MorrisonCon, the most ambitious comics convention to be headlined and co-organized by a single comics creator, “aims to change the way comics conventions are experienced.” For one thing, you’ve probably never experienced a con with a price tag ranging from $499 (for locals only) to $1,199. MorrisonCon aims to change that!
Tickets go on sale May 9, and the actual event takes place in Las Vegas on September 28-30, so it will be some time before anyone can determine whether the price tag is worth it. Such a thing would be difficult to imagine. Morrison has, of course, made a career out of encouraging people to imagine the difficult to imagine. And often, as in his approaches to Superman, Batman, the Justice League, the X-Men and the Invisibles, he’s been quite successful at it. But he’s also someone who asked us to imagine that Final Crisis had narrative coherence.
The con is vague, so far, about exactly what experiences will be available on this magical weekend. It does, however, stress that literal magic will be involved, thanks to a typical quote from the man himself: “Expect maximum rock ‘n’ roll, chaos magic, mind-bending esoterica, sharp suits, surprise guests, and once-in-a-lifetime performances, all wrapped up in the glory that is comics, comics, and more comics.” There will also be convention-exclusive copies of Morrison’s latest product, HAPPY!
Cons branded by individual creators like this are not unheard of: Stan Lee is headlining Comikaze this year, the Penny Arcade writer-artist team have run a successful gaming expo since 2004, and on two coasts since 2010. And others, like Shaenon Garrity, have had successful shows on a much smaller scale, which generally amount to quiet gatherings of friends and admirers, without all the trappings of more official conventions.
Morrison seems to want to capture some of that small-creator vibe: the con features no dealer’s room, no volunteer staff and no art gallery beyond what Morrison’s guests display. But those guests include Jonathan Hickman, Frank Quitely, J.H. Williams III, Chris Burnham and Gerard Way. And the attendance, though small by San Diego Comic-Con standards, is still much larger than your standard “gathering of admirers:” it’s limited to 1000.
Even with all that star power, and even by Las Vegas standards, this con seems like quite the pair of gambles. Firstly, it’s a gamble that 1000 people, or even 100, will be willing to foot the bill just to chill with half-a-dozen of comics’ “cool kids” for the weekend. Secondly, it’s a gamble that they won’t have buyer’s remorse on a scale that could tarnish Morrison’s audience relations, at least somewhat. The con is running opposite the Las Vegas Comic Expo, which the organizers claim is a complete coincidence. At times, two simultaneous cons in the same city have fed traffic to each other in a symbiotic relationship, but to attend both, fans will have to spend even more and double their chances of missing out on the “surprises” Morrison promises for the show.
If anyone can pull off the Houdini-like maneuver of making this show a resounding success, magician Morrison would be the man.
But it must be said: those chains look pretty tight.