As we’ve been reporting, as comic-cons become bigger and bigger business, more and more under qualified con-runners are getting into the biz, easing to more and more unsatisfactory convention experiences. This weekend’s London Film and Comic Con was a thrill for many, of the “Ohmigod I got my photo with Stan Lee!’ variety. But other reports say it was a disorganized mess in some regards, as this tumblr post suggests:
Myself and my other half visited London today (Sat 12 July) with the intention to attend London Film and Comic Con at Earls Court 2, and having arrived at the venue a 9am, thought we would have no trouble queueing to buy tickets. Unfortunately we were wrong.
Considering we were in the queue no later than 9:10, it’s not unreasonable to believe we would be in the hall by midday. Having attended several other conventions (including MCM and NYCC), I felt this was a safe assumption. However, by midday we were still out to the front of Earls Court, winding our way through the barely managed human soup of hopeful convention goers.
By 12:30, we had discovered through our own investigation that the convention venue had reached capacity, and would now be operating on a “one in, one out” admissions system. Disheartened as we were, we still believed we were in with a chance of getting inside.
By 1pm, people began to abandon the queue. We spoke to several hopefuls who had all traveled to attend, some with young children, one family we spoke to had traveled from Cardiff and in their own words noted “we have been in this queue longer than it took to get the bus from Cardiff to London”. Others we spoke to had booked the day off work specifically. Another said he made a habit of attending as many conventions as he could to get autographs and noted that this queue was the worst he had ever experienced.
By 1:30, we finally saw more convention staff, who were sadly informing the people in the queue about the “one in, one out” system, informing us that there was a great possibility we would not manage to gain entry to the convention. At this point many people got justifiably annoyed. Knowing these people had nothing to do with the planning and arrangement of the event, I asked them about complaints and they directed me to this email address.
By 2pm, having been in the queue in sweltering heat, with little to no shade, no food or drink stands, barely any word from the convention staff until recently, and having meandered through a queue held together only by the visiting masses with no staff in sight for the most part, I and my other half gave up. Disappointed and upset, we left the queue. Leaving a friend behind who was determined to get in having put some effort into a costume he wanted to display inside.
While I’m stunned by the suggestion of “sweltering heat” in London, it does seem that if you didn’t have pre-booked tickets getting in was a disaster. Understandably if the show was already sold out, organizers should have said so instead of leaving people standing in line for hours.
Here’s a video of the four-hour queue t see Stan Lee, which I guess, if it’s your thing, it’s worth it. Still along line outside in the brutal heat of midsummer London!
Here’s more from the Pocketful of Geek site:
We hit capacity at around midday iirc, and imo that was far, far too many people. For a start there are always families, meaning small children and pushchairs, then there were the people with wheelchairs and crutches who had to try and navigate the hoards rumbling up and down.
It was impossible to even get close to the stalls to see comics and merchandise, particularly on the end rows because it was just filled with streams of people rushing up and down.
There weren’t nearly enough staff on site to manage the people who attending, and all around there were people who were stressed and anxious, bumped and bruised, people who couldn’t help but miss photoshoots and talks. My friends and I simply left the building at every opportunity to eat and rest and get out of the intense heat. We simply couldn’t get any autographs or look around the hall due to the volume of people.
Showmasters initial “solution” to the big guests and higher estimation of attendees had been to open up Brompton Hall in Earl’s Court one. Inside were comic artists, the gaming zone, the super stage (where the comic awards and Stan Lee talks were held) and Stan Lee’s signing area. HOWEVER they decided to keep the artists alley level comic creators in Earls Court 2 as normal, and (this is most ridiculous part) have Stan Lee do photo shoots in a main area in Earls Court 2. This meant that every time Stan had a shoot, the poor guy had to walk between the two halls with security. This in turn made all the Stan Lee shoots around twenty minutes late (we can forgive him for this of course, the man is 91 years old) and the obviously huge hoard of people waiting for his shoot were clogging up the main hall, right in the Young Adult Literature Con section. Brompton Hall was incredibly empty of people because the space was not utilised at all well. Having half the comic artists still in the main hall is about the stupidest decision organisers made over the weekend and probably caused a lot of the problems.
OTOH, this Metro UK reporter went to all the nerdlebrity panels and had a swell time.
The show runner responded Saturday night to complaints on FB:
First off we know that there was a lot of people that turned up on the day to buy tickets that in the end did not get in to the event
i will say EVERYONE that pre bought all tickets did all get into the show in a decent time
i just want to confirm that all early birds were in by 11,05 am
All standard tickets were in by 12.00
we are not saying in any way that there was no issue over the day but everyone that pre bought tickets gains access
As to photo shoots all were done in a timely manner and to the high standard you get from our events all 13,000 of them
we managed to get around 7000 pay on the day earlybirds into the hall before we needed to