Has San Diego Comic-Con Gotten Too Big?
There was no shortage of exciting announcements about comic book series, movies, TV shows, and many other areas of geeky interests coming out of San Diego Comic-Con. There was news from Marvel, DC, Star Wars, and countless others. By in large, it seems to have been another successful show. However, there does seem to be increasing discussions about how big SDCC is getting and how quickly it is growing. While this would seem to be a great thing for most conventions, there is a possibility that San Diego Comic-Con may be getting too
The San Diego Comic-Con (also called “Comic-Con International”) has been around for decades, since 1970, as I discussed in a “San Diego Comic-Con - The Early Years
” article I wrote a few years back. For much of its history, San Diego Comic-Con has been a comic convention that was avoided by areas of entertainment other than comics. In the past ten or so years, though, as superhero movies, television, video games, and general nerdiness have come into vogue, SDCC has become the place to go for entertainment properties, even if their links to comics are virtually nonexistent.
In general, more big studios, big actors, and big news are wonderful things for a convention. If you are attending a panel on 20th Century Fox’s movies, you certainly love to get an unexpected preview of the Deadpool
movie. The problem is everyone else wants that too. San Diego Comic-Con was already the best-attended comic convention due to its importance in the comics world before the influx of movies and TV. There are only so many tickets to go around, so as more big names have come to San Diego Comic-Con over the past decade, demand for tickets has skyrocketed. For fans that have gone to SDCC for years, it’s a much more arduous (and expensive) process now to get tickets than in the past.
The other problem is actual space. As more and more people try to cram into the convention space, lines have become longer and longer. It’s not uncommon for attendees to start lining up for panels in Hall H (the largest room and therefore the home to the biggest and hottest panels) a day or two in advance. You read that correctly – these people are spending their convention time, which they paid steeply for, in line! This article nicely details the ridiculous things fans must go through to attend San Diego Comic-Con
. This has led some people to suggest that perhaps Comic-Con International has gotten too big for San Diego and it’s time to move.
Comic-Con International is held in the San Diego Convention Center. It has a total of 615,700 square feet of space on the exhibitor hall. Compare that to the 814,000 exhibitor floor space of the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York City, home to the New York Comic Con. Anaheim, host of the WonderCon, has a massive convention center that is 815,000 square feet. There has been a push for years to expand the San Diego Convention Center, which would give SDCC more muchly needed space, but it’s gotten shot down again and again in the local government. So recently Comic-Con International was taking offers from others cities
to move Comic-Con out of San Diego before they signed on staying in San Diego until 2018
. That’s three more SDCC's, but the door remains open to leave in the future, especially if the San Diego Convention Center stays the same size.
As the notoriety and legend of San Diego Comic-Con grows, more and more new attendees want to attend the show. This year, Conan O’Brien did a week of shows from SDCC, and he reaches a whole audience that may now see Comic-Con as a cool, hip thing to do regardless of their interest in comics or related nerdy hobbies (perhaps comic conventions will be the new music festival…). Some smaller comic creators are feeling the pinch and believe that Comic-Con has moved too far away from the “comic” part of its name. In reality, fewer attendees probably go to SDCC primarily for comics than in the past.
Not too long ago, I wrote an article about the pros and cons of large comic conventions versus smaller ones
. As one of the largest conventions in the world, San Diego Comic-Con has very particular problems while also boasting very specific benefits if you can pass the hurdles to attend. Despite the protests from some creators and fans, the general verdict seems to declare SDCC a success. Comic-Con International is also virtually guaranteed to sell out in minutes next year. The show is now at a sort of impasse, though – it will not get smaller and it can grow no more in size despite a consistent growth in popularity. So when it comes to comic conventions, how big is too big?