I have to say that comic events are not healthy for those involved in this pretend industry. I say that because it is NOT an industry. Let me explain.
I've attended comic and zine events for a few decades. There were familiar faces but always a few new ones at events. So you would meet someone or see books you had not before. It kept things fresh. It does not work like that these days.
Firstly, as already explained, event organisers are pricing tables too high. A small presser needs to accept that they are giving away books at these events because if they are making money they are miracle workers.
Here is the posting that got me some very nasty responses -from event organisers.
What I did during the week was look at upcoming comic events (yes, I have not "won" a table at any of them....seriously) and who is exhibiting/selling at them. With the odd exception -the same faces at every event. So, as I used to do this sort of thing when it involved a table full of books, journals and files, I thought "it's all on the internet go on!" Yes, I decided to see how varied attendances (Exhibitors/Dealers) at UK comic events going back five years.
Well, the same comic creators with a very few minor variations, the same exhibitors and traders -again with only slight variations. So, I went back ten years. To me this was a bit shocking as the same thing applied. As I have programs/catalogues from UK events I decided to delve back further.
The last time comic events in the UK could be called fresh and unpredictable was the mid-1990s. From 2000 on it seems almost blindingly obvious (it is all there online if you have a few hours to waste) that events have developed into a little closed gang. Everyone knows everyone else and tend to be selling the same books with occasionally announced "new books".
These are NOT people who depend on comics to earn a living. The one thing I like about the internet is that social media and other outlets allow you to find out so much about people. Who is a registered publisher and pays tax as a publisher earning an income and so on. Social media also lets you learn more. People with full times employment and "do comics as a pastime".
You can also see how the old back issue comic dealers have been squeezed out more and more and that means many have just gone out of business. Some have gone to Ebay and found it such bad experiences that they quit and retire.
People "in comics" today do it to be part of a social club, to be "characters" but are not out to be full time comic publishers, earning a living from the medium. They also have very little interest in comics outside of their own or those of their friends -I've observed this since 2000 events. People interested in collecting old comics -the real comickers- have been pushed out.
With the Small or Alternative Press it is a hobby. A group thing. And, yes, the same people attend these events but they are not pretending to be comic publishers -very -very- few know anything about American comics let alone British comics. They will all go to the same events but few will travel to events where they do not have the usual "entourage" -a group that basically hangs about but only buy from their specific creator and might look at other tables but they ain't buying.
The Small Press events seem to have their own individual "same old people" but that's no problem. If they are not out to make money -a living- and its just fun why not? It is a social thing.
But think of it from the perspective of a family group or individuals who pay money to get into an event and you hear "It seems to be all the same people as last time. I haven't seen anything new" -and you've lost them. I have heard that a few times.
The old Bristol Expo used to have a good mix and events or items to interest families as well as the jaded old comicker.
I was noticing how the same old-same old faces were getting one or two tables for selling very limited numbers of books because they asked for two tables or three. Now, a big publisher like Cinebook it is understandable as they have huge numbers of books. But someone selling a new (single) book or 2-3 then if they have one table that is lost to another publisher who still pays but adds a new face to the crowd. Two tables should be two traders. They still pay -even if they are not friends of the organisers.
I would really like to see the genuine comickers -those who collect and read comics- get back these events. They are managing to do this in the US -the Clallam Bay Comic Con for one.
Bring back the one day marts in your town. A church hall, scout hall -it does not have to be a huge room so long as you can fit in tables, traders and comic buyers. Work out the cost of hiring the hall and divide that up for the number of tables and that covers costs.
Charging £50, £60 and £80 tables are just plain extortion -in the US fans have started a backlash having realised events are getting more expensive for less event. organisers are the only people doing really well!
If we really want to keep new people flowing into the hobby, and allow the old comickers to continue without being pushed out for cos-players (who generally do not go to events to buy comics) then changes must be made.
The one day marts need to return.