SpringCon, brought to life by the all-volunteer Midwest Comic Book Association, faced some additional pressure and competition after Wizard World Minneapolis, the area’s inaugural pop culture convention, came to town for the first time, scheduling itself just two weekends prior to the homegrown, more comic book-focused show. Boasting over 100,000 square feet of floor space and more than 250 creators in attendance, Saturday’s headcount on a balmy warm weather day set a record, with Sunday staying fairly active as well.
Longtime supporting creators and regional dealers all attended SpringCon to show their backing of the local show and had a (mostly) ‘silent embargo’ against attending the larger Wizard World Minneapolis, which was conspicuously scheduled over Free Comic Book Day; an industry event now in its 12th year, that supports local retailers and encourages new readers with a bevy of free offerings and associated promotions available at your local comic book shop.
Dan Jurgens, Adam Hughes, Bill Willingham, Jeff Parker, Steve Lieber, and others, were among the marquee guests at SpringCon, which also included panel discussions, a cosplay costume contest, and charity art auction, with all proceeds going to the Lupus Foundation and industry-supported Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.
In the end, both conventions were successful in terms of the promoters’ expectations and so much so, that 2015 has already been scheduled by both sides within again, the same two weekends of each other. The MCBA returns before that though, with its “one day wonder”, FallCon, scheduled for Saturday October 4th in a smaller building in the State Fairgrounds.
Some suggestions to make both shows better and here’s to another battle brewing in May 2015:
Wizard World Minneapolis-
- Re-schedule Your Date- a different month/weekend would not as directly compete with local show SpringCon and would not be over Free Comic Book Day weekend—this would free up more disposable income for spending fans, make the calendar more bearable in terms of events, and not alienate every retailer that counts on FCBD weekend as their best-selling event of the year.
- Re-establish yourself as a more comic book-centric convention – while wrestlers and TV stars appearing are somewhat interesting, a lack of overall comic book creators and dealers in this first year, hurt the show’s core audience. Comic book talent that did appear at Wizard World Minneapolis were contracted to appear at several national shows by the company, and unfortunately did not draw much activity.
- Embrace the local fan community – known more for its predatory tactics, Wizard World should actively reach out to the local fanbase and better support the pop culture its show brings, to create more of a camaraderie with area fans, instead of the impression that the industry’s 800lb. gorilla is coming to town, to bury the longtime local show.
- Use the competition aspect to attract more star creator guests – Heroes Con in NC is a marvelous example of a homegrown fan-friendly convention that attracts a multitude of top flight creators. When Wizard moved into that area with its own show, creators and fans rallied to insure Heroes Con would flourish and the show and its reputation, has grown exponentially ever since.
- Better highlight the show’s overall value - $12 for two days ($11 w/food donation) is an absolute steal in terms of rising prices, especially when compared with more national multi-media shows (Wizard and others) which can be $50-100 per day at the door. The overall nature of this local show, allows creators to be met in a one-on-one and relaxed manner that the major shows can’t offer. The charity art auction is not only for a good cause, but often means that a unique piece of original artwork can be had for a fraction of its true worth.
- Bring more old/new talent to town – While the larger shows only seem interested in the ‘hottest’ creators of the moment, MCBA has had a history of uniquely bringing more old and new creators to town, and needs to do more of this. Older comic veterans like Joe Staton, Rich Buckler, Ernie Chan, and Silver Age legend Russ Health have all graced the show, as well as early appearances by then up-and-comers Michael Turner and Frank Cho among others. The show needs to re-dedicate itself to booking more of the old and new, that rarely appear elsewhere, to attract more out-of-area attendees.
SpringCon, Minnesota State Fairgrounds (17-18 May 2014)