Pop culture extravaganza to return
The Shanghai Comic Con (SHCC) will be returning to Shanghai on the weekend after Halloween this year, and pop culture enthusiasts can expect to see more than 20 celebrity cartoonists and celebrities from the United States, the event organizer Reed Exhibitions announced on Sept 22.
Another major highlight of the event, said the organizer, would be the guests themselves.
“Dressing up may be an integral part of attending Comic Con events around the world, but we didn’t expect fans in China to be so devoted and creative at last year’s inaugural SHCC,” said Chen Qian, project manager of Reed Exhibitions China.
Last May, more than 14,000 visitors packed the 13,000-square-meter exhibition space held on the bank of the Suzhou Creek in Shanghai and nearly 40 percent of them showed up with costumes or props that paid homage to their favorite superheroes.
“Not only were there so many people in costumes, but the craftsmanship of these costumes is the highest in Asia, and close to the standards seen in the US,” said Chen.
Costumes are often handmade by pop culture fans and their cost depends on how elaborate the designs are. There are also many ready-to-wear options that can be purchased online, with those costing around 1,000 yuan ($150) usually considered amateurish.
The event has evidently been a major hit in Shanghai. The 300 VIP tickets for this year’s edition, each priced at 1,900 yuan, were snapped up within just 15 minutes after it was made available online. Guests with VIP tickets will get exclusive access to autograph-signing and photo-taking opportunities with this year’s celebrities, including Robert Knepper, best known for his character T Bag from the TV series Prison Break, and Amy Acker from Person of Interest.
Organizers expect the event to attract a total of 22,000 visitors this year, about 50 percent more than last year’s attendance.
“Our day-pass ticket is almost twice as expensive as most of the comic events in town. It intimidated quite a number of potential fans last year, but we are confident that with the reputation we have built, visitor numbers will increase this year,” said Chen.
Up to 90 percent of the visitors last year were aged above 18 years old, and more than 60 percent were over 22, according to a survey done by Reed Exhibitions. Chen estimated that adults form the majority of fans in China, meaning that such events stand to benefit from their spending powers.
The annual China Digital Entertainment Expo, also known as China Joy, used to be Shanghai’s only major festival for pop culture fans and the biggest event of its kind in China. This summer, the four-day event was attended by a record-breaking 325,500 people and secured deals worth $400 million.
“The comic economy is still on the rise in China, especially because of Hollywood blockbusters in recent years, which are heavily inspired from American pop culture. People have yet to begin spending big,” said Chen.
Celebrity guests Con. including (left to right) Nathan Fillion, Amy Acker, Billy Boyd and Robert Knepper are invited to this year’s Shanghai Comic