And so ends another Ottawa Comiccon, and I now can pause to reflect on the experience. Overall, I had a very good time. I was able either through luck or careful planning (or a combination of the two) to see the sessions that interested me, and to get the autographs of the actors what I wanted and I met a lot of lovely people on the numerous, and oft-times eternal line ups, which was a bonus.
That being said, it seems like this year there were a lot of problems. I think that a lot of the blame rested on the shoulders of the organisers, who seemed unable to communicate with each other or to the people attending.
- A number of guests were late arriving at the venue because of traffic (Allan Tudyk was delayed several hours because of his flight) which meant that the people waiting in line for the scheduled autograph or photo session were essentially stuck there. It is hard to make the decision to stay or go from a line when you haven’t been given an ETA. The volunteers manning the lines had little information to offer.
- The Wi-fi was slow, and cell phone reception was poor
- Announcements on the PA system were infrequent and garbled. I felt like the kids in the Peanuts cartoons with the teacher saying “mwaw mwaw mwah”
- If you are going to have a VIP line then enforce it from the beginning. Honestly, deciding midway in a line-up time that VIPs should move here, the others there, is too late, and unfair to those who had established their place in line.
- Lining up for the photo ops was an experience in frustration and claustrophobia. The lanes were not marked with numbers, and they spilled into a high traffic area – the door between the autograph section and the merchants’ hall. Volunteers at one end did not know what the other end was doing. People were being sent back and forth after being fed different information.
- Not sure why group numbers and appointment times were put on the photo op tickets when the people there ignored them and told us that they were not important.
- There were no seats or areas for the disabled in the line ups for the autographs or photo ops.
- The lack of seating was striking, especially near the food. Where were we supposed to eat?
- Line ups for the photo ops at one door and the comic artist at another blocked the flow of people between spaces, and probably broke a few fire regulations
- Having an information board was a good idea, but having to fight through thousands to walk to the front where it was located was a pain
- Some meeting rooms were not large enough for the sessions being held in them
- One volunteer at the autograph table for Arthur Darvill made a 10 year old leave the line because she had not purchased a ticket for an autograph. She just wanted to meet him, and since there were maybe a dozen people behind her, it did not seem to be a big deal. Rather than asking her to wait for the line to clear, or just letting her say hi, she told her to leave and made her cry. That was my angry moment at Comiccon.
- The food area is too small for the numbers of people present
- The line-ups for food and drink were too long
- I heard one person suggest that they take the food to the parking lot and invite a number of food trucks, which would give them more room for merchants, and give people a place outside of the crowded floor to go and eat in a bit of peace.
- They need a place where those in costume can really stand out and show off, without blocking traffic – a place where they can be seen and have their picture taken by the public – a stage where they can have a “moment” – and maybe a time when all of a particular theme or universe can gather in fun outside of the masquerade
I saw an interview with one of the organisers on the news on the Saturday of the event, and he was so excited that there were over 40,000 people there. And yes, they should be proud of their success, but that is a lot of people. Do they intend to grow even more? If so they should think about their space. This weekend it was very difficult to manoeuvre around the space. There were many obstacles to getting from place to place and a lot of people. The EY Centre is too small. If they want to accommodate the crowds they have now, let alone more next year, they are going to have to consider a new venue, which would allow for people to have room to move about, places for them to sit and eat, and places for them to line up. Even if they do not move, they will really have to be more creative about their use of space.
I really hope that next year is even better!!!!