It’s been a busy year of exhibitions here at AD. Ipex, InPrint, FESPA, interpack… and last Sunday marked the closing day of a rather different kind of show I would also have happily attended were it not for a few minor issues, such as money and geography. I am of course talking about San Diego Comic Con ’14.
Now, for those of you who don’t spend their Halloweens (or weekends) in a Batman cape and cowl talking in a Christian Bale voice, Comic Con – or SDCC – is a multi-genre entertainment and comic book convention held every year in San Diego, California since the 1970s, and is probably best summed up as “geek Mecca”. This is not just the time of the year when comic book writers and artists show up to sign their work for the fans, it is also the place where eagerly anticipated films and TV shows are announced and teased with early footage and iconic promotional material, usually in the form of giant posters and sprawling banners.
So as I was sitting in my chair, pointlessly calculating whether my air miles could at the very least have got me to Denver a couple of days before the show started, I found myself drawn to some of the rather impressive designs of the aforementioned posters (something of a lost art, if you ask me) being shared and displayed throughout the convention. And that’s when it hit me: the print sector thrives off geeks like me.
While comic book publishers Marvel and DC have in recent years launched tablet editions of their best-selling titles, the bulk of their sales still derive from print and it’s not hard to see why. They’re slim, don’t hog too much room on your book shelf and, if treated with the right amount of care, they can one day become a collector’s item that could earn you a decent amount of cash, not to mention considerable respect among the geek community. More to the point, Waterstones’ introduction (and gradual expansion) of a “graphic novels” section throughout its stores can be largely attributed to the general public’s infatuation with comic book movies for the past decade or so.
Which brings us nicely back to Comic Con, as I’ve spotted a neat little marketing gimmick that Marvel has launched for their upcoming Avengers sequel: a series of character sheets that, when combined, form a single piece of gargantuan promotional art (emphasis on the word “art” – this thing could be hanging in the Louvre) erected above the stands in one of the exhibition halls. It’s a breath-taking piece of marketing material that I’m confident took more than a few sleepless nights to conceive and that could only really have found a home at a comic book convention.
There’s no denying it: the geek needs print and print needs the geek. It’s what you’d call a co-dependent relationship or, to repurpose a term coined by a well-known actress from a comic book movie, a “conscious coupling”.