Monday, April 08, 2013

Post-Con Debrief

Darkseid and Luthor visited early and were around all
Home from Planet Comicon 2013 and boy am I tired. It was a great show. HUGE compared to how it's been in years past and despite a few growing pains I think it has to be counted a success by everyone who attended and participated. Just an absolutely amazing time.


When I walked onto the con floor with tablemate R.L. Naquin I was amazed. I've been to cons in KC and San Diego and elsewhere and this felt like any comic convention anywhere. Some booths were enormous, others only the size of a six-foot long table. The aisles were wider than they'd been in the Overland Park Convention Center over the last few years and that was obvious as soon as people started to pour in. As we were setting up, a bagpiper played the Star Wars theme and set the mood.

Being able to pick up our badges and wrist bands early, days before the show opened, was a smart move. Kudos to the organizers for being on top of their game enough to allow for that.

The only downside to the entire show was my poor planning for eating lunch on Saturday. I should have realized that come noon the line at the major chain sandwich purveyor would be longer than the line to get in. Because of the way they prepare their product the line was at least an hour long, if not longer. We ended up going outside to find a hotdog vendor which saved us money but wasn't as satisfying. Next year I'm going down 13th street to Constantino's grocery store where I hear the food is excellent. Wish I'd paid attention to advice like that pre-con.

It's Adventure Time!
Oh yeah, when we walked up the seemingly mile-long hallway that led to the escalators going up, it was obvious that the crowd waiting in line was buzzed. Everyone was excited to be there. All day on Saturday and early on Sunday (I didn't make it out until near the end of the show on Sunday) the line was long, long, long but seemed to move quickly. Anecdotal evidence from visitors to our table said that the staff did a great job keeping things moving, too.

My favorite moment of the con was talking with Neal Adams and shaking his hand. Having him sign my copy of the treasury-sized Superman vs. Muhammad Ali  and telling him he was my inspiration for wanting to be an artist and storyteller is up there with meeting Big John Buscema in San Diego. Neal was gracious and a real gentleman.


Our table was in a great location. Actually ALL the Artist's Alley tables were in great locations. Attendees could walk around the outside of the con floor and could find everyone they might be looking for. Our neighbors were a terrific artist who was great with all his customers and drew well and fast one side and on the other were Bikers Against Child Abuse. Both of them were the nicest, friendliest folks. That always makes the days better. No one took up too much space and I don't think anyone felt like their tables were impeded by visitors to other tables grouping around too much. No one was really blocked. At least, we weren't.

The show is so big now that it's inevitable that there are some jerks who just can't be good. A friend got ripped off when she stepped away from her table for a bit, though. Someone stealing from an artist isn't new but it's sad that it happened. I hope this was a singular incident.

Huntress and Scarlet Witch both were awesome and pulled
off their costumes perfectly. Great job, ladies.
The price of the table was right and our location made it worthwhile. We watched all the cosplayers walk by and stop for pictures every four or five steps. Because of things I've read about other recent cons in other cities, I did pay attention and didn't see any instances of people getting out of hand with the scantily clad women. Everyone seemed respectful from where I sat. Especially the most daring cosplayer who wore the extremely minimal armor of Red Sonja and looked exactly like a Frank Thorne drawing.


I've done panels before, not many, but a few here and there. I was a little worried about moderating my first panel at such a high profile event and with a couple of very high profile panelists. I needn't have but I'll get to that in a minute. Being part of the panel with writers Alex Grecian and Elizabeth Bunce and Rachel was a good time. The fact that it was moderated by my mentor and friend Ande Parks was even better. That one I wasn't concerned about at all, either. We had a nice turnout and got some great questions.

On Saturday I walked around to introduce myself to Ben Templesmith and Peter Bagge and ask them if there was something they wanted to talk about on the panel I was moderating. I'd done some research on everyone involved. I had met Chris Grine through Ande previously and met Kelsey Wroten for the first time. My goal for the panel was to ask a few questions, then let the audience take over. I had maybe half a dozen questions ready based on what they'd told me in advance and a couple more I'd come up with by talking to friends like Kevin Mellon and B. Clay Moore. Of course I was a little nervous but Peter and Ben and Kelsey and Chris were awesome. And the audience was loaded with good questions, too. In the end I had a great time and think I did okay moderating. If they ask me back to do more next year I'm in.


The red Dalek insists I return next year else
I risk extermination. 
Overall, the show is well-run and there were some growing pains but nothing that can't be fixed and overcome. Everyone involved was attentive, helpful and gracious. 95% of everything was right. For Sunday they got the hall's management to open two more food vendors so that the lunch lines were a lot shorter. Organization seemed top-notch. As is normal with such large operations, communication sometimes lacked but when it was brought to their attention, the team behind the show did terrific work in getting the information out through their various social media outlets and by email.

A particular shoutout to both Justin Cline and Kirk Chritton. Both these gentlemen made me feel like I was as valuable to the show as any of the celebrity guests. The hall staff was terribly helpful, too. Everyone with the show just had great attitudes and made it a terrific experience.

If you didn't go and thought about it, go next year. You'll have a great time.

Now that I'm back in the game, I'll be there as often as I can. I'm already beginning to plan my approach for next year when I'll have more books to sell.


Nathaniel Williams said...

Thanks for the run-down. I heard mixed reviews, but based on your info it sounds like the problems were born of increased participation and larger venue--both good things!

Holly said...

In re: the respecting cosplayers issue, which you know is a concern we share--I have to say, I have never had a bad experience at Planet Comicon. I have never seen anyone have a bad experience at Planet Comicon. In all fairness *I* have probably taken more liberties with the guys than anyone has tried with me. LOL It's really a good venue there, and I hope that's one thing that doesn't change as it grows.

Jason Arnett said...

Hi, Nate! It's easy to forget everyone experience is different based on any number of factors. I think Planet is making a run at being one of the premier independent conventions with this move. Next year ought to see improvements by leaps and bounds.

Also, you should read Holly's recap. She saw things I didn't and her insights are enlightening.

Jason Arnett said...

Holly - I think the show's just always been about getting more and more people involved. I remember years when there were only a handful of cosplayers. I can't pinpoint when it was that all the creators stopped pointing out that there were more and more girls coming to the show, but that was almost a paradigm shift in itself. Probably when they stopped bringing in the Playboy bunnies.

The Law of Averages dictates that as the show grows there's more potential for bad behavior. As long as everyone keeps an eye out it may never happen. Keeping my fingers crossed on that one. I wonder how attendance compared to previous years? I've heard some staggering (speculative) figures.