Feeling bad about not being at Comic-Con?! We've got you covered.
July 12, 2015 6:47 PM   Subscribe

Welcome to the line for Comic-Con's famed Hall H line. Over a mile long... and yet only 5% of the attendees can make it in to even the biggest of events. Spend your days tanning in the California sun, and then get prepared for the hopping nightlife! Cockroaches! Mice! The occasional bat. Free donuts too, if you're lucky. Worth singing about?!
posted by markkraft (34 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
All this for Batman v. Superman. Batman v. Superman.

We are broken.
posted by Going To Maine at 7:01 PM on July 12, 2015 [7 favorites]

+1 on all of this. I tried waiting in the Hall H line once this weekend and bailed immediately when the vermin started showing up. Mad props to the people who endured it all anyway for the sake of their love of Star Wars. (One woman I met today said she waited 45 hours! 45!) I just couldn't do it, not in general, and especially not in the cosplays I chose for each day.
posted by Hermione Granger at 7:03 PM on July 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

Someday they'll make me go. Someday.
posted by Artw at 7:04 PM on July 12, 2015

I miss having the time and money (at the same time, I've always been lacking one or the other for the past ten years) to actually do the convention thing, because it can be a ton of fun. But this doesn't at all resemble what I remember of the experience and I don't really understand why people go to such lengths to do this instead of the much more interesting stuff they could do at other cons. I'm perfectly happy enjoying SDCC from videos after the fact.
posted by Sequence at 7:08 PM on July 12, 2015

So the thing I've always wondered is how crowded the non-Hall H panels are. And are there things to do outside of panels, the vendors room and the artists alley?

I went to NYCC last year, and after I ascertained that I didn't want to wait through one panel to see the next panel for anything, had already hit up the vendors room, and didn't have a sketchbook for the artists alley, I actually found myself to be kind of ... bored. At one point I left to see a movie. It's something that generally doesn't happen with me with the smaller cons I attend.

And that was me noping out of two hours of line-waiting in a relatively controlled environment. I can't imagine anything I'd want to see enough that I'd be willing to stay in line for days - especially considering that most of the Hall H stuff shows up on youtube pretty quickly.
posted by dinty_moore at 7:09 PM on July 12, 2015

I stopped going to Comic-con a while ago because it was no longer really about fans and it was turning into a 4.5 day press junket. Once I had a hard time getting into a panel because people were squatting for the next one, I swore it off and never went again. That was back in 2003, or whatever year Lost premiered. I can remember because I happened to stumble into a panel about it.
posted by sideshow at 7:10 PM on July 12, 2015 [3 favorites]

"So the thing I've always wondered is how crowded the non-Hall H panels are."

From *VERY* to hardly, depending on the event.

Not that you will necessarily know how crowded it's going to be, unless, of course, you wait in line for a long, long time. In some cases, there could even be a lot of available seats, but that doesn't necessarily help you, if the powers-that-be still have you waiting in line.

Keep in mind that they technically had a system for people to get bands so they could go home and sleep. It absolutely didn't work. They didn't have enough staff to make it happen.
posted by markkraft at 7:17 PM on July 12, 2015

Come to ECCC, everybody, it's nice! At minimum I'll probably want to have a drink with you.
posted by Artw at 7:18 PM on July 12, 2015 [10 favorites]

A line that long is my idea of hell, something that would give me nightmares if I thought about it. I do want to go to one of the big conventions just for the people watching and the artwork, but a lot of the other aspects sound kind of awful.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:18 PM on July 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

As an outsider, Comic-Con has been completely inescapable for me this year. I don't pay attention to this stuff normally, but I always end up picking up some info by osmosis. Previous years had one or two blips, but this year there are hundreds of stories in my Facebook and Twitter feeds on news and minute details of franchises I've never even heard of, or completely unremarkable things so-and-so actor said on a panel. The experience sounds aggressively unpleasant too. I have no doubt the mainstream tipping point happened long ago, but this certainly seems like a very visible symptom of it.
posted by naju at 7:22 PM on July 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

Fortunately, ordering your convention badge online is quick and easy, requiring only hours of waiting in the privacy of your own home!
(No guarantees of actually getting a badge though...)
posted by markkraft at 7:23 PM on July 12, 2015

Start putting photos on the badges. Users submit their photo three months prior to the event. This will also have the side effect of cutting down on badge scalping. Make a QR code signed with a Comicon private key and stick it on the badge. Make people scan the QR code at the door which displays the cardholder's picture to the staff member like Disney does for season passes to make sure the badges can be counterfeited. Register panel requests to the badge prior to the event. If it's oversold do a lottery and have overflow halls with direct video feeds. Clear the room after every panel.

