Occasionally, as entertaining as it is when I complain, someone will respond by asking me to point out something good. Why not just ask a politician to turn down money? It goes against the balance of the universe.
But, I am going to make an exception “in the interest of fairness”.
In a recent blog I pointed out an awful disaster of a comic-con and what was done wrong.
One Mr. Kevin Bruinsma asked me to give an example of a good Comic con, the best from last year perhaps. I was going to pick a con I went to last year, that did it all the best. After much thought, I have two, and you’ll like this because even though I went to several really good conventions last year I picked these two because they specifically proved me wrong.
I always have nothing but praise for this show, for a laundry list of reasons. One of the most impressive things about this show, to me, is how they manage to organize basically a square mile of comic book convention and 160,000 attendees.
Last year they changed the entry system and badges. Each badge had a microchip of some sort in it and each badge holder ( 160,000 attendees and lord knows how many pros and exhibitors) would scan in when they walked into the hall and scan out when they left. This, I assume, is to not only make it hard to counterfeit the most vaunted badge in all of the comic-con world, but to keep unscrupulous types from sneaking their friends in. See…what these types would do is this…
– two of them would walk in with badges, one guy would take his badge off and give it to the other guy…who would walk out with two badges and give one badge to a third guy to walk in with.
Pretty sneaky, and fairly harmless to most shows. But a show the size of CCI, if 2% of the people do that, that is several hundred thousand dollars lost in ticket sales, and more importantly that’s well over 3000 people wandering around that the Fire Marshall hasn’t taken into account. The Fire Marshall’s job is to determine how many people is too many to get out safely if there is a fire or some other problem. I’d imagine evacuating that hall would be problematic enough without an extra 3000 people.
SO, the new scan in and scan out system would deny entrance to someone with a badge that is already shown as having entered but not left. “Nice Idea” I thought “but how in the blue hell is that going to work with a hundred sixty thousand people looking to get in at the same time?!” ” It won’t work” I said ” it will result in people waiting to get in for four hours after the show opens” I thought “You’ll never get all these impatient rabid fans to bother with scanning in and out..it can’t be done” I mussed. “It’s like trying to drain the ocean with a bucket” I sneered.
Yet…somehow they pulled it off. (which isn’t great for me, since unscrupulous types are my core fan base) I was as amazed and vexed as the Grinch sitting on the peak of the mountain with all the X-mas gifts, hearing the Whos in Whoville singing.
It is AMAZING how they manage to put on a show so large, with so many exhibitors, and so many attendees. It boggles my mind every year.
And that’s just one small thing about what is truly the greatest Comic-Con there is. Everything is there, everyone is there, anything you hope to find, anyone you hope to meet, is all in one place and well managed. Amazing. It is a event of a lifetime…every year.
I had written in the past about the “pissing contest” in Cincinnati. Two mid sized shows had set up in the same town two weeks apart. The problem is obvious, fans only have enough time and money for one show, professionals only have time for one show. This is forcing comic book pros, and comic book fans to choose one show or the other. AND Wizard World Comic-con ( a comic-con …franchise…for lack of a better term) is looking to expand in that town, and they ain’t stupid. The result, I thought, would be these two shows destroy each other by attrition while Wizard World grows in the spring and eventually takes over. I chastised and implored the two shows to separate…one shows sets up in the fall and the other in the spring, so as to not keep kneecapping each other. Both refused.
The man in charge of the Comic Expo told me that he is going to keep running his show, with his plan, and not worry about what anyone else was doing. “this is folly” I thought. “There is no good end to this” I mentioned. “You cannot simply ignore what your competition is doing , that is ..unwise” I tells him.
Fast forward to 2017…and HE has won. The Cinncy Comic-con has ceased to exist. The reason is clear now…the Comic Expo made sure I was at their show. By having ME there instead of at the Cinncy Comic-con, it devastated that shows credibility and left fans with no reason to go to it. ….what? Okay, fine…there may have been other minor factors.
I can’t speak to how the Cinncy Comic-con was run after the first year, but I can say that at year one, both shows were well run. The Comic Expo however, expanded quickly and pulled off a trick many shows can’t seem to get right. They had big name pop culture stars and big name comic book pros in the same building without it being a mess. They did so without losing focus on being a Comic-Con first. The show advertised, social media-ed, ran the floor, ran the discussion panels, ran the autograph signings, got attendees in and out LIKE A WELL OILED MACHINE.
Everyone who came in was able to see who they wanted, and the floorplan left no one in some wasteland with tumbleweeds blowing by. The FLOORPLAN, people , you have to pay attention to the “Plan” part of it. You need traffic to flow ALLLLLLL around the show, so that people not only see what they came for, but find new things. And it keeps isles from becoming clogged with sweaty impatient masses of humanity. This keeps the fans happy, it keeps the pros happy. The floorplan and the traffic can make or break a show. That’s why when I see a con that has three different rooms, I avoid it like the plague…there is always one room that’s packed like sardines and two others with tumbleweeds blowing around.
I’ve said it before, if the people coming to your con only leave with the things they specifically came for…they will soon figure out that they could have just got them on Ebay and not paid for a ticket, parking, and wasted a weekend. If they leave with cool stuff they didn’t know they wanted, they will tell all their friends. And that is what happens at the Comic-Expo. It’s about the FUN stupid.
They get people in the door fast=more time for fun
They have traffic flow all around the room=finding the things you wanted quickly=fun
They have traffic flow all around the room=finding new things=fun
They have traffic flow all around the room=people not packed like sardines=fun
They spread the word constantly on the internet = people knowing it’s going to be fun
They have a wide array of guests =lots of different pros to meet=fun.
So there you go, two shows that stood out and why. I said something good…mark it on the calendar…I need to go take a shower.
when Douglas is not complaining, he and his work can be found here