file photo by Justin Cook
Ultimate Comics owner Alan Gill is one of the people behind the recently rebranded NC Comicon.
Basking in the success of November’s annual NC Comicon
in Durham and its Raleigh-based spinoff, Oak City Comicon
, the conventions' owners recently announced plans to consolidate their brands. The Oak City show on March 18 and 19 is now called “NC Comicon: Oak City” and the traditional Durham Convention Center show planned for November is “NC Comicon: Bull City.” Underlying NC Comicon’s expansion, as the owners are calling it, might be a concerted effort to fend off new competition.
It's not the first time NC Comicon has faced down a bigger challenger. A few years ago, another convention, Wizard World
—part of a corporate-owned chain of shows—came to town. Wizard World tried to lure comics fans to the Raleigh Convention Center with such names as William Shatner and former Doctor Who David Tennant, but plans for a follow-up show never materialized.
Publicly decrying Wizard World’s appearance in Raleigh as an effort to undermine their locally owned convention, NC Comicon’s owners expanded their Oak City show to the Raleigh Convention Center last year and enjoyed great success, attracting about three times the projected attendance. The new show for March already has high expectations, with such high-profile guests as longtime G.I. Joe
comics writer Larry Hama, eighties rap legend-turned-comics-writer Darryl “D.M.C.” McDaniels, and people from IDW, a large comics publisher that handles properties such as The Transformers
Now it appears that competing competition is on the horizon again.
The Raleigh Convention Center will play home to the new Raleigh Supercon
in mid-July, just before San Diego Comic-Con International, the largest North American comics show. The people behind Raleigh Supercon, who currently put on several conventions in Florida, said on Facebook that they took up the spot after Wizard World dropped out of its follow-up show.
Raleigh Supercon looks to have more comic book-related guests than the movie/TV-focused Wizard World, but fewer than NC Comicon, which typically includes a few media celebrities but bases most of its lineup on comic book creators and retailers. Raleigh Supercon has several major comic creators on deck, including Batman
artist Neal Adams and The Punisher
artist Mike Zeck, but it appears to be more heavily based on movie/TV/cartoon voice actors offering autograph and photo opportunities. If you’ve ever wanted to have wrestling legend Ric Flair, Clerks
stars Brian O’Halloran and Jason Mewes, and Steven Universe
voice Zach Callison in the same room, this is the place for you. Another difference between the two shows is the ticket price. Both days at NC Comicon: Oak City will set you back $30, while it’s $60 for three days of Raleigh Supercon.
It remains to be seen how these competing cons will affect each other. Wizard World’s presence inspired NC Comicon to expand its offerings with big-name guests like The Walking Dead
artist Charlie Adlard and Torchwood
star John Barrowman. My Chemical Romance leader Gerard Way made appearances the last two years, after working with NC Comicon co-owner Tommy Lee Edwards on the DC Comics project Mother Panic
. If the rebranded NC Comicon and the new Raleigh Supercon shows wind up in direct competition, there might be one clear winner here: comics fans in the Triangle. We’ll have to keep watching to see.