Oh dear reader… do you remember when I said I was going to try and do something different this year at Comic-Con? No? Go here, and then come back.
Now that we’re all on the same page…
I was stupid. While I did manage to get into Ballroom 20 on Thursday to see Elementary I failed to get in to see Firefly and failed to get into Hall H to see The Hobbit and Kevin Smith. And here is why: I wasn’t willing to camp out the night before. I paid for a hotel and for the nice warm continental breakfast they offered and I wanted to sleep in a bed each night. I’m not complaining, I’m simply pointing out that, although a huge fan of all the shows I wanted to see, I guess I wasn’t a huge enough fan.
This leads me to two observations:
First, There are a lot of pseudo-fans at Comic-Con. The convention itself has become an attraction and people are there simply because their spouse-partner-kid-friend-etc brought them or because they want to see a single panel across an entire day’s worth of amazing panels. They are not there for the entire event, and in many ways not actually what I would call a geek. For example, On Sunday I attempted to get the one item my wife mentioned, the Cirque du Soleil Ká comic book that Marvel was giving out. As I reached for the last one on the stand, having waded through the throng of people just grabbing free stuff, I was elbowed aside by an older lady, perhaps in her 60s. She grabbed the comic and shoved it in her bag without even looking at what it was. When I asked her if she knew what it was she venomously replied “free” and stomped off.
This is an issue. I heard a lot of comments in the big hall lines similar to “I don’t care about panel A, but I want to see panel G five hours from now so I am going to hang out.” Or similarly “I don’t even know what (insert show/comic book/ celebrity name) is but my partner wants to go see it and I want to be with him/her. These people tend to take seats that others who really want to be there could use.
Second, and not exclusive of the first issue, is that Comic-Con is too big for the San Diego Convention Center. I know that San Diego is planning and expansion, and that is great, but, to borrow a phrase, if you build it, they will come. Even if they expand and fill the limited space available to them, it will simply not be enough room. Comic-Con needs to look at moving to (granted this is biased) Las Vegas.
Ballroom 20 of the San Diego Convention Center holds roughly 4,000 people, almost 2,000 camped over night Thursday to see Firefly on Friday. By the time all was said and done, roughly 8,000 people lined up to see the panel. I actually felt quite badly for the kids behind me all dressed up for the Legend of Korra panel that was planned right before the Firefly panel. There was no way any of us were getting in and they missed a panel they wanted to see because SDCC doesn’t clear rooms between panels (a smart and time saving policy) and the Firefly fans camped out in ballroom 20.
The Sands Convention and Expo center in Vegas has two rooms that holds over 8,000 people and another that holds slightly over 7,000. This doesn’t include the smaller rooms in the center. It could handle the number of attendees far better and give the con at least 3 large rooms to host bigger panels and that is just one convention center… we have two, not counting the centers in the hotels!
All that being said, Comic-Con and San Diego are inextricably linked. There is something special about the combination that even my beloved Sin City cannot replicate. San Diego is also far more “kid-friendly;” you are far less likely to have someone hand you a pornographic playing card on the streets of San Diego. I’m honestly not sure how Comic-Con can continue to grow without moving, but if it moves I am afraid it will be something drastically different. It is a wonderfully horrible situation to be in; on the one hand the Con is growing and becoming a geek mecca, on the other hand its growing pains are taking away from the experience for some.
In the end, I’m still glad I attended the convention. I found some great new-for-me comics to read (more on that later) and saw a few panels that were outstanding. Overall it was, as always, an outstanding week and I look forward to next year.