This weekend, Tara, Dan, Julie and I all attended our first Comic Con together. The main draws for me personally were the Supernatural and Walking Dead panels. There was also a former Doctor (Colin Baker) but I never watched the old Who, so his Q&A wasn’t a “must see”.
To summarize, the people who organized and ran this event created a giant clusterf*ck. Just search the internet for news articles about Saturday. They way oversold and people were turned away at the door by the fire marshals because of capacity issues. Did we have fun? Yes. Was it entirely too overwhelming for those of us with social anxiety? Hell yes.
The tickets we purchased were through an Amazon local deal that basically equated to buying the Bronze VIP package. Amazon Local is sort of like a Groupon-type service if you weren’t aware. The package we bought got us a weekend pass, early bird access for the weekend, a VIP pass, some print and comic books and access to a “VIP lounge”.
We got there early for our access at 9:00. There was already a line around the building going down both sides. Luckily, we heard one volunteer say that one side was general admission and the other was early bird. That was all we were told. After we waited in that line for quite a while and finally got inside the building, we were told that because we had vouchers, not tickets from Ticketmaster, that we had to enter through the Dunkin Donuts center – a completely different place than the RI Convention Center where it was being held! We left and headed over there, along with a few other annoyed people in line near us.
After walking in the DD Center, we were greeted with one long snaking line and 3 or 4 shorter ones that all led up to tables that said they were for vouchers. This is where things started getting really dicey. We were told 3-4 different things by just as many volunteers – not a single one of them told us the same story! We picked a line and waited in it, only to be told like 15 min later it was the wrong one. Not only that, but because Julie and Dan didn’t print theirs out, they had to go to the Box Office – which also turned out to be wrong because they were told there that they couldn’t do anything for them.
Eventually, we were told the right information by asking fellow convention goers and picked up our stuff. We received two prints, two comic books, arm bands (two, one for gen, one for early bird VIP) and our VIP badge. We didn’t receive lanyards because they were ALREADY GONE. Oh well. And this VIP lounge we spoke about? Well…it was basically a room at the back of the convention center with tables and chairs in it. There was nothing remarkable about it at all. Not only that, but they had no one checking any badges, so basically anyone that wanted to go in, sit down, charge their phone or whatever, could do so.
After we finally made it through the fiasco, we started perusing the floor. It wasn’t bad at first, but as the day went on and more and more people entered, it was very constricting and hard to move around. After a little looking around the main floor, we stopped to check out the celebrities.
I talked to Katrina Law from Arrow and Alaina Huffman from Supernatural – both VERY nice chicks and very down to earth. I don’t watch Arrow, but Julie is obsessed with it because of Stephen Amell so we had to go talk to her. We saw the Doctor, but didn’t speak to him because he had a long line. Several others were missing due to photo ops going on throughout the day.
Once we were all set on the floor it was time to start thinking about panels. Julie, Tara and I were going to the Supernatural panel that was from 2-3 and Dan told us we should consider going up there even before 1:00 to get in line. When we found the room it was in, we asked the volunteer if this was the right place to line up and she said to just go in and pick some seats because they weren’t going to empty the room between, they wanted to keep people moving. Since we wanted to sit anyway, we figured it was a good idea and went inside. We caught the last two questions of the Eliza Dushku Q&A, then watched the Raiders of the Lost Ark panel with Karen Allen and John Rhys Davies. During Raiders, Tara couldn’t handle it anymore so she left the room, only to not be able to get back in later for Supernatural.
We had really good seats for Supernatural, maybe 10-12 rows back, almost center. It was a REALLY fun panel and the highlight of my entire weekend because it was a large panel and they all got along really well and made it a good time. We saw the actors that play Abbadon, Rufus, Bobby and the Alpha Vampire. Crowley was supposed to be there too, but ended up coming in like ½ hour late. I thought he wasn’t coming at all and was really disappointed because he’s one of my favorites from the show! When he did come in, though, he went to the mic where they were asking audience questions and held the mic for them as they asked them. The people were so nervous, it was so cute. I wished I had gone up there but the line stretched from the front to the back and I wouldn’t have known what to say anyway.
After that panel, we found Tara and Dan and went to get a snack and some water, but decided we really didn’t care to stay for the cosplay contest and left around 4ish. This is when we found out the fire marshal was shutting people out because as we walked out the line went from the main hall entrance, through the Omni Hotel (which is connected), down to the sky bridge that connect the hotel with the Providence Place Mall. It was so long and so many disappointed people!
Sunday we hoped for better. We already had our wrist bands, which we had been told to leave on the day before. We arrived even earlier than we had the day before, which meant waiting in the cold rain outside the building again. We asked the people in line (NOT volunteers this time) where was the line for early bird VIP. We were told by the gen admission people that it was right at the door, so we started asking people in line at the door to figure out where the end of that line was – and it sort of merged with general admission! Talk about more confusion! Eventually we were able to go in and it was much more seamless than the day before. We showed our wrist bands to two different people on the way in, had our bags checked (which we hadn’t the day before) and were in on the floor within 5 minutes of getting in the building.
We didn’t have anything huge going on other than The Walking Dead panel from 1:30-2:30. Dan had wanted to see some comic artists speak, but he didn’t end up going to any of them so all four of us were going to see TWD.
Based on how Saturday went, we planned on getting up there well over an hour before it started. We walked the floor at bit and when it started getting congested again and we had seen everything at this point, we bought the things we wanted and walked upstairs to Hall A. We got in line to go in for George Takei which was right before TWD panel and decided we would do what we had done the day before and just stay in our seats from one panel to the next. The volunteers had different ideas this time because they made a pre-show announcement that said they would require EVERYONE to leave the room and come back in for TWD. We decided we weren’t super excited about George, so we left the room to go get in line for TWD instead. We ended up being second in line at the first door closest to the front of the room so we were in good shape. We then waited like 90 minutes for our show.
About 15 minutes before the panel, they started letting people in. We were able to sit in row 7 in the center so we had really good seats. I was a little disappointed that Michael Rooker (Merle) had cancelled for the weekend, so it meant that only Hershel and Father Gabriel would make up the panel. I thought I would still enjoy it because who doesn’t like Hershel?!? Unfortunately, it wasn’t as good as I thought it would be. Scott Wilson ended up leaving halfway through, during the audience Q&A so the last ½ of the panel was just the other dude. He was easy to listen to, but still – a very less than exciting panel with only two, then one person.
There was nothing more we wanted to see after that, so we left for the day. D&J went home from there and we headed home as well. Dan made out like a bandit and started his Pop collection with about a dozen figures, plus he got some comic cover prints and a statue of Batgirl I think? I can’t remember the statue. All will go towards making his ultimate Dan Cave. We also gave him all our free comics and prints because, frankly, we would just throw them away or something. We don’t know what to do with that stuff!
All in all, I’d rate it a B- or C+ even. There were just too, too many people for it to be super enjoyable and the panels could have been better. That’s without even taking into account the ridiculous disorganization. I’m not sure I’d ever visit one again – there would have to be someone I REALLY love there to consider it.