Whew! Last week I pulled back the curtain as we were in the throes of planning for ITHACON. It was the first year we’d be back live, after the pandemic restrictions, and there was a lot of anxiety in the air.
And as you might recall, ITHACON is a unique show: Bill Turner, the founder, is still very much involved, but I have the privilege of teaching an Ithaca College course about tradeshows and conventions, and as a part of that class, the students promote, plan, and manage ITHACON. Having worked for Reed Elsevier, I set the bar really high too.
But you know what? It all worked out. The show was a huge success.
I’ll rely on the photos to tell the tale this week, but I still want to fire away with five random thoughts (If I was trying to impress you, I’d label them as “Five Insights”) about ITHACON 2022.
1. People like people – and they are excited to gather together. There were a lot of happy smiles all around and just about everyone: the attendees, the guests, the dealers/exhibitors, the cosplayers, the students (they did all the work), the volunteers, the Comic Book Club of Ithaca (and even the facilities staff) reported they had a great time.
2. ITHACON attracted the people who wanted to be there. Attendance was down from when we were last in person, but that was expected. And you know what? We didn’t want it too crowded anyways. This resulted in quick lines and opportunities for fans wander about and to discover new things. The dealers were happy too; many of them told us tales about how ITHACON 45 was their best show in a while/ever!
3. Plus- two of my illustrious Pop Culture Squad colleagues were on hand too. Like so many American businesses in 2022, we all work virtually. I will reveal a secret: we no longer all meet in person at Pop Culture Squad skyscraper headquarters in downtown Manhattan. How invigorating to see and spend a little time with co-workers in person. I imagine, actually I hope, that there will be a lot of that going around in the near future.
4. College kids like comics creators- If we had more media celebrities as guests, I would have thought that that would have been the thing to get college students excited. I was pleasantly surprised to hear when so many students say how much they enjoyed speaking with pros like Mike Gold, Don Simpson, and Will Dennis. “I could listen to them talk for hours,” one student (who wasn’t even a big comic nerd) said to me.
5. Hard work is good! Shelton Drum, the man behind Charlotte’s Heroes Convention zoomed in to give my students a pep talk before the show. Shelton’s been running this convention for 40 years – so he knows a little something about running a solid convention. It was clear how hard he works and how much fun he has doing it. Some of my students might have been perplexed when the call ended. “What am I getting into?”, they may have wondered. But during ITHACON weekend they all worked like dogs- these were long days – and somehow, they were all smiles. What an amazing thing they accomplished.
But enough reflection. Time to start planning for next year’s show.
Editor’s Note: Here are some more pics of the show: Enjoy!