This year again, Paris Comic-Con 2017 received us in the Grande Halle de la Villette, a medium sized area filled with people and a small outside food court. The convention space was bursting with fans all Sunday (the day we were allowed to attend). Most of which were not cosplayers although many talented ones could be seen walking along the alleys.
Paris Comic-Con 2017 hosted the French Championships of Cosplay. That turned out to be a successful event with a room filled with a cheering audience. Despite not being yet very visible in the public space and within mainstream French culture, cosplay is starting to take its place in France with several cosplayers’ organizations (for instance, Cosplayers de France) which are knowing a growing success.
Paris Comic-Con 2017
On the series’ side, the convention clearly focused on Stranger Things. It included: a dedicated area of the recreation of the Byers’ living room and a broadcast of the show’s first episodes of Season 2 and the young actors present at the convention on Sunday.
The Walking Dead was quite present at the event as well. Actor Austin Nichols and many cosplayers embodying Negan and Michonne. SYFY also came full-handed with an escape game, quizzes and photo booths related to its shows. Especially The Magicians and The Shannara Chronicles. SYFY had Poppy Drayton, from The Shannara Chronicles. They allowed autographs in its area, dragging people into its booth.
The new movie Happy DeathDay proposed activities (scary pictures and beer pong games). They also offered goodies greeted by a long queue of horror movies’ fans. In the artist alley, the presence of Don Rosa, Picsou’s comics father, drew much stir. Lines of fans weaved within the convention space. All the attendees could enjoy backpacks offered by Warner Bros and featuring the entertainment company’s hits shows (Lucifer, Supergirl).
These goodies were praised, with most of the participants wearing proudly one on their backs. Without realizing it, all fans of Paris Comic-Con 2017 were turned by Comic-Con and Warner Bros into free, voluntary and proud sandwich board people marketing Warner Bros’ shows.
So, is Paris Comic-Con 2017 a place really dedicated to fans?
No doubt that there is a prevalence of marketing, merchandizing and economic logics at a convention. Paris Comic-Con 2017 is no different. It is a place dedicated to pop culture franchises and especially franchises’ profit. In France though, fans complain about the price of guests’ photos and autographs.
Some participants tweeted that Paris Comic-Con 2017 attendees were “not American.” Meaning, they were less inclined to spend that much money for pop culture memorabilia. Although the number of people waiting in line for pictures or autographs seems to refute this claim.
It is interesting to note that there is still opposition to this economic model, and to the perception of fans as cash cows. As a matter of fact, French newspapers such as Le Figaro covered the event. Not to emphasize the presence of actors or the beauty of cosplayers; but, to underline the economic logic and the financial interests at stake. French culture has still to grapple with this type of events. The remarks made by both fans and journalists highlight maybe the most sensitive question of conventions: are they really made for fans?
Finances and Comic-Cons: Can They Be Reasonable?
This type of reactions might be what fans need to see a change in the way franchises and media conglomerates treat them. Why not create an experience both enjoyable for fans and profitable to the industry, while keeping costs reasonable?
Here again comes the eternal question of what we mean by “reasonable.” Reasonable may not be the same for a French convention goer as for an American one. It is not the same either depending on attendees’ degree of fandom or socio-economic backgrounds.
Reasonable is not the same for an engaged Star Wars fan going for a picture or an autograph as it is for a more ‘casual’ fan. Issues of costs are therefore intricate ones in a no less intricate fan world.
The number of conventions with more expensive entry tickets than Paris Comic-Con 2017 (even in France!) It seems nonetheless to prove that the current model is not yet obsolete. French people might just have to grasp with it a while longer.