Pop cul­ture ex­trav­a­ganza to re­turn

China Daily (USA) - - SHANGHAI - ByXUJUNQIAN in Shang­hai xu­jun­qian@chi­nadaily.com.cn

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.

PHO­TOS PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Celebrity guests Con. in­clud­ing (left to right) Nathan Fil­lion, Amy Acker, Billy Boyd and Robert Knep­per are in­vited to this year’s Shang­hai Comic

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