Yesterday was an exciting day for congoers as VS Gaming and ReedPOP announced that they’re bringing Comic Con to South Africa. And they did it in style, with Wakandan Royalty (otherwise known as fantastic local actors) and a full press release. And they made me happy by not only announcing Comic Con Africa, but also the date and venue. This post is about what the new big con means for ICON and rAge, then move to what this may mean for your small con.
Big conventions fighting for attendance
I don’t think the new con will affect conventions like FanCon in Cape Town so much because it’s on the opposite side of the country. Its different for Joburg’s Big ThreeSsseeseeEa- ICON, rAge and Comic Con Africa.
Let’s look at their 2018 dates:
- ICON: 29 June–1 July
- Comic Con Africa: 14–16 September, Kyalami International Convention Centre
- rAge: 5–7 October, Ticketpro Dome
ICON doesn’t have to compete with the other two cons directly for Gauteng people with salaries. There’s enough time between ICON and the other cons for two salaries if you need to save up for tickets, merch, petrol or Uber. Or even accommodation if driving each day seems like a chore.
Students and travellers
The moment you get to students and people who have to travel, the Big Three compete for feet through the door. That’s why Comic Con’s announcing the date and venue now is so clever. Even while we don’t know the ticket prices or the lineup, geeks can plan how we’re going to get there. If we can afford it.
With the hype of the Comic Con name, it’s possible that many people will choose to go to Comic Con this year if they can only choose one con. After all, there’s something to be said for being part of the first group to experience something. And there’s no guarantee Comic Con Africa’s happening again next year.
Comic Con Africa versus rAge
There’s only a few weeks between Comic Con Africa and rAge. I suspect many people will choose to go to one or the other. That’s because while you might have enough saved up for tickets, the average congoer’s merch and travel budget might not stretch to both.
But will this be a problem? rAge is about computers, gaming, technology and geek culture (in that order), while Comic Con is a multi-genre entertainment and comic convention. There’s a significant overlap in their target audience, but their focus is slightly different.
I don’t know what to expect. After all, as far as I know it wasn’t a train smash when Sexpo and rAge shared an event date. Their attendees overlap too; Sexpo even hosted a cosplay competition.
rAge and Comic Con Africa will both have cosplay competitions. I expect lots of debate in cosplay circles about whether the outfit intended for rAge should rather go to Comic Con Africa and then the inevitable debate about entering the same cosplay into different competitions.
It’s still February, so there’s plenty of time to make more cosplays, but the cost of the costumes might be an issue. Also, there are amazing cosplayers who can pump out a new outfit in a week, while others take a little longer. So cosplayers might have to choose an outfit for both events or pick a specific event to go to.
Artists Alley and stallholders
If you have a small to medium business and make your own stock, stalls at conventions are a blessing and a curse. With my con, I got to meet quite a few talented people and even befriend some of them.
Here’s convention catch-22 for makers: you can make money at cons if you make enough of the stock that people will buy, but you can’t always guess what will sell well and making stock costs money that you might not make back. This is one of the reasons I tried to keep stall costs low for my cons; I wanted anyone to be able to afford to try their stall idea.
rAge has already opened stall applications for the main floor, but the more affordable spots in the makers’ section (the Artist Alley) will only open later. So far, we have no idea if there will be stalls for makers at Comic Con Africa, or how much they’ll cost. But I’m pretty sure most makers won’t be able to
} make enough stock for rAge and Comic Con Africa. It will be interesting to see what happens with our local makers.
Good news for your small convention
You know how there are a lot of weddings? And people still go although they’ve been to many? If you’re running a small or medium convention you have the same edge. People go to large geek events and conventions for what they offer; they go to smaller events for the feel and the socialising, and then what you offer. Sometimes, like with a wedding, people go just because they like you.
So watch what works at other conventions and ask me if you’d like me to discuss specific things about weddings or geek events!