Reality stars show bust may prove you need the "Comic" in Comic-con after all

201104131703.jpg
While comics sales may be soft these days, one aspect of the comics lifestyle is still booming: the ever humble comic-con has gone from an affair centered on a few bearded guys in T-shirts sitting behind some yellowing longboxes to what is the modern equivalent of the county fair: a chance to dress up, take pictures, meet nerd people and buy nerd shit. Comic-cons around the country are booming, with sell-outs, constant media coverage and enthusiastic reports from people of every gender and age.

Despite this upswing, there is some grumbling among the original comics folks about how movies and TV stars are taking over the comic-cons — and not just at San Diego where the Hollywood hype machine throws an annual three-ring circus/orgy of promotion. Reed Pop’s shows — NYCC and C2E2 — have been traditionally lighter on movie panels and nerdlebrities signing autographs, but even the announcement of a few guys from Ghost Hunters threw up alarm bells. Plus, even at real comic-cons the major media coverage always centers on costumes and nerdlebrities — and that’s annoying.

Of course, then there’s the Wizard brand of shows, which emit a low-level dribble of nerdlebrity news on a regular basis. A few sample headlines from recent emails:

• Tom Felton, Morena Baccarin, Kristanna Loken Among Headliners At Wizard World Big Apple Comic Con ‘Spring Edition,’ May 21-22 At Manhattan’s Penn Plaza Pavilion

•’Buffyfest,’ ‘Star Wars,’ ‘BSG,’ Julie Benz, Billy Dee Williams, Scott Thompson Panels Plus Fan Groups Parade Highlight Wizard World Toronto Comic Con Programming

• Michael McMillian, John Schneider, Adam West, Burt Ward, Chase Masterson Among Headliners At Wizard World Anaheim Comic Con, April 29-30-May 1 At Anaheim Convention Center

• Lt. Tamara Johansen from “SGU Stargate Universe” & Black Canary from “Smallville” set to appear @ Anaheim, Philadelphia & Chicago Comic Cons!

You get the idea.

While we would never belittle anyone’s resentment at playing second fiddle to “Boomer”, a guy who hasn’t worked regularly in his chosen profession since 1999, we feel strongly that this resentment may be misplaced. Rather than “Comic” being the lacuna of the “Comic-con” formula, it is in fact the code word for the fun. And we submit as evidence a horrific event held last weekend that was explicitly modeled on San Diego Comic-Con — minus the comics.

We speak of the Reality Rocks Expo, held at the LA Convention Center. A frothy, yeasty mix of the edgiest, — those violet haired people from Amazing Race — most broken down — Eric Roberts from Celebrity Rehab– most infamous — Omorosa! — of reality stars, for some reason no one wanted to meet these people.

Now even allowing for the LA Convention Center being a somewhat problematic setting for a public show, as the debate over moving CCI there showed — the Reality Rocks Expo was an embarrassing failure. Promoters expected 15,000 people to show up for this thing. But:

Though our friend Andy Dehnart at Reality Blurred reports that the staff projected an audience of 15,000 attendees, come convention weekend, nobody actually showed up. Seriously — check out these photos of the event from B-Side blog, featuring crowds as large as 12 amassing to watch former ‘Idol’ finalist Andrew Garcia, empty autograph lines for ‘Paranormal Files’ hosts, and a ‘Big Brother’ panel with the same amount of panelists as audience members.


The pictures are indeed devastating.
201104131704.jpg

201104131705.jpg
Call in Zak Bagans! This place is haunted! MANY more in the first link.

The reports from the sponsoring LA Times is equally frank and dreadful:

The producers of the inaugural Reality Rocks Expo may aspire for the event to eventually become the Comic-Con of the reality TV world. But they may already need a new script. Lacking premiere attractions or A-list reality stars, the first day of the two-day expo, co-sponsored by the Los Angeles Times and other media outlets, drew only sparse crowds to the Los Angeles Convention Center. Sessions featuring stars and personalities from “America’s Funniest Home Videos,” “Shark Tank” and “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” were far from full. Other panels in cavernous meeting rooms featuring lower-ranked contestants from past seasons of “American Idol” drew embarrassingly small audiences.


And then…Sunday! The slow day!!

