As I enter the lobby of the non-descript downtown San Diego office building, I feel a growing realization that I am here, inside the sanctum sanctorum of Geekville’ USA — The Holy of Holies, Nerd-Vana, the headquarters of Comic-Con International.
I sign in and take the elevator up and as I step through the doors, the first thing I see to my left is a 4-foot drawing of Jeff Albertson (Comic Book Guy on the animated series The Simpsons) saying “Worst Comic-Con ever.” That pretty much sums up the attitude here, don’t take your self too seriously.
I’m led back to the office of David Glanzer, director of marketing and public relations. David is a very busy man these days, with WonderCon just finishing and Comic-Con fast approaching, but he clears his schedule enough for our interview.
Thanks for taking the time to meet with me, David. Which Comic-Con are we on now?
2013 will be our 44th convention, and we typically say our “44th Annual,” but our first year we had two conventions though they were small then.
And it’s branched out to cities all over the world.
Well yeah, one of the things we’ve seen… we only operate three conventions — Comic-Con, WonderCon, and the Alternative Press Expo or APE. But one of the great things is there are comics conventions nearly every weekend anywhere in the United States now, and that’s good for comics, good for the fans, and it’s good for the industry.
And Phoenix just wrapped up their Comic-Con.
We’re seeing a lot of these conventions that are smaller actually attract a lot more attendance. I know there are conventions in Washington State, Chicago, Georgia, Florida. I know that at WonderCon, we just had in Anaheim, and the attendance really just exploded for that show as well, so conventions seem to be doing well.
Now these other shows like Phoenix Comic-Con and the other cities, do they license the name “Comic-Con” from you, or do you just kind of look the other way?
That’s a tricky one; for the most part if there isn’t confusion it’s OK, when there becomes confusion that can be problematic. But for the most part I think we are all kind of getting along pretty well. And again, I think it’s a good thing for the fans, for professionals, for exhibitors, that there are these conventions because it helps the medium.
It seems every year there is talk about Comic-Con moving from San Diego to say, Vegas, where there is a much larger convention center. What’s the status so far now?
Well right now we’re contracted to stay in San Diego until 2016. The issue that we have been having is we’ve maximized the Convention Center to be honest with you, and we can’t fit any more people in. So our attendance numbers are flat and our exhibitor numbers are flat. What we’ve been able to do, luckily, is the city, the Convention Center, and the local hoteliers have allowed us to kind of mitigate some of those issues by utilizing existing space. So as an example we are using ballrooms in the hotels that are adjacent to the Convention Center, we are using public park space, things like that to almost create a “Comic-Con Campus” if you will. It’s allowing us to meet the demand without having a bigger facility, and so far it seems to be working out ok.
How are things shaping up for this year?
We’re right in the throws of it now! So it’s trying to figure out what program will work, we’re setting our exhibit floor, it’s amazing! I always think about Comic-Con as a Rubix Cube, you move something on the convention floor and other things have to move, because there’s aisle ways and corridors and what not.
Kind of a “Butterfly Effect.”
Yeah! The same thing is true with programming; one program track switches and some of those people may be on other programming so all of a sudden there’s yeah, a Butterfly Effect or Ripple Effect. Right now is the difficult task of trying to solidify as much as we can, but from what we see I think it will be a pretty exciting year. I’m excited for it!
Any big names confirmed for this year yet?
Not yet, and in terms of our invited guests we have nearly 60 invited guests on our website that span everything from comics to literature to movies; it’s going to be a really fun year.
Transportation and parking at Comic-Con are always an issue, how do you suggest our readers in North County get to and from the event?
Rapid transit is really, really good. We deal with MTS (Metropolitan Transit System) in the city. I’m not exactly sure of the mechanisms in North County but I recommend rapid transit because parking is such a challenge here during Comic-Con. If you can get on the train or some kind of rapid transit and not have to park down here I think that’s one of the best scenarios you can do.