Late Sunday afternoon, as San Diego Comic-Con wound to its successful conclusion, ICv2 caught up with David Glanzer, Director of Marketing and Public Relations for the show, to ask about the limits on growth, a possible move to Los Angeles, and what fits at the show.


Are you thinking about moving the show?

When we decided to extend our contract two years ago, we extended it to 2012.


When we did that, we hadn’t sold out yet in terms of attendee badges, although we knew we were getting very close (we had a long waiting list for exhibitors).  But it hadn’t reached critical mass yet. 


The decision to stay in San Diego was made knowing that we were going to have to forgo growth.  A major part of that reason was because there has been talk of expansion of the convention center.  The mayor mentioned it in his state of the city address, the convention center has been very proactive in that regard and at the time a lot of the people who attended the convention wanted the convention to stay in San Diego as did and do we. 


We haven’t seen any movement on an expansion, and that has us very concerned.  If nothing happens, as in a groundbreaking or some other solid movement, by 2010, we’re going to have to explore options.  If our attendees and exhibitors don’t want us to leave San Diego and are happy with limited attendance, limited exhibitors, things of that nature, then I imagine we’ll stay here.  But if they’re not, then I think we’ll entertain some of the offers we’re being given. 


Los Angeles did a very detailed proposal.  And there has been a general thought that we were using that as leverage against the City of San Diego, and nothing could be further than the truth.  I’m not going to say we’re not savvy, but this was a very, very difficult decision for us to make, to stay in San Diego because we knew we would have to forgo growth.  It wasn’t one that was made lightly, and it was one made under the honest belief that there would be expansion and it would all work out. 


Is there land?

In theory there is.  As I understand it, it would be moving west over Convention Center Way, and there’s a parking lot back there.  That’s my general understanding. 


This year, as there is every year, there’s a lot of talk about the mix between comics and other activities at the show.  Is the mix on the floor fairly consistent with what it was last year?

It is.  One of the things we always try to do is to maintain a dynamic flow.  There are always going to be exhibitors from a variety of different areas, whether it be retailers, toys, games, movie, or television.  If someone wanted to come in and buy a whole hall for just, say, toys, we wouldn’t allow that.  It doesn’t serve a good purpose. 


You know companies sometimes think of our event as a marketing opportunity.  And while that’s certainly understandable, we don’t look at our event as a marketing opportunity, we look at our event as much more than that.  So if it's just somebody who wants to spend money and take X amount of booths, that isn’t something that we would entertain.  We want to make sure we have a diversity of content on the floor and also in programming.  This year we have even more programming than we have in the past, and we try to make sure it’s diverse.


In terms of that diversity, one thing that seems to have gone further than in years past are shows that might appeal to the demographic that attends here, but that don’t have a genre or any other connection to the comic world.  It was surprising to see a setup for The Office, for example, that really doesn’t have anything to do with the forms of entertainment that have traditionally been here but might appeal to the same demographic.  What are your thoughts on that whole trend?

That’s a good observation.  One of the things about The Office is it was showrunners and writers.  A lot of the on-camera news crews that came by were under the assumption that it was just the stars, and they were very surprised that it was actually the behind-the-camera people that really appeal to our attendees.  It’s not the on-camera people don’t, but it is different. 


When Frank Capra came in 1974, no one would have considered him as a comic book or genre director, but he was a great director.  I think in a few years, The Office will be considered a very smart show that will hold its own.  And somebody asked, “Well, does that mean that any TV show could come in and have a panel?”  And no, it’s not that way.  We’ve had to say no sometimes, that it’s not a good fit.  It’s really dependent; it’s on a case-by-case basis.


What is the overall concept in terms of what fits?

Art is subjective, and we don’t want to be in a place were we tell someone their work isn’t art, but if we don’t feel it appeals to our attendee base or we don’t feel it’s a good fit in terms of answering good questions like from the writers or the producers, something that holds the public interest, then they might best be served going someplace else.  And it’s not trying to be rude or elitist at all.  We have an incredibly intelligent group of people who come to this event and a lot of them want to be cartoonists or writers or directors, and we want to make sure to provide them with viable panels where they can ask the questions that they need to further their career.  I don’t think that’s always going to be the case with every TV show that’s produced.