Preview of coming attractions

Planet Comicon website
We launched a new Planet Comicon website in the fall of 2014. (click to enlarge.)

I’ve learned a lot about event marketing through Planet Comicon. I’ve started thinking about the best way to share my insights. I’m crafting a presentation titled “The Superhero Secrets of Comicon Marketing.” It’s all about how to promote events that “leap tall buildings in a single bound!”

Our online community is always eager for updates, and I’ve enjoyed testing various techniques to build our community and drive engagement. In the past several months we’ve launched a new website, rolled out event management system, and refined our approach to social media and email marketing.

As a sneak peek, here are some of the topics I’m developing for the presentation:

  • Secret Origins: How Stan Lee Invented Social Media Marketing in 1962
  • Alter Ego: The intersection of nerd marketing and sports marketing
  • Utility Belt: Tap into your most effective tools and attributes
  • The Bat Signal: Communicating to the right audience
  • Team-ups: Enlist the strongest allies
  • X-Ray Vision: Using powerful images to magnify your reach
  • Battle of Champions: Using game incentives to achieve goals

I won’t be able to really finish the presentation until after the event in March, but I’m doing my best to take notes and highlight good statistics to include as case study elements.

Pulse-Pounding Planetary Proclamations

Planet Comicon logoPlanning and facilitating Planet Comicon 2014 was intense to say the least. I’ve needed some time away from it to decompress and gain perspective. I’m going start writing short items recapping the highlights. I’ll post some of them here and others on social media.

First off, it was a tremendous success — an accomplishment of staggering proportions. We set records for attendance, with something like 40,000 fans of superheroes, science fiction, fantasy, anime, and pop culture coming to Bartle Hall for three days of geek glory in mid-March. The event was extensively covered by the local media. Vendors, celebrities, and comics creators had a great opportunity to meet fans and sell their wares. Best of all, at the end of Day Three, nearly every single person seemed thrilled to have been a part of the event.

On the other hand, you don’t move an army of this size without worry, stress, and a tremendous amount of exertion. The Planet Comicon team all put in innumerable hours in advance of the show. That, of course, starts with the show’s owner and director, Chris Jackson, and includes Jeff Yenzer, Matt Driscoll, Kelly Bever, Bryan Ward, Mike Sullivan, Jason P. Hunt, Victor Pena, and our team of nearly 100 volunteers.

Before I write my recaps, here are some video highlights of the show courtesy of the fans and local television.

Planet Comicon’s national TV debut

Chloe Dykstra of Heroes of Cosplay
Chloe Dykstra celebrates her costume contest win on episode 5 of SyFy’s Heroes of Cosplay series.

One of the exciting elements of Planet Comicon 2013 was that we had a Hollywood production company in our midst taping two episodes of the new television series Heroes of Cosplay. We made our debut last night and the second episode – the series finale – runs next Tuesday night.

For those who don’t know, I’ve coordinated the panel room programming for the convention for the past five years. This involves scheduling the appearances of the actors, artists, moderators, and other panelists, coordinating several simultaneous sessions, and overseeing an army of volunteers who guard the panelists’ tables in the exhibit room and ensure that everyone gets to where they need to be. Our largest event room seats more than 1,000 fans, and we fill it to capacity for events featuring popular performers like Wil Wheaton, George Takei, and Adam Baldwin.

I must admit that adding a television production and a second night of costume contests during our first year at Bartle Hall meant quite a bit of extra stress. In the end, we pulled it off. I was delighted to work with Lisa Wax, the field producer from 51 Minds Entertainment. Lisa is a dynamo of energy, always on the move and making 60 decisions a minute.

We also have to thank Blythe Renay and Jeff Yenzer from the Damsels of Dorkington who stepped in with short notice to emcee. Blythe and Jeff are two of the most creative and charismatic regulars at Planet Comicon. We were lucky to have them available to make us look great on TV.

I also learned a lot about how much work and preplanning goes into an “unscripted reality” show, including the ways that drama is invented out of thin air – or in the editing room after the filming is finished. There were plenty of elements that were planned in advance for this show, but the team was constantly on the move, adjusting to events as they happened. And, for the record, the judging of the competitions is not rigged. I know the producers fed the judges some tough questions to ask the show regulars, but the judges picked the winners based on their own preferences.

Helen Slater Interview

I was pleased to interview actress Helen Slater at Planet Comicon 2010. She is an amazing actress who was one of most popular stars of the ’80s and ’90s, with lead roles in films including Supergirl, The Secret of My Success, Ruthless People, and City Slickers. In this conversation, we cover her career and the movies she’s made with actors like Peter O’Toole, Bette Midler, Christian Slater, and Michael J. Fox.

Thanks to Jason P. Hunt and the team at for recording and posting this interview.