Several theoretical names have floated fancily through my head over the decades, ever since the erstwhile Comics Buyer’s Guide taught me about the magical world of comic book conventions when I subscribed to them in 1986. I’ve always wondered if Indianapolis would ever be respectable enough to merit a large-scale comic-con of its own. We had little comic book shows on the east side a few time a year that occasionally drew one or two special guests. Circa 1989 or 1990 someone threw a shindig in Indy called HoosierCon 1, but I had to work the entire weekend and missed it. I never heard a peep about it after the fact, sequels never manifested, and Google tells me no one in world history has ever rhapsodized about it online. I presume plans went awry.
This week the Indianapolis Star reported that someone out there wants to make my pipe dream a reality. A young Florida-based company called Action3 Events and Promotions has scheduled a comics convention for March 14-16, 2014, in our very own Indiana Convention Center. It’s as yet unnamed and not yet listed on their official site, but official enough that they’re proclaiming its proposed existence in public interviews. That much alone is a positive sign.
Nonetheless, I greet this news with mixed emotions. Hope is one of them. So is skepticism. My thoughts, broken down:
1. The Indiana Convention Center has hosted two Star Wars Celebrations in 2002 and 2005, and GenCon annually since 2003. It could handle tens of thousands of visitors just fine (and sometimes multiple events at once) even before its 2012 expansion into the square footage formerly occupied by the now-demolished Hoosier/RCA Dome. It’s a fantastic space, larger than some of the convention centers that host high-profile cons in other, larger cities.
2. Action3’s flagship con, the Tampa Bay Comic Con, maxed out attendance in 2013 and invoked the wrath of the local fire marshal. Clearly they’ve figured out how to draw a crowd.
3. Chicago is fantastic, but it’s a three-hour drive and it’s not my hometown. As hinted above, an Indy-based comic-con comparable to either C2E2 or Wizard World Chicago would earn a permanent appointment on my calendars for as long as I remain a functional comics fan.
4. The guest lists of their other upcoming cons include talents I recognize — George Perez, Jim Steranko, Ren & Stimpy animator Bob Camp, two cast members from The Walking Dead, et al. Guests lists with more than two guests are the best kind of guest lists.
5. Indianapolis has enough comic collectors to support at least five comic shops. Between us and our fellow Hoosier fans statewide, not to mention curious parties in our neighboring states, I think we have a shot at a great turnout if we’re properly motivated.
1. Judging by their site photos and profiles, Action3 is a five-member team less than half the size and ages of the fan committee that runs our local small-scale Trek conventions. Maybe this is how Gareb Shamus started in the business, but I always imagined convention organizers as sprawling corporate networks with neckties and tufted grey hair.
2. The aforementioned Tampa convention maxed out somewhere over 4,000 in attendance. The Star article cites a wishful attendance target of at least 10,000 for ICC 2014 (or whatever they name it). Both numbers are a fraction of the size of all the other comic cons mentioned above by name. Keeping initial expectations modest is wise, but I almost wish they wouldn’t discuss their projections up front. Why assume the con will be smaller than the competition, instead of boldly going all-in without preset limits?
3. So far none of their cons have had more than a dozen featured comics guests, and have been very light on the expensive entertainment guests. They’re still technically larger than our Trek cons, but a far cry from competing with Chicago’s big boys. Granted, they may need a few years to build the cash flow to that level, assuming they’re aiming for it.
4. A perusal of the Indiana Convention Center’s official site shows that Ultimate HoosierCon (or whatever they name it) will be sharing the Center with the simultaneous Property Loss Research Bureau Annual Claim Conference. The Center is conservatively projecting 4,000 to show up for HeartlandCon (or whatever) versus a mere 3,000 for the PLRBACC, who’d better not get in our way.
5. What if I’m wrong about its prospects and nobody shows up but me and six other guys?
At this point the announcement is relatively fresh and details are understandably light. I sincerely wish Action3 well and plan to follow this story as updates occur. If it progresses into a full-blown comic-con, expect photos and coverage of Circle City Con (or whatever) here on MCC. If it stalls and collapses, I say we blame the PLRBACC and make them pay dearly for their interference.
* * * * *
UPDATED 9/9/2013: the Indiana Comic Con now has an official name, its own site, its own Facebook page, one media guest, and four comics guests, all of who I recognize by name. Updates on these promising developments as they occur.