Challenge: Comicdom and the lack of dedicated, ready-to-act supporters
Comicdom — A BRIEF OVERVIEW
Defining what Comicdom is, seems to be more challenging than at first sight. It is challenging because it is not easy to describe an organisation with such a broad activity in just one sentence, but in short, we could say that:
Comicdom consists of several parts, each one of them essential to the whole organisation, creating what could be described as a cultural hub with comics at its core.
It would be helpful if we took a short glimpse of the organisation’s history and its main activities by highlighting some benchmark dates:
· Comicdom began as a fanzine in 1996 by two comic-fans and became an official non-profitable publishing company in 2004, named Comicdom Press. That was, also, the year when the website www.comicdom.gr was launched.
· In 2006 Comicdom inaugurated its official comics convention; an international comics festival, hosted at Hellenic American Union’s building — which also was and continues to be one of the most valuable partners of Comicdom — , with many side-events and activities, such as workshops with famous artists, cosplay competitions etc. The Comicdom Con Athens, as it is called, still operates and continues to grow, while its attendance numbers thrive, reaching more than 12.000 each year.
· In 2015 the Comicdom team decided to broaden even more its activities by opening the Athens Comics Library, the first library where anyone can subscribe and be able to borrow more than 3.000 titles of international and greek comics, mangas and graphic novels. Furthermore, in that library, which is located at Impact Hub Athens, many seminars, exhibitions and other events take place in order to promote the culture of comics.
Earlier today, we met with Ms. Lida Tsene, who apart from being our professor, is also one of the four founding members of the Comicdom team. Our meeting point was at the Athens Comics Library, so one could say that we got immediately at the heart of the problem.
By the first minutes of our conversation, it got clear that we are dealing with a professional team, which has pretty much thought of every possible way to deal several problems, others with less or more success and was, in a way, ahead of every step/idea we suggested. However, we were not discouraged from seeking what else could be done.
In this point, it would be of great importance to state the problems we concluded by our meeting.
We infer that the main problem that Comicdom deals at the moment is not having quite dedicated, fully engaged, ready-to-act supporters.
That means that, even though Comicdom has been embraced by both artists and readers/consumers of comics, that support doesn’t always translate in a meaningful way. And by meaningful, we mean a support that would keep the organisation sustainable and, possibly at a future point, profitable.
It is crucial to point out that since the beginning of Comicdom’s activities, a non-profitable and voluntary profile was adopted by the team.
“We just wanted to do our fun and share our passion for comics. We didn’t have any big ambitions and we certainly didn’t imagine what we have achieved so far.” Ms. Lida Tsene confesses.
14 years after the establishment of Comicdom Press and 12 years after the first Comicdom Con Athens, Comicdom has built a very strong brand as well as strategic partners. With the exception of the 1-year old AthensCon Festival, held at Tae-Kwo-Do, there is not a direct competitor in that market.
So, what could be done to enhance the engagement of fans, artists and supporters in general, in order to keep the Comicdom alive and healthy? One of the most essential ways of achieving that, is by cultivating the spirit and culture of comics and graphic novels in general. That is why the Comicdom team has put so much effort in promoting their educational programs, as well as the inauguration of the Athens Comics Library. The results were quite good regarding the educational programs, but for the latter one, they were rather disapointing, as the subscriptions and attendance numbers remain mediocre except when there is an event going to take place there.
Our idea is to provide the Comicdom team with content in order to refresh its social media, especially YouTube and, maybe, Instagram, which both exploit the power of the image. We believe that by doing so, the library will become more well-known and become a place more likely to spread the culture of comics. We will try and shoot some short videos inside the Athens Comics Library, while interviewing members of the team, artists as well as YouTub-ers, who are known to the public as comic-fans and could help with promoting the library and the culture in general.
We firmly consider the culture of the 9th Art to be paramount in many aspects and especially in the sector of Creative Business. By having that in mind, we will try to proceed with cautious in helping the Comicdom team spread that culture and provide them with suggestions that could help them overcome their hindrances.
Concluding, we would like to thank Ms. Lida Tsene for having us and giving us very helpful insights and details regarding the organisation.