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Does San Diego need another Comic-Con?

November 18, 2009 - 6:59 pm

With four-day San Diego Comic-Con International passes unprecedentedly selling out in early November, does San Diego need another con? And four times a year at that?

If the hundreds of attendees at the first San Diego Quarterly Con last Sunday are any indication, then, yes, there is a need.

“There’s a big enough collector market that still exists in San Diego and wants to come to this,” said Roy God Damm, self-professed “spokesman of the underground” and attendee at Sunday’s event.

“Everyone’s sick of eBay; they’re sick of paying people to ship their stuff. It has to come back down to this level; otherwise collecting is dead.”

In April, Paul Martinez, organizer of the now-defunct Las Vegas Comic-Con, decided to create a smaller local con. From talking with industry friends and comic book fans, he found there was a need yet to be filled, especially for those interested in Silver Age comic books (titles from the late 1950s through 1970). And Martinez thinks that the recession will actually work in SD Quarterly Con’s favor.

With San Diego Comic-Con International’s recent four-day pass sellout “and everything else that’s happening, this show is going to work out really well,” Martinez said. “Just because it gives people an alternative to come out and enjoy something. It’s affordable—there’s free parking, it’s easy to get to, admission’s real cheap.”

So, he booked the Scottish Rite Center for the first show on Nov. 15 and signed up exhibitors from throughout Southern California. Relying on word-of-mouth marketing and leafletting at SDCCI and the Long Beach Comic-Con, a few hundred folks showed up for the six-hour show headlined by comic-book publisher Top Cow.

While it seems counter-intuitive to start a new comics convention now, Martinez noted that things were much worse off when he left the industry a few years ago.

“In the late ’90s, we watched [the comic book industry] and everything was going sideways,” Martinez said. “It wasn’t really going anywhere. There was a lot of saturation with people buying lots of comics in the ’90s. There was so much saturation that the books weren’t really collectable, like what happened to the baseball-card market. Too much printing, too much product out there.”

For now, Martinez is optimistic the SD Quarterly Con will grow.

“Small cons count, too,” Martinez said. “It’s not just big ones, small ones are part of the whole curriculum. We’ll see what happens.”

SD Quarterly Con returns to the Scottish Rite Center in March 2010.

Lorena Nava Ruggero is a San Diego-based freelance writer and graphic-novel reviewer.

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