Just returned from four days schlepping cards and flyers around, attending panels, and meeting old friends at San Diego Con, which has gotten way too big to be sane. I heard an estimate of 125,000 attendees this year, and even the Big Two companies were overshadowed by the movie and game companies.
Herewith are some random observations:
Coolest object at the con:
The giant Lego Batman sculpture. Wish I had a picture.
Most gratifying experience at the con:
Seeing Rantz, Sean, Speed, Batton, Jackie, Peter, Craig, and Phil. I think I spotted a few other ENGINEers in the crowds but I’m not certain.
Second most gratifying experience at the con:
Spotting Tom DeFalco sitting at the Moonstone booth, and surreptitiously dropping a bunch of Big Head Press promo cards in front of a rack on the corner table where the booth guys couldn’t easily see them.
(For anyone wondering why I would do such a thing, see my blog entry here.)
Third most gratifying experience at the con:
Spotting Gary Groth at breakfast in the Hilton restraurant, and regaling my brother with the tale of how I got in the last word with him on The ENGINE.
Strangest annoyance at the con:
Since I’m in webcomics now naturally I meant to attend all the “Webcomics 102″ panels — but the line to the first one, about “how to find your audience” had a line with up to 500 people in it, for a room with classroom seating for 150.
Later I learned that these were not all new and wannabe webcomicers, but were largely fans of the “Penny Arcade” strip and wanted to meet Gabe and Tycho. One fellow who got in told us later that the panel was seriously crippled with fans who wanted to gush and talk about the strip, rather than the topic.
My brother opines that Holkins and Krahulik are “rock stars” now and ought not be allowed to appear at nuts-and-bolts panels such as this.
I have to give the convention organizers credit for recognizing the importance of webcomics but they’re still climbing the learning curve in terms of what works and what doesn’t. The “how to make money in webcomics” panel was pretty good, although the only thing I learned there that I didn’t already know was how huge a guy Scott Kurtz is.
And the “how to create compelling webcomics” panel, which consisted of one woman who did not have a good presentation style, focused mainly on the nuts and bolts of putting together a comic and getting it online. I was hoping for more in the way of creative tips and tricks for making one’s own comic stand out on the crowd.
Most harrowing experience at the con:
Getting poisoned. My brother and I had dinner at the Royal Thai on Fifth Ave., then smoked cigars purchased at the cigar lounge across the street. We wandered back to the convention center, intending to watch some animation programs, but never got past the Men’s Room. After some very ugly business, we made our way back to the hotel and collapsed in our beds, vowing never to do again whatever it was we did (the Pinot Noir? the spring rolls? the cigars?) that made us that sick.
Fortunately the malady was short-lived and we were back in action on Saturday.
Upshot: We are going to focus more on smaller cons going forward.