New York Comic Con brings fans together

New York Comic Con brings fans together

NEW YORK - Reuters
New York Comic Con brings fans together

Elisa Higgins, dressed up as a Sith character from Star Wars, poses for a portrait at Comic Con in New York, which attracted more than 120,000 fans. REUTERS photo

This year’s New York Comic Con might not look that different from years past: costumed fans, panels of pop culture luminaries and a sprawling floor of vendors and artists. But for the companies that attend this pop culture convention and others like it nationwide, there have been significant changes over the years.

The proliferation of such events, the explosion of social media and the overwhelming size of the gatherings are forcing companies to change their own approaches to meeting, engaging and hooking new and old fans.

From niche meetings for fans, comic cons have become sprawling affairs. New York Comic Con at the Javits Center expects to attract more than 120,000 fans to the four-day event that ends today, a steep rise from the first edition of the con, in 2006, which drew 33,000 people.

Cons for everything

The event occupies a space equivalent to more than three football fields and includes a massive exhibitors floor. Last year’s event featured everything from standards such as T-shirts and graphic novels to vampire teeth, corsets and even bed sheets.

Cons have grown in several ways. There are simply more of them now. In addition to the massive San Diego show, usually in July, and the New York show, there are cons for everything from horror to anime, everywhere from St. Louis to Salt Lake City.

Jeremy Corray, Voltron’s creative director, said crafting a personal experience for fans is essential.

One group of fans have role-played Voltron’s main characters on Twitter - sort of like fan fiction, 140 characters at a time.

To reward those ardent fans, said Corray, “I am going to give them an as-yet-unproduced Voltron Force season 2 script and have members do a live reading at the panel followed by a live Tweet session where they act out the script.”

Still, for all the change, some things remain constant. There is at least one classic strategy that Voltron - and plenty of other companies - will be trotting out, Corray notes.