SO BUSY, SO TIRED
The con is more tiring than ever. It's also much more challenging, which leads to frustrating and insane situations.
Take, for instance, this morning's fine bit of crowd control by the security staff. I got there about fifteen minutes after the doors opened. I walked in the front door with other people who had their badges already. There was plenty of room in the open area outside the exhibit floor. There were no surging crowds. Yet, we were all told to head up the escalator to enter from upstairs. I've seen this done at cons before -- they prefer to have everyone en masse enter through the back of the hall instead of the front. OK, I could deal with that. But that wasn't what happened. Once upstairs, we were diverted along the back of the hall to the far end of the convention center, which wrapped back around to the front end. Then, we were sent down the escalator across from the escalator we just went up. At that point, we were let inside.
Why did we take that huge circular detour? There's no reason for it whatsoever. There wasn't even a crowd of people walking in that gigantic purposeless circle. It was just a couple dozen confused people, wondering why we were walking in circles for no good reason. It may have been a leftover from when the hall was opened a little bit earlier, but they should have spread word to the security staff that it was clear to let people in the front door. Ridiculous.
The crowds are nuts this year. Preview Night was bad. Today was worse. It felt like Saturday in there today. I showed up for the Marvel Civil War panel in the afternoon about fifteen minutes ahead of the panel's scheduled time. They had formed a line outside the room. I was standing about 50-75 people from the door. We never made it in -- the doors shut and the room was closed as full, including standing room. Good for Marvel, but bad for the 100-200 people locked out.
It's THURSDAY. Why are panel rooms filling up so quickly?
With a tiny bit of dread, I showed up for the ANIMANIACS/PINKY AND THE BRAIN DVD session a half hour early. The line was 50 people deep already. Thankfully, the panel before was for monster movie fans, so I wasn't too worried about the room not emptying out in time for the Warner Bros. folks. Still, the line was in competition with the line for a Lion's Gate presentation. Security started yelling and attempting to control the lines. They pulled it off, but not before they put those of us near the head of the line into a new line behind those who showed up afterwards and wound up forming another new line by security request thirty seconds earlier. It was a bit worrisome, but I got into the panel, anyway.
Con attendance last year was somewhere around the 100,000 mark. Some suggested that it might blossom close to 125,000 people this year. At this point, I wouldn't be surprised. It's getting tougher and tougher to walk anywhere in that con hall anymore. The panels are filling up quickly. Lines are forming everywhere and earlier. The official con t-shirts were already sold out of one size (I thinkwomen's medium) by the mid-afternoon.
We're quickly and sadly moving past the point where this convention is manageable, or even enjoyable. There's just too many people in too small a space.
And this is a space with 460,000 square feet, according to materials handed out to the press --
-- on a Thursday, the slowest day of the convention. I can't imagine what it's going to be like on the con floor Saturday, or trying to find a place to grab dinner on Saturday night. It's frightening.
I sound like a veteran of Comic-Con when I yearn for "the good old days," but those days only bring me back to seven years ago, when the convention hall was about a quarter of the size. I can only imagine what people like Scott Shaw! and Mark Evanier -- who've seen it all -- think of the con. Sure, you can make of the convention what you wish. If you want it to just be a comics convention, you can just look at those exhibitors and go to those panels. If you want to see animation or science fiction or genre movies, you can make this a movie convention or an animation convention, etc.
The problem is, you can't be all things to all people and still be successful. This con will eventually be a victim of its own success, if it isn't already.
Maybe tomorrow I'll talk a bit about the need for fresh blood at the comics end of the convention. I'm starting to feel sorry for some of the small press guys who show up every year to boost sales on that self-published book of theirs that's been occupying space in their garage for the last ten years. Time to move on, people. Not even Hollywood can save you now.
MISCELLANEOUS NOTES ON THE SCENE
Coming up tomorrow: I do not know. Given what I saw today, I don't know what panels I might be able to get into. Scott McCloud has a presentation at 1:00. I'm interested in that ACTOR finance panel at the end of the day. There's a Kirby tribute and a Kirkman spotlight. Bruce Timm gets an appreciation for the past 20 years of spectacular work at Warner Bros. And the comics blogosphere gazes at its navel again in the outer reaches of Room 24.
But for now, I must sleep. In the words of Yakko Warner, "Good night, everybody!"