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theshaggyfreak

When a convention gets too big

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http://jephjacques.com/post/27366296877/the-problem-with-comic-con

My wife pointed this article out to me. Unfortunately, this is exactly the sort of thing that happens to a convention that gets too big and forgets why they started the thing in the first place. This is one of the reasons I'm not feeling a huge desire to ever go to something like SDCC. Meeting celebs is fun and all (did that at Dragon Con last year) but it's super expensive and starts to fall very short of being worth the time and expense. I'm not waiting 5+ hours in line for anything...ever. Well, at least I won't on purpose.

Seriously, I'd rather go to MAGfest and such events where I can hang out with my peers, exchange ideas, rock out to some tunes and be artsy. Hopefully MAGfest won't ever get to where SDCC is these days. Hell, even Otakon doesn't have the same appeal to me as it once did.

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I went to SDCC last year and didn't see much point in returning this year. It is VERY crowded (which I am not a fan of) and the panel setup, as was outlined in that article, is ridiculous. The one thing I did really enjoy was getting to finally meet and hang out with some great friends, but it's hard to justify the overinflated badge and hotel costs just to do that.

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Yeah, the wait times were the big surprise for me, only having been to small conventions like MAG. I think as the waits get longer each year, people will start realizing it's not even worth it and it's a lot more fun to hop around the smaller panels and showroom. I didn't expect much from the Axe Cop panel but it ended up being one of the best ones I went to last year. :)

Although I have to admit the celeb lineup they got this year is making me a little jealous...

I think at some point they're just going to have to implement a ticket system for the big panels.

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I've been to one con (CN Anime in like, 1998). It was fun when I was 18 but I used it mostly as an opportunity to pick up merch, get some autographs, and shake hands with celebs. Since getting merch is no longer a problem anymore due to the prevalence of good online shopping, you're left with two and three. For some people it's nice to meet friends from online and all of that I guess, too.

I suppose the big question will be, what if MAGfest starts becoming really huge, like it becomes this thousands-of-people thing? Would you stop going?

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It's a massive media event. The movie and TV studios have basically taken over SDCC. I have always wanted to go to SDCC myself but it's become less of a desire for me as I hear more and more about the dwindling emphasis on comics. NYCC on the other hand still seems to treat comics as king. There are still celebs but you don't see a lot of TV and movie panels. It's a lot of comics stuff.

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Even the smaller cons are getting like that now. Everyone learned that a con is basically having fans pay to be advertised to by some studios and companies.

Even the old local anime convention, Animethon, is all business and promotions.

It used to be like this: from years 1 to about 13, it was a con in name only. It was far more like a film festival. Anything anime and even live action stuff was played. All the anime clubs from around would pool their resources, tapes/DVDs and money to rent out a section of the collage downtown. They would use the classrooms with projectors (and sweet, sweet air conditioning) and run shows from morning to night, all weekend long. Admission was free, later free with a donation to the food bank, and there was a small section for merchandise. You wanted to go see what the dealers room had? No problem, just walk over and look for yourself. It was all open and public.

Hell, they got the Japanese ambassador to come by and speak at the opening ceremony for about five yours in a row. That's some community shit going on there. Does SDCC have foreign dignitaries speaking at them? No.

Than right around 2004-ish, things changed. The people that started Animethon decided to hand it over to younger members of the clubs, because they were getting older, they had lives to start, family, etc. The new staff... they were approached by local stores, stores that did con circuits, and some of the anime companies. They wanted to make it a real convention. The next year, for the first time ever, they were charging for tickets to get in. They started at $35 for general admission. This didn't include the dealers room, nor the dance at night, nor some of the other sections. Those were extra. They also had a cap for people to enter, so it was possible to just not get in, even if you were willing to pay for what had always been a free event.

This year, the tickets start at $20 for just one day. ONE DAY. Here's a link to the ticket prices. There's one for $125, for fuck's sake. Oh, but if you pre-register, you can get it for only $99. :<

They don't show anime anymore. There are no rooms set aside for viewing. The only place you can sit is at the panels, which never happened except for a few times over the years, and then, it was just the con staff and some local businesses. Now it's straight up con panels, just like the ones in the article above.

If you want to attend different parts of the convention, you have to buy a higher price ticket to get into them.

I talk to some of the guys that founded the thing back in the 90s. Most of them have moved on from that sort of thing, but a few still follow it, and they don't like what it's become. One guy said he wished they never handed it over to the newer staff.

