Comic-Con and the Business of Pop Culture:
What the World’s Wildest Trade Show Can Tell Us About the Future of Entertainment
by Rob Salkowitz
Published by McGraw-Hill Education in 2012
Buy at Amazon.com
“This book is about two things: Comic-Con and the future of comics as it relates to pop culture.”
When a book waits until page 27 to tell you what it’s about, there’s probably a lot of unnecessary padding going on.
I confess that I didn’t finish Comic-Con and the Business of Pop Culture: What the World’s Wildest Trade Show Can Tell Us About the Future of Entertainment by Rob Salkowitz because, exactly like watching someone else’s vacation video, I really don’t care about 80% of what happened, such as whom the author played cards with or how long it took his wife to secure their hotel room. The photos are probably an interesting look into what the author himself saw in that particular year for readers who have never been to Comic-Con, but it’s nothing that can’t be found on the Internet.
The book is about 70% personal travelogue and 30% information and insights into the shape of the comic book and pop culture industry in the current decade. Some of it (perhaps 10%) is quite valuable and should be examined further. Salkowitz’ thoughts about how the shift from newsstand sales to exclusive comic book stores has eliminated the ability of new readers to discover new titles was a particularly useful point. However, the day-by-day breakdown of everything the author did gets tedious very quickly and serves no purpose.
I’ve been to Comic-Con several times as press, so perhaps I’m going “so what?” when other readers who have never been might be going “oh wow.” If that’s the case, buy this book and enjoy the armchair trip in black and white. If you’re after a more authentic Comic-Con experience, however, I’d recommend watching attendee videos on YouTube, reading a wide selection of blog accounts that cover different aspects of the convention (with color photos), reading the Comic-Con schedule of events (available for free on their website) and following the live coverage on G4.
The remaining 30% of the book, which actually does talk about the rapidly changing face of pop culture with regards to science fiction in particular, is simply not worth the jaw-dropping $27.00 hardback price for material that will be out-of-date in five years. This is a topic that, by its very volatile nature, should be covered in a series of timely articles or on a blog that is updated frequently.
This is a snapshot in time of a cultural phenomenon that isn’t static in any way whatsoever. The medium simply does not fit the material. It’s an interesting effort, but those concerned about the “The Future of Entertainment” would do better to engage in the conversation rather than just read about someone else doing it.