24 AUGUST 2015
New York Super Week details have been announced; it's all very tantalizing, with X-Files trivia games, a special Body Worlds event, film fests, Star Wars Rebels previews, karaoke, speed dating, comedy shows, DJ sets and so on. The crown jewel is still The Walking Dead premiering in Madison Square Garden, but the range of events should mean that most everyone finds something like they like.
I was in NY this morning when the announcement dropped, and immediately got an email and a text asking essentially, Why can't SDCC do this? Translated as: Super Week and NYCC involve separate tickets/badges - and that's a model that appeals to people who think that if they can't get a SDCC badge, they can still buy into a citywide experience of pop culture events.
Here's why I don't see that working for SDCC. Obviously everyone wants to "fix" San Diego Comic-Con; they want a magical solution so that everyone who wants a badge can get one, can stay in a downtown hotel, only waits an hour or two in line. And indeed some attendees have come up with creative ideas like on the Friends of Comic Con forum. But there are some physical limitations that no ingenuity is going to alter.
New York, for instance, is huge. It can absorb a much larger number of people than San Diego can while still offering a navigable experience within a defined area. CCI creating a larger free-range event like ReedPOP created Super Week simply won't work the same way. We already have a glut of unbadged visitors who come down just to experience the area, and they take up parking and hotels that badged attendees are fighting for. Creating a Super Week-type event would just draw even more visitors into an area that is bursting at the seams, even if it was limited to the days before or after the Con. That doesn't even broach the question of venue space.
While SDCC is indeed spreading into the city, it's still officially one event with the same number of badges. Gam3rCon and Nerd HQ are separate from SDCC - and Nerd HQ Conversation tickets are as competitive as anything SDCC offers. Even if CCI could organize a looser umbrella of events (which I don't see them doing, given their existing change management challenges) we'd still have to grapple with space limitations.
So no, I don't think the Super Week model would work that well in SDCC. What I might see working is a second San Diego event if marketed properly. Phoenix and Salt Lake have already gone to twice-a-year models, and SDCC could bank on its own branding to make a smaller winter event popular. They could market it as old-school SDCC, with a heavy focus on comic books and quintessential nerdiness, or they could go full-on Hollywood, given that many summer blockbusters start releasing in May. Yes, we have WonderCon but it doesn't have the glittering reputation that could attract SDCC
badge sale washouts, who tend to stubbornly insist on San Diego or nothing.
Branding is powerful. True, CCI has trademarked Los Angeles Comic-Con and some
people are theorizing that WonderCon 2016 will be a way of testing the
LA waters. But if we know anything, it's that attendees love San Diego. Maybe it's nostalgia, maybe it's the Gaslamp, maybe it's the overcast mornings that turn into sunny days that turn into perfect nights. For whatever reason, most attendees see San Diego as where the magic happens, which is why a second CCI event there, even a smaller one, could be a draw.
Let me be clear, I don't think any of this will happen. I just think it would be a more suitable option than trying to create a San Diego Super Week during SDCC, which so many attendees seem to view as a possibility.