The Business of ComiCon.

April 4, 2015 at 9:12 pm (Uncategorized) ()

Toronto ComiCon was a few weeks back.  Toronto ComiCon is the little brother to Fan Expo. It’s shorter, has fewer guests, workshops and exhibitors and a lot less free stuff. Still, me and the boy usually head down on the Sunday to sniff around, pick up a few things and get things signed.

This year, I became intrigued by the idea of the photo-op. For those who don’t know, the photo-op is a chance to get your picture taken with your celebrity of choice…for a fee. the more I thought about it, the more, the idea was interesting.  Looking through the possibilities.  I considered getting a picture of me and the boy with Karen Gillan. Again, for those of you who don’t know, She played Amy Pond on Dr. Who, as well as Nebula on the recent Guardians of the Galaxy movie (The unfortunate, unfunny and short-lived sit-com Selfie, we will not dwell on).

I’m one of those people who prefers to book in advance, so I went to the site. $65. OK. Let’s see what this works out in total. I clicked and advanced. For an extra $10, you get a digital copy. Well, I want that. Checkout time. $89.50. The good people at Fan Expo have added on a processing fee of $14. Fuck that. I didn’t bother to find out if that included tax.

Foiled in the photo-op, I looked to see if anything else was worth paying for. Well, Amber Benson who played Tara on Buffy the Vampire Slayer was going to be there as well. I bought her latest book The Witches of Echo Park and thought, OK.

Come the day, the boy and I drifted around the hall. It’s quieter. I get a few things singed, including my copy of the Criminal Macabre collected edition. I got the book signed by Steve Niles a year back.  Now my copy also has Ben Templesmith’s autograph. Becky Cloonan and Ray Fawkes were nice enough to sign things for me as well.

So, finally we made our way over to the celebrity signing area. People were already lined up for Karen Gillan, but Amber Benson was a comparatively short wait. Then, it struck me. the artists and all signed books and chatted for nothing. Benson wanted $40 for her signature. Really? Now, nothing against Ms. Benson. This is the culture we live in. I walked away.

Sometimes I use the shorthand generalized commodity production to talk about capitalism, but it’s easy to forget what exactly that means. A commodity is a product which is produced for sale, not for consumption or use by the producer (it should be mentioned too, that ownership by the producer usually disappears, but that’s another day). And under capitalism, everything becomes a commodity. Even a signature based on fleeting fame.

The people who attend these events aren’t looking to get an autograph or a photo so they can sell it on eBay. They’re fans. they’re nerds. But this sort of stuff is big business, and there’s lots of money to be made. Sure, I’ll keep going, but this saddens me. On the other hand, the Toronto Comic Arts Festival is only a few weeks away now! Check that out, and it’s free too!  


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