Aren't There Supposed to be Pros at Cons?

I wasn't planning to talk about this, but it sounds like trouble coming from New York, huh? Apparently no one took into account the fact that New York is a pretty big city.

First, I'm glad any thought I had of attending was only fleeting because, while it sounds like many people had a poor experience yesterday at the con, we here at MacGuffin had our best day ever. Talk about glad I missed it.

Newsarama has a pretty even handed breakdown of the facts but doesn't begin to convey the level of frustration from fans. What it completely misses the boat on, though, are anecdotes along the lines of Karen Berger, you know Queen of Vertigo, not being allowed back into the con at one point. To quote Warren Ellis on the matter, "Oh, THAT'S going to make for some interesting conversations next week."

What should be interesting to see over the next couple of days is how this gets spun. Obviously everyone involved with running the event was using the George W. Bush debate trick, circa 2000 -- lower expectations as far as possible. The problem is, they apparently believed their own PR, because there is no way they were prepared to run an even moderately successful convention (from a purely logistical standpoint) in the largest city in the US. Is this all Reed's fault? Well, despite rumors that they booked as much space as possible, yeah it is. To not be able to gauge attendance within a few thousand people, much less five or six thousand people, is ridiculous for a company that does this sort of thing on a regular basis. I'm sure all we'll see from them and their media outlets the next week is how wonderful the con was to be able to draw such astronomical numbers, beyond all expectation. But lets be serious, isn't it their job to plan for astronomical numbers beyond all expectation? Yes this is the first big convention in NYC in quite awhile, but it's not like its the first comic convention anywhere, ever in decades.

Look, logistics are tough, but I've worked on several small level conventions handling everything from booking to PR to running the whole shebang and while its not exactly easy to estimate the number of attendees who will show up on the day of, there is no excuse for booking a convention to the point that people who prepaid for attendance can not even get onto the floor.

Is there a bright side? Sure, its always nice to see this much enthusiasm for comics, and there will almost definitely be at least a few mainstream press stories to come out of it, but ultimately you have to grade the convention two ways -- a programming and attendance success, but a logistical failure.

But that's all based on secondhand information. For an entertaining frontlines breakdown, go read Chris Butcher's account from the convention floor (so good, it's almost like The Daily Show's coverage of a political convention) because he says it all much better than I can.


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