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Anonymous Industry Member on New York Comic-Con
posted February 26, 2006

1. I got there bright and early, like at 10:15. The crowd at that time was manageable, though the "exhibitor pick-up" line I'd been told to go to to pick up my badge by co-workers who attended the con on Friday night no longer existed; it had been folded into the "on-site registration" line for some reason. When I got to the head of that line, the employee I dealt with told me I was not in the computer and that in fact only eight people from my entire company were pre-registered (of the three dozen or so who I knew for a fact had been). This remained the case despite having her search for me by my first name, my last name, two different potential iterations of my company name, and the last names of several of my fellow employees who I knew had already gotten their badges and entered the show despite not being on the list of eight she provided me with. By this point I'd had several frantic phone calls with a coworker who'd provided the con with the list of names for pre-registration. Eventually I gave up and met up with a coworker who'd already gotten in; this coworker made it sound like I'd gotten on the wrong line, but when we met up he realized that he'd gotten his badge from the same place I tried and failed to get it myself--it simply SOUNDED like a different place because the crowd was so much larger in the twenty minutes between the time he was there and I was there. Finally, I walked over to another staffer whom the first staffer had told me to talk to about my problem; she found my name in the computer and printed out my badge within fifteen seconds.

2. Nearly all of my interactions with con staffers ran along similar lines. An information booth employee had no idea where to look for panel or signing information. A security guard told me I couldn't get onto the con floor with my exhibitor pass, and instructed me to go to the back of a massive line; as soon as I moved four feet away from him in the direction of the line, a second security guard told me I could go right onto the floor. A friend of mine with a press pass was told by a security guard that she should move in one direction, only to be told "MOVE THE HELL BACK!" by a second security guard when she did so.

3. The badge system wasn't really a system at all. With the exception of press badges, there was no easily visible color-coding for exhibitors, professionals, and the different guest passes (one-day, all weekend, etc.). At least once, I was told I was not permitted to be someplace that I absolutely WAS permitted to be; my guess is that this and many other problems were caused by staffers not being able to differentiate between different types of con-goers.

4. By 10:30am, the on-site registration line had already exceeded the small roped-off hamster maze that had been constructed to house it. It's not hard to imagine the kind of amorphous mob the line must have devolved into by the time the fire marshall arrived. Even as I was still wandering around trying to get my pass, there was a point at which all traffic in the lobby was stopped so that a line of guests coming from another direction could enter the area.

5. Staffers at one of the panels I attended didn't let attendees in the door until AFTER its starting time--except for people who simply strolled in through the doors that weren't being guarded, like yours truly. Granted, this was apparently at the direction of the panel itself, but that seems like a point at which the staffers are better equipped to make a crowd-control decision than a comic-company PR guy working a power point presentation.

I had a good time at the con. I went with a friend who'd never been to a comic convention before, which was a hoot, and the panels I attended were fun. There was a respectable amount of alternative and art-comics representation on the floor (though obviously nothing compared to your SPX/APE/MoCCA/TCAFs, or to San Diego for that matter). The guests that got in all seemed to be enjoying themselves. But there were obviously a lot of problems, and as my experiences probably indicate, almost all of them could have been avoided with minimal forethought. And how planners couldn't anticipate that the only major comic-con in the Northeast and the first major comic-con in New York City--the media capital of the world, the birthplace of comics, the home of several of the biggest companies in the industry, and a major population center for young pop-culture consumers--would attract an outrageously huge crowd is beyond me.