Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The High Price of Cosplay. Pat Broderick Breaks His Silence.

Pat Broderick is more than disenchanted with the Greenwich Village Halloween parade that comics conventions have become in recent years. He says the skin show costs artists like himself money. So he’s doing something about it.

“A few years ago I returned to a wider comic convention circuit,” Pat told me. “I’ve been doing commissions for many clients and have a backlog. Recently I was also fortunate to receive work from DC Comics, and I have my own properties, which I’ve been working on for the last two years.  So there’s no lack of work now and I find myself in a happy position for an aged artist.”

Aged artist? The proper term is veteran. Take a gander at the Werehawk pin-up Pat recently contributed to Aardwolf Publishing’s forthcoming Dave Cockrum’s FUTURIANS RETURN project. But I digress…

“This last year,” said Pat, “I reviewed the years’ convention appearances and came to a sobering conclusion. Conventions had veered away from the family-friendly events they once were into major media events with large cosplay involvement. At first I thought the mega increase in attendance would also bolster sales with [artists and] dealers. Sadly it has not.”

Pat says promoters are all about maximizing advanced ticket sales, which leads to more people at a show, but the wrong type of people: unqualified guests. People who want to see and be seen aren’t at shows to spend money.

Pat's contribution to Dave Cockrum's FUTURIANS RETURN
“From a promoter’s point of view, it’s a great day,” says Pat. “Sadly it’s not so great for artists and dealers.”

So Pat bailed on an appearance in Ft. Lauderdale. “I'd been working with this promoter for about a year and every time I’d inquire why artists weren’t getting the same promotional efforts channeled towards cosplay events. And I was told that the artists were. Sadly this just did not prove to be the case.”

The next day, when Pat logged onto Facebook, he found numerous “friend” requests from cosplayers. So he requested that cosplayers cease “friending” him. He also asked convention promoters not to invite him if they were building their shows around cosplay events and media guests. “It was a simple request,” he says.

By the following day, Pat’s announcement had gone viral. It even was picked up by The Atlantic. “The amount of hate mail was huge,” says Pat. “The amount of support was even larger.”

Pat believes the inclusion of cosplay as a main convention function adds no value to the shows beyond padding attendance. Not only doesn’t it translate into sales, it does the opposite.

“Cosplayers work their way around convention floors and impede the natural flow of traffic as they stop and pose for photos. They don’t care that they're blocking people from selling their wares. These roaming groups of costumed players shut down a convention floor.”

And what of the notion that cosplayers are creating or participating in a form of art? “They’re not,” says Pat emphatically. “If they had created the designs from scratch and they were truly uniquely theirs, then that argument could be made. But they don’t do anything original.”

You're so busy looking at me that you can't even read this article.
So what are cosplayers good for? Nothing, apparently. “They rarely spend much if any cash except on their costumes,” says Pat. “It’s just gotten out of hand and these show [promoters] are forgetting that it’s their obligation to make it a profitable event for everyone.

Pat is considering creating a different kind of comics convention. “A decision was made about three months ago to produce my own shows and an attorney was contacted. Backers have been approached and are interested. Structure is being put into place. Names are being bounced back and forth. Eventually we’ll host our first show.”

Of course Pat’s position has not come without a cost. “I've been banned for life from attending four Florida shows by one promoter,” he reports. “But that’s okay. I’d rather be dropped ahead of time than attend another bad show.”

1 comment:

Kid said...

I can see what Pat is saying, but if I were at a comic convention and really wanted to see (and purchase from) a particular guest artist or writer, I wouldn't let anything stop me. Reading Mark Evanier's blog, I know he thinks that some cosplayers can occasionally be inconsiderate, but, if I read him right, he doesn't have too much of a problem with them. (Not that I'm trying to speak for him or anything.) The promoters must surely think that the cosplayers add something to these events, otherwise they wouldn't bother having them. And wouldn't more dealers and artists have reacted to any negative effects before now? Pat concedes that there has been a 'mega increase' in attendance at these events, so could it be that those extra attendees just aren't interested in splashing their cash around in the way that some dealers would like? And could it also be that some artists are just not as popular with the fans as they imagine they should be? (Not that I'm implying that about Mr Broderick, of course.) What's your view, Cliff?