Tuesday, September 23, 2014

CosPlay Is Killing Creators

So today I was reading this article where the wife of a Star Wars artist blames cosplayers for comic creators not making money at conventions.

I must say my first thought was, "Who goes to San Diego Comic-Con for comics?"

Which is obviously sad in a way, since it originally was a COMIC convention.

Today it's more about television and movies and star appearances. And possibly video games. That's the audience desperately struggling to get the limited amount of tickets available and then sleeping in line overnight to see Benedict Cumberbatch. They're not giving up their place in line to see comic creators they could see elsewhere more easily - and rightfully so!

But apparently it is a Known Fact that comic creators are losing money going to conventions these days.


She thinks it's because of cosplayers:

"I’ve seen it first-hand–the uber-famous artist who traveled all of the way from Japan, sitting at Comic-Con, drawing as no one even paid attention to him, while the cosplayers held up floor traffic and fans surround the cosplayers–rather than the famed industry household name–to pose for selfies."


I "cosplayed" before there was a name for it. Back in my day, we called it DRESSING UP FOR THE CONVENTION.
*what kind of stupid cutesy name is cosplay, anyway?* *grumble, grumble*

I was asked for pictures back when you had to bring a camera.

In my handmade Doctor Who (Fem)Brigadier outfit, I was once even asked for my autograph by a little boy.


I think cosplay can be *perceived* as more of a diversion from creators these days because:

1) More people cosplay. Now that there's a word for it, it's a THING TO DO. And with the Internet, you can find people to make your costume for you. It doesn't have to be a time consuming, searching for just the right materials, frustrating, labor of love.

Also EVERYONE has a camera phone, so:

2) More people ask for pictures.

And with the Internet, even more people WANT photos.

Used to be you took a picture because you liked the costume. Film had a limited number of pictures possible on each roll, so you had to pick and choose. These were for your personal collection. You couldn't share it with anyone but your local friends.

3) Digital photos are free and endless. The Internet encourages uploading. More pictures happen.

Now people can want pictures for themselves. Or pictures to post on social forums. Or they can be trolls who want to post a photo and anonymously make fun of the cosplayer.

Sidenote: Nobody trolled like that back in the day, because you had to PAY for film, for developing, and you could only show your local friends, like I said, and they'd probably think you were mean and judge you so...why bother?

The author did try to correct her statement by saying she meant not the costume-wearers themselves, but the social element that has built up around them. That conventions are about seeing and being seen, not buying stuff from creators. There has been a shift from "commerce-driven" to "social gathering-driven."

4) Conventions have ALWAYS been social functions. Remember filking?

In fact, I'd say conventions were MORE social gathering-driven before "geek" became mainstream, before the Internet let us know there were others of us out there. We might be social misfits in our schools, but at conventions we were AMONG OUR PEOPLE.


Why are comic creators losing money on conventions when everyone knows the Dealer's Room is the heart of any convention? I mean, we LOVE to buy cool stuff.

Okay, first off, let me say I am probably TOTALLY WRONG. But:

1) Know your venue.

I don't think SDCC and Wizard World conventions really cater to the comic buying crowd.

I would go to those for the film and television celebrities. I see them. I "know" them.

I don't know most comic book creators.

Which brings us to my second point.

2) You can buy practically everything cheaper online these days.

For me to seek out a person at a convention to get their signature or an original drawing, I have to value that interaction, that connection. My brain has to make the leap between - "I really loved that story" to "I really like this creator."

And that which will drive people to make that leap is what we all strive to discover. I'm an author. I go to conventions. I'd like to know the magic secret too.

I can only say that in my own experience:

1) I adore the Captain America movies. I have never read a Captain America comic.  I went to all the X-men movies. Never read their comics either. Remember that Witchblade television show? I watched that. Never read the comics.

Comic creators should probably ignore me.

However, if you're looking to attract new readers, I'm probably the demographic you're up against. At least we know the comics exist.

That said, there is one comic creator I would attend a convention for:   Brad Abraham.

This is because I "know" him.

I "met" him on Twitter. I like him. I like his work. I already have autographed copies. But I would attend New York Comic-Con to visit his creator table. And I live in New Mexico.


With the mainstreaming of "geek" culture, no one can assume they're a "household name" anymore. (Sad, but true.) You have to reach out to the newly geekyized and let them know who you are, what you create, why you're worth interacting with.

But NOT in a 24-hour-every-tweet/post-is-an-advert way. That'll get you unfollowed real quick.


That's my two cents on a subject nobody asked my opinion about in the first place. :)

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