Return from Comic-Con

I figured I might as well jot down a few things/impressions from the event. Here are a few quick takes:
Celebrities: lots of famous people are at this event, so it’s hard not to see someone that’s recognizable. Some that I saw: Seth Green, John Landis, Stan Lee, Scott Ian, Bruce Campbell, and a dozen or so ‘they look familiars’ who I’ll probably figure out later.
Events: Since most of the panels end up on YouTube, it does seem somewhat silly to go to anything that requires a multi-hour/day wait in line, even if it would have been great to have been in the same room as Terry Gilliam. I was in the same building, so I left it at that. Many of these events and panels really push the six degrees of separation as to what they even have to do with comics. And I agree wholeheartedly with the suggestions to enable people to obtain tickets/passes to the bigger panels and events versus forcing them to wait in line for ages. But I have a million ideas on ways they could improve the conference logistics, so I won’t bother with all of that.
Booths: Biggest disappointment would be with the booths themselves. Some really got it right; they managed the flow of people and the items/information well, but way too many still don’t seem to get how to run a booth and/or market and promote themselves (or for that matter sell stuff) to the various types of people at this event. The worst was the BBCA booth, and yes, I’m saying that primarily because a) they dicked us around for three days on getting a bag instead of just doing the right thing and hooking their fans up, having a process in place, and/or not lying, b) they didn’t make it clear what items were exclusives until after they were sold out of them, and c) I’m still really pissed about the bag. It had David Tennant, er, Doctor Who on it after all. Some booths just had ridiculous lines the entire time, so if you wanted any sort of information (and not some sort of autograph or whatever) you were SOL. Does it not occur to these vendors/studios that some people are looking for information at this event and not just a free pen? For that matter, does it occur to them to try to reward their fans and their community versus enabling/helping the eBay opportunists that care more about grabbing stuff for profit? I’m cool with people making a buck, but it really sucks when a true blood fan (or, for that matter, a True Blood fan) doesn’t get rewarded for their loyalty and patronage in some way. Pass out the postcards to raise awareness; give some cool stuff to the people who are on your mailing lists, who have bought stuff from you, etc. Almost no one there was collecting information for later marketing, which is insane.
Costumes: Some people see it as a costume party (or substitute for a day at the zoo) more than as an industry/professional event; I can see how that’d be fun, but someone should have a big ‘CostumeCon’ given how many people love to dress up for an(y) occasion. For those asking what I wore, trust me, no one ever wants a picture of/with me so you’ll just have to make something up and imagine that I looked cool. Some of the costumes I ‘get,’ but some yet again push the boundaries of ‘what does that have to do with comics?’ It just seems to me that it’d make just as much sense to have a Coca-Cola booth in the middle of the exhibit hall as some of the stuff that is there, using the same logic of ‘well, comic book fans love sodas!’ Hmm. Okay, admittedly, a Coca-Cola booth would be cool, but you get the point – relevance.
Swag: As someone who’s been on the selecting, giving, and receiving end of swag at large/small industry events for [quite some time], I have to admit that the giveaways & items were pretty mundane and overall quite a letdown – not to mention the convoluted, confusing process to get some of it. If you stood around at the LEGO booth, you could get a lanyard to play LEGO Rock Band. Then you got the lanyard punched after you played (and who wants the lanyard ‘ruined’ with a hole punch?). Then you went to another booth to show them your punched lanyard to get a t-shirt – once you went back about four times to find someone who knew anything about the promotion. Somewhere in there you could ask for a pin too, randomly. Their lottery system was a bit better: rather than forcing you to be the first in line, you waited in line for a chance to get a ticket from a big box that might enable you (if you were lucky) to wait in line to buy the exclusive sets of the day. It might sound silly, but it was fair, and the line moved fast enough that you could normally get a few tries if needed before they ran out.
One of the big issues with Comic-Con, though, is that it’s just too diverse; there are collectors, industry people (and various industries at that), wannabe industry people, studios, artists, general fans, etc. – but within those groups there are so many fractions it’s diluted past the point of usefulness to most any of them, especially when our ‘industry’ badges just said ‘Professional’ on them. I think it’d be much more beneficial to have the days/space/whatever divided (retro, sci-fi, action) – not to be exclusionary/secular but to focus it a little more and make it more manageable to find information and/or network. Sure, it’s a ‘fan’ event at heart, but that term is so broad now that it’s meaningless, and it’s worthless to have an event try to be for ‘everyone.’ I didn’t get to do any networking of my own stuff, but I might do that at one of the other smaller regional events later this year. (I’ll actually talk about the networking aspect of these shows in a later post.)
I’ve been hearing that a lot of the smaller vendors/artists/studios/publishers might not be able to attend anymore because their sales were so dismal. Can’t say that I’m surprised; since all of the big studios have been promoting this event for all of the big-name actors and such attending, a lot of the attendees are there to see Actress X, not to support the comic community. I think this creates an opportunity for the regional events, and maybe more cross-promotion with events like PAX in September and so on, but it makes Comic-Con an obstacle course for those of us who are there for something other than watching Joss Whedon talk (as cool as that might be). But I’ll have more on all of this later…