Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Lines and Loathing at New York Comic Con - THE FINAL CHAPTER

Well, we're 2 for 2, and so we come to this, the last day.  In terms of news or cool industry finds, I regret to say there's not much to this final entry.  It's more a write-up of the aforementioned part because they're largely why Sunday didn't really amount to much.

and so we come to Part 3

See? I Didn't Lie About The Lines and Loathing

Pictured - What the sign makers took for a clever comparison to a madhouse would become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

So, after our misgivings over the crowds on Saturday, we decided to try to wander back once more into the breach for Sunday.  Admittedly, in terms of events, there was only one thing was particularly gunning for - the autograph session with Kevin Conroy (the voice of Batman from the 90s animated series.)  That said, the walk there should have been an indication something was awry.  As we neared the Javits Center, we asked a group that was leaving how the center was looking.  Their warnings...well...see the attached photo.

For optimal irony, the promotional spot for The Walking Dead was sparse by comparison.

That said, this wasn't just the outside.  As we had intended to leave from the con, this meant we had to try and deal with the coat check.

...Of those, the first was already full, the second had a line spanning the convention center's floor.  Under the circumstances, this meant an awkward moment as my girlfriend begrudgingly offered to watch the bags while I went to the autograph line.

Seemed like a simple plan. ...then I saw the line.  Approximately 4 "Is this the end of the Conroy line?" moments later, I took my place quite a ways into the Block.  The wait that followed...well...let's put it this way.  I was in the line for the better part of a half-hour to an hour.  Over that time, the line moved roughly 20 feet.

Now, if I was just there solo, sure, I'd ride that out.  But with someone else waiting on the other end of that...well...I couldn't really do that in good conscience. 

So, I begrudgingly gave NYCC the game point on that one and hopefully he'll be making appearances elsewhere in the future.

So how was the con overall?  I find myself mixed.  As the first two entries show, there were some pretty damned cool events, and some of the guests were very worth taking the time to see.   When this con was good, it was surprisingly good.

But now we come to the grievances the title of this whole thing allude to.  For a con as prominent as this one, management here was surprisingly slipshod.  Security was virtually nonexistent (it hadn't really sunk in on me until afterward just how easily one could get some downright questionable things into the Javits Center.)  The guides were almost a month out of date and the con staff were seemingly limited in how much info they could provide.  On this note, while the internet guide for the convention was up to date, there were only two places within the Javits center you could access the internet, and those required payment as it was.  On top of this, the center itself was something of a cell signal black hole, which made connecting with other people an uphill battle.  The lines were an absolute clusterfuck, with the IGN Theater being the crown jewel of the proceedings.  It's a shame that something that, in terms of sheer events should have been so awesome was ultimately kneecapped by such poor handling.  I mean, this was so mismanaged that, were he alive, it would give Joseph Conrad a sizable hardon.

...OK, that's a pretty reaching comparison, but you get the idea.

Honestly, it feels like the biggest problem the con had overall could be summed up in numbers.  During the weekend, I'd heard there was apparently some discussion that the numbers were being compared to those of San Diego.  Now, this is all well and good as an idea...but the problem is, the Javits is simply NOT equipped to handle near as many people as SDCC is.  Additionally, with the revisions to the center still continuing, there were parts of the Javits center that were simply cut off from the con (for example, an entire floor that was in use back in 2011 for the remnants of New York Anime Fest was now completely off limits this year.)  So the numbers grew while the space was pared down.  On top of this, entry became a bigger problem by virtue of the fact they only maintained one entrance.  So thousands of people were being bottlenecked into a single entrance under the defense of concern for a fire hazard.  Never mind the fact that, with these numbers and that single entrance, the place was already looking at the risks of trampling deaths in the event of a fire, assuming things didn't just block up entirely.  Now, admittedly, I can't blame the con completely on this - it wasn't exactly a secret that stores in the area were buying up batches of con passes and then scalping them off.  At the same time, though, the fact that the con was listed as sold out should have been a sign to the NYCC staff to step up their game accordingly.  Instead, Saturday and Sunday felt as though they genuinely didn't expect everyone to show, and thus were ill-prepared for the numbers they got.  This is the best case, anyway.  Worst case would be that they got overeager to be able to have an event close to SDCC and never stopped to ask if they could truly handle those kinds of numbers...cause to be honest, the Javits is NOT cut out for it.

All things considered, I would say unto anyone considering this in the future - weigh your options:  If there's guests you really want to see, go for maybe a day (and be sure to consult the site carefully as to which day this would be on.  Don't trust the paper guides.)

For my vote, I'm thinking next year I may just opt for the more local, and considerably less costly horror convention Rock & Shock.  Yeah, it doesn't have nearly as much industry coverage, but it's also much smaller, more easily managed, has a better sense of what they can handle, and honestly, that lower count makes it actually easier to talk more with the guests, as there's less pressure to keep the line moving.  I will keep an eye on future NYCC reports all the same.  If I hear subsequent years show signs the staff have their act together again, I'll make it a point to give them another look.  As it is now though, it will take a MAJOR incentive to get me back there next year. yeah, admittedly this was kind of an iffy entry.  Anyway, keep an eye out near the end of the week.  We'll have the next entry in the Halloween weeks back, including the final two movies missing from last week.

Till then!

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