I love conventions. Heck, I even love business conferences (yeah, I know, I'm weird). A well-done convention with good programming is a sight to behold and a joy to attend. You make new friends, you get to wander around a dealers' room, and you learn some pretty great things at the programs.
But I also don't have the money to attend many, so I pick a couple and hope they're worth it. That's why local conventions (y'know, within an hour or two of driving) are nice--save the hotel room and spend the cash on tickets.
What don't I love? Having two conventions under the same name at the same time, linked by location and divided by the amount of cash you drop.
I only hit up Sunday, which was the last day of Wizard World Comic Con. My local chapter of the RWA had a meeting Saturday (and it was amazing), so Sunday was the only day I could make. Sundays have a reputation of being when everyone hits the dealers rooms at most
cons anyway. And there were a couple of panels we found interesting, plus a couple that were fairly appealing but just not the right cup of, uh, coffee (there's not really such a thing as a wrong cup of tea for me
So, the good first.
For an $85 three-day con, the programming listed sounded pretty good, if more sparse than most of the cons I've been to. A panel with Sean Astin, with Vampire Diaries' Ian Somerhalder, panels discussing costuming, geekdom from a minority perspective, steampunk, William Shatner, meeting the cast and crew of Star Trek New Voyages... Saturday had a very nice line-up. Friday barely bothered with four programs total, but it started at 5, so it was the pre-party anyway. Sunday was lighter on the programming, being also a short day, and really most cons expect Sunday to be dealer room day anyway. But although there were a couple of programs I was glad we caught on Sunday, Saturday was the true day to go.
The dealers' room was nice. I mean, besides the fact that it's a fandom kingdom of joy. There was a good variety of items to purchase, with a mix of collectibles, swords, handmades, local artists and authors, and even a couple of photo ops (Batmobile, Scooby Doo van, Dinosaur van). While I've been in larger dealers' rooms, for a relatively small convention this room was bigger than I'd expected. There were a few big names doing photographs and autographs, too. (We got a Master Sword, which will be treasured like the Precioussssss it is.
They also seemed quite organized, with the registration moving quickly (on Sunday, anyway), and the area nicely laid out. The Raleigh Convention Center staff know what they're doing when it comes to conventions (seriously, it's in the name; it's literally their job, and they're good at it). The location is nice, and there's a parking deck right beside the convention center, so easy to get a spot.
And I can't help but note the cosplay. Raleigh's got a lot of good cosplayers, so many of those wandering around were, shall we say, well attired. Although the concourse would have made a great area for cosplay display, it was more a thoroughfare and there wasn't as much in the way of posing as I usually see, with much of the photography going on in the registration room and dealers' room. Still, some people were taking advantage of the great lighting.
|Posing with K9 was free, though, and you better|
believe I did. Sick 'em, K9!
So what did I dislike about this con?
For a con that made a really big deal of bringing in David Tennant, if you didn't pay more than twice the price for a VIP pass (or an extra $100 for a photo op), then you didn't see him in person. Even his autograph was extremely expensive (I've seen $20 for big names at other cons; this was more). Basically there was Wizard World Comic Con, and David Tennant Con with Wizard World access included This wouldn't bother me that much, since he was added to the docket later, except that much of the merchandising and advertising made a huge deal over his presence; the convention seemed to be missing its cornerstone if you didn't pay the extra. Had there been a "budget" package that said "budget members lose the chance to see Tennant in exchange for a lower price," it would have been better played--as it was, it felt like going to see The Hobbit
at a theater advertising cheap tickets, but unless you pay the full price, you don't get to see any scenes containing Gandalf. Still a good movie, but there's something missing.
They didn't hide that Tennant was extra, by the way; it was pretty clearly implied from the beginning that he was extra. And everyone could watch the Q&A panels with him the same way they usually see him--on TV, or specially on ConTV. So... I guess we can say we got to be in the same building, and I have some friends who got to see him, which is something, at least.
Besides Tennant, the autographs and photo ops seemed pretty pricey on the whole, too. At least compared to the other conventions I've been to. The program list, while nice, was also less extensive and varied than other cons, with fewer tracks and fewer overall options. Good quality, small quantity. I note here that I've gone to smaller cons with more programming of equal and even higher quality, so I knock off some points here. And on the whole I got a "very commercial" vibe. I mean, it's a con, so I expect they're there to make money, but this was more than usual.
Would I go to this convention again? Meh. Not likely. I had fun, but if I have a limited number of cons I can attend, I'd rather go to different one next year.