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Comic-Con and the Business of Pop Culture: What the World's Wildest Trade Show Can Tell Us About the Future of Entertainment

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Action Excitement Transmedia Step inside Comic-Con to discover the cultural trends that will shape our world

"I've been in comics so long I sometimes think I invented 'em But I just read Rob Salkowitz's terrific new book and, y'know what? Even I learned new stuff If you're a comic book nut like me, miss it at your own risk "
--Stan Lee, Legendary Comic Creator and Publisher

"Salkowitz tells it pretty much like it is: the good, the bad, and the ugly of the commercialization of one of America's greatest art forms, as well as the indefatigable artistry of its creators. He is at once informative, insightful, sobering, and inspiring."
--Douglas Rush Koff, Pop Culture Analyst and author of "Program or Be Programmed: Ten Commands for a Digital Age"

Welcome to Comic-Con: where the future of pop culture comes to life

Every summer, more than 130,000 comic fans, gamers, cosplay enthusiasts, and nerds of all stripes descend on San Diego to mingle with the top entertainment celebrities and creative industry professionals in an unprecedented celebration of popular culture in all its forms.

From humble beginnings, Comic-Con has mutated into an electrifying, exhausting galaxy of movies, TV, video games, art, fashion, toys, merchandise, and buzz. It's where the future of entertainment unspools in real time, and everyone wants to be there.

In "Comic-Con and the Business of Pop Culture," author Rob Salkowitz, a recognized expert in digital media and the global digital generation (and unabashed comics enthusiast), explores how the humble art form of comics ended up at the center of the 21st-century media universe. From Comic-Con's massive exhibit hall and panels to its exclusive parties and business suites, Salkowitz peels back the layers to show how comics culture is influencing communications, entertainment, digital technology, marketing, education, and storytelling.

What can the world's most approachable and adaptable art form tell us about the importance of individual talent and personal engagement in the era of the new global audience, the iPad, and the quarter-billion-dollar summer blockbuster? Here are some of the issues Salkowitz explores:

How do you succeed in the transmedia maelstrom? Comics have hopscotched across the media landscape for decades. What can we learn from their successes and failures as we careen toward a converged digital future?
Have comics cracked the digital code? Everyone is scrambling to deal with the business disruptions of digital distribution. Does the recent success of comics on tablets demonstrate a new model for other industries, or do dangers lie ahead?
What's next for "peak geek"? Will the ascendant nerd culture of the early 2010s keep its new audience engaged or burn out from overexposure?

"Comic-Con and the Business of Pop Culture "combines the insights business leaders need with the details fans crave about the future ofthe world's most dynamic industry. Even if you can't be in San Diego in July, this book brings the excitement into focus . . . no costumes required

304 pages, Hardcover

First published May 17, 2012

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About the author

Rob Salkowitz

7 books14 followers
ROB SALKOWITZ is a business analyst and futurist specializing in the disruptive effects of digital technology and the digital generation on work, business and culture. His latest book, Comic-Con and the Business of Pop Culture (McGraw-Hill, 2012), looks at the future of entertainment through the lens of the San Diego Comic-Con. His earlier books explore global entrepreneurship, the changing demographics of the workplace, and methods of exploring the future in business. His work has appeared at FastCompany.com, FastCoCreate, The New York Times, Internet Evolution, Businessweek and other publications. He is a partner in the Seattle-based firm MediaPlant, LLC and teaches in the MCDM Program at the University of Washington.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 36 reviews
Profile Image for Bon Tom.
856 reviews55 followers
September 2, 2019
Really meaty read for fans of comics. Lots of info about past and present state of the art and quite in-depth analysis of possible future, all through the context of Comic-Con.
Profile Image for Robert Greenberger.
Author 219 books122 followers
May 31, 2012
From ComicMix.com:

Comic book fandom was a natural outgrowth of science fiction fandom, splintering off in 1961 as the revival of superhero comics was clearly here to stay. In that year, sci-fi fan and future author Richard Lupoff published Xero, the first comics-only fanzine. Just a few years later, in 1965, the first comic convention occurred in New York City, birthplace of the first science fiction con back in 1939. The success of the zine and the con inspired others to produce their own tributes to the comics of their youth and comics fandom spread rapidly, fueled by the nationwide furor ignited by ABC’s Batman in 1966.

