Is Comic-Con still geeky?
Ewen: Comic-Con gets about 150,000 attendees, and I think it’s big enough that the con has become a ton of different things at once. The presence of the big movie studios can seem overwhelming, but when I went to Comic-Con (the last time was around 2008 or so) there was still a ton of indie comics, sci fi and fantasy fan stuff, and so on, so the geeky aspect is definitely still there. On the other hand, you can get all of that without having to navigate around a crowd of 10,000 Twilight fans or whatever by going to any number of other comic conventions, including Comic-Con’s own WonderCon and APE. To me the biggest problem with SDCC isn’t that its geek cred is slipping, but that it’s somehow outgrowing San Diego, making not only the convention center but the entire downtown area so ludicrously crowded as to be a pretty miserable experience at times.
Serdar: I think it’s definitely much more widely recognized than it was in previous years — it’s becoming a sort of geek-meets-mainstream nexus, one where the big studios stick their toes in the water to see what might cross over. Problem is, it doesn’t always work, as the general boxoffice failure of “Scott Pilgrim” demonstrated, and I think Hollywood is wising up on that score. (This goes back into my theory that fans are not always good evangelists to non-fans.)
Scott: It might be starting to lose its geek shine. There’s more and more mainstream stuff showing up there that isn’t completely geek-related. That said, it still has a draw for geeks. It’s the place to announce geek-friendly projects, find geek-friendly people, and network with geek-friendly geeks.*
* Geek friendliness not guaranteed. Void where prohibited. No purchase necessary. Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball.
Bonnie: The thing with Comic-Con is that while it still serves a geek audience, it’s also attracted the attention of the mainstream – not to mention non-geeks who might have an interest in properties usually considered geeky. I had a non-geek friend say to me a couple of weeks ago that she wished she could go to Comic-Con so she could meet the casts of shows like Dexter and True Blood.
Further confusion results from the fact that while it still has plenty of showcases for comic and sci-fi/fantasy based properties – witness the preview of the new Green Arrow TV series, which drew a hugely positive response – it’s also become a showcase for some fandoms that are, shall we say, considered controversial in terms of “geek cred” (Twilight and its fanfic-based spinoff Fifty Shades of Grey, in particular).
I think Comic-Con’s role is evolving into a “gateway” event for closet geeks who have an interest in media properties, but haven’t yet taken the plunge into more esoteric material (i.e., they like the Avengers and Batman movies, but have not discovered Watchmen or Sandman). If they attend Comic-Con and discover that they like that kind of thing, there will be plenty of people who can point them in the direction of more specialized cons and lesser-known canon materials. If they don’t? They still got to see some cool costumes.