Low patronage events can still have walk-in space. You can organize your weekend better. It might result in less scalping and more people able to actually go.
posted by Talez at 7:25 PM on July 12, 2015 [7 favorites]

I went to NYCC last year, and after I ascertained that I didn't want to wait through one panel to see the next panel for anything, had already hit up the vendors room, and didn't have a sketchbook for the artists alley, I actually found myself to be kind of ... bored. At one point I left to see a movie. It's something that generally doesn't happen with me with the smaller cons I attend.

This is how I felt when I went to Toronto's FanExpo one year. Yes, FanExpo is a much smaller event and nothing of consequence gets announced there. All the same, it felt kind of uninteresting for the most part. It was cool seeing all the indie artists with booths and stuff, and I did get to play a PS4 for the first time while I was there, but besides that there seemed to be very little to do if you weren't explicitly there for autographs or to buy a bunch of figures/art. I'm not sure a bigger con would have more interesting stuff to do, either. I don't know that I'd be all that interested in the panels SDCC usually attracts, as I'm not really part of any significant fandoms (and also find the convention aspects of fandoms a little obsessive for my tastes).

I'm probably just not the kind of person a convention normally aims for, but I will say that I did enjoy the one PAX East I went to, Penny Arcade's unfortunate history of stick its foot in its mouth aside. I'm definitely more into video games than comics, superheroes, or any of the other things FanExpo or SDCC are generally known for, so maybe that's all it is.
posted by chrominance at 7:36 PM on July 12, 2015

I had so much fun at SDCC this year. This is including the 3+ hours a day I spent in lines. Making line friends is part of the experience I look forward too. I've spent hours chatting with people from Israel, Brazil, Russia, and meet people who are illustrators, professional makeup artists, writers, and so much more. The lines are terrible yes, but for the vast majority of the time in them you find yourself talking to fascinating people you'd normally walk by on the street and never know.

Now I'm sad it's over again for another year.

Oh, the panels outside Hall H vary between too crowded and 50 people show up to a 300 person room. The ones in charge of scheduling try, but get things wildly wrong sometimes. The Bob's Burger panel had a few hundred (this is my estimate from being in the line, you can't see the entire line when you are in it) people that did not get in who waited at least two hours. The Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá panel about doing non traditional comics was in a room that fit about 700 people and had a few hundred show up. This is likely a testament to comics waning popularity at the con they spawned, but I was there to see both types of panels so I'm not complaining.
posted by lepus at 7:45 PM on July 12, 2015

All this for Batman v. Superman. Batman v. Superman.

We are broken.

But who will save us? Who? Who?
posted by nubs at 7:45 PM on July 12, 2015 [5 favorites]

Clear the room after every panel.

Oh my god, yes. I can not for the life of me understand why this is not SOP, except that it makes it easier for untrained SDCC workers to manage the lines.
But it such a huge disservice to everyone else:
- The people who hall-sit, waiting (and sleeping!) through presentations they have no interest in, when they could be out doing something fun or interesting.
- The people who can't get a seat because of the hall-sitters, who really want to see the pepresentation, and would be an enthusiastic audience. They are especially cheated when they wait in line, and there are not enough seats, so they just wasted all that time.
- The presenters who get an audience half-filled with people who are, at best, apathetic to their presentation.

Clear the damn room. Yes, some people will be annoyed that they can't see the two presentations that are back-to-back. Choose one and get over it.

Also, all the other stuff Talez said.
posted by LEGO Damashii at 7:46 PM on July 12, 2015 [7 favorites]

It's better than sleeping with homeless people yesterday in the park

The horror of it all!

On a side note, I've always been interested in why Comic Con ended up being The Con instead of World Con. Maybe because World Con has a floating location.
posted by Beholder at 7:49 PM on July 12, 2015

I enjoyed the time I went to Pax East too - I spent a lot of time demoing smaller games and going to random panels. And that's hardly a small con. GenCon was kind of the same way, though I haven't been back since 2005 or so..

