May 10, 2012
The Never-Ending, Four-Color Festival: Cons, Shows, Events
By Tom Spurgeon
* I liked this photo set from Julia Wertz
taken in and around a comics festival everyone made sure not to tell me about.
* I'm not seeing any major North American shows this weekend, although someone please remind me if I totally whiffed on something. that Long Beach Comic Expo
is taking place. You can go see Evan Dorkin on the Jersey Shore
* I received a few complaints from folks about Comic-Con International's professional registration process
, which began this week. They basically broke down into two areas. The first complaint I received is that the e-mail for that registration went out in way too close proximity to the actual registration, surprising some people and not giving them what they felt was enough ramp-up time. The second complaint I received was that they're now charging for teenaged children when they apparently did not do so in the past. Both of these complaints take place in the context of a larger one, that the con has changed policies and is doing professional -- and to a lesser extent press -- registration so late in the game that people had to plan for their trip without really knowing if they could get in.
I talked to Comic-Con's David Glanzer briefly via e-mail exchange; he's been a bit under the weather, so we didn't get to go back and forth on it. He basically confirmed the policies without providing too much in the way of the con's thinking or a response to potential criticism. As to the first, "We try to schedule the emails so that they arrive prior to the announcement going live. That time frame can vary but typically we get that email out before opening and before we announce publicly on our website or social media." As to the second, "Those under 12 are still complimentary, however they must be registered onsite now instead of in advance. Even though the show was sold out Professionals could receive (while supplies last) one free guest and one paid."
So I'm not all the way sure what to do here, what's fair to say.
Let me try, and if David Glanzer or anyone else wants to address the criticisms made more directly I'll run an update and put something below the next few graphs. I think Comic-Con has done a pretty good job overall of tightening up the show as it's become a settled-into-a-certain-number beast -- security and traffic on the floor has seemed to improve the last few years, for example. Clamping down on a process of registration that was soaked in abuse -- I know this in part because I abused the crap out of it as a pro and as press -- has gone less smoothly, for sure, and I think people are right to be peeved when they have to catch up to information about new policies late in the process.
That said, I'm not sure what else Comic-Con can do right now except lock these things into place when they can as best they can and communicate them as the status quo moving forward, just as I'm not sure what people can do but get disgruntled in response. The con holds a lot of the cards here on a fundamental, institutional level; there's such an overwhelming demand for attendance as the show is currently constituted that they can turn people away that don't agree with the parameters as communicated to them, or don't like the way the parameters are communicated. They'll do so with regret on a personal level -- they're nice people -- but on an institutional level I think they move this direction even if they do so imperfectly or they have to resign themselves to a system where some things get more efficient and others don't.
So let's hope policies are set now, and that any additional ones are announced way in advance of their implementation, and that these things are executed fairly and without a lot of special favors under the table as we see them become reality at the show itself. I feel the pain of those that have to adjust based on these things, doubly so if they feel they have to on the fly. I don't have teenaged kids that are suddenly costing me an extra length of arm and leg where apparently they didn't before, but I do always seem to have at least one friend that wants to go with a surge of excitement on about July 4 and looks at me like I'm the parent that canceled the family trip to Disney World. The last two years I've seen credentialed reporters turned away for not pre-registering and baffled that this is happening to them. (How deeply unimpressed I am with a lot of the writing and coverage that gets done at the show in return for a lot of four-day free passes doled out is another column, one probably best unwritten.) I just sent a letter to help process my own registration, which on a CR
level is not totally approved. I also wish I knew several weeks ago how it will turn out.
posted 1:00 pm PST
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