As a comic blogger and interviewer, I have to regularly make decisions about what stories to run and what books to review for this site. STR’s mission statement has always been to support independent comics and their creators by shining a spotlight on them. One way we do this is by attending conventions and interviewing creators.
When we post the interviews (both on this site and on YouTube) we make a point the emphasize the convention where the interview took place. Convention organizers work tirelessly to attract talent, promote their shows, and produce a quality experience for everyone. Hopefully, by highlighting the creators at the shows, we will do our part to support the show and encourage people to attend in the future.
In the Pacific Northwest we are blessed with an abundance of comic book shows and conventions. From small, dealer-focused shows with plenty of longboxes and back issues, to experimental shows such as The Projects, to the biggest of them all, Emerald City Comic-Con, the Pacific Northwest has been a shining example of the independent, can-do spirit of comics.
This year, Wizard World announced that they were bringing their show to Portland. At first I was intrigued. Wizard World is a different type of convention than the other shows, focusing as much on celebrities as it does comics. In addition, it is far larger than any other show that has ever happened in Portland. Given that Portland is a comics town, it seemed at first that Wizard World was the kind of convention Portland deserved. Big, flashy, and a destination.
But then I started thinking about it a bit more. And that is when I started to have some reservations. First off there was the timing. Wizard World staked its claim to the weekend before Emerald City Comic-Con. This meant that people would, potentially, have to decide between the shows. Given that Wizard World is before, some people may decide to go to this convention instead of Emerald City. I must confess that I considered going to Wizard World as I thought that the crowds might be slightly smaller given the popularity of Emerald City Comic-Con and the fact that Wizard World was in its first year in Portland.
But then I looked at the guest list and realized that Wizard World had booked some of the same headlining talent (including Chris Claremont and Gail Simone). It is doubtful that people will be willing (or able) to pay to see the same people twice. So, people are going to have to make a choice: Wizard World or Emerald City.
It is not just in the Pacific Northwest that Wizard World has attempted to squash a local, independent convention. They are doing the same thing in St. Louis. They have done the same thing in New York, Chicago, and tried to do the same thing in Charlotte.
And that brings me to my decision. STR will not be attending Wizard World Portland. Despite the fact that we will be missing out on the opportunity to meet some creators who will not be attending Emerald City Comic-Con, we will not be using our site to promote Wizard World. Instead we will focus our efforts on interviewing as many creators as possible at Emerald City Comic-Con, voting with our dollars by spending money at emerald City, and encouraging potential attendees and professionals to visit Emerald City Comic-Con.
It is time that we do not just stand up for independent creators, but also stand up for independent conventions and their organizers. Stand up and be heard!