My hometown Con (CONvergence) is such a different beast that it's not fair to compare them to the huge cons - they're obviously going after something different. But my favorite thing to do there is making split second decisions and jumping into random panels, which tend to be really enthusiastic people talking about their niche interest (like this thread writ large). Sometimes they're meh, but last year I got to learn a lot about licking things for science and some really hilarious discussion of psudoscience.
posted by dinty_moore at 7:50 PM on July 12, 2015

Worldcon is kept intentionally small, which comes with its own sets of problems, and has a focus on prose SF which doesn't exactly draw the crowds the way Comicons larger pop culture remit does.
posted by Artw at 7:55 PM on July 12, 2015 [3 favorites]

I had so many conversations about how they need to clear the rooms between panels and the problems it would solve. Except we realized there would be a new problem. People who want to see a panel at 4 would want to line up in the morning to be sure they'd get in, so you'd need space for each panel's worth of people for people to line up.

Next idea was for every panel to use wristbands/tickets. We had a problem this year with people getting into panels, getting a bathroom pass, and selling them to people who didn't want to wait in line. This would make that worse.

The next solution we (the people chatting in line) came up with was some sort of lottery/ticket system but what panels you get are attached to your barcode. But the time it would take to scan 6000 badges and load the room with people might prevent that from happening.

A Hall H or panel only ticket might be the best solution, if they are already willing to miss all the other panels or the exhibitor floor there's no reason they wouldn't by a ticket to sit in one room all day. There's still issues with this, but at least less people would be sleeping outside.
posted by lepus at 8:23 PM on July 12, 2015 [3 favorites]

ticketed events, more staff, live stream all the main hall events so people just don't bother going. This is what Google IO and WWDC do and it's fine.
posted by GuyZero at 8:29 PM on July 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

> Getting into Hall H is what [the people waiting in line] come to San Diego for, many told me, and if they lost a raffle, the experience might just feel like a waste of money. Some, like Robles, think it would be unfair. People pay thousands of dollars to get to and stay in San Diego just for a chance at Hall H — they shouldn't be able to lose out to someone who lives in the city just because that person got lucky.


so we have people paying money for a hotel they're not sleeping in because they're sleeping in the line for the Ant-Man vs Ambush Bug preview panel or whatever

and these people think that this somehow means that they deserve to see that preview more than someone who lives in the city?

Not that I am anywhere near the mindset of people who think "paying to go sit in a line for a big corporate promotion panel" is a good idea. I've never waited in line to be the first to see a new movie; my place at a comic con is on the other side of the tables, trying to sell enough of my books to at least break even. And I ain't gonna try to do that at SDCC until I'm removed from the hassle and incredible expense of a table there (an alley table costs more than I paid for a corner booth in ECCC ffs, iirc) by having found a publisher for my stuff.

But man I dunno that just seems really fucked up. I dunno. I just don't have the Fan Gene or something.
posted by egypturnash at 8:32 PM on July 12, 2015 [8 favorites]

But who will save us? Who? Who?

posted by Going To Maine at 8:49 PM on July 12, 2015 [3 favorites]

People can complain about locals being able to get in all they want. The Con basically turns downtown into an extreme no-go area for just about anyone in town unless they have urgent business down there while it's on. You don't even bother trying to go to restaurants or doing anything else within a few miles. It used to be on the weekend of my birthday, so if my parents wanted to take me out to dinner or something, we had to plan carefully.

It is strange how big it's gotten though. I went a long time ago, maybe '97? A friend of mine had a family friend that was a big comic fan so we drove him down there, parked in the garage below the convention center, walked up to the admission booth outside and bought tickets. All of that would be unheard of now, but just about all you could do back then was actually buy comic books. I think I got a couple issues of Spawn, maybe a couple New Mutants with Illyana or something. If there were media panels back then for movies and stuff, we didn't know about them, but that would be more our fault.
posted by LionIndex at 9:10 PM on July 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

I went to SDCC once, before it became a Hollywood trade show and was actually about actual comics. This would have been in 1996 or so.

I was a guest of Julie Schwartz and spent most of the weekend hanging out with him and Gil Kane. I was a friend of a friend, and Gil had just met me for the first time that weekend, and he very politely ignored me until he started telling a story at dinner one night about the actor Brian Donlevy. Because I had just watched it, I immediately piped up with "Beau Geste, 1939!" without even really meaning to. But Gil looked at me as if I had just floated down from heaven, and after that we were best buddies for the rest of the weekend. He introduced me to Will Eisner, Neil Gaiman, Roz Kirby and about a squillion other people and told me at the end of the weekend, "I think you're swell!" I found that oddly moving. (Also it was awesome.)