It's sad, because the old con was a place I met people, socialized (and we all know I need all the help I can get in that area), found out about new shows/shows I never heard of before, had a rather memorable encounter with a Inuyasha fangirl that I really wish I had followed up on afterwards (stupid younger me), met an old friend I hadn't seen in years (and was somewhat sure was dead at that point), and other things. All because it was accessible to everyone.

The worst part is, if you try to make anything like it, all the companies will try to make it into another con like all the others. The days of smaller cons is gone, and we're worse off for it.

No, wait. The worst part is that it didn't have to be this way. The staff could have said "no, we want to keep it public and open, so everyone can enjoy it," but they decided to make it a business instead of a community event.

But maybe I'm just old and bitter. :-D

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I have been to a few big cons, and I have had a hard time finding things of interest to me at them - it's a wonder how they thrive to me.

MAGFest is special due to large tight knit communities actively taking a part of it and its central theme/appeal has not been changed.

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I have been to a few big cons, and I have had a hard time finding things of interest to me at them - it's a wonder how they thrive to me.

MAGFest is special due to large tight knit communities actively taking a part of it and its central theme/appeal has not been changed.

Oh, stop, you.

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See, this is why I love Melbourne. Most of the cons out here are exactly the way you guys talk about them, but no Fifty Shades of Gray, no/very little Twilight, one of the largest non-US legions of the 501st...a Mandalorian legion....etc.

I've only ever gone to one con, Supernova, and there I got two posters signed by Joel from Rooster Teeth. Guess what? He signed one twice, once as himself and once as Caboose. XD

Honestly, we don't get much out here. Manifest in August, Armageddon in October/November, and Supernova in April. Comicon was here a few weeks ago, but it shifts every year.

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We should have Jon St. John read Fifty Shades of Grey as Big the Cat or Duke Nukem at MAGFest.

Just saying.

Have an entire panel of voice actors read it, a la

at Emerald City.

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I've got a rather unique vantage point on the situation since I've been working with ConBravo in Burlington, ON as a guest liason for the last 10 months or so. I've only attended 3 cons previous to it, Anime North 2001, FanExpo 2010, and ConBravo 2011.

ConBravo I knew from the start was a fan-run convention and the president was a friend of mine. In his first 2 years we've gone from an attendance of a little over 200, to over 1,200. Now, in part from pre-reg sales and our killer guest line-up, we're expecting to hit capacity at around 2,500-3,000. So, the size of Magfest in just 3 years. I took the prez out for dinner to tell him I needed to get in on this, in part, because I recognized a rising trend when I saw one. Looks like I wasn't wrong.

In a nutshell, the other end is total chaos. It's been fun, but the flaws quickly rise to the surface and you have to paint a smile on and say: 'Well let's work on that for next year.'

We'd like to think we hit the happy medium, popular and profitable enough to function effectively while being intimate and real enough to not forget our roots. There are examples of ways in which we're still 'staying small and personal' but I don't want to point them out just yet.

We've also learned a lot about rival cons of both a larger and smaller nature. When it comes down to it, there's only so many weekends you CAN throw a con in the summer and there's bound to be some overlap.

In any case, an interesting read, and something to keep in mind for the future.

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I went to Wizard World Chicago Comic-Con back in 2009 (or 2010?), and went to maybe three or four panels (I learned Edward James Olmos has a HUGE ego, and ). Only two of the panels for me were enjoyable or engaging. But I spent FAR MORE time in scouring comic books, and a few bits of memorabilia. If I had the opportunity to go to SDCC, I wouldn't even bother with Hall H. Unless there was an interesting panel that I wouldn't have to wait days in line for, I'd go to it. Anything else is just stupid and ridiculous. It's even more sad when you think about how the comics are essentially shoved out in favor of Hollywood peddling their next big potential flops, but I guess whatever helps advertise (unfortunately).

The best part of Comic Con for me? The artists alley. I got several really good prints from talented small time artists at great prices. We got to talk to them quite extensively, they even threw in a free art piece to us. This is a better experience to me than waiting in line for some autograph from washed up actors/actresses/porn-stars.

Going to go to Star Wars Celebration VI, and I don't think it'll be even close in comparison to the Con that I went to. I hope they have an artists alley that I can check out, because I'd rather look at artwork by talented artists than talk to people who probably had two seconds of screen time in a microscopic part in Star Wars.

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PAX is pretty ridiculous now, even though I've been fortunate enough to experience it from the VIP side. There's the element of community that's at MAGfest but it's more generalized except for the staff enforcers. I dunno, you definitely run into problems of scale and I tend to prefer the smaller stuff as an attendee.

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