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MegaCon 2011: The Third Day and Exhausted

The final day of MegaCon was intense and I think everyone was happy, despite having a great time, to be wrapping things up. For me, the chance to sitting on the Comics and Digital Media panel was educational. The comic book industry is facing challenging as the publishing industry as a whole is transformed by digital access. Already struggling in a marketplace with diverse options, comic creators working for big publishers like Marvel and DC Comics are under pressure. Yet, listen to Darwyn Cooke, Terry Moore, and Jim Valentino discuss the problems facing the comic industry, you can also see there is an opportunity. The next generation of creators will be all digital and tell stories with comics that we cannot imagine right now. Terry Moore desire (and excitement) about social media was interesting to see. There are few names in comics that are more associated with independent creator and Moore's desire to interact with people and stay engage was impressive. Ironically, although he spoke about being unsure about the future, he in my opinion, is the kind of artisan that will benefit from the digital media transformation in publishing. Having established a reputation and following, if he can find the distribution system that will allow him to monetize his work, he will be even more successful. This for me was one of the big reveals of MegaCon. The margins for success in comic publishing are razor sharp. Yet, a talented creator who can create his or her brand and then monetize it through various revenue streams will be able to make a living. The problem is that the model for that hasn't been created. There are still basic problems like a universal format for viewing to be overcome. Still, some things are clear. Twitter is big for helping to promote a community tied to a creator's brand. Cross media (print, digital, video, audio) project can find and build an audience using digital tools.

There is no questions comics remain a powerful medium, but the nature of how the audience interacts with that medium will change. Those changes offer the opportunity for small publishers and individual artists to build a brand by cultivating an audience using digital tools. In the mixed genre digital environment, the creator that can create excitement about their product is the one that will rise to a position to capitalize on audience devotion. At some level, one of the oldest stars at MegaCon was a prime example.

Stan Lee's Q & A was great. Close to 90, Stan the Man came out to a packed room and pushed a lot of product.

This is not criticism and to be honest as a fan of Marvel comics it was fun to see him in person for once. Still, he is still working and he easily worked in pitches for this new projects with BOOM Studio, a new superhero team book he is doing Archie Comics and a new show searching for real life superhero on the History Channel. His excitement about his work in past and the stuff coming out now came through. The crowd loved it and with Jimmy Palmiotti as a straight man, it was a fun 45 minutes. Still, I'm willing to bet a good chunk of the room will check out the new show on TV and look at the new book from Archie Comics.

The last day reinforced by belief the MegaCon is an evolving show. I heard some complaints about organization, but I also saw that a lot of people were impressed with the depth and scope of this year's convention. The irony is that MegaCon's growth is a commentary on the evolution of comics as the focal point of big budget movies. With so much money and star power attached to comic property, everything geek gets more attention. I think elevates the importance of any convention where diehard fans can be reached and positive buzz promoted. Still, the complexity of geek culture means that within the convention itself finding the message for your consumer was difficult.
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