Interestingly, the first to write about comic conventions and its attendees was Fredric Wertham, the very man pilloried for almost single-handedly destroying the field with his poorly researched Seduction of the Innocent. Since then, fans and the ways they display their affection have been usually relegated to footnotes in other histories about the field or pop culture. One of those fans, Rob Salkowitz, has changed that with his new book, Comic-Con and the Business of Pop Culture. Coming from McGraw-Hill and billed as a glimpse into this world for the business reader, it breezily takes us through the 2011 Comic-Con International experience.

Founded in 1970 by a core of dedicated comic book enthusiasts, the San Diego Comic-Con was an appealing locale for a show, warm and inviting compared to dirty and gritty Manhattan. As a result, DC Comics and Marvel Comics began sending their editors and talent to the shows, feeding its audience. As Phil Seuling’s NY-based shows ceased operation in the mid-1970s, San Diego was virtually left alone, growing into the primary comic book-based show in the nation. Conveniently located to Hollywood, in 1976 George Lucas dropped by to begin promoting his new film, The Star Wars, handing out a poster executed by Howard Chaykin, who by then was at work on the adaptation with Roy Thomas. From that spark, the convergence between comics, media, and pop culture was inevitable.

Salkowitz’s breezy writing style and personal enthusiasm exemplifies the mindset of tried and true comic book fans who have watched, mystified, as the con has exploded in size and value to the publishers, marketers, movie studios and television networks. San Diego Comic-Con morphed into Comic-Con International and has been garnering mass media coverage for the last decade, enhancing its image as the place to see and be seen.

As the show has grown in value, the field it celebrates has gyrated, struggling for survival and relevance before being “discovered” by the pop cognoscenti. Before it was hip to be a geek, the comics faced doom in the form of dwindling sales as the newsstand contraction began in the 1970s. Seuling hit on the idea of selling the comics at a deeper discount but making them non-returnable, placing the risk on the retailer. That act alone gave rise to the comic shops which in turn created a market for independent publishers that began appearing with regularity in 1978. All or this activity continued to feed into San Diego, enlarging it until it became the mecca of comic conventions. No other show, fan produced or professionally conducted, rivaled it until Reed Exhibitions got involved a mere four years back, finally giving New York a show of its own (and challenging the con by franchising with C2E2).

The rise of video games and infusion of Manga/Anime helped change popular culture and they began gravitating to San Diego to hawk their wares. Hollywood, seeing the success Lucas had with a direct appeal to the core audience, also began to come in increasing numbers, changing the financial calculus used to run the convention. The need for space was detonated in 1993 when DC Comics unveiled its mega booth (nicknamed Wayne’s World for direct sales guru Bob Wayne) which upped the ante for the publishers and brought comics in line with the more well-heeled video game and movie offerings.

San Diego’s influence therefore has not been fed by comics entirely but by video games, Manga/Anime, movies, and television, so the convention center now hoses multiple parallel worlds that only occasionally crossover. Salkowitz touches on this time and again without fully exploring how we got here. He spends a lot of time talking about transmedia and its rising importance without really exploring its history or talking with its pioneer, Starlight Runner’s Jeff Gomez.

The book suffers greatly from not having the field’s practitioners speak. He raises points and issues without exploring them in depth or providing the necessary context let alone speaking with people, robbing the book of its needed gravitas. Additionally, he names people without identifying who they are. You and I may recognize them, but the reader this book is aimed at may well be lost.

Also missing are statistics and charts to put things into perspective. It would have been interesting to note the rise of San Diego attendance matched against the rise and fall of the direct market outlets and/or the attendance matched against the annual comic book units sales.