THAT is the SDCC I can get behind and think of with pleasure and excitement. SDCC now certainly is more nerd-glamorous and has more media attention than I personally think it deserves, but the idea of spending any time in a crowd that size, even a crowd of like-minded nerds in amazing costumes, waiting for hours for anything, just flat-out depresses me. Just call it MovieCon or MediaCon. It's sure as hell not about comics any more.

Here endeth the namedropping. And the rant.
posted by That's Numberwang! at 10:03 PM on July 12, 2015 [8 favorites]

I've always been interested in why Comic Con ended up being The Con instead of World Con. Maybe because World Con has a floating location

They are completely different beasts. Firstly, World Con focuses on real prose SF. Secondly (and very importantly) there isn't the same distinction between fans and "talent" at SF cons vs media cons. Virtually all of the actors and stuff at SDCC are required to be there to promote their films or shows. Authors are, first, usually fans themselves. And second are at World Con because they want to be there. Though obviously some no doubt feel a sense of necessity and consider it a business decision.

Still, far more authors attended SF cons before they were pros than actors attended cons before they were famous actors.

It's simply a different and, at least in my opinion, better beast at prose cons.
posted by Justinian at 1:54 AM on July 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

Comparing World Con to Comic Con it was interesting / amusing to remember that, I think may be due to some admin snafu or planning on how many staff were needed, people had to queue for over an hour to register on the first official day. A whole hour! (I'd rocked up the evening before because I was doing the art show and queued for about about a minute).

I did see some queues for some of the panels / signings (mainly to big names like George RR Martin and Alastair Reynolds) but nothing excessive and it was mainly people just wanting to sit at the front / having nothing else to do between panels. There was only one panel I know of where people could not get in and that was because they had put it in a stupidly small room considering it was Martin, Connie Willis and Paul Cornell.. all decent draws on their own. I ended up sat on the floor at The Masters' feet.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:00 AM on July 13, 2015

Feeling bad about not being at Comic-Con?!


Thanks for reminding me.

posted by Splunge at 4:47 AM on July 13, 2015

When I went two years ago, I sat down and figured out the average cost per hour of my trip. It was wackily high - if I lost that amount of money per hour gambling, I'd be signed up for a meeting.

There is no need to wait in those giant lines. The "ComicCon Exclusive" Batman V Superman trailer was posted online shortly after it was shown in Hall H. You can easily find coverage - both breathless and snarky - of pretty much every panel. If you go to ComicCon, skip the lines and giant media Hall Hs and read the recaps while waiting for your plane ride home. Huzzah, now you can tell your friends you were there.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:42 AM on July 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

I want literally every character in Suicide Squad to have a moment were they say 'You know... I think this is some sort of Suicide Squad' and then stare right down the came lens for a beat. Oh and Harley Quinn doing wacky shit, obvs.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 6:02 AM on July 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

I used to work for one of the big 3 and had the opportunity to go to SDCC as a guest one year. It was so overwhelming that I had to sneak back to my hotel room because my brain was completely overloaded by all the activity going on around me. I understood then why so many of the comic book guys I arrived with had spent the morning smoking pot in their rooms. So if you're getting stuff signed by your favorite artists at SDCC, chances are pretty good that they are high.
posted by cazoo at 8:37 AM on July 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

One other reason WorldCon isn't "the Con" is the fact that it keeps moving. While that is probably not an issue for fans, what sort of industry types want to go to St. Louis or Reno? (Besides people who actually want to go to a con to see friends, interact with a moderate number of fans, sometimes in an uncontrolled environment, and have a good time, I mean.) San Diego is at least close to LA. Not to mention that it is outside of the US about 1/3 of the time. Helsinki seems to have a strong bid in for 2017, although I really have not been paying that much attention to that part.

I got into NYCC cheap for a couple of years. It was worth going then (ah, for the days when they didn't check what you did at the media company you worked at). Once I had to pay full price, the attraction vanished. Although I do have a signed copy of the Bone omnibus edition.
posted by Hactar at 8:40 AM on July 13, 2015

I have never been to SDCC except for work and every time it's been some hallucinatory press junket stress fest leaving me eating Wendy's chicken nuggets in my hotel room wishing I was doing literally anything else. everything is hit and far away and crowded -- I found out my book for cancelled on the second day of the con last time and just spent the rest of the weekend on the beach at Corando instead
posted by The Whelk at 9:14 AM on July 13, 2015

why so many of the comic book guys I arrived with had spent the morning smoking pot in their rooms.

Oh yeah also that, pretty much every industry party even slightly away from the public was basically the inside of a bong.
posted by The Whelk at 9:16 AM on July 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

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