The inaugural Reality Rocks Expo hardly found its groove the second day. The crowd was fairly anemic Sunday in the West Hall of the Los Angeles Convention Center. The biggest line of the day wasn’t for meet-and-greets with the likes of Ray J (“For the Love of Ray J”) or Omarosa (“The Apprentice,” “The Surreal Life”), rather it was for a casting call for The Hub’s new music competition series “Majors and Minors.” And panels still drew sparse crowds — only they appeared larger because rows were roped off in the bigger rooms.


Now we’ve been at some crappy, lonely comic-cons in our times — one in New Orleans back in the 90s and one promoted by legendary R—O—Y come to mind — and there is nothing sadder than being at a sparsely attended show at the LA Convention Center — soul crushing is hardly adequate. But this, this gathering of people whose only claim to fame is being a normal person who made a fool of themselves being themselves…that must have taken out the souls of those there and pounded them beneath the grinding wheels of Isengard before sending them to the icy plains of Niflheim and then casting them into the dark, remote void of nothingness.

Say what you will about Wizard World. Although they offer a Reality Stars Pavilion:

WIZARD WORLD COMIC CON TOUR LAUNCHES REALITY STARS PAVILION WITH REAL-LIFE HEROES & VILLIANS A Reality Stars pavilion presented by ISawYouOnTV.com will bring fans following the Wizard World Comic Con tour a chance to meet the reality celebrities they love – and the stars they love to hate. The Reality Stars pavilion will premiere at Toronto Comic Con.


–they know better than to make it the whole show. Meeting a great personality like Adam West or William Shatner or Erin Gray is one thing — making a battalion of botoxed, silliconed and veneered never-weres the main attraction will never do. Cartoonists and their bright pictures and trading cards are life, light and love compared to this.

So fret not. We’re still part of the show. Maybe it’s time to admit that making a warm, comfortable place where Virgil can spend his remaining days with some level of dignity and companionship is a fine, humane goal after all.

201104131725.jpg

Comments

  1. I always love that shot of Virgil.

  2. I always love that shot of Virgil.

  3. I always love that shot of Virgil.

  4. Talk about poetic justice.

  5. Talk about poetic justice.

  6. Talk about poetic justice.

  7. Will it stop them from making those awful reality shows? One can dream at least.

  8. Will it stop them from making those awful reality shows? One can dream at least.

  9. Will it stop them from making those awful reality shows? One can dream at least.

  10. mpneeb says:

    Well, in fairness, I believe the Adult Entertainment Expo sucked up all the energy since it was at the same place the week before.

  11. mpneeb says:

    Well, in fairness, I believe the Adult Entertainment Expo sucked up all the energy since it was at the same place the week before.

  12. mpneeb says:

    Well, in fairness, I believe the Adult Entertainment Expo sucked up all the energy since it was at the same place the week before.

  13. See, comic fans are PROUD of their hobby, and wear it on their (t-shirt) sleeve. But almost everyone I know who watches any reality tv will tell you it’s a “guilty pleasure,” or their “secret favorite show.”

    In other words, something they’re kinda embarrassed by – something they don’t want to be seen in public admiring, not to mention actively fanning over!

    I’m willing to believe that poor planning and publicity had some role in this spectacular fail, but all in all, you have to chalk it up to the fact that reality programming is the roadside accident of television – sure, people can’t help but to slow down and look, but they’re not going to make a hobby out of it!

  14. See, comic fans are PROUD of their hobby, and wear it on their (t-shirt) sleeve. But almost everyone I know who watches any reality tv will tell you it’s a “guilty pleasure,” or their “secret favorite show.”

    In other words, something they’re kinda embarrassed by – something they don’t want to be seen in public admiring, not to mention actively fanning over!

    I’m willing to believe that poor planning and publicity had some role in this spectacular fail, but all in all, you have to chalk it up to the fact that reality programming is the roadside accident of television – sure, people can’t help but to slow down and look, but they’re not going to make a hobby out of it!

  15. See, comic fans are PROUD of their hobby, and wear it on their (t-shirt) sleeve. But almost everyone I know who watches any reality tv will tell you it’s a “guilty pleasure,” or their “secret favorite show.”

    In other words, something they’re kinda embarrassed by – something they don’t want to be seen in public admiring, not to mention actively fanning over!

    I’m willing to believe that poor planning and publicity had some role in this spectacular fail, but all in all, you have to chalk it up to the fact that reality programming is the roadside accident of television – sure, people can’t help but to slow down and look, but they’re not going to make a hobby out of it!