The marketing surrounding the book promises more than Salkowitz delivers since he skims here and there, never really connecting all the dots. The 2011 Comic-Con International was an interesting turning point where it may have gotten too large and too busy to sustain its value as a place for big announcements and events. The weeks leading up to the con, company after company broke their news in advance, trying to gain control of the news cycle as it has also gotten more and more difficult for people to register to attend or afford a room despite the explosive growth in hotel construction. The show’s economic impact in San Diego is hinted at but nothing is said of the city’s efforts to retain the con while Anaheim and elsewhere lobby heavily to relocate the event.

The book’s most interesting chapters are its final ones as he explores where the market is in 2011-2012 and the trends that may push it in one of four directions: Ghost World (collapse of the direct market, Hollywood moves away from superheroes), Endless Summer (the status quo only more), Infinite Crisis (diehard, aging fans and no one else), and The Expanding Multiverse (new technologies and new ideas grow the business in fresh ways). He paints a variety of scenarios, most of them plausible for what the con will be like in 2017 but I’m betting it’ll be a mélange of several.

I have attended the con on and off since 1978 as a fan and a working professional and have been stunned by its growth in size, scale, and importance. But, it has also gotten more difficult and more expensive to attend. Most feel they need to be there but then complain that so little real business gets conducted during the five day marathon that leaves retailers, exhibitors, professionals and fans alike utterly exhausted. Seattle’s Emerald City Con, Charlotte’s Heroes’ Con and Baltimore Comic-Con have grown as more low-cost and low-pressure options where everyone seems to have more fun. What that portends for Comic-Con International’s future is not at all addressed here and it’s a shame because where San Diego goes, pop culture is sure to follow.
Profile Image for Bill Cunningham.
2 reviews14 followers
August 7, 2012
I have been reading this book off and on for the past couple of months. Several pages here and there every night until I finally finished the nearly 300 pages. It took a long time to read, not because the book was bad or filled with the sort of business management language that makes for a tough slogging through, but for all the right reasons. I had a tough time getting through Comic Con because every 3-4 pages crystalizes a business concept about the comic book industry that was so impactful that I had to take them time to absorb the full implications of Salkowitz’s observations before I could move on. If you read that last sentence and groaned,”Oh no, not another business book!” then I must reassure you with a gentlemanly slap to the head - this ain’t your Daddy’s business book.

Salkowitz ( can I call you Rob?) has taken the annual San Diego Comic Con as his metaphor for dissecting the comic book and pop culture industry as a whole. The metaphor is apt because as anyone who has attended Comic Con knows, there is a plethora of diverse interests underneath its umbrella. It is the lightning rod of the business attracting all sorts to ground. If we are to take a critical view of today’s comic book industry with an eye toward seeing it strong and healthy into the future, then we must acknowledge that in today’s comic book market there are indeed many interests each seeking attention of the masses in one way or another. By writing this book, and framing it so exactingly within the Comic Con metaphor, Rob has confirmed both my worst fears and greatest hopes for the future of comics and comics culture. In reading this book you’ll be able to instantly understand the concepts he puts forth, and begin to (as I have) understand the business forces the comic book industry must master if it is to survive.

You’ll experience the whole of Comic Con - from Wednesday’s preview night to Sunday’s “plans for next year” - in a whole new light. You’ll begin to understand what Hollywood has done with (to?) Comic Con and how that affects comics as a whole... or doesn’t. You’ll see people you recognize, including yourself in this mass market / closed universe we call comics. You’ll see the role comics plays in the culture at large - even though it has marginalized itself to comic book shops. You’ll think about the dynamic between digital and print, and how it’s changing everything and nothing. You’ll also start formulating your own plans for the future (as I and other small publishers have) based on theories and observations in the book.

If you haven’t guessed by now, I think COMIC CON is an exceptional book, that is long overdue. If you’re an executive at a large comics publisher or even a niche publisher like myself, you’ll want to get this book and highlight some brilliant piece of business on every page. It is very rare that one can say that about a “business book.” Get it and figure out what’s your comic book future.
Profile Image for Jeremy.
306 reviews1 follower
July 12, 2012
I'm an old fuddy duddy when it comes to new-fangled technologies and the ongoing digitizing of our world. I prefer physical copies of things, though I'm not above owning an iPod or reading a webcomic. I think ebooks are gross because I can pull a book off a shelf faster than I can download the thing, and who gives a damn if you can carry around dozens of books when you can only read a couple at a time?

