Superheroes battle budgets at New York Comic Con
By Robert MacMillan
NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - The big man with little dreadlocks aimed his camera at two Imperial Storm troopers. "Say 'Death Star!'" he ordered.
In "Star Wars," the troopers are lethal oppressors. At the 2009 New York Comic Con, a gathering for devotees of comic books, graphic novels and science-fiction gear, they are free photo opportunities.
Free is good at Comic Con, where this year attendees are getting their superhero fix on a budget. The financial crisis might not be driving people to soup kitchens, but rising unemployment and fiscal fear are instilling a new frugality.
"I'll be happy if I do 60 percent as much as last year," said Albert Stoltz, owner of Basement Comics in Havre de Grace, Maryland. "It's a little slow. This aisle should be full."
Stoltz, who paid $2,400 for a booth to sell comic books priced as high as $150 each, added, "This is escapism, but we don't need comic books as much as you need bread or food."
In the basement food court Ordalina Acevedo thought this year's conference wasn't as buoyant as last year.
"There are less people; it's because of the economy," she said as she rang up a customer's sandwich at a cash register.
This year, attendance actually rose, said Lance Fensterman, New York Comic Con's vice president and show manager. About 77,000 people attended, up 15 percent from last year. That is a slower growth rate than years past, but Fensterman said this was because of the Javits Center. Continued...