Hi guys! After a relatively uneventful first day at Indiana Comic Con, I finally heard back from Halia, my PR contact. I'd sent in an e-mail interview, just like I did for Awesome Con Indianapolis, and was able to look over it while I uploaded the day's photos.
Q: Would you mind telling me a little bit about yourself, and how you became involved with Indiana Comic Con?
My name is Halia Smalczewski, and I am the acting press contact for Indiana Comic Con 2015. I've worked for conventions since I was 15, and began working with Imaginarium Agency (this is the name of our company, which puts on Indiana Comic Con and Tampa Bay Comic Con) in October of 2013.
Q: What is Indiana Comic Con? How would you describe it to an average person who has never been to a Convention?
Indiana Comic Con is first and foremost a comic book convention, but you can find all sort of things here. We have comic artists, celebrity guests, voice actors, vendors, and an incredibly diverse programming schedule that runs until midnight Friday and Saturday.
Q: When and how did Indiana Comic Con begin?
Indiana Comic Con held its debut show in March of 2014, so this is our second year in Indianapolis.
Q: What is your goal and target audience for 2015?
I don't know of a specific number, but I can tell you that we are very excited about our projected number.
Q: What is your projected total attendance for 2015?
Our projected attendance clocks in at about 30,000 attendees over the course of the weekend.
Q: Why Indy? What made the convention center the most attractive venue over other locations?
In 2013 we surveyed possible locations and decided that there was a lack of conventions in the midwest. There are a lot of folks that drive hours just to get to the convention in Chicago, and after a lot of hypothetical planning, we decided that we could put on a show that might be a little closer to home. The venue here is great - we LOVE working with the convention staff, and the people here are just as welcoming.
Q: How do you differentiate yourself from other cons?
One thing that we are very careful about is trying to balance all of the factors that make conventions great. So that means making sure that we have proper celebrity talent, a good amount of comic artists, a variety of vendors, and diverse panelling. That being said, we are a COMIC convention, so we try to secure as much comic talent as possible.
Q: In 2014, the convention ran into some unexpected hiccups. Would you care to talk about that?
I think the biggest and most commonly referenced issue we faced was the overcrowding. It was our first year in Indianapolis, which was sort of untested waters for our company. We did not anticipate the amount of people that would show up, and when everyone filed into the hallway there wasn't much we could do but try our best to keep them organized.
Q: Leading off the last question, what has Indiana Comic Con done this year to avoid that?
More space, more signs, more programming. The space to accommodate the crowds, the signs to help direct the crowds, and the programming to make sure that people have options. Hopefully this year people won't have to resort to just standing in the halls for extended periods of time.
Q: In 2014, how many people were allowed to enter the convention, and did everyone get refunds or credit that were not able to enter?
In 2014, we drew in approximately 20,000 attendees over the course of the weekend. To the best of my knowledge, we were able to offer refunds for people who did not get to enter the exhibit hall.
Q: Some have cited Indiana Comic Con marketing as being, "Too aggressive." During Wizard World in Indianapolis, people who claimed to be associated with Indiana Comic Con were ejected from Wizards by the director of the Indiana Convention Center. Were this people actually with Indiana Comic Con? Were they street team members? Or not associated with the convention at all?
Unfortunately, I don't know enough information about this incident to give a definite answer.
Q: What are you most looking forward to about being at Indiana Comic Con?
I'm personally most excited to show people what we have this year. I want everyone to enjoy themselves at our show - our whole team does! Last year there were a few people who left upset, and this year I can't wait to show them how much more we have planned.
Q: What are some of the key attributes to holding a successful convention?
Its all about balance, communication, and teamwork. I know it sounds a little hokey, but it is 100% true. Planning is essential, but on show days the most important thing is to keep open lanes of communication between all departments and to ALWAYS offer help if you have downtime.
Q: The Indiana convention scene is in danger of becoming over saturated, with major conventions like Wizards World, Gen Con, and Indy PopCon . Do you see these other conventions in Indy as competition?
I don't want to call them competition, because that gives the implication that we want to do well at the other's expense, which is in no way what our goal is. We do similar things, draw in similar guests, and appeal to the same general crowd. What I will say, is that each of these companies come in at different angles. Gen Con targets gamers specifically, whereas we try to keep a broader approach.
Q: Awesome Con Indianapolis was in October, and based on how that weekend went, it appears that Awesome Conventions will not be returning to Indy in 2015. What has Indiana Comic Con done to avoid a similar fate?
Since our debut show in 2014 we have worked to really integrate ourselves within the Indiana community. We've partnered with several local business, universities, and have also hired some area managers that are local. Being in communication with people here in Indianapolis really helps. Social media is great, but people love personal interactions, and thats what our Indy staff has been able to provide. Its this kind of feedback and communication that has helped to establish us and secure vendors, artists, and attendees.
Q: Are your future plans in Indy dependent on how this year goes? Or are you contracted until a certain year, like Gen Con?
We will be returning next year! However, I have no further information about years after that at this time.
To those of you that don't know of the events being referenced above are, an announcement was made that tickets were sold out, at 3pm, on Saturday of the 2014 convention. Although not one to be pessimistic, I strive to be realistic, and based off of Comic Cons goal of 30,000 attendees over the course of 3 days for this year, I have trouble believing they'll pull it off. For comparison, Gen Con had 30,000 attendees over FOUR days in 2010. Since then, Gen Con has increased attendance by 10%-20% each year since then, so it is doable, but I think they will still run several thousand short. As always, i'd love to hear your thoughts and see your comments below.