I know that comics are read on tablets now, and will continue to be in the future. I can't imagine digital copies replacing physical copies because my imagination is limited and I don't like to scare myself. Please not that I'm not a weekly buyer of comics, but I do love to dig around for old issues. I love old ads. I love the smell. I love the dirt on my hands.

This is all tangentially related to Salkowitz's book, which is really entertaining despite the constant appearance of the word "transmedia". Comic-Con seems like a big geeky clusterfuck of an event, one that might be best enjoyed with the help of professional guide or, failing that, lots of mind-altering/numbing substances. The Con doesn't seem like it's about comics, but that's because all I know about it is from mainstream media reports. Of course they're going to cover the throngs of Twilight fans waiting to see Robert Pattison's sparkling skin. The folks at Access Hollywood don't know who Sergio Aragones is.

Salkowitz argues that the printed and stapled versions of comics which provide much of the story fodder for today's blockbusters--despite selling fewer than a couple hundred thousand copies a month--are in trouble if the big publishers (Marvel and DC) continue to focus on pleasing aging fans instead of attractive new and diverse audiences. I consider myself an aging fan, but I'm not interested in much of what either company has to offer these days because I either read their stories when they published them the first time or (more likely) I'm in-the-know enough to find the originals. You can't keep rebooting and retelling origins until the end of time and expect new people to jump on board. Some kid with a Nintendo DS Batman game knows Batman is Bruce Wayne and doesn't give a damn that his parents are dead.

The only issue I have with Salkowitz's books is stressing the importance of "transmedia". Yes, today's media consumers expect a multi-layered experience through a variety of platforms, but I am firm believer in the quality of a good story. You can add as much rich text, behind the scenes information, and online games as you like, but if your story sucks then you're sunk. Tell a good story in a game, a comic, a TV show, or a movie and be done with it. Quit trying to gussy up everything already.
Profile Image for Diane Ferbrache.
1,714 reviews20 followers
January 3, 2013
Bob Salkowitz is known for his business books and for being an expert in digital media. In this book he explores his "inner geek" and takes us inside Comic-Con, the annual gathering of over 100,000 comic book, sci-fi, movie, pop culture, and video game fans. This convention has become so popular that tickets sell out in minutes as far as a year ahead. Salkowitz gives us a peek inside the con, but also explores the future of comics in a digital world.

I found this book amazingly readable, informative, and intriguing. For someone who would love to go to Comic-con, and watches (or reads) about it every year, this is a great way to see what it's like without expending the time, energy, and expense to actually attend. Besides the descriptions of the event itself, Sakowitz also looks at the history and future of comics and provides some valuable insight into the art and business of "sequential art". Highly recommended for any comic book fan or anyone who has an interest in the future of publishing.

Profile Image for Leslie.
604 reviews16 followers
August 26, 2015
It's sad how outdated this book already is three years after publication, but there are still some good insights. Some of the more biographical aspects were a little much. I wanted more analysis and less about the author and his friends.
Profile Image for Pete.
807 reviews52 followers
September 25, 2018
Comic-Con and the Business of Pop Culture: What the World’s Wildest Trade Show Can Tell Us About the Future of Entertainment (2012) by Rob Salkowitz looks comics through the lens of the San Diego Comic-Con.

Comics have long had a place in many people’s lives. The culture that surrounds them has clearly had an impact on a lot of popular culture. Personally I’m not much of a fan, other than reading Mad Magazine as a kid a bit and reading a few web comics today. Super heroes have almost always left me cold. However, the culture around comics is fascinating and the huge impact they have had on Hollywood is really interesting.

