Con Report

Yesterday, Robbie and I went to the New York Comic-Con and we had a blast despite all the technical difficulties Reed Exhibitions encountered with running their first consumer-based comic book show. Given that 95% of their business is b-to-b trade shows, this caught them totally under-prepared despite warnings from various comics consultants.

Last week pre-reg was only 4500 and they were worried. What they didn’t anticipate was the huge consumer walk-up business and even after Friday’s experience they were a mess.

Pre-reg people, pros and fans alike, were directed to an express line but they neglected to segregate pros and speakers from fans. If it wasn’t for a staffer, I would have been on the line forever when my credentials were waiting for me in a speaker’s room. Also, they were so overwhelmed with people they were just scanning pre-reg bar coded receipts and slapping on green wristbands to expedite matters.

The Main Room

Again, despite warnings, the aisles were too narrow and they weren’t good at managing the traffic flow. They had to close the exhibit hall repeatedly and even people with exhibitor passes were having trouble getting in. Some of the other upper levels got closed because of volume. About the only wise thing they did was shut ticket sales around noon. Word is some 9000 people were turned away but that’s only second-hand gossip.

Comic book publishers – large and small – had space along with Hollywood studios and book publishers. Literally, there was something for everyone so Robbie could indulge in the Gaming Room or the game demos while I reacquainted myself with long-time colleagues and recent co-workers.

It was terrific to see fellow members of the Unemployment Patrol, such as ex-iBook staffers Maureen McTigue and Dwight Zimmerman. It was equally fun seeing people turn up at new spots such as neighbor Brian Augustyn at the Narwain Booth or Lee Nordling conducted Platinum Studios business from a snack table. I got warm welcomes from the folks over at DelRey and met Roger Rosen, the man behind Rosen Books, home to all my YA non-fiction.

Business

I had a productive meeting with the folk over at Actionopolis. I saw their first printed samples and thought they looked pretty darn terrific. We’ll chat some more about this another time. One plus to the meeting meant spending time with Dan Mishkin an old friend and member of the Actionopolis team.

I had another meeting that went much better than I expected and should things come to fruition, I’ll fill you in.

As a networking opportunity, the show was very, very good for me and I have all sorts of things to follow up on in the coming week.

Moderating the Comedy Central/Spike panel went very well, too. We showed one of the eight episodes for their new mobile download series Samurai Love God which was pretty funny along with a first-ever peek at Freak Show a new animated series slated for much later this year. I engaged our panelists in some dialogue, we showed clips, and got some solid questions. Then we switched to a preview of Blade, Spike’s first original dramatic series, and it was fun sharing a stage with the execs along with Geoff Johns. We also debuted a teaser for the series, which will start airing on June 28. Again, I asked some questions to explore the obvious issues and then threw the floor open to questions. Everyone seemed to think it went well so I was happy to help out.

Pleasure

Once the panel ended at 7, the main room was shutting down so I rendezvoused with Rhett Thomas, the brains behind The Marvel Masterworks Resource Page. I’ve support Rhett since my Marvel days and we’ve kept in touch ever since. He was meeting up with several other people who post on his message boards and I was invited along. Robbie was game so I accepted the invitation. Then, while waiting from stragglers, I ran into Rebecca and Jen, two friends from beyond comics even though they’re both fans. They got adopted and joined us as well.

The dozen of us had a fine meal at the New Yorker Hotel’s restaurant, with Rhett treating us all to appetizers. For nearly three hours I sat talking comics and pop culture stuff as a fan which was really nice as a change of pace. Meeting many of the posters was wonderful, especially Ray who flew all the way from Scotland for the event. A great way to cap a good day for me, and for Robbie.

6 comments

  • Alas, we were among those who never got in. I’m amazed that, with all the industry consultants Reed had helping them, they couldn’t get past simple stuff like “have separate pre-registration queues for just-plain-fans and industry pros and exhibitors,” stuff that’s second nature in most other comic conventions. Your estimate of 9000 turned away sounds about right from what we saw. Thousands more were probably alerted to the news online and stayed away. Tons and tons of lost business. Glad they’re rethinking things for next year and renting more space with, one hopes, better planning, wider aisles, etc.

  • Hey, I was going to have you say hi to Mishkin, but then I zipped over to the site and saw a bunch of folks I know and miss from my comics days, so I’ll just say I hope there’s something there for you.

    M

  • Bob,

    I was there Friday for the professional half of the day – as a teacher. I’m considered a professional at something. 😉 While that part of the day went fairly well, I would have thought that given the way the place quickly filled up at 4pm with people for a Friday evening, it would have been a signal to the organizers. They were saying on the news last night that state troopers had to be brought in to keep things under control.

    JD

  • LIKEIALWAYSDO

    Bob,

    It was great fun meeting you, your son, and your friends at dinner Saturday night. You might remember me, I was the chick yammering on in vehiment defense of Steranko. Well anyway, I am writing to say- I WAS WRONG YOU WERE RIGHT! wheh…got that off my chest. Again, it was great fun and such a treat to share a meal with you.

    Be well.

  • gormuu

    Had a great time with you at the Con, Bob! Robbie was a lot of fun to be around, too, and it was wonderful meeting the kid who I’ve come to know through your blog.

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