I’ve been doing Salt Lake Comic Con since its beginning. Twice a year I save up my money and head down to the Salt Palace to spend a weekend with thousands of my fellow geeks. Yet, over the years some of the thrill has started to wear away. Each con seems exactly like the last, and I have trouble remembering what changed from convention to convention. I found myself wondering if the people organizing Comic Con are actually trying to create a space for us geeks, or if they’re simply trying to make a profit piggybacking off of our culture.
Now, before you get up in arms about what I just said, hear me out. It can be pretty hard to have a “full” comic con experience without spending a lot of money. If you want to get into some of the best panels you’d have to have a VIP pass if you didn’t want to wait in line for an hour. If you want to interact with your favorite celebrities you have to spend a small fortune on a photo op or autograph (money I personally would rather spend on sandwiches). If you want to buy a cool memento from any of the unique vendors or artists, you need to be sitting on quite a bit of spare cash.
Of course, a convention has to make quite a bit of money in order to keep going. You can’t bring in vendors and celebrities from all over the geekdom without providing any incentives. Where do we draw the line? To find out, I talked to a few convention-goers while I was waiting for my D&D adventure to start.
When asked what her favorite part about comic con was, one guest responded, “it’s just a really fun atmosphere.” When asked about what she thought about comic con being over commercialized, she responded,
“I don’t have enough experience with comic con [this was her first] to really have a very firm belief in either [opinion], but I feel like either way it’s just kind of fun atmosphere where everyone from literally every type of fandom you can think of can come together and have a lot of fun.”
Another guest, when asked about commercialization, responded “Oh, totally! But it’s worth it … you get to hang out with cool people, you get swag you couldn’t get otherwise.” They definitely thought that there was a money-making aspect about the convention, but they also said that they would keep going, if only to have the unique experiences you can only have at comic con.
So is Salt Lake’s Comic Con over commercialized? Perhaps, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s still a place for nerds to come together from all over the state to celebrate their geekiness and their culture. And that, in my mind, makes it worth it.
Let us know what you think in the comments below.