How's your Comic-Con going?

19 JULY 2019

It's Friday, which many consider the best day of this year's Comic-Con. Whether you agree or not, you can't deny there is a lot to do.

Hall H offers your final Game of Thrones panel, the Walking Dead, The Witcher, Dark Crystal and more. Ballroom 20 has Veronica Mars, Amazon's The Boys and Carnival Row, and Indigo Ballroom is an animation feast. Spending your entire day in one of these rooms is an excellent plan.

But there's a lot going on otherwise. Plenty of cosplay panels at the Marriott, a smattering of comic panels. In the late afternoon, things get very interesting:

  • Parks and Rec take over the Horton, followed by Nathan Fillion
  • Creepshow freaks out horror fans
  • A trio of LGB panels bring in the evening
  • NASA's hunt for alien life, monsters and Ray Harryhausen fill up 26AB from 4:30 to 7:30

And then tonight Hush makes its debut in Ballroom 20 with 2 showings at 7:15 and 9:30.

Now. Let's assess the Con we've already had. The biggest issue: line failures. I'm not talking about the recurring messy issues that happen every year, but some serious chaos that has taken place within the Exhibit Hall, outside the convention center, on shuttles and everywhere else. Volunteers and staff losing control of their lines, attendees left to bake in the sun without anyone notifying them of changes, and worse. Are there new strategies in place this year that sounded good in theory but are horrible in reality? Were staff not trained well? Many experienced attendees who know the difference between a typical line complaint and a more serious one are asking.

Quote from one current press pro and former attendee: "This is my 9th Comic-Con and it is by far the most disorganized. Entry, lines, buses and more. Makes me think that new people took over. Seems nobody has thought much through."

And yesterday I was with 2 people who've come since 1996 (!) and someone else who's been around about as long as I have (2002) - in short, we're hardened attendees who've seen some serious SDCC scandals and horrorshows in our time. And we were taken aback by some of yesterday's bewildering line fails.

I also want to bring up first-timers. I had the impression that this wasn't a big year for them but I was wrong; I keep running into them at least. Their collective impression - or my impression of their impression, rather:

  • They feel they can't get into anything because of the lines. So let me say here - most lines are natural and manageable. It doesn't mean a panel is impossible to access, it just means you have to wait a bit. Make a list of your priorities and check on the line. You may need to wait 2 hours or 30 minutes or not at all. Please don't give up on your desired panels because there's a line for it.
  • They're not checking the programming. Instead many seem to be just walking around, dazzled by the sights, but ultimately not sure what they're supposed to be doing. Two girls I met didn't even read their SDCC guide or check online for panels or events. They were aware of Hall H and offsites and that's it.
  • Some of them are too cautious for their own good. The 2 girls I met were so afraid of "getting in trouble" that they were freaked out by staff ushering them away from celebrities at booths and didn't understand which exits, escalators, etc. they could take or what they were "allowed" to do. Here's the thing: you need to advocate for your own interests at Comic-Con. You can't be timid or passive. My advice is to go for what you want and if someone official says "no," then you can turn back, but don't be paralyzed by confusion and fear. As Danton said, Boldness, boldness again and always boldness. 
  • Other first-timers I met seem to have come here with zero clue about SDCC reality. The crowds, the lines, the walking. I feel like even cursory research about SDCC would yield these mentions, but apparently you don't know what you don't know so they didn't think they needed to do research. Now they know.

(Remember, if you're a first-timer - I want your story.)

As far as programming and panels and events: seems to be a typical year. Some attendees are thrilled, others feel it's a more humdrum Con. I ran into some very old comic nerd friends who shared my sentiment that this is not a year for comic fans. The Exhibit Hall doesn't seem to be igniting anyone's consumer passions. Offsites: I still don't know anyone personally who went through Amazon but did hear a good report from Pennyworth's club offsite. The Fandom party was supposedly good. I think by tomorrow morning we'll have a stronger sense of how things are shaking out.

Today's going to be a long one for me but I'll report what I can. Enjoy your day and make the most of the splendor around you.

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