Superpowers of Selling: Comics at Non-Comic Cons

If you’ve been to a comic book convention lately, chances are you might have a bout of temporary confusion. Why? Most of the shows are about one-third comics and two-thirds everything else. That everything else includes video games, movies and TV primarily, with a smattering of other geekery mixed in. That has a tendency to make the shows less “comic con” and more just “con” in a sense.

The cross-promotion is good for comics though. Even if the bulk of the attendees hit the floor for everything else, inevitably, they see some comics, even if they are from Marvel or DC. The cross-pollination of geeks where everyone attends a comic convention for something else but comes away with a new interest in comics, maybe there’s something else at play. What if comic companies started exhibiting at primarily video game oriented conventions?

San Diego Comic Con and New York Comic Con are two of the biggest comic book conventions annually. Both have turned into pop culture events, San Diego because of its proximity to Hollywood and New York because it’s New York. NYCC has maintained more of a comic book presence, but even it boasts long lines for media related panels. They do have a large comic book presence though, which is good for comic book business.

The thing is that those shows are selling themselves on the comic naming, while not being purely about comics. So why not—as a comic book publisher—set up an exhibition booth at non-comic book related show? Of course, comic book publishers do have a presence at video game shows when there’s a video game due out using their property. That doesn’t really help sell comic books though.

For instance, PAX East and PAX Prime are two of the biggest video gaming shows on the circuit. Both have roots in webcomics somewhat, but their biggest selling point is video games and tabletop gaming. Still, the crowd at the shows is primarily gamers, who are also likely to be comic book readers. If you’re an up and coming studio and the costs aren’t too prohibitive, wouldn’t it make sense to get some floor space at one of those shows?

Imagine being at PAX East, walking onto the floor and seeing a large Marvel or DC booth grabbing some space. The initial thought would be somewhat surprising, but then you would quickly make the realization that it all made sense. Gamers and comic book readers are—as mentioned earlier—often the same crowds. Marvel and DC though probably don’t need to be at a video game show, which begs the question which publishers really do.

With more and more indie games making waves on the market, it would stand to reason that indie publishers have good reason to be at a video game show. It’s likely that floor costs aren’t too crazy; at the very least they’re on par with those of SDCC. If you’re a publisher like Image Comics or Dark Horse, showing your comic book stuff at a show like PAX East would essentially give you all the comic eyes at the show. The fun doesn’t stop there though.

Smaller publishers would do very well at a video game show. As a publisher, you’ll get swept up in all the traffic for the AAA titles due out that year and being showcased at the convention. Again, assuming the cost isn’t too crazy, even if you set up a relatively small booth, the foot traffic alone would more than make up for it. And as one of the few comic book publishers at the show, that booth would likely stand out among attendees.

The concept of comic book publishers at non-comic book conventions certainly isn’t a new idea. In fact, it’s not even that revolutionary. It just seems to be something that could be a natural progression in the grand scheme of being a geek. The notion of being a geek isn’t confined to only one specific form. Many times, those who read comics often play video games, watch movies, watch TV, cosplay and do a whole host of other things that make them geeks.

Many shows are becoming less about the advertised subject matter and more about the people attending them. For a comic book publisher, it only makes sense to go with the flow. Maybe instead of spending money on a booth at SDCC, where you’re competing with every single comic superstar under the sun, spend the money on a video game show like E3, where you may be a big comic book fish in a small pond.