Salkowitz has attended Comic-Con for over a decade and the book shows his links with various people in the industry and he used the convention as a narrative that he can use to describe the past and current state of the comics industry. The book explores how independent comics, up market graphic novels, anime and manga and computer games have impacted the comics industry. Finally the book puts forwards various scenarios for the future. From the perspective on late 2018 it would appear that comics are in rude health, actual comic sales are considerably higher than in 2010, Hollywood is making ever more comic based movies, there are many comic book themed computer games and there is a thriving market for online comics.

For someone like me who is interested in the culture and economics of subcultures the book was well worth a read.
Profile Image for Ken.
26 reviews2 followers
August 14, 2019
Pretty interesting mix of focused travelogue and in-depth exploration of the comics industry/Comic Con through a business lens. Keep in mind this was written before The Avengers (18 Marvel movies ago) or the new batch of DC movies were released. Lots has happened on the movie side, but the comics industry is still chugging along in the shadow of the film industry.

I had no idea that comics readership had dropped so drastically, down to around 300,000. Salkowitz does a good job of looking at how it got to that point and what the future holds. The business aspects are well-written and are important to understanding the true workings of vast industry with diverse output. Demographics, sales, mergers, rights, all capably incorporated.

One puzzling omission is the lack of discussion of in-comic advertising. Anyone that has cracked open a single issue comic knows how many pages they take up in an already slim product. I would have liked to have seen a discussion about how they help publishers keep above those razor thin margins. Weird considering the thoroughness of related aspects. Also don't know what has since changed on the digital distribution front, but I'm interested.
Profile Image for Patrick Pilz.
565 reviews
June 23, 2018
This is the year! After 3 years of utterly failure to obtain tickets for the worlds most geeky event, I finally made it! My first year going coincides with my daughter's last opportunity to enter under the generous children policy of Comic Con.

I read this in preparation of going, just to get my self mentally and emotionally ready for the show. For that single purpose I would suggest that book. It is the story of living through comic con in San Diego, with some slight touches on history, but largely gives you the feeling on riding along with someone else. It really reads more like a travel journal spiced with some of the economic challenges of comics.

I am not sure how die-hard fans of the show feel about the book, but as a newbie, I feel a little more prepared as before.
Profile Image for Evan.
66 reviews
May 11, 2023
Not badly written, just wildly irrelevant by 2023.
Profile Image for Rosemary Reeve.
71 reviews3 followers
June 20, 2012
I received a free copy of this book because I'm a registered press attendee of Comic-Con.

I was really interested in reading this book because having attended Comic-Con for so long, the weekend is as much about business for me as it is for fun. Having the business of the convention laid out in book format really grabbed at my attention. Unfortunately, the delivery ends up being rather weak and not incredibly insightful.

In a few short weeks I'll be attending my 14th Comic-Con. This means that I've been attending the convention for just about as long as the author, which allows me a certain frame of reference for the evolution the show has gone through in the past decade plus. So I can say that the author's observations about the convention are, for the most part accurate. (One thing I did take issue with was using Twilight as an example of getting girls and women interested in comics and related genres - oh, please. Plus applauding them for their show of devotion over other franchises. Gag me.) But I think the biggest problem with the book is that it becomes a collection of rather divergent tangents that go so wide you forget exactly what any of it has to do with Comic-Con.

The most relevant observations were the ones that had to do with the prevalence of self-publishing and digital publishing, and the different strategies companies take. I really think the best treasures of the convention are usually hiding in the various small press, alt press, and web comics sections of the exhibitor floor. It is certainly where the most innovation in creativity and marketing lies.

Anyone who has not been to Comic-Con isn't going to gain much knowledge or appreciation for everything that goes on there. I think the author would have benefitted by stepping outside of his usual routine by talking to people he wasn't already friends with about why they come to Comic-Con and what they get out of the time spent there.

