Hey guys its Geoffrey K. Gwin and I'm winding down from the wild weekend of travel and convention stuff...Jackson Missisippi was the location and It was pretty bleeping awesome as it was my first year at this particular con.. Now I have been doing conventions as a vendor or in artists alley for around 8 years now and there are all types of cons under the sun...Some can encompass the size of small cities (San Diego Comic Con, New York Comic Con, DragonCon , Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo etc.)..Some barely register a blip on the radar..
The determining factor of a conventions size is and will always be measured by the amount of attendees.. With the aforementioned cons boasting numbers from 50-100,000 people attending there's no argument as to why they are on top. Now I am in no way an authority on convention numbers, dynamics, operations or what have you but there are things you notice as a vendor because you kinda blur the line of con organizer and attendee..
I have some cons scheduled for the rest of the year and into the next that are not big in name but pack quite the punch.. I just got back from Mississippi Comic Con (formerly SoPoCu) run by Greg Hanks and I must say there were times I couldn't see 10 feet in any direction because of crowd mass...It's a problem we vendors looooooooooove to have.. You also have the Geek Gathering run by John and Cori Alsbrooks that has been amassing increasing numbers each year while located in a quaint town in Sheffield Alabama.. Pensacon has all but eliminated itself from being called a small convention..Owner Mike Ensley decided to organize a con and a year later he's recieving the key to the city...Go figure!..Now there are tons of other small cons (Marble City, Atlanta Comic Con, Fanaticon, Onyxon) That I have or have not attended or have little knowledge of, but mind you, the rumblings indicate these cons are gaining steam as well....
Now before we "diss" the small guys for not having the numbers of the larger cons, lets understand a few dynamics that shape these "Giganti-Cons."
I can have something called "Gwin-Con" in Boston and there will probably be 5000 people there.. I do the same thing in Amory , Mississippi and there might be five crickets in the building..Major cities already have the masses its just a matter of of getting the word to them.
Moolah peoples!..You wont see George Lucas signing autographs in a town that barely has a population of 400...its not feasible for him and ya just wont see it.
So what gives? What makes these smaller cons even worth the effort?.how do they even compete?...Well, there are factors there as well.......
Smaller cons usually mean smaller towns and cities.. These cons don't deal with traffic jams, rush hours, or paid parkings decks that are full.. They are usually at the largest social meeting place the town has to offer, like an auditorium,, a gymnasium, or a recreation center.. My friend Andy Childress (http://bubbaworldcomix.com/) had a gathering at a rodeo/stockyard...It had a dirt floor...Get cha summa dat!..
No VIP passes, No specialized admission..Numbers are generated by having lower ticket prices to bring in the faithful...And the faithful are more than willing to be a part of it..
Now Im not advocating big cons are bad..They aren't...I'm just trying to get to the root of how the little guys are able to make strides in a world where bigger is always presumed as better.. As a vendor I think its this......
Its the little things.....
Its the organizers shaking hands and making eye contact with vendors and patrons.. Its the promises they make and the excitement in fullfillment of these promises... Its people like John and Cori Allsbrooks going door to door to buisnesses to hang up posters for promotion, because creating a facebook event 2 days before does not a successful "gathering" make... Its organizers purchasing booth space at a larger con simply to shine awareness to your event.. Its vendors saying to kids "Is this your first con?....Well you get something for free."...There are things that are sometimes lost in the shuffle of the big world.
No super-sized con started super-sized.....Also not all small cons wish to be super-sized..Little things get lost. But an increase in size venue and attendance is in cases inevitable....In which case we can only hope...Hope that with the success and growth that the "little things" remain that got them there....
Peace and Hairgrease!