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A Few Final Comic-Con Thoughts - RonO's Ramblings

Jul. 26th, 2010 09:27 am A Few Final Comic-Con Thoughts

Once again, I realize that there are a few thoughts and observations I’ve left out of my previous reports on this past weekend’s Comic-Con:

First, when describing the masquerade, I forgot about another really good presentation.  This one was officially titled “The <Public University in Sacramento> Martial Arts Club Presents: Star Wars Episode Zero.”  While the costumes were good, what sold this one was the excellent fight choreography – some nearly as good as what I’ve seen in movies.  There were times that the safety gaps were visible, but given what most of the weapons were – and how they made the light sabers I couldn’t tell – I’m sure that was necessary for the safety of either the performers, the props or both.

Second, people at and near Comic-Con need to learn to say three simple words: “No Thank You.”  Once again a lot of the cards and flyers handed out ended up on the ground creating litter.  While the city benefits greatly from Comic-Con, I’m sure that adding to the costs for extra law enforcement to direct traffic with costs to clean up The Gaslamp and Convention Center areas makes the event less of an overall profit for the city as a business – i.e. the costs to the city are higher than needed.

Third, people at Comic-Con need to learn to respect rail vehicles.  This weekend I witnessed just a few too many people who treated trolleys and even heavy rail trains – both Coaster trains and freight trains – like they were cars.  I am almost surprised that we didn’t have a major tragedy when someone got hit by a train given how stupid people were being on the tracks.

On a related note, I am wondering why the BNSF couldn’t delay the freight leaving on Wednesday (or was it Thursday) until much later.  It actually cut The Gaslamp off from the Convention Center at two different points that evening that I witnessed – both times when there was a lot of foot traffic between them.  In the first case I actually suspected that the driver had determined that he or she could not safely proceed due to the pedestrian traffic and returned to the yard, but it wasn’t that much later that what I believe to be the same freight train headed north blocking both crossings for a couple of minutes.

Fourth, people need to pay attention to where they stop to pose for, or ask people to pose for, photos.  Once again there were too many instances where traffic in the exhibition hall was blocked by what I started calling “photo block.”  Someone would stop to pose in a main aisle, and end up posing for several minutes becoming a major block – sometimes nearly complete – due to the posing people, the photographers and the necessary gaps.  Obviously with maybe 60,000 people at the convention on any day your chance of seeing a given costume again are not that great, but you could at least ask the person – can we step outside of the exhibition hall, or over to this nearby opening, before either taking or posing for, the picture – at least when in a heavy traffic area.

There are times when it is OK.  For example when Tara and I encountered the very large (albeit a bit too obviously a box) Domo character – which I promptly dubed a “Major Domo” – there was room for the picture.  {I didn’t realized until it was too late why Tara wanted me to pose with a character I recognize only as a popular character, so she didn’t end up with the picture she could caption “Ron meets a Major Domo.”}

Fifth, this weekend reiterated a rule I once hear in some costuming panel at some convention (yes, I attend costuming panels – I just somehow never get much beyond the panels unless I dig out my SCA/Ren Faire garb): Don’t costume against your body type.   There were just a few too many people who were wearing costumes that showed off just how badly they could wear them.  The worst were two different seriously overweight Batmen that we passed at different times.  There were a few related violations – like the bare chested Hawkman with the nipple rings that made Tara cringe a few times.

On the other hand, I did see a Superman and and Wonder Woman who were together, both of whom had the right body type for the costume.

There were plenty of really good hall costumes again this year.  The best was one I didn’t actually see until I did a Youtube search for “Comic-Con 2010″ and saw it online:  Someone pulled off a George Reeves Superman, in black and white.  On the video – and I’m sure to a similar extent in person – it was almost disconcerting to see the color background and badge lanyard in what otherwise could have been a black and white picture.

Sixth, I do not envy the position right now of the Board of Directors regarding where Comic-Con will be after the current contracts expire.  On one hand they have outgrown the convention center and there is only so much that they can push into the adjacent hotels - although I suspect that there may be more that could be pushed into The Bayfront Hilton.  On the other hand, either of the alternate locations I’ve heard about would risk breaking some of the “vibe” of the overall event, and might have other major issues that San Diego doesn’t.

In Anaheim I see a potential conflict for hotel space between Comic-Con and the normal summer tourists to Disneyland, much more than San Diego would have with the Zoo/Sea World tourists.  I also note that there is NO equivalent to The Gaslamp – most of the restaurants in walking distance from LA Con in 2006 as I recall were fast food and there was no single area for the outside semi-independent promotions.  There is also no really good public transit alternative for getting people in and out – i.e. there is no equivalent to the MTS trolleys.  I know from experience that the Anaheim Resort Transit system is not optimized for that purpose and would probably break under the strain, and I suspect that the OC buses would be similarly over taxed.