In the end, I was getting quite tired of the whole thing and ended up skimming the last chapter quite quickly. And I never really figured out exactly how the author was qualified to write this book. Not that I found him unqualified, but more background on his experience and expertise could have better framed the information and observations he was presenting.
33 reviews
August 1, 2012
There's no better petri-dish to investigate all facets of popular culture -- and the business underworkings behind film, comics, tv and video games -- than Comic-Con. But that's also a giant problem because Comic-Con is four and a half days of nonstop, overwhelming pageantry and programming. It's impossible for one man to survey everything and emerge with a fully-formed investigation, but despite that, Salkowitz does a commendable job bringing a lot of the current uncertainty in popular media by mostly focusing on the comics industry -- and linking the changes rippling through it, from digital distribution to the obsessive focus on creating 'transmedia'/IP.

The book is framed as a day-by-day breakdown travelogue of the panels and people Salkowitz encounters, and there's good nuggets contained within. But the meatiest part of the book is when he puts on his futurist hat and imagines the future of pop-culture through alternate futures of Comic-Con, looking it at a lens of how Comics will shift between "Centralized/Corporate" and "Bottom-up/Entreprenurial", as well as between high and low sales. He images four different futures, based on "current social, market and technology trends";

-Infinite Crisis: "comics lose their grip on the popular imagination", superheroes of 2000's become a disco-type fad.

-Endless Summer: "peak geek", where the large corps rule and popularity in their transmedia 'ip' reigns supreme

-Ghost World: mainstream gets bored with superheroes; DC and Marvel shut down publishing and art comics continue being great; creators are respected more than characters.

-The Expanding Multiverse: "vibrant economic growth and rapid development, driven at the edges by innovative young populations...by mobile devices." digital sales bring in the business; wider audiences, format and distrubution options abound.

I like the thesis a lot, but it seems like most of these futures can co-exist, and Salkowitz does admit (I think) that mixing and matching is inevitable. It's a good way to look at the way things can go down.

I liked this;

"Mainstream comics" have lashed themselves to the mast of the entertainment industry. Their future is now in the hands of studio executives and marketing teams, who see them, and the comics audience, as useful but ultimately disposable pieces in a much bigger game." - 114

Also, p.72/73 - cycles and Morrison.
Profile Image for Jessica.
102 reviews6 followers
June 10, 2015
Entertaining and spot on observation on he Crazy Comic Book Carnival Extravaganza that is Comic Con. The author breaks down the events and what to expect at Comic Con. Great for newbies and old veterans like myself who have born witness to the growing power and now cultural juggernaut that is SDCC. The author also has some intriguing business tips and breaks down the economics to where it makes sense for those of us who are business illiterate.

I want to take the opportunity to point out that there was dissent over a part where the author mentions Twilight, women and Comic Con. To my dismay, he sounded very welcoming towards this. Personally, I think this fantasy franchise ruined the con and made it so that casuals got the tickets.

However, that is beside the point of my post.

Apparently, some people took issue with this part and accuses Salkowitz of criticizing women. This could not be farther from the truth. He is not 'misogynist'. This is a tired trope from keyboard warriors and social justice feminist types who lack critical thinking skills and an understanding of context. Salkowitz mentioned how Twilight brought in a HUGE influx of female fans let us face it, it did. Women did go to Comic Con before 2008. I was one of them and when I went it was definitely not a sausage fest. Twilight just made it very visible and the fandom is overwhelmingly female. This cannot be ignored. Perhaps Salkowitz failed to mention that women did go to the Con, I do not recall but even then, to label him 'misogynist' is silly. I just wanted to make it clear.

Anywho, I thought this was a great read and I highly recommend it to nerds and those interested in Comic Con from an insider's perspective.
Profile Image for John Orman.
685 reviews31 followers
March 13, 2013
What happens in San Diego at the biggest and best Comic-Con apparently does not stay in San Diego, as that chaotic celebration spreads out to affect most of the entertainment industry in some way.
Having just attended the crowded and exciting Portland Comic Convention, which is less than 10% the size of the San Diego Comic-Con, I was interested in what happens when the big boys play to crowds of 150,000 crazed fans.

The popularity of the comics-loving gang in The Big Bang Theory TV show, and the deluge of recent superhero movies states that this whole comics phenomena is a money maker in all varieties of pop culture.

The author, known mainly as a technology futurist, has been attending Comic-Cons for over 10 years, and gives a brief history of the show back to 1970, but the book is mainly concerned with the impact of the comics craze on our wider culture.

