2:28pm PT by Graeme McMillan
San Diego Comic-Con Loses Artists' Alley Sponsor
With less than a month to go before this year's San Diego Comic-Con, it has emerged that Comic-Con International is looking for a new sponsor for the Artists' Alley area of the event following a late withdrawal by DeviantArt, the organization responsible for sponsorship of the area in recent years.
Notice of DeviantArt's withdrawal broke online Thursday, following notification being sent to those tabling in the area this year. According to the letter sent to exhibitors, DeviantArt pulled out of the sponsorship suddenly and, although Comic-Con International is seeking a new sponsor, the last-minute nature of the shift might cause changes to available amenities for exhibitors.
In response to Comic-Con International's notice, DeviantArt's advisor-in-chief Josh Wattles issued a statement in which he explained that the company's reorganization and expansion was the reason why it had pulled back this year.
"DeviantArt is having an unusually active year launching our new Mobile App on Apple and Android platforms and introducing an entirely new, modernized branding," the statement explains. "While SDCC is extremely important to the comic world, as well as to DeviantArt, our team is currently focused internally on a comprehensive site redesign that will benefit all of our 34 million registered members."
Wattles goes on to say that DeviantArt looks forward to "any sponsorship opportunities with SDCC that may resurface in the future," and has been "assured by the SDCC management that it continues to deeply value the artists who attend Artists Alley."
In a follow-up statement to THR, Wattles addressed the question of the timing of the withdrawal of sponsorship, saying "We believe that we gave SDCC sufficient time and notice to find a replacement sponsor, and have been helping in that effort."
As San Diego Comic-Con grows as an event, and shifts focus towards more general pop culture than just comic books, the importance of Artists' Alley has also changed; an area where space is available for free to creators, it has both moved location and shrunk in size throughout the years, and the loss of sponsorship has led some to wonder if the space will be more basic this time around. (Speaking to Bleeding Cool, Wattles mentioned that DeviantArt was responsible for "padded seats and carpeting" in addition to signage and display screens in the area.)
Comic-Con International did not respond to a request for comment. San Diego Comic-Con runs July 9 through 12 at the San Diego Convention Center.