2014 programming trends

15 JULY 2014

Two weeks from today, we'll be exhausted, happy and broke. And now that all of the programming has been announced - well, most of it - we have a good idea of how we'll get that way. We know what the Con will look like this year and for the most part, it's business as usual. But there are a few changes.

The nightly replay is not nightly anymore but all day. It's not in the convention center either - it's now at the Omni's 4th floor Ballroom. This lets you see the panels from Ballroom 20 and Hall H but without the trailers and footage. You'll need to check the schedule for what panels are shown when because this will run:
Thursday and Friday 10:30 AM–10:00 PM
Saturday 10:00 AM–10:00 PM.

The Horton Grand Theatre is a new satellite location. I like this idea - but it's not as simple as just walking in like you'd walk into a panel. You need a ticket. Drawings for the tickets are held at 9 am in the Autograph Area in the Sails Pavilion on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Each winner gets 2 tickets. Then there's a second drawing for “stand-by seating tickets.” The stand-by seating tickets are limited and do not guarantee you access to the panel.

You need to be in the theatre at least 15 minutes prior to showtime.

The My Schedule feature is back. It seems like a lot of people don't know or use it but it is helpful. You mark off whatever you want to attend right from the schedule pages, and you can print it off or sync it across devices and share it with your friends.  Even if you decide not to use this, I recommend making some kind of list and keeping it on your phone - it's just not possible to remember all of the panels, rooms and times once you're at the Con, and the guide you'll be handed upon walking in is too massive for fast consulting.

As far as the programming goes, I expected more DC. Instead DC seems to be focusing on Batman's 75th anniversary and not much else in terms of comics. Marvel seems to be bringing a more diverse program.

I also noticed the absence of those old-timey panels we used to get - Comics of the 60's and 70's, the Silver Fox Collector's Club, things like that. I didn't see any of those this year. Maybe that demographic hangs out at San Diego Comic Fest now.

I also saw that most comic panels are from established names, with a very minimal small press/indie presence. Given how light Sunday is, and how many rooms are going unused, it would be cool if Sunday could become Indie Day in addition to being Kids Day, and have new, small and indie creators holding a few panels. I realize many can't even afford booth space anymore but that doesn't mean they can't be on a panel.

As for the how-to panels, I've said before that networking questions are #3 most common question I get these days. It's not surprising that there's more content for artists, writers, actors and other creatives than ever before. It's only a matter of time before non-nerds hear about this and create 8000 new Member IDs.

That said, I counted at least half a dozen panels on breaking in, and very few for managing established careers. There will always be more people trying to break in than people who broke in, but it would be good to have content that addresses the reality of maintaining a career post-launch, or trying to jump from mid-list to A-list, or coping with changes in the marketplace (some of the digital panels are doing the latter.)

Is everyone happy with the programming? The people I've spoken with range from underwhelmed to ecstatic. As always, if you had your heart set on meeting one specific celebrity or seeing a certain movie panel, you might be disappointed. But there's so much to do this year that I think anyone can find something that captures their interest.

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