Las Vegas may be better in the first two regards – hotel conflicts since they have more hotel rooms than anywhere in the world and outside amenities - but even with what I’ve heard about the monorail system (it has been 10 years since I was in Las Vegas) I don’t think it is extensive enough to deal with everyone.

But to keep the event in San Diego for more than five or six years we need to expand the convention center – an expansion that would probably benefit with other conventions (I’m not sure it could hold CTIA based on my two visits to Atlanta, for example).  But there are issues there.  The only area really adjacent to the current facility where the expansion could be done would be a fairly small area of parkland behind the last expansion and in the direction of the Bayfront Hilton – although there might be some ability to build out over Harbor Blvd. and the train tracks, but not without serious disruption to both during construction.  There may be near enough places such as the marine terminal (which still gets visits from banana boats) behind the Hilton or on the far side of Petco park (which the football people have their eyes on).  But either of those would probably require some sort of bridge or tunnel – probably a bridge between the bay and the earthquake issues – to connect to the existing structure.  And this connection would need to have moving sidewalks or internal trains since they would otherwise be a long walk.

I can see how I would adjust things with Comic-Con if the convention center were to do the right expansion – and at this moment in time any expansion should be made with Comic-Con in mind first and other uses second.  What the expansion would need is another space that could replace Hall H and provide at least as many seats.  This would free up Hall H (and possibly G and F) to be added to the exhibition hall.  If the expansion also created another space that could either supplement or replace Ballroom 20, that would also help – and if they could block one large space on either Friday evening or much of Saturday afternoon it would allow time for an actual tech rehearsal or run-through for the masquerade solving another problem.

On a related topic, unless Comic-Con decided that it cannot stay here for a few more years due to the convention center issues – and possibly even if it does leave – the powers that be need to realize that even one big-draw annual convention has more overall economic benefit to the region – and the city as a corporation for that matter – than any major league sports team.  So if a priority call needs to be made as which needs tax money spent for new or upgraded facilities, the priority needs to be with the convention center.  (OK, I have my biases since I doubt I’ll ever attend an NFL game again.  I’ve been to two and in both cases I was performing there as the major reason I was there at all).

Finally, I would like to thank all of the people who made Comic-Con happen.  This includes the board and the full-time staff (thankfully still a fairly small group), the volunteers and contractors (security people, registration people, etc.) the vendors and exhibitors, the panelists and of course the rest of the members of the convention who drive the whole thing.



4 comments - Leave a commentPrevious Entry Share Next Entry

Comments:

From:lonotter
Date:July 27th, 2010 12:06 am (UTC)
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That's just crazy talk about delaying freight train departures. Freight lines adjust their schedules for nobody, especially when those schedules (potentially) interact with others nationwide.

Also, at least in my experience, the railroads don't realize that the days of the great railway barons/empires are long gone. The institutional ego is staggering, and will also manifest in their consultants.
From:rono_60103
Date:July 27th, 2010 08:36 pm (UTC)
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I'm sure that the BNSF had a schedule to keep. Of course if the train had hit a pedestrian - even though it would have been the pedestrian's fault - it would have delayed that schedule much worse. It also would have left The Gaslamp and the convention center cut off for several hours until the investigators allowed the train to move. Having been on a train that hit someone - a bicyclist in that case - I know how long the train can end up sitting.
From:nolly
Date:July 29th, 2010 04:11 pm (UTC)
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re: Fliers / litter

I suspect some of them, people take, look at, then either accidentally or deliberately drop some feet late, when they find they are uninterested or already have one. More trash cans around might help. Some may also come from dishonest distributors who simply want to be rid of them, so they can get paid for having supposedly handed them out. Regardless, what I saw was not nearly as bad as Pasadena after the Rose parade, which looks like a tornado has blown through.

re: photos

Personally, I feel free to cut through. If it turns into a photobomb, oh well. They shouldn't be blocking the walkway.

re: moving

The biggest problem I see with a move is the potential loss of experienced staff and volunteers. Many will not be able to afford to go if they can't commute to it. I don't think the talk is anything more than talk, and maybe leverage in negotiations with the city.
From:rono_60103
Date:July 29th, 2010 04:30 pm (UTC)
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I don't think the talk is anything more than talk, and maybe leverage in negotiations with the city.

I hope (and also somewhat suspect) you are right.

But I also hope that this leverage gets the convention center expanded - I think the benefit would go beyond one weekend each year.