So Salkowitz gives a detailed description of his 5 days at the 2011 Comic-Con. What a blur of activity at and around the convention, with all-night parties running until the convention opened again in the morning.

Putting on his futurist hat, Salkowitz has a section predicting the possible status of Comic-Con in 2017. Everywhere from an even bigger Comic-Con relocated to Long Beach to accommodate half a million fans, to it being cancelled when Hollywood turned away from the superhero comics genre.

At least FutureMan lives on!
But as they say, the future isn't what it used to be!
Profile Image for Jim Leckband.
712 reviews1 follower
August 21, 2013
Probably not the "World's Wildest Trade Show". The Las Vegas Adult Entertainment Expo (or whatever the porn con is called) might be a little wilder than people dressing up as Darth Vader.

In any case, this has a "what I did on my summer vacation at Comic-Con" vibe to it. I don't need to read countless "you-were-there" updates that his wife is thinking about standing in line, preparing to stand in line, running to stand in line and is now presently standing in line. I get it. There is lots of standing in line, or queuing, or standing on line. In fact I bet some people are standing in the same line that other people are queuing in and still other people are standing on line in!

See how boring the above paragraph is? Point made.

The final chapter in which Salkowitz finally analyzes the comics industry on its future was the best part (other than the standing in line parts, of course). However, I found it maybe a little simple that he only considers two dimensions - the ability of comics to infiltrate popular culture and the ability of top-down (i.e. corporate) creation and control of content vs. a more organic grass-roots creativity to prevail. But even this simple had some interesting points on where comics might be in the future.
Profile Image for alana.
893 reviews39 followers
April 16, 2014
In Comic-Con and the Business of Pop Culture, Rob Salkowitz recaps the history of the ever-growing Comic-Con, details the goings-on of the 2011 Con, and uses all the above to highlight necessary changes for the sustainability of the comic book industry.

Like all print media in need of reinvention, comics must continue to adapt to the demand for digital distribution. This shift is complicated by a significant fan base with a tangible collection mentality as well as pre-existing issues with access to retail. Salkowitz also shows how the growing investment of Hollywood studios and game companies in the comic book industry could lead to multiple future outcomes for single issue comics.

While the issues discussed in the book are straightforward and fairly intuitive, the presentation is entertaining and full of Con insider moments. I also appreciate the walk through comics history, and used the book like a "To Read" list.
Profile Image for Jenny Thompson.
1,110 reviews35 followers
April 15, 2014
Even as someone who has never really been exposed to the world of comics, I found this book to be an interesting read. The books is structured almost like a journal as the reader follows Salkowitz through his weekend at Comic-Con 2011. Along the way various people, panels, etc trigger what seem like tangents but are actually the main content of the book. He writes about the history of comics, the current state of the industry, and speculates on the future. In some ways, this book reads like a several hundred page advertisement for Comic-Con. In others, it is a thoughtful analysis of Salkowitz's beloved comics' industry.

As I said, I know absolutely nothing about comics, so I learned a lot from reading this book. I have compiled a short list of comics and graphic novels I want to try. Additionally, I now feel the urge to attend Comic-Con someday even more strongly than ever before.
666 reviews
January 20, 2016
Readability: 6. Rating: 5. A gift from Vivian. Written by an "insider" and longtime attendee of Comic-Con. It was certainly an eye-opener for me, given my naïve desire to just go to San Diego some time and attend. Some of the details were interesting, as was his take on the industry. But the overall impact was dulled by his jadedness and negativity, not to mention his name-dropping and smugness. No, Comic-Con isn't as fun and pure as it probably was in the old days. And no, the comic industry isn't selling wildly like it was in the 90s. But he comes across as a curmudgeon when he essentially declares the death of the medium, especially as the baby boomers age and die. It will change and maybe the pamphlet form eventually is replaced entirely by e-books (which I would mourn), but that doesn't mean the end of the form, let alone the characters.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Du.
1,815 reviews11 followers
March 7, 2013
As a fan of comics and a past avid reader/collector I saw this book and really thought it would be great. It was good. It had a fun overview of where comics have evolved from the 70s to today. This especially is true through the lens of San Diego Comic Con. As someone who has attended NY Comic Con and various local conventions, I found the San Diego experience to be fascinating.

