31 JULY 2016
Another batch of stories from San Diego Comic-Con first-timers: what they thought, what they got and what they failed to get, and of course, what they're planning next.
James is another gamer who focused on the Nintendo lounge and the Warcraft panels and some local Halo tournament. His assessment was that SDCC is not for serious gamers but good for beginners and dabblers - from an official offering standpoint. From an unofficial standpoint, he went to some private gamer after-parties that he says made the trip worthwhile. I don't know if these were GamerCon-affiliated or not but apparently there is a thriving after-midnight gamer network that's where the real action happens.
Ephram says he is a serious gamer and that he had a grand time. However, he was mainly there to work with some co-creators in getting their indie comic off the ground and spent most of his time in hotel rooms and bars having discussions. Verdict on that: he doesn't know if they made any real progress or not yet but is still glad he went.
Tamara had an experience that is pretty typical; she wanted to go to SDCC for years, but didn't have friends or significant others who shared her interests, so she talked some friends and coworkers into going - and they didn't care for it, which impacted her fun. I feel like this is something that doesn't get emphasized enough, that your companions can make or break your Comic-Con experience if you insist on trying to do everything together. At any rate, she did enjoy the things she got to do on her Thursday/Sunday badge and is considering going back alone in 2017. I'm going to do a post on this, because I think too many people are afraid to do SDCC alone.
Scuffy identifies as a collector. I expected a litany of complaints about Funko, Hasbro, and their ilk, but he claims to have procured almost everything he wanted. What he did complain about: the staff and their rudeness (not clear if he meant volunteers, security, booth staff or what) and the general inefficiency, like being made to enter through inconvenient doors or being prevented from walking up to the front section of Ballroom 20 even though other attendees were allowed to walk up a minute later. This bothered him to an extent that may mean SDCC is not the right event for him.
C.H. had no expectations walking in. "It was more than I could have imagined. I've been to Rose City and some anime conventions but this was bigger and more exciting. The number of actors there was like nothing I'd ever seen. But most of it seems to happen at a distance so I went in on Thursday thinking so many things would happen and by the time we left it seemed like none of it had happened." She or he wants to go back and do it differently.
David is a comic book nerd, artist and teacher who went to SDCC in college and came back this year to pick up ideas on using comics as an educational tool. He said the education-oriented library panels were a mixed bag but he did get the inspiration and ideas he was looking for, and also met some of his comic book heroes. Unlike most people I talk to who attend after a long absence, he accepted the changes in SDCC and feels it has more to offer than ever.
Enrique is the only first-timer who mentioned finding Comic-Con romance. That was the defining experience of SDCC for him; he met a girl at a fan event and they fell in rapt attendee love. Go, Enrique. Other than that: "I was expecting more from the exclusives and the dealers. It seemed like a big swap meet. Some of the casts in panels barely said a word and that was a letdown after waiting all night to get in." He'll go back but only with his brother.
Here's what first-timers taught me this year; that you can luck into a badge and not be prepared for the logistical reality of SDCC; that high or wrong expectations often prevail, warping attendee enjoyment; that everyone wants something different from their Con (socializing, toys, panels) and it's hard to predict whether the Con will deliver up a good catch or not. Since you can't tell someone to prepare if they're not connecting to the community, it seems that the first Comic-Con is itself a sacrificial learning experience - and there's no telling if these first-timers will get a second Con to apply their knowledge.