  16. All I can say is WOW

  17. All I can say is WOW

  18. All I can say is WOW

  19. Rule #1 about starting a con: start small. Attendence for any con is gradual, comic-con did not begin with 40k attendence and niether will you. conventions are born out of community not commercialism and spectacle.
    I honestly can’t think of any people who are “reality TV fans”, if they exsist(which i doubt).

  20. Rule #1 about starting a con: start small. Attendence for any con is gradual, comic-con did not begin with 40k attendence and niether will you. conventions are born out of community not commercialism and spectacle.
    I honestly can’t think of any people who are “reality TV fans”, if they exsist(which i doubt).

  21. Rule #1 about starting a con: start small. Attendence for any con is gradual, comic-con did not begin with 40k attendence and niether will you. conventions are born out of community not commercialism and spectacle.
    I honestly can’t think of any people who are “reality TV fans”, if they exsist(which i doubt).

  22. Conventions are born out of community not commercialized spectacle. do reality TV fans even exsist???

  23. while many people may enjoy watching and talking about reality shows, the truth of the matter is that reality shows have the lasting value of a piece of toilet paper that has just wiped a butt. once it’s used up, it’s gone. gotta feel bad tho’ about virgil just sitting there all by his lonesome. that’s just sad. thanks for letting me rant.

  24. Tommy Raiko says:

    Trying to make this a big, destination convention event seems like an over-ambitious miscalculation on the part of the organizers. Given the actual scope of what was really being presented, this show seems far more in line with things like the Hollywood Show, which gathers various lesser celebrities in one place and lets them greet fans and sell autographs and memorabilia. Tho’ I’ve never been to that autographing show, from what I’ve read and heard, it seems to provide a better attendee and exhibitor experience than what was attempted here…

  25. Torsten Adair says:

    Prometheus Global Media should have known better… and done better.

    They have some major media trade magazines, and should have created a multi-media show, with a Reality track of programming as well as other television, movie, and music events.

    Perfect timing… most series have finished shooting for the season, and the blockbuster movie season is about to start. Plus Spring Break is in swing… hold it on Palm Sunday weekend, then move it to Easter Sunday weekend when the show expands to three and four days.

    Plus there’s the Staple Center next door along with L.A.Live… add a music festival, a film festival, a free street carnival/festival…

    In other words, Comic-Con without the comic books. (Because the L.A. Times Festival of Books does that even better than CCI… 140K at the USC campus!)

    (Yes, I know… studios like to leave LA for CCI, but if people come, so will the studios.)

  26. DJ Coffman says:

    Virgil works out at our local YMCA. It’s always odd seeing him in there

  27. I once went to a car show just to meet Jenna Lewis from the first season of Survivor. Before she became a reality porn star. What? Don’t look at me like that.

  28. Wow. I do almost feel bad for those folks. Almost.

    I guess they got themselves a healthy dose of reality. Instead of “reality.”

  29. Glenn Simpson says:

    I would suggest that while there may or not be “reality TV fans”, even if there are, they don’t actually want to MEET the people they laugh at (or are shocked by) every week.

    I wonder if, ironically, people who are heavily into reality TV don’t actually see it as real people. Then again, a lot of it is scripted, for additional irony.

  30. briguyx says:

    The other thing is people in L.A. have lots of chances to meet big stars, as there are always book signings and other events that you can go to. For instance, this week Eva Longoria was signing her cook book at a local mall. We don’t have to pay con prices to meet reality stars that don’t have fan bases.

  31. Yowza! Looks even sadder than the infamous Pasadena Rockin’ Comic Con of a year or two back (more vendors than attendees!)

  32. “the ever humble comic-con has gone from an affair centered on a few bearded guys in T-shirts sitting behind some yellowing longboxes to what is the modern equivalent of the county fair: a chance to dress up, take pictures, meet nerd people and buy nerd shit.”

    You mean, back in the old days, people weren’t buying nerd shit from the bearded guys with the long yellow boxes?>

  33. “But they may already need a new script.”

    Oh the irony … “reality shows” don’t use scripts.

  34. Jordan Morris from the Jordan Jesse Go! podcast attended the event and he talks about it on the latest episode with guest Trevor Moore of The Whitest Kids U Know. It sounded like it’s own special hell, and they had a great deal of fun poking fun at it.

  35. Oh, btw, they start discussing it at 37 minutes 25 seconds in.

Speak Your Mind

*