ComicCon Wrap-up

So, I went to ComicCon, and it totally wiped me out.

Then I realized it was only Thursday, and I had three more days to go.

I’m still recovering from the event, but I wanted to get down a couple of thoughts and notes before I forgot them entirely, even if it’s just a basic list format.

The Good

  • The panel on Sunday was great fun. I can’t thank John Scalzi enough for his thoughtful and considerate moderation, and my fellow authors on the panel for being so insightful and down to earth. I’ve got more to say about those folks, but I’m saving it for the next couple weeks as I finish reading some more of their books.
  • The book signings (both of them) were so much more fun than I’d expected. It turns out, it’s really kind of inspiring and wonderful to meet hundreds of people who are just very, very excited about reading a good story. I met one couple who come to ComicCon annually to stock up on books to read during the other 51 weeks of the year — one of the guys was carrying a huge pack with their current hunting spoils (53 books, once Hidden Things was tucked inside), while the other was gathering up titles for his mom. A lot of folks down deep in the business of making books don’t get as much time to simply read, and it’s really good to meet people whose enthusiasm reminds you what a good and important thing that is. After I got done with the signings, I went on my own little book hunt, and left the Exhibition Hall with almost two dozen books of my own.
  • Child Watch — we didn’t take advantage of this (certified, well-regarded) on-site daycare service on the first day of the Convention, and I’m pretty sure if we had, Thursday wouldn’t have been quite such a Trail of Tears.  Sean is an angel, but the press and constant movement of ComicCon proved too much for me, let alone an eighteen-month-old. The Child Watch room was an oasis of calm, colorful toys, and happy kids, and to be honest sometimes I ‘checked in’ on Sean just to get a few minutes of peace and quiet.Think about that: visiting a big room full of playing kids — all less than 4 years old — was actually relaxing. That sort of puts the rest of ComicCon in perspective.

The Bad

  • The “SCHED*” online scheduling site. If ComicCon did a smart thing in outsourcing their child care, they did a comparably stupid thing in using SCHED* to share their schedule of events with the internet. I don’t want to get into it in depth, as I’ve already bored a number of people with details of the many and varied ways in which the site failed to work, depending on which browser platform you’d selected for delivering that day’s dose of impotent frustration, but I will say this: even if the site had worked perfectly (which it does, for some) it still didn’t include The Masquerade in its list of events that an attendee might want to know about. For any experienced ComicCon attendee, that alone should illustrate the degree to which the site was only a rough approximation of ‘useful’.I received a great number of emails from the ComicCon staff in the weeks and months following my official registration. Any one of them could (and should) have included a PDF of the schedule, as a slightly lower-tech backup to that terrible, terrible site.

The Ugly

  • There’s a lot of stuff going on at or around ComicCon that isn’t officially part of ComicCon — this has always happened, but while it’s becoming more prevalent and the events are getting bigger and cooler, the means of communicating about it hasn’t gotten much past the word of mouth stage. For example, I understand that Geek and Sundry took over a nearby business for most of the week and ran games featured on Tabletop pretty much non-stop the whole time — that’s an awesome thing, but if you aren’t alreadyfollowing Geek and Sundry via some social media, you’d never know it was happening.Geek and Sundry is the example, but it certainly wasn’t the only cool thing organized near the con, in a space that was better able to host it. In every instance, if you weren’t already following the people behind the Thing In Question, there was little to no chance you’d hear about it at the Con. That kind of arrangement doesn’t give ComicCon attendees something new to check out, and doesn’t help groups like Geek and Sundry reach a bigger audience.  Maybe those groups need to put adds in the ComicCon pamphlet — maybe they need to put up posters. Maybe they should set up the real-world social equivalent of a GOTO command at their on-site booths. There are many possible solutions — they need to try some of them.

All in All

I had a great time, despite some rough patches. My wife and I are still talking to each other, which is a HUGE plus. Despite the trials of having Sean along, I cant’ wait to have both him and his older sister with us next year.

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