(Image taken by Matthew Graves)
The third annual Rhode Island Comic Con happened last weekend at the Rhode Island Convention Center.
I missed the first year, attended the second as a fan and was a dealer at the third and I wish I could recommend it to my friends to make it an annual event. It’s got everything: comic books, movies, artists, authors and tv/movie stars as guests!
Nerd Prom in my backyard! And there’s no airline tickets or hotel fees to contend with! You just drive up and walk right in, right?
For a better part of a year, Matt G & I’ve been going to the South Attleboro Comics and Collectables Toy Show in South Attleboro. The reason was to sell my old back issues because I wasn’t reading them anymore and I’ve switched over to Hardcovers/comixcology.
And for the most part, I’d been doing good. I decided, to put down the monies for a booth at RICC. Money and forms sent in and by the time September rolled around I was like: Um, they got the money, right?
I email them, the first one bounces and the second one is received and I get a: We’ll be sending out an email soon. My fears are settled once we do get an email but no map. I’m fine with no map, different organizations, different ways of running things.
Well, then Ebola Scary hits and the Prez cancels his trip to RI from the beginning of October. He then reschedules to Halloween Night. He stays at the Omni which is attached to the Providence Convention Center. This means a lot of roads are closed or blocked.
No emails from RICC but Facebook Updates say: Hold off on deplaning. I pack the bug and leave at noon, drive down 95N and cops on every overpass and lo and behold the Highway is closed at Exit 22. I get off at Point St, down Wickenden, hang a right at the light and follow the detour signs and end up in front of the Mall!
Perfect! Whoops, slight problem, no left turn! And being in the extreme left hand lane I can’t go right, so onto Rte 10/6, circle back around and end up exactly where I want to be! West Exchange St!
One slight problem! So is everyone else! So I park the car in the RICC Parking Garage walk in the front door of the Center and ask for directions, one escalator ride later, walking to the back of the Hall and check in. They give me two passes and escort me to the table: 434.
No lanyards. No tax paperwork. No information guides. No con brochure. No map.
I move the car up to level 4 and start the trek back and forth not knowing Level 3 empties onto the loading dock. We’ll figure this out Sunday night in the blustery cold.
Thankfully, I remember to bring a bed sheet for a table cloth but forget a second one to cover the long boxes. Otherwise, we got tape, plastic bags, markers, we got this down to a science, folks.
I dress up at Mal Reynolds from Firefly, pack a lunch, snacks, iPad, camera and park at the parking garage. Walk right in, set up, Gravy Matt arrives in time for the doors to open at 9 AM for VIPs.
Table 434 is next to an end cap of Barnes and Noble. Adam Wasserman, M. W. Schwartz and Rhode Science Fiction Club farther down and Tribble store across from us selling comics, hard covers, fake IDs, patches and the like. We’re in good company.
The day rolls on, Matt learns a great deal about Doctor Who, what’s a Dalek and listens to many a tale of previous cons gone by. Checking the feeds when the free Cox Business Web access allows. Aside from Eliza Dushku’s purse being snatched the night before or something about Colin Baker needing a ride from Boston?
We’re snarking on the fact the announcers on the PA should be snarkier with the Code Adams (lost child). We don’t have a clue people can’t get back in since we haven’t left the table since food prices inside is sky high and we’ve brown bagged it.
All of the attendees were nice, the amount of Deadpool demand has reached a saturation point and the movie isn’t even here yet.
Two Wolverines walk by, one with fake mutton chops the other somewhat clean shaven.
Fake Mutton Chops: These itch.
Somewhat clean shaven: How do you think I feel, I had to shave this morning.
Dropped local comic store Rah-CoCo’s Collectables‘ name a few times.
Two different Jokers and Harleys. One couple loved the new 52, the other embraced the old DC universe.
Then we find out the fire marshal has closed the doors due to over capacity. Or maybe not? Or…wait, why is RICC deleting their FB posts? Wait, Shatner got stuck out in the line?
The PA announcer is giving updates about rescheduling photo ops and honoring the Sat wristbands for Sunday and such but unless you’ve been busy and haven’t been checking the feeds and haven’t moved, it’s been a good day.
Seven o’clock rolls around and we pack up and make the trek down to Panera for dinner while catching up on the feeds since Panera’s Wi-Fi is fast enough. Roll for home. Tired enough to watch Doctor Who then hit the sack.
Sunday means dressing up at Jayne Cobb from Firefly (minus the heavy gun belt), less sales but my hardcovers are nearly gone and I can almost consolidate one DC long box into another.
Photo Ops are on hold for now. Either out of ink or paper or did someone steal photos?
The tax paperwork arrives. It’s filled out and handed in. Five o’clock arrives and the dealer’s room is closed.
Packing up goes quickly.
The trek back to parking lot is hampered by security keeping the doors as exits only and we figure out the loading bays back onto Level 3 of parking garage.
Bug is repacked and drive home.
Once home, reading the articles begins and I thank myself I didn’t suggest the con to be a get together for friends, either in state or out.
This is what happened at Emerald City Comic Con two years ago when we had to wait in a heinous line for passes. Except, in Emerald City Con’s defense, they send out a survey every year. They listened and fixed it.
Let the quarterbacking begin:
So with no decompression after the annual long plane ride home the question must be asked: Is Rhode Island Comic Convention worth saving?
Yep. I like Nerd Prom begin 15mins away by car.
It has become painfully clear that the Altered Reality Entertainment (oddly, no website to link) needs to cap tickets.
Their excuse for overflow sounded good but why not just cap the tickets?
Live and learn by social media. And in the effort of full disclosure: Picture is from the AnimeHerald.com post on the Con failure.
A bigger venue isn’t needed, IMHO. Rhode Island Convention Center is perfect. It’s been a giant white elephant forever and now we finally have a Comic Con and this growing pains do actually happen.
There are hotels nearby, food, easy access for trains, planes and automobiles so long as maps are provided to everyone. Communication via email is required. All the other cons do it but the communication lines were painfully silent up to the con. Sure, Facebook updates are fine but email updates aren’t spam.
I wish it had better PR. It’d be great to say: We sold out in year three!
Instead, it’s: The Fire Marshals closing the doors due to over capacity. Providence Journal and the local news isn’t singing your praises due to fans standing in two hour lines and not being let in until 5pm and you’re still advertising you’re selling tickets at one window while turning people away at another door.
This could be a great con, it had 17,000 last year and had 20,000+ on Saturday. It just needs to be managed properly.
We know the demand is there, perfect, use it, they’re refund those who had problems that’s great. Personally, I’d get rid of those expensive VIP passes and just make it one day like San Diego Comic Con.
If that loses stars then so be it, this isn’t a Wizard World Convention, it doesn’t need to be a Wizard World Convention, it can be a small con and still be a feather in someone’s cap and be good PR for Rhode Island at the same time.
Just a note, all images unless noted were taken by myself. I’ve posted them to Flickr as well.