season. Fans and the actors lined up to question producers.
Yes, it seems comics have taken a backseat. Still, plenty showed to support their favorite comic artists and writers. Actor Phil LaMarr has seen a change.
“I made a joke at the Eisner Awards last night that next year they’re gonna change it that the development executives are gonna be at the booths and you guys just come up with your comics and get an option deal,” says LaMarr, former Mad TV and Futurama actor.
Joking aside, most don’t see the shift from Superman to Sawyer as bad. The change has opened some businesses up to more customers.
“It’s not just people who, A, write comic book scripts or, B, writes screenplays and want to turn them into graphic novels. People that have graphic novels want to turn them into movies,” says Chris Thorne, who develops scriptwriting software.
Hollywood is trying to capitalize on the Comic Con magic, looking to the world of superheroes to save them from the recession. Studios handed out goodies hoping it will translate to sales and big box office numbers. Comics and Comic Con gives the studios a nearly unlimited supply of potential money-making ideas.
“It can be every and all type of genres that you can imagine that’s available in bodies or movies or anything else and do all of those things well,” says Nantier.
It might work. It would seem the annual convention is nearly recession-proof. The four-day festival sold out. Tickets ran between $20 and $75. More than 100,000 fans flocked to buy up the latest comic books, collectables and video games.
Thousands tourists, two-thirds of them from out-of-town, figure to spend millions of dollars on hotels, restaurants and shops to the tune of$40 million,according to the San Diego Convention Center.