by Mike Scigliano
So after what amounts to close to a year of preparation and work, the 2012 edition of the Long Beach Comic & Horror Con has come and gone. I’ve spent the last two weeks going over my notes, exhibitor notes, and online comments to really get a handle the details. What went well. What didn’t. What can be improved and ideas on how to do it. Let’s explore the three phases of the comicon production and see how it went.
Phase 1 – Pre-show Load in
For me, my day started at about 4:15 am on Friday November 2nd. I was at the hall and starting to get things done before 5:00 am. Yup. That’s part of the job. I met with my decorator and looked over the floor plan. We discussed any last-minute changes and set the crew to work marking the floor so that booths can be built. We run on a very tight schedule so that we can start loading in exhibitors as early as possible. By 10:00 am the floor was marked and ready for load in to begin.
Come 12:00 pm and we already had a number of the larger exhibitors in and unloading while the rest began to show up to start their load in process. One huge bonus to the Long Beach Convention Center and our hall in particular is the ability to allow exhibitors to drive up onto the show floor with the vehicles. It’s a very rare occurrence at comicons and really helps ease the load in process for them. Keep in mind how heavy comics can be. To unload just yards or even feet from your booth is a value that can’t be measured. It also adds another layer to my job. Traffic cop and parking director. We have one staffer at the gate, Steve Hoveke, getting booth info and directing vehicles my way via radio. I then park them. Did I mention the awesome electric powered mini car I get to use? Life saver as in the past I have walked up to 42 miles in one weekend.
Around 2:00 pm we end the option to drive up onto the show floor as we need to have artist alley set. 184 tables and over 400 chairs is no simple task but by 4:30 pm we were just about ready to allow artist alley exhibitors to come in and set up. We had a large number of artist alley exhibitors take advantage of the Friday load in this year.
Finally, about 7:30 pm it was about time to call it quits. Well, for me. Other staffers such as Martha Donato and Phil Lawrence stuck around a little bit longer.
Throughout the day on Friday a multitude of little things pop up that need to be addressed. It’s all part of the job. There were certainly less than in years past but enough to keep me very busy. I called it a day around 11:00 pm after having dinner with The Marshall Report team.
Phase 2 – Comicon!
Day one of LBCHC starts early for me, too. I get to the hall by 6:00 am and meet with my decorator to go over all my notes. We take a tour of the show floor and lobby to make sure everything is looking good. After we finish changes, additions, cuts and such that need to be made get done and we prep the show floor for its opening.
Attendees were able to get checked in and onto the floor in a very quick and orderly fashion. Lines were minimized by utilizing our digital check-in system in conjunction with our ticket company. We opened the floor early to advanced ticket holders giving them a bonus for ordering their tickets in advance. We expect to extend that into 2013 as well.
Once the show floor opens I spend much of the day walking the floor and keeping my eye on things. I try to connect with as many exhibitors and artist alley creators as I can throughout the weekend. It’s virtually impossible for me to get to see everyone with everything I am responsible for. However, Martha and Phil make it a point to walk the entire show floor and say hello to everyone.
I was also keeping an eye on our new talk show The Marshall Report. Host Rick Marshall interviewed many of the shows guests and it is being edited into a web series. The is already up. The crew, Scott Klein and Luis Martinez of the Lights Out Film Group, did a great job and dealt with the production and overcoming the difficulties that arose. But that’s for a different column down the road.
Around 4:00 pm I realized that the radio had been too quiet for too long. Typically it’s squawking all day long so this eerie sense of panic sets in that the radio might have failed and I may have missed important. I went and swapped the radio, which was fine by the way, and slowly realized that everything was going nice and smoothly. It’s kind of a weird feeling.
Overall, the comicon itself went well on both Saturday and Sunday. We had a few glitches here and there which we’ll address at our post-event meeting so that they can be corrected for 2013.
Phase 3 – Post show Load out
At about 5:00 pm on Sunday afternoon load out began. It took the team about 25 minutes to clear the floor of attendees. People didn’t really want to leave. That’s typically a very good sign about the comicon’s success.
Artist alley was torn down very quickly. We were able to get most exhibitors’ vehicles very close to their booths. The whole process of tear down and load out was completed from the show runner point of view by 7:30 pm. We wrapped up and headed out of the hall by 8:00 pm and to our annual celebratory post show team dinner leaving just the cleaning crew to empty the hall for the next event.
Overall we had a very successful year at Long Beach Comic & Horror Con in 2012. We saw growth in both attendees and exhibitors. We had a number of successful events on Saturday night including our annual Costume Masquerade Ball, Effin’ Funny Fest comedy show, a live art party and more. We’ve got a great set of notes to look at in conjunction with exhibitor and attendee feedback. Armed with that we expect to continue improving the comicon heading into 2013.
I’d like to thank everyone for reading my column. Hopefully you learned something and were entertained a bit in the process. I hope to revisit the column from time to time in the future so it’s not necessarily the end of our ComiCON-versation…
Comments and questions are encouraged either below in the comments section or via twitter.
If you are a show runner, and want to discuss the idea of comicon show runners organization as discussed in a previous column, contact me at mscigliano[at]longbeachcomiccon[dot]com