I went to conventions once in awhile back when I was still but a pup (around 19 years old). I went to a New York Convention and blew off getting a free sketch from John Byrne to talk to this cool writer Don McGregor. I worked a table for the comic shop guy that I knew and did not buy an Amazing Spider-Man #2 for $20 because it was a little too much money for my wallet then.
Later, much later I went to some small conventions as I owned a comic book store and had a table trying to sell my books. The vicious undercutting to move products made those little conventions quite a joy.
The retailer conventions I attended were the best. High profile guests without large crowds and getting to here presentations about what publishers were going to do. I got a sketch from Neil Gaiman in a Sandman hard cover one time and purchased a picture from Martin Nodell, creator of the Golden Age Green Lantern. Marty was a really nice person and I was sad when I read he had died years back.
Then another gap and I started to attend the Baltimore Comic Con. I picked up some books and roamed around a lot the first year looking for stuff to buy or getting a freebie here and there. For the last year couple of years I have only gone to the panels. I no longer really have anything I want to buy and only care about listening to people talk about the industry or maybe buy a page of art from someone.
As the Comic Con looms and another Baltimore Comic Con awaits on the horizon I find my desire to attend is somewhat waning. Why go at all. I have nothing I need to buy. I have been to the panels and heard the same thing almost year after year. The only panel of true interest was the one about Bernie Wrightson last year and it was cool to get a retrospective on him and see the man himself talk about art.
So what is missing from the Comic Cons. I know – the fans having a voice. Oh sure we vote with our dollars, but lets face it the companies think demand is inelastic and we will buy whatever they shovel out to us. I would love to see a FAN PANEL. My thought is that a two to three hour session where fans get together and put together what they think are the good things and bad things about our industry. This group could lay out a specific set of demands that we want to present to the comic companies. It could be little things, like stop the goofy numbering Marvel or it could be things like we push for certain reprint formats, stop catering to just book stores. Applaud the things that are done well and just get a sense from each other (face to face) about what we think of the industry. When you go to a DC or Marvel panel, you know the answers you will get. Hell they have no choice as they are towing the company line like you and I would if we had the chance to be sitting there. But wouldn’t it be cool to have a fan panel and maybe some of the Marvel, DC, BOOM, IDW or whatever people come in to listen and ask us questions as opposed to the same answers we always hear at every other panel.
At least it would be something different and maybe it could generate a new level of fandom.