About 200,000 costumed fans converged at New York’s Javits Center from Oct. 6-9 for the ultimate pop culture pilgrimage – New York Comic Con 2022. While booths were stocked with familiar plush toys and posters, several traditional collectibles brands also incorporated Web3 elements into their fandom, showcasing how blockchain technology is being welcomed by mainstream collectors.
NFTs to shape a TV show storyline
Many convention attendees look forward to exclusive roundtable discussions and meet-and-greet experiences featuring the creators of their favorite film and TV shows.
Among those was a new show called “Krapopolis,” which hails itself as the first animated series on the blockchain. Created by Dan Harmon, the mind behind “Rick and Morty,” the new cartoon will air on Fox TV in 2023.
The show is selling non-fungible tokens (NFT) dubbed “krap chickens,” which offer gated access to real-world events, a virtual viewing room for behind-the-scenes content and voting rights on the elements inside the show. In the first episode sneak peek, which premiered at Comic Con, krap chicken holders voted on which sailor in the show gets slapped by a Kraken.
NFT holders at Comic Con also received front-row seats to Harmon’s panel, as well as the ability to cut the line for his autograph.
So far, 3,000 of the 10,420 krap chickens have already been sold. Matt Bilfield, Krapopolis project lead at Blockchain Creative Labs, said the number was set at “10,420 chickens because that’s how long it could roughly take a chicken to run the marathon.”
A forgotten superhero, revived through NFTs
At the eBay booth, a forgotten superhero was brought back to life and turned into an NFT collection.
Slam-Girl was created in 2001 by comic legend Stan Lee and art director Will Neugniot as a reimagination of the Peter Parker-styled Spiderman series. The franchise was considered a "lost treasure" when then Stan Lee Media, an internet-based production and marketing company founded by Lee, fell victim to the bursting of the dot-com bubble and became defunct.
“When I discovered Slam Girl, I felt like Indiana Jones finding the Lost Ark,” said Shirrel Rhoades, curator of Slam-Girl and former executive vice president of Marvel Publishing. “Who would have thought that there were still Stan Lee superheroes that nobody had seen?”
Rhoades, now the director of Stan Lee Holdings, said that the company’s properties were dormant until his collector friend purchased all the assets and asked him to curate them. Rhoads then sought out Will Meugniot, the one-time Marvel animator who co-created the superhero character with Lee.
The genesis Slam-Girl collection, released at Comic Con, features a variety of scenes of her fighting her four nemeses. It is available on eBay, in collaboration with NFT platform OneOf.
“The fans that actually own the collection will be the community that gets to vote on future storylines,” said Lin Dai, CEO and founder of OneOf.
Both Dai and Meugniot revealed to CoinDesk that the future secret power of Slam Girl is “mind melding.” He teased that the second and third collections of Slam Girl NFTs will enable the holders to see their unique NFT as the Slam Girl character inside the show.
“This is based on my own experience as a fat kid who loves comic books,” said Neugniot. “I would die to have a fat kid who is a real superhero … and the new technology will enable you'd have an NFT just like you will enable you to have merchandise that just like you.”
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Comic books and augmented reality
One of the largest exhibitors at Comic Con was Veve, a marketplace for licensed digital collectibles and a partner of Marvel.
Veve’s communications manager, Rhys Skellern, showed CoinDesk Marvel’s first-ever comic book from 1939, which was sold for over $2.4 million dollars in March. Using VeVe, the rare comic collectible can now be viewed in augmented reality.
“It's one of the most expensive physical comics in the world. You can't even touch it, right, you can't take it out of its container … [we’re] giving you access to intellectual property (IP) that is out of reach for most people in the physical world,” he said.
Marvel has been licensing its intellectual property to Veve since June 2021 as a way to break into Web3.
Prior to the partnership, Veve announced its plans to be the first carbon-neutral NFT platform, operating on ImmutableX. Skellern said “sustainability” is one of the reasons behind Marvel and Disney’s step into digital collectibles.
“NFTs are much cleaner than manufacturing physical products,” he said.
Funko takes traditional collectibles into Web3
The night ended with a Halloween-themed party hosted by Funko, which recently released DC comics linked to NFTs.
Attendees purchased a special $200 ticket and were able to take home a goodie bag full of Halloween-themed Funko Pops, a poster and an NFT ready to be claimed.
The crowd ranged from Funko lovers to resellers who aimed to sell these items on the secondary market. One attendee said he immediately made $1,100 by posting his goods to a Facebook group.
According to Dai, this year's Comic Con continued to show similarities between traditional collectors and crypto natives.
“If I could have one wish … we no longer call these NFTs, just digital collectibles,” he said. “I think that message could resonate really well with comic fans who are already rabid community forming groups.”
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