We have officially entered December which is usually a pretty quiet month for convention news. We have Taiyou Con taking place right after we ring in the new year but besides that, there is a lull in conventions as well as new about conventions. This year, instead of doing a “Best of 2019” article, I decided to try something new and look at some of the changes we may see in the coming year for our favorite conventions. Don’t take this as gospel, this is purely guesses based on what I have experienced and seen in 2019. With that in mind, lets take a look at a few things.
I think this is the most obvious one and the most likely to actually be true. Let me be clear with this up front when I say “no growth”, I do not mean attendance. I actually think attendance will climb for a few conventions in 2020 but when I say “no growth”, I mean you should expect to see many conventions look and feel the same as they did in 2019. Almost all of the major Arizona conventions require outside security, and I can promise you security isn’t suddenly going to be cheaper in 2020. To expand conventions, use spaces that haven’t been used before usually requires more man power, more planning, more security. I don’t expect to see much different parts of various venues being utilized that haven’t been utilized in the past, I don’t expect conventions to start using outside space that they weren’t using last year, etc. I fully expect conventions to look and feel the same as they did in 2019, with even a few of them maybe even compacting a little bit.
Smaller Star Power
Honestly, this one applies to Phoenix Fan Fusion more so than other Arizona conventions. I think many have seen the writing on the wall when it comes to high profile guests in the state of Arizona. Jeff Goldblum was great a guest but also one of the most expensive in recent memory at Fun Fusion. You could still purchase photo ops and signings for Jeff up until the start of the convention (and you might have been able to purchase at the con but I can’t confirm). Bigger name guests require bigger costs for the convention which get passed down to the attendees and I don’t think the community is one that is willing to go crazy for those types of guests. My biggest example of that is Ace Comic Con 2019. Expensive convention but some really big guests such as Tom Hiddleston, David Tennant, and Taron Egerton. Attendees showed up from out of state for the photo ops and the signings but the convention was wildly low attended with many locals scoffing on social media at the prices. The VIP area of the panels was never full, the convention regularly allowed general attendees to sit in the VIP area. Ace has been held the past two years in Glendale in January and guess what won’t be returning in January? (It could still return in some other month but I think they realized January in Glendale doesn’t work for them). I expect to see one big name at Fan Fusion this year and the rest of the lineup filled with smaller names, very similar to what we saw last year. This keeps the prices reasonable and it also gives Fan Fusion more bang for their buck when they can get 2 – 3 guests for the price of one high profile guest.
To further support this guess, Phoenix Fan Fusion recently asked on their Facebook page who attendees followed on platforms such as YouTube, Twitch, Instagram, as the convention has an interest in bringing out new guests from those types of platforms.
The Rise of the Free Con
Library cons and cons held in smaller spaces are on the rise. These are usually one day conventions and are free to attend and also provide free tables to vendors/artists. I expect these to get even more popular in 2020 as word spreads how much enjoyment people are having at these free cons. I have attended the Tempe Public Library Comic Con for the past years and both times it has been very well attended, a nice range of vendors and artists, a few food trucks and plenty of photo ops with cosplayers and cosplay sets. Retail locations such as Collectors Marketplace and Samurai Comics regularly hold mini one day events that have artists selling their prints or bring in locals selling merchandise specifically aimed toward anime/manga collectors or Funko Pops (with a small fee to sell but still free to attend). Cities such as Chandler, previously mentioned Tempe, Apache Junction and a few others already have free cons held at libraries and wouldn’t be surprised to see attendance grow at each and every one of them in 2020.
What do you think we may or may not see out of conventions in 2020? Let me know on one of my various social media platforms which you can find the links to the right. If you enjoy conversing about Arizona conventions, I would love to see you join my Convention Attendees of Arizona Facebook group!