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Thursday, September 6, 2012

A New Challenger Has Entered! The Oregon Comic-Con Stomps Into Existence

Posted by Bobby Roberts on Thu, Sep 6, 2012 at 12:13 PM

geekout-570x300.jpg
  • image via Wonder Northwest, a local pop-culture expo.

The running joke is that roughly two-thirds of the comics industry either lives here, wants to live here, or is sending their work through here to get it sold to the half-million people not-so-carefully spooning money into the drooling mouth of an industry that suffered a debilitating stroke in the '90s that it still hasn't fully recovered from.

So why it took Wizard World, one of the biggest names in the Nerd Prom game, until 2013 to plant boots in the fertile loam of Portland's bountiful sequential arts garden? Who knows. But they're doing it, and they're bringing The Boondock Saints with them, Norman Reedus and Sean Patrick Flanery, February 22nd-24th.

After the jump for why this news has me a little itchy.

Aside from the knee-jerk precious provincialism that is my God-given right as a Portlander, this whole thing makes me sorta nervous. This announcement comes two days before the Rose City Comic-Con kicks off its inaugural weekend. RCCC is an independent show, trying to fill the pop-culture niches not covered by the indie-focused Stumptown Comics Festival, and the anything-goes, all-purpose nerdery of Wonder Northwest. There's also the Portland Comic Book Show, but that's often considered less a convention, and more like Portland's Geekiest Garage Sale.

There's also Kumoricon (Anime/Manga), Gamestorm, and Orycon (Sci-Fi), conventions that aren't quite comics related, but do enjoy some overlap in the venn diagram of dork with any/all of the above-named conventions. They're all essentially homegrown, and there's something admirable in that, even if you're the type who is amazed that whole generations of grown adults have decided to make pursuing their evergreen adolescence a lifetime hobby/career.

So now here's Wizard World, doing the equivalent of handing out flyers for their rager at the front porch of another person's house party, scheduling their con one whole week before the Emerald City Comic-Con (aka Portland goes camping at the Seattle Convention Center), about two months before Stumptown, three months before Wonder Northwest - and charging $30-$50 per person to attend it.

Even for a city as rich in geek bonafides as Portland is, this is probably the oversaturation point. This feels like a four-color, blister-packaged headache just waiting to rip across the forehead. I foresee multiple booking struggles, twitter fights, hurt feelings and dramatic blog postings from people in a close-knit industry that often settles disputes with all the grace of eighth graders reading slambooks during morning announcements in homeroom. A move that should engender excitement shouldn't elicit fatigue, but it's hard not to feel tired when Wizard World comes traipsing into Portland holding hands with the Boondock Saints like "Let's have a nerd party, guys!"

Then again, it's early still, Wizard has only announced four guests (three actors and one artist) and if any market can bear this much geek attention, it's this one, and if any audience is known for knee-jerk pessimism transforming into guileless gushing, it's the geeks. The show's the thing, and we'll see in February if Wizard World will deliver.

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