The discussion about digital comics and the off shoots (movies etc) of comics was great, and really held the book up at times. What's funny is that the book is 250 pages, but the font size and type is large. This could really be a 175 page book.

I didn't read it as a business book, but it has elements of the business aspects. I don't see it as a great business book.
25 reviews
July 24, 2012
I've exhibited at SDCC (San Diego Comic-Con) for the past 12 years and I still managed to learn a LOT from futurist Rob Salkowitz's book about the various origins of creators, events, etc. I wish this book would be published and updated yearly as that is how quickly this information evolves. It was fascinating to read and well written. I especially liked how Rob broke out the sections into the various days of the Con. If you're interested in the business side of entertainment or comics, this is the book you need for your shelf (or digital shelf).
Profile Image for B.G.M. Hall.
Author 2 books4 followers
March 14, 2013
Interesting mix of geek fandom at the event that's become nerdvana and a tale of the business side of the comic book/film/transmedia world. Covers both the new movie franchise-oriented side of the con and also the more traditional, hand-drawn comic writers/artists, who have been pushed to the back.
Salkowitz takes an interesting approach to the end of the book by suggesting 4 possible futures for Comic-Con, showing how it might further evolve.
Profile Image for Dan Polley.
441 reviews14 followers
July 23, 2012
A great look at Comic-Con, which I'd love to attend sometime.

If I had one nitpick, it's this: The title includes "pop culture," but I found the book to focus much more on the comics part of the show. That's fine; I love comics. But I expected just a bit more depth in approaching the pop culture portion of it.
Profile Image for Daniel A..
Author 1 book4 followers
August 10, 2012
This is not a book for a casual comic con fan, however if you are a reader of comic books then I consider this a must read. The main point of this book is the evolution of comic books and where they are heading in a digital world. As a communications major, I personally enjoyed the book and read it in one sitting.
Profile Image for J.
520 reviews1 follower
January 24, 2015
Finished it one sitting. I liked the business aspect of the read. Plus I liked how it was written in a manner to one who has been to San Diego Comic Con. It's a true phenomenon. It was insightful and planned out. There is so much to enjoy at the 4 day event and this helps one game plan a strategy to going. Once here time truly flies by.
Profile Image for Rachel.
200 reviews16 followers
March 1, 2015
I think it says something about a book that one reads it three years after publication and the book already feels like it is on the edge of being out-dated. Granted, I've attended San Diego Comic Con a few times so I wasn't drawn to or intrigued by his description of his 4.5 day experience. Maybe it would be better as an introduction for someone who loves comics but has never been?
Profile Image for Thomas Maluck.
Author 2 books31 followers
December 21, 2015
Despite the risk of this book aging exponentially with each passing year, it still serves as a great guide to convention and comics culture past, present, and future, including perspectives from attendees, vendors, and corporate strategists.

The forecasting tool Rob uses near the end was an excellent, thoughtful section that's worth reading even if you don't care about Comic-Con.
Profile Image for Jessie.
561 reviews18 followers
October 12, 2013
This was a great insider's look at the business of Comic-Con. I attended my 10th SDCC this year and I, too, wondered if we'd hit "peak geek." While I'm no businesswoman, it was fascinating to hear the author's takes on the future of this convention.
Profile Image for Amber.
Author 19 books144 followers
November 24, 2014
Fairly interesting, but more comic-heavy than I had hoped. Made the San Diego Comic con sound INSANE. It had some general pop culture/fandom predictions and advice--like don't ignore women and girls, keep your eyes on global markets, and keep on top of technological changes and trends.
Profile Image for Bob.
Author 356 books287 followers
October 22, 2012
Among other things, a very interesting , knowledgeable and insightful look at the state of the comic book business and where it might be headed and why.
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