In our interview with Charlotte ComiCon organizer Rick Fortenberry, he indicated that a big part of his motivation for devoting his time and energy to organizing these shows was simply the love and growth of his favorite hobby: comic book collecting. In talking with a few of the over 350 people who attended Sunday’s show at the Crowne Plaza hotel in Charlotte, North Carolina, Fortenberry can take pride in a job well done.
“We love comic conventions,” commented Kelly and Jeremy Dale, “We go to a lot of the bigger shows, but as smaller shows go, this one has a lot of interest, good foot traffic and the crowd’s a pretty nice size.” Jeremy also told us that as a creator himself, having done previous work with Image Comics and some work on Hasbro’s G.I. Joe, he was maybe looking for a show to do in the future as an artist.
Love of comics isn’t the only thing that brought the Dales here on this day. “I’m hoping to find a few issues of Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld that I’m missing,” Kelly said. When asked if economic factors might play a role in their buying, Jeremy Dale offered, “Not at all. Buying comics is an escape for many people. Comics are a lot cheaper than say going to the movies, and I think they’re moving in a more family-friendly direction.”
Their sentiment about the economy was echoed by Ohio resident, Michael Wright, who literally went out of his way to be at this show. “I was driving through and the show came up on my Google Maps events and I thought, ‘I’m in’.” In discussing the economy, and his hunt to find just 11 more issues to get a complete Fantastic Four run, he said, “I’ve bought more comics actually. All the books are less expensive with people trying to sell them. You can buy some Ferraris for wholesale price, it’s great.”
Among the crowd were several first-time comic book show attendees, such as twelve-year old Drew Edelson, who told us that he’d been reading comics for about two months and had recently started reading them after a fateful shopping trip. “I was at the grocery store with my mom when I saw the Spider-Man and Obama comic book. It’s pretty much the first comic book I got.” Ever since then he’s read mostly Marvel comics, but the movies, such as The Dark Knight, did help push him into trying comics.
“We’re from San Diego, but a bunch of our friends are into comics, and one of them models as Mystique for X-Men,” reported Samantha Drago. “We love to come out and see what people have. This is pretty new for us.” The artists seemed to be a big draw for Drago, “I really enjoy the artists. It’s great to watch them draw for people, and especially to see local artists out here.”
Michael Dowens and Will Hemlep also were first-timers, and were really there to get a good experience. “I’m working my way up to bigger and bigger shows,” said Hemlep, “not looking for anything too specific.” Dowens echoed that feeling, “I’ve never been to a show before, I just came to see what’s going on. I’m definitely hitting up the dollar bins in a little bit.”
All of the guests shared very similar interests and intentions, and all enjoyed the atmosphere; however, there were several divergent opinions on what many view as an uncertain area for comics: digital and web comics. Read our follow-up piece for their thoughts on this very new and, for many, uncertain topic.