As I sat in traffic this morning outside the
San Diego Convention Center
for nearly an entire hour I had an epiphany. Just four years after a doubling of the size of the San Diego convention facility, we've already maxed out its capabilities (again). For that matter, we've actually overwhelmed the entire City of San Diego. Local news reports are saying that all hotels are sold out for 50 miles on Saturday evening, and the parking situation has become simply ridiculous.
If you're not here at 7 AM you can forget about parking in the underground lot, and the huge nearby parking structure will be full by 9 AM tomorrow. This is happening even though a great many local fans are now taking advantage of the San Diego light rail. Then there's the subject of crowding in the building. It used to be that Saturdays were uncomfortably packed with people, but that other days were OK. But this year even the Preview Night had crowds so thick that it made traversing the broadest aisles an onerous chore. Quite frankly, I now realize that I am dreading Saturday. I used to actually walk around the show to visit with my friends in the comics biz during slower periods, but with the current uncomfortable level of humanity packing the walkways, I now spend most of my time cowering behind the protective tables of our booth.
I'll now let you in on a little secret. It is a little known fact, but in the initial years after the convention center opened, they would not even let us apply to lease space. In their infinite wisdom, the managers hired to run the brand new San Diego convention center during the early 1990's considered our convention to be too small and too eclectic to be allowed to occur in such a beautiful facilty.
Fast forward 15 years, and we're now one of the largest annual events in the entire San Diego region. Aside from putting San Diego on the map as regards the worlds of comics and popular culture, we also pump millions and millions of dollars into the local economy. What we're going to do next, however, is anyone's guess. Do we cap the attendence? That may seem nuts at first glance, but when we've completely used up all of the available resources, how can we encourage even more people to attend?
At some point there comes a near total degradation of the experience. Consider rock concerts, just to cite a slightly different example. If a building has a capability to comfortably hold 50,000 people, then the promoters can only sell 50,000 tickets, and no more. Otherwise, you have not only excessive crowding, but also safety concerns. Now I have no idea what the overall capacity is of the San Diego Convention Center, but I think that tomorrow we will come really close to reaching that level. We may even exceed it. Do not be at all surprised if the break point comes tomorrow, with the fire marshalls shutting down the ticket sales. It happened in new York in February, and I fully expect it to happen here very soon.
So with all of the difficulties I've mentioned above, how can I still continue to recommend that you attend this show? Well, it's pretty easy to explain. This event is so far beyond any other media convention in the world that it simply has to be seen to be believed. Not only do you have a great selelction of all kinds of products to buy, but as I mentioned in yesterday's newsletter,
the publishers and manufacturers also bring huge amounts of promotional material that they give away for free. Then there are the new movies that are promoted here, sometimes with trailers appearing for the first time in any venue. What about the panels with comics creators who only attend this show? You can obtain autographs here (at least if you are very diligent and patient), that cannot be had at any other convention in the world.
Aside from all of those concrete considerations, just being here is an amazing experience. While I may be using my tables for protection from the crowds, I can't get enough of watching the incredible human parade pass by our booth. Knowing that tomorrow is the day that all the costumes arrive already has me really excited. I also simply love learning about new comics projects directly from the creators. They bring samples to me all day, and I spend as much time as I can reading new small press comics.
My oldest daughter, Rowan, made the trip out here at the last minute, and given her extensive network of contacts in the Indy comics world, has been bringing by a steady stream of small press creators to meet me. Getting to know these young people gives me a genuine thrill, as I see in their talent and enthusiasm the spark that will keep the world of comics going strong long after I pass. I cannot even describe how happy and content that makes me feel.
That's all I can write for you today. I've now had my back exposed to the crowd for over an hour as I typed, and I really want to get back into the relative safety and comfort of our booth. I did want to close today's column, however, by thanking everyone who has responded to the
50% off SANDIEGO codeword
sale during the past 48 hours.
It has sometimes occurred in the past that our gains in sales at the convention were offset by a decline in our online sales during the convention. That's not a surprise, really, as when over 100,000 comics fans cram into a single venue for five days, it is inevitable that a goodly number of our regular clients would be among that multitiude. Not surprisingly, that results in our losing some measure of sales volume. This year, however, the 50% off SANDIEGO codework has encouraged so many of you not attending the convention to send in orders via our website, that our online sales have actually surged during the convention, rather than declining. That makes my wife, Nanette (who pays our bills...), very happy. Suffice it to say, when Nanette is happy, I'm allowed to be happy...
President - Mile High Comics, Inc.
of next weeks comics from
Marvel and DC
PS: Here are pam's photos of some of the booths here at the show. I wish we could show them all to you, as each and every booth in the place has something worth seeing. But with over 1,000 exhibitors, it's just impossible.
Cafe Express - Snack bar shut down for more booth space
G-4 TV Live Broadcast
Heroes Garage Speed Racer
Disney full-size Jack Skellington
Hasbro Ghost Rider Motorcycle
Dark Horse Comics Booth
Cartoon Network Booth
Holly and Jim sketch at the Broadsword Booth
Slave Labor Graphics
DC Comics Booth
Puppet from Saw II
Kabuki's David Mack at the Image Booth
Dan Brereton's Nocturnals
Girl at Bloody Mary Comics
Mattel's Hot Wheels
Will and Bill shifting our books around