Boston Comic Con has been rescheduled for this weekend, August 3-4, at The Seaport World Trade Center. Founder Nick Kanieff joins us for a two part interview about the challenges of moving this great independent comic book show and the incredible growth Boston Con has seen since its first years. The Boston comics community was looking forward to the show in April, and now are even more ready to get together this summer as a celebration of comic books and pop culture at the rescheduled date and venue.
DIGBOSTON: Can you tell me how you started running this show?
NICK KANIEFF: We had our first show in 2007. I had been a collector most of my life. I got to a point where I decided to sell my collection. I had some good friends that ran a comic book store, I asked them the best way to liquidate the collection, they suggested a combination of eBay and going to Cons and setting up as a vendor. There is a little show that’s been run here for 15 years. I set up there, was selling my comics and I noticed that it was a small show and the vendors were unhappy. It wasn’t what I remember as a kid. I remember there was an electricity in the air. It was crowded with people, it was colorful. It was a huge trading floor, it was a stock exchange with so much excitement. I started poking around, how come Boston doesn’t have a major comic book convention? No one could give me a good common sense answer to that question.
If I could start a show and bring back the magic, the allure, the electricity that I felt as a kid, then this thing can go through the roof.
I did just that. I started the show in 2007 at the Back Bay Events Center with 900 attendees. Three-four times the amount of the existing show, that had been there for 15 years.
The show has gone from 900 people to last year’s 10,000. We moved from Back Bay Events Center to The Hynes. Unfortunately, the Boston Marathon tragedy happened and we postponed and rescheduled to The Seaport. Our estimated attendance for 2013 is between 12-15,000 people.
It’s just gotten bigger and better and we are now nationally recognized and ranked and a show people come to from all over the country.
We’re putting Boston back on the map as a major city that has a major comic book convention for fans that deserve it. Boston deserves a well-run, big comic book convention. We’ve hopefully given that to them. My goal at the end of the day is to put on the best show that I can. The way I know that I’m successful is if the fans, the vendors, and the artists all walk away saying we had a great time, a lot of fun, we made some money and that was the best show I’ve ever been too.
I just want to make it bigger and bigger and better.
That’s great. I’ve been going since 2009, and each of the Cons keeps getting bigger and bigger — to the benefit of the Con. There was plenty of space, and lots of happy people last year. I have just as good a time at Boston as I do at New York.
That’s the barometer, when a fan like yourself says that, I know we are doing our job right.
From a logistical standpoint, after the bombings, you had to move the venue and the date. Anything you want to say about the rescheduling of your guests?
A lot of people don’t realize what goes into putting on a show of this size. There is a lot of balls in the air, a lot of logistics. What I would like to say, going back to the unfortunate events, going on around the Boston Marathon is that we received unbelievable, overwhelming support from all of our guests. Eighty percent of the guests were able to come back, and those that couldn’t expressed disappointment and were apologetic. If they couldn’t come back, it was for a family event scheduled.
Ninety percent of the fans who bought tickets online didn’t ask for a refund. They are coming back.
That’s so great!
It’s been unbelievable. Again, it shows how people can come together. I’m proud to be putting on a show in the city of Boston. Bostonians have been amazingly strong and resilient. People in the comic book industry as well. For all the wrong reasons, I guess, Boston Con was the most talked about Convention in the country this year.
This is the only convention in the history of conventions to be postponed by a terrorist attack.
People reached out. In addition to the guests that are coming down, we were inundated with more superstar comic creator guests that wanted to come to the rescheduled show to show support for the City of Boston.
I went to Anime Boston and Boston Calling. It is just amazing to go to events like that and to Boston Comic Con just to be with a large group of people—it just feels so good. To have the comic book community be surrounded by a general good vibe is just amazing.
The people have been unbelievably compassionate, sensitive and understanding. I really can’t say enough about the fans, the guests, the celebrities, everyone has been just so supportive.
We can talk about that weekend in April too, because there was some really cool stuff going on. A lot of people said, “Hey, we’re here,” let’s have a pop-up convention, come to my hotel room to pick up your commission sketches. We’re not just packing up and not doing anything.
Thank you for reminding me of that. That week, we were on, we were off. It was like a yo-yo. No fault to anyone, the venue was receiving information from law enforcement as were the surrounding hotels and businesses. As you know, the Hynes was right there at Ground Zero. As of Wednesday, everything was on, Thursday, everything was on. Friday morning you wake up, all hell was breaking loose. At that point, my guests were arriving from all over the country. Ultimately, we didn’t get the word until 5pm Friday that the Convention was off for the weekend.
These guys rallied, and got together and went to a bunch of local comic book shops and signed autographs, did sketches for the fans.
We had Boston Comic Con staff members go out with Boston Comic Con t-shirts. It was great, amazing.
People were coming together in the face of tragedy to bring some kind of light, some kind of hope, some kind of joy to mitigate the disappointment.
A lot of fans wanted to go on with the show. Unfortunately, it was out of our control.
I woke up that Friday morning at 5am. There was on the radio that they were in pursuit of the two suspects. I said to myself, if they capture the suspects by noon, the city will erupt in celebration and Boston Comic Con will go on. I said if they don’t catch these guys by 5pm—we’re screwed. And that’s the way it went. But everything happens for a reason.
All I can say is that we were just lucky that the worse thing that happened to the Boston Comic Con is that the show was postponed, there was some inconvenience, and some loss of money.
It could be a lot worse; no one got hurt at Boston Comic Con.
Exactly, and one thing is that we get to celebrate and get together when everyone has a little bit of space from it too. We come back in the middle of the summer, everyone gets to party and hang out.
That’s absolutely right.
This is a true celebration, there is no question about it.
Boston Comic Con!
New Location – Seaport World Trade Center. SAT August 3 and Sunday August 4
SAT 8/3 – LUCKY’S LOUNGE (6-9PM):
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