Lately I’ve been seeing a lot of debate around an article published on the Guardian’s website about Thought Bubble. It was talking about comic-only shows and a few other things. On Facebook I’ve seen folk slamming shows like MCM for not being just about the comics – a barb I’ve seen hurled at the group many times before.
It’s baffling to me because the majority of people in know in this community make the most money at MCM events by a wide margin. This year the Glasgow and London shows were massively profitable and helped me fund more books. Sales were strong, the punters cared about comics, so what’s the issue?
Part of me feels there’s still a certain snobbery around the presence of TV, film, gaming and anything ‘not-comic’ at these shows. When in reality (for me anyway) they’ve drawn so many punters into Comic Village who normally wouldn’t look twice at a sequential. A lot of them have now become repeat punters year in-year out.
Now, of course we all have a different experience of these shows, but I can otl speak about my personal experience of tabling them. You may have genuine grievances with the way MCM is laid out, and I can’t discount that at all. So to be clear, this is what I’ve found personally.
The other big question is: Are comic only events better for artists and writers? In terms of sales, they’re not, but they are invaluable in growing contacts and getting my work in front of the right people (see: the incredibly important Thought Bubble), but I’ve made many great contacts at MCM shows as well. There are pros and cons to every show.
As the Marvel Cinematic Universe films have shown, comic properties are no longer confined to just books. If someone has only seen the Marvel films and comes to comics that way then that’s their path, and it shows that the film and TV sides are gateways to the books we produce. This is now a melting pot of genres, mediums and interests – whether we as creators like it or not.
Maybe you’ve had a bad MCM for whatever reason, but don’t blame the TV and film stuff. Does your book stand out in Comic Village? Have you put in the countless hours of promotion and marketing to generate a decent fan base? Is your table pitch correct? Do you just sit behind your table on your phone and expect punters to come to you?
If so, maybe the problem isn’t with the other things happening at the con.
Or maybe you genuinely just have had a run of bad luck at MCM – in which case, I feel you. Poorly performing shows are a real downer
What’s refreshing is that earlier this year, the MCM vendors mailing list sent out an acknowledgement that many comic vendors had been complaining about the format and the way Comics Village was set out, and the email did state they would take steps to make things more appealing and viable for comic creators.
It sounded sincere and I think since then Comic Village in London moved to a new format. I can’t speak for previous years or shows but I was told that the London format was more spacious and in a better location in May. It’s not clear what other steps they’ll be taking down the line – but I hope they do.
Ultimately, I think it can be all too easy to point fingers and get precious when things don’t go our way, or when we see others encroaching into our space. But in my experience, if MCM’s format keeps generating the kind of cash and interest I need to keep my business alive, then I don’t want them to change a thing.
(Well, that’s not entirely true, as more comic guests, promotion of the comics village and comicy things would of course be a nice way of redressing the balance. But hey let’s see what 2018 brings)