Well, it’s over.
Three days of geekery, nerdom, conflicts of fandoms, and celebrity sightings are over, here in beautiful Salt Lake City.
Once again, Salt Lake Comic Con has promised, and delivered, an experience unmatched in the non-coastal west.
First, let me say that day 3 was light years ahead of day 2 for me, personally. If you read yesterday’s post about day 2, then you know that, while the bar was set pretty low, my expectations were still pretty high.
That being said, let me say that I didn’t really see any problems as I walked (yes, walked! With cane. Best decision ever.) around the venue, examining the wares, standing for autographs and photo-ops (more on those in a second), and generally people-watching and listening.
Imagine my surprise this morning when I wake up after another much-needed night of rest and meds, only to jump on facebook and discover that some folks have some things to complain about. Some valid, some maybe not so much.
First, apparently, there was a HUGE SNAFU with the cosplay contest. And, as much as I can gather so far, this complaint is legitimate. Everyone was called back after the pre-judging last week to be in the contest.
Obviously, that’s not right, but it happened, and is being chalked up to a technical glitch in the automated notification process.
Now, I’m no super-genius (just a normal, run-of-the-mill genius), but this seems like the kind of thing, in an event of this size, that could easily have been (maybe should have been) handled manually, with a group email being sent to those who were invited back to the finals, and a pleasant notification for those who didn’t make the cut).
A lot of people were devastated about this. A lot of opportunities to do other things were, instead, missed to attend a contest they weren’t even a part of. One commenter noted that they would, if they cosplayed again, forego any contest in favor of wandering the floor, where people seemed to like/appreciate their cosplay and ask for photos and whatnot.
I can’t say that I would blame them. I have dressed, but nothing at a contest level of quality or accuracy, but I can appreciate the work that goes into such cosplays, and I’d be crushed, too, if I was subjected to a head-fake like that.
That’s not how you build your brand.
I also found a lot of people to be complaining about the photo-ops again. This one, I might disagree with just a bit.
I was in 4 pictures this weekend, and have direct knowledge of a fifth, so let me comment on those before making some more generalized statements about photo-ops.
Thursday: Mark Hamill. Considering the incredible interest on this one, it’s no surprise that the lines were long. Thankfully, we were very near the front, so our wait wasn’t that long. Note that I haven’t heard anyone say anything negative about this one.
Friday: Sean Maher. Again, another really great job by Epic Photo-Ops. While I was waiting around the 15-minutes-prior time to be called up, the “pre-staging” area wasn’t crowded. I realize that this wasn’t really the pre-staging area, but that’s what the fans were turning it into. Once they called for Sean, I walked up, got in the “first” queuing area, waiting maybe 5 minutes. Got called to the queue outside the photo booths and waited another 5-10 minutes. In. Out. Boom.
Friday, part 2: John Cena. I was not in this line (I was in Sean Maher’s photo-op), though my wife and daughter were. Again, I heard no complaints about disorganization here. Cena’s line was huge. Like, YUGE-huge. But what I noticed was that the flow of folks exiting his photo-op was pretty steady, and the lines to go in, while long, were also moving. And, judging by the fact that he has been known to enjoy his photo-ops with various poses and whatnot, it’s a real tribute to Epic that they kept thing moving as well as they did.
Saturday: Millie Bobby Brown. Again, played by the 15-minutes-prior rule. Slick as anything. In, out.
Saturday, part 2: Evanna Lynch. We (everyone for Evanna, not just my group) didn’t even move into the actual line until twenty minutes past the scheduled time, and didn’t start moving into the booth itself for at least another ten minutes. I don’t know if the previous celebrity ran long, or if there was a delay in her reaching the booth, but that backup added a few hundred people to the “pre-staging” and queuing areas. Which doesn’t help.
Okay, here’s where things start getting interesting. As we’re waiting to be called into the first queue, we are listening to the volunteers working with Epic trying to impose some sort of crowd control into the pre-staging area. You remember? The “not-really-a-pre-staging-area?” Everyone was so excited for Ian Somerhalder, the Arrow combo photo, and whoever else was running at that time, that they were milling around in this area, which was supposed to be (as I gathered it) for the volunteers to handle ADA folks and whatnot.
This is a case where fan enthusiasm creates a problem that 4-5 volunteers have to try to manage, at odds of 100:1 or more. And yes, it’s a problem when the fans are blocking vendor walkways and access to the queuing areas for the people who have actually been called up. It happens every time there is a big photo-op or more than one big photo-op at the same time, and it usually falls on the Saturday, the busiest day of the con, which only exacerbates the problem.
Yes, I did hear one of the volunteers over the loudspeaker sound… exasperated, when people wouldn’t clear the walkways near the vendor area and move closer to each other. I know she said it more than once, and was ignored, which doesn’t help the situation.
We all need to work together, people, if we’re not simply going to descend into anarchy.
However, in general, I think that Epic did a great job, once again, in getting people in and out of the photo ops.
One thing that doesn’t affect every fan is what I heard from one of my fellow media folks. Apparently, being told by the head of the con and/or the head of PR for the con that media can coordinate with celebrity handlers about interviews and whatnot (“just like it’s always been”), only to then be told by a volunteer that press isn’t even supposed to approach the celebrities.
Umm, what is the press here for, then?
To just take pictures of cosplayers and write puff-pieces?
Okay; here’s some cosplayers:
Honey Lemon (Big Hero 6, and a really good depiction, I might add), Captain Jack Sparrow (Pirates of the Caribbean), and Lady Loki.
As for puff-pieces? Well, I guess I’ve written some of those in the past, but I’ve also written some not-so-flattering things as the situation warranted.
Long a target of my ire, and apparently, in this instance, an issue yet again.
I did manage to speak to Christopher Gorham for a minute, and Stefan Kapicic for a couple of minutes. I will be trying to clean up my sadly-not-CD-quality audio (and video of Stefan) and post it later today, but, suffice it to say, speaking with both of them was as simple as walking up to their tables when they weren’t busy (key, in my opinion), and asking politely if they had a moment to talk. Both were more than generous with their time.
Let the press that you credential do their jobs, as long as we’re not putting out the fans. If a celebrity doesn’t have time to talk to us, we all understand that. My goodness, we know we aren’t the only demand on their time. We’re fans, too, you now.
Overall, I thought that this year’s event went really well, and, while there are now some (unsubstantiated) rumors that there will be a FanX in March of 2017 (despite previous announcements that there wouldn’t be), I choose to simply wait and see, planning for Salt Lake Comic Con 2017, instead.
That way, if it happens, it’s even more of a surprise!
I hope you all had a great time. Dan Farr and Bryan Brandenburg certainly did try to make it so we all could!
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