The good news is that Denver Comic Con has sold out for its Saturday access, in the sense that the numbers (50,000) are here. The bad news is that things are breaking down pretty rapidly into impossible access when it comes to getting to panels on time or getting onto the floor in a reasonable time-frame. The key problems are a single access point to the entire con for badge pick up and those who already have their badges, creating a half mile line around two blocks averaging anything from 30 minutes to an hour or more just to get into the convention center. Once inside, there is freedom of movement unless you want access to the main attraction of the con: the floor. The single access point to the floor, which I mentioned in my earlier coverage (Then and Now) indeed blew up into a major problem. With turnstiles admitting only three people at a time and a baggage check being conducted at those turnstiles only a few feet from the floor entrance, the line for entry to the floor took on the entire length of the 500 foot narrow hallway leading to the floor averaging another 30 minutes or more for floor access.
To be clear, none of these problems were caused by the space used by the con- the space is vast. It’s due to the puzzling decision to only use one set of doors of six on the ground level (the rest are guarded and unused) to admit folks to the con, even badge-holders, and then by the choice to use only on access point to the floor upstairs, when another, larger entrance is also available but not being used. The con has been bottle-necked by its design for access in a surprising way. There’s also the added issue that people waiting outside for access to the con are being stopped and held, unmoving, for 15 minute periods before being allowed to move forward, perhaps for fire safety reasons, in which case, too many passes were sold for safety and that should have been reconsidered.
All of this back up means that people can’t make use of their passes to get to panels they may be planning to attend or spend an adequate time on the floor to make their passes worthwhile- at least for today. On the upside, many of the con attendees (and a tremendous number in cosplay) are actually being patient and simply biding their time to make the best of it. They are very excited to be at DCC and enjoying the whole fandom experience of a new con in Colorado. I’ve never abandoned a con before, but today it happened. When I finally gained access to the panel hallways, with minutes to spare, in order to cover them as a journalist, I found that the panels I was looking for had been cancelled or moved to a later time. Looking at the waits to get onto the floor (unprecedented in my experience of quite a number of cons), it wasn’t worth the suffering in my opinion. I’ll try again later, but for now the massive, speedy growth of Denver Comic Con has defeated its best intentions and also for now, defeated my own enthusiasm for con-going. It’s only Saturday midday out here in Denver, and things may improve, but as a journalist, I’m not getting much done in what I came here to do.
Hannah Means-Shannon writes and blogs about comics for TRIP CITY and Sequart.org and is currently working on books about Neil Gaiman and Alan Moore for Sequart. She is @hannahmenzies on Twitter and hannahmenziesblog on WordPress. Find her bio here.