Like many major events in life, Comic-Con in San Diego is always a mixture of highs and lows. On the one had you’re able to join hundreds of thousands of your fellow fans who love movies, TV, comics, games and all things geek and enjoy a hugely diverse amount of screenings, panels, booths, signings and a whole host of information. It truly is a unique four days that you can’t really experience anywhere else.
That’s also a bit of the downside as well. With all the notoriety, exposure and success come crowds, problems and a bit of misery. Before I continue I should interject that I’ve been coming to Comic-Con for almost twenty years. I only missed it a few times during that stretch and each year, I watched the Con get bigger and more popular.
At first, I was thrilled that an event that began for me in a hotel in downtown San Diego was starting to be known around the world as an international symbol of America’s great products and a showcase for those products providing a once a year kind of experience. But in recent years, I’m starting to wonder what Con I’m exactly at and marvel at how its changed so drastically.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of movies, TV, games and comics. Plus, I’m a self-professed geek. However, as I have at the end of other Cons past, I’m really starting to think Comic-Con has simply gotten too big and features far too much stuff under one roof. When it is nearly impossible to walk the main floor and you can’t stop and lok at any booths because of the crush of the crowd, something is wrong.
I can’t imagine the exhibitors are very happy either. You go to the trouble, time and expense of having a great booth filled with cool stuff yet nobody can see it because they can’t get into it or can’t stop long enough to even glance at it. That can’t be a good feeling when you’ve put out all that money and don’t feel like you’re going to get much of a return on your investment.
I was having this exact discussion with some members of The Flickcast team and some other writers who cover the Con and we all pretty much agreed that something really needs to change. I’m not saying that the Con should move to another city like LA or Vegas, although seeing as how its become much more about movies and TV then about Comics, a move to LA could be seen as logical. And too be perfectly honest, I’m not sure what the solution is exactly.
Perhaps the Con needs to split into a few events or spin off the games into another event on its own? Or, they could take more advantage and organize the space they already have to make the Con more efficient. The Sails Pavilion, for example, seems poorly utilized and could perhaps be used for something more important like Artists’ Alley or even an area reserved solely for Comics or Comic retailers.
Plus, the experiment of putting the Heroes panel at the nearby Bayfront Hilton seemed a good idea and should, perhaps, be repeated with more panels next year. Also, Disney’s decision to move from the show floor and out into the streets of the Gaslamp area with its Tron Legacy promotion, in the form of Flynn’s Arcade complete with your favorite classic arcade games, is another step in the right direction.
I had heard in the past that the San Diego Convention Center was going to be expanded. However, I’m not sure where it will be expanded to. There’s water, streets and a new Hotel (which I’m sitting in at the moment writing this piece) so I wonder where they could build. What it really comes down to is that no matter what happens, the event will continue to grow. The popularity of “genre” movies is not going to diminish even as other types of media find far less success. The world will still want its Iron Man 2 or it’s Spider-Man or Transformers — at least for the foreseeable future.
So, that means that the Con will continue to be crowded, hot, sweaty and a place where fans line up several days early to watch a one hour panel featuring the cast of their latest favorite show. What can be done about the problems with Comic-Con? Perhaps nothing. Maybe its just the price you pay for success? Who knows, maybe I’m in the minority here and most attendees love the experience, can’t wait for next year and want nothing to change?
I guess you could make the argument that part of the Con “experience” is the crush of crowds, the unwashed masses, lines, closed restrooms, surly and ill-informed “red shirts” and barely controlled chaos. Perhaps that’s all a part of the fun? Maybe. Still, I would like to see some thought put into changes that could make the Con an even more enjoyable experience for those who travel hundreds or even thousands of miles to attend. Sure, the press is always going to find something to complain about (don’t get me started on the “press room”) but that doesn’t mean that the problems should be ignored.
This event is for everyone, not just me and not just you and certainly, not just for the people who put it on. Fortunately, I know that the people who run the Con are aware of its issues and shortcomings and I have seen at least a few signs that they are trying to improve things and change them for the better. That’s very encouraging and a good start. But that’s all it is, a good start. Let’s take things the rest of the way.
Over the last four days we’ve brought you a lot of coverage of the Con. From news to interviews to photo galleries and trailers, we’ve tried to bring the experience of the Con to those who can’t be there. Its what we like to do and its what we’re going to continue to do.
The Flickcast is a young site, having only been in existence for a few short months, but we’re determined to continue to grow, expand and bring you the best news, features, information, interviews, reviews that we can. Its what we love and its what we do.
As readers of the site, we welcome your feedback. If you have a particular topic you want more coverage of or one that you feel was covered too much, feel free to let us know. In the end we want this site to be as much fun for you the reader and listener as it is for us the creators. We’re all in this together and the sooner we realize it the better off we all will be.
That applies to The Flickcast and it certainly applies to San Diego Comic-Con.
Until next year.