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The Convention Thread

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Ran into Mark Waid at Boston Comic Con.

"Ran into" in this instance meaning "nearly sent into the concrete as he walked out of a 7-11 next to the convention center".

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All right, so. Boston Comic Con.

My personal experience this year - I only went on the Sunday - was largely positive. The floor was crowded but not overwhelmingly so and I was able to move pretty freely and only had to tell one group of people "Hey, guys, if you absolutely need to stop and gawk at the lady dressed as Loki, move to the side to do it so you're not plugging up the entire convention single-handed." Saw a lot of cool stuff, met Danielle Corsetto (Girls With Slingshots) briefly, got my picture taken with John Barrowman, bought a couple of books.

The major issue was, as last year, logistics. The con is fairly new, still (this is only its seventh year) and it's still bigger than they can comfortably handle. A big part of the problem, however, is their own fault. The convention center holds 20,000; on Saturday, they sold 22,000 tickets. And because of this Saturday was reportedly a gigantic clusterfuck. Last year, they only had one scanner, meaning that people who prepaid had to wait in line for two hours or more to get in while people could just walk up to the door and buy tickets on the day and waltz in. Because of that, there were more door sales this year than ever before, and people who had gotten in line at 9:00 were told (for the first time all day) that they were not going to be able to get in until much later once they had been in that line for over three hours. Finally, they were told that they could not get in until 5:00 pm... for a show that closed at 7:00. Meanwhile, prepaid ticket holders were able to get in... until they couldn't. There were many, many, MANY pissed off people at that convention center that night.

Furthermore, the photo op system was entirely fucked up. There were two printers working for the entire convention, and they were hours and hours behind. People who had gotten their photos taken at 2 on Saturday still did not have them in their hands at close, meaning that people who wanted to have the pics signed later in the day were shit out of luck. They were allowed to come back the next day free of charge, but the damage was done. On Sunday they were still printing photos from the day before. Wendee actually talked to the photographer, and he told her that the con contracted him for 1000 photos... and then turned around and sold 2500 photo ops. He did not have the infrastructure on site to handle what they sold. We were told "Oh, you can just download it from the Facebook page", and were informed that no, we all paid $60 a pop for a photo, and you are going to give us a photo. Wendee managed to get the photographer's contact info and he arranged to get people their photos directly in the next week or two, but this was just emblematic of the convention's entire lack of planning and organization.

Also, the convention center has a number of breakout and meeting rooms, the largest of which holds 350 people. In a convention center with over 20,000 outside, this means that you are not getting into any panels unless you line up several hours ahead of time (and even then 3/4 of the line would be turned away), and I didn't. A shame, because some of them sounded awesome (the Torchwood reunion with Barrowman and Eve Myles was reportedly insanely fun, as was Barrowman's solo Q&A).

All that said, I had a very good time. The conrunners need to take a very serious look at how they run the show and make realistic decisions about how many tickets they can sell to things, but once you're inside it's a fun time.

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Reminds me of Chicago TARDIS last year.

I've heard the same thing. Chicago TARDIS has been around a long time and is run by truly experienced conrunners, but since the show started back up and got so popular the demand has grown exponentially and they have some growing pains right now.

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Between it being the 50th Anniversary, the higher priced memberships getting priority, and the credit card machine(s?) not working, the signings went like molasses. I barely got in to the companion signing on Friday, but the Doctor signing on Saturday? Not a snowball's chance. To their credit, I remember them letting the people who only had one-day passes go through towards the end of one of them, and the companions, maybe the Doctors too, were willing to stay past their allotted time to get to as many people as possible. I thought they underestimated the demand for the 50th, but hearing that it's been like that since the show came back, maybe it was just an exacerbation.

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They spent a lot of time as one of the largest conventions devoted to a cult show which had been off the air for over a decade. Suddenly they were one of the largest conventions devoted to a huge phenomenon. They're getting there, but yeah, there have reportedly been hiccups. However, they get a lot of slack because of the amount of goodwill they've (legitimately) built up over the years, so people seem to be mostly willing to give them the time they need. The problems don't seem to be because the conrunners are greedy, and that goes a long way.

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I am never able to afford to attend but this weekend is GenCon. Since the Robert Heinlein Blood drive is usually free I usually donate there.

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The expansion plan for the San Diego Convention Center is dead. That expansion was what was the city was using to keep SDCC in San Diego past 2016.

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....

So, at NYCC. Hanging out near Kieron Gillen's table. I notice that an older creator a table down is having trouble trying to get out. I ask if I can help him out, and help move a table for him. He accidentally powers the scooter on high in reverse, and his bag drops: I bring him back the bag and make sure he's okay, move the table over further. He heads out and thanks me for the help, I say no problem, and he mentioned heading to the Marvel panels, and zooms off.

I look at the name on his table.

Len Wein, Wolverine Creator.

...

Guys what the fuck is my life

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....

So, at NYCC. Hanging out near Kieron Gillen's table. I notice that an older creator a table down is having trouble trying to get out. I ask if I can help him out, and help move a table for him. He accidentally powers the scooter on high in reverse, and his bag drops: I bring him back the bag and make sure he's okay, move the table over further. He heads out and thanks me for the help, I say no problem, and he mentioned heading to the Marvel panels, and zooms off.

I look at the name on his table.

Len Wein, Wolverine Creator.

...

Guys what the fuck is my life

Crazy! Len's in a scooter? That's too bad. He seemed pretty vivacious and healthy when I talked to him a few yeas back. Maybe he just uses it for cons?

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Now that you mention it, I listen to the Nerdist Writer's Panel Comics Edition podcast, of which Len is a cohost (it's fucking great, by the way) and he mentioned a few times how fucking big SDCC is.

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I listen to the Nerdist Writer's Panel Comics Edition podcast, of which Len is a cohost (it's fucking great, by the way)

Truth. Len has a thousand stories and they all shed huge light on the business of the Big Two in the Bronze Age. Fascinating stuff.

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I hate to double post but also, hotels on the con site are up. The Best Western is 129 a night again. I know more than a few of us soured a little bit on it after last year. The next highest is, at 149 a night, the Courtyard Chicago Downtown and Fairfield Inn & Suites Chicago Downtown/Magnificent Mile. Both are further up Michigan Avenue, close to the Magnificent Mile, but both are on Shuttles from the con. Fairfield has Complementary Continental Breakfast. Courtyard is a little nicer and has an indoor pool. Neither have shuttle service from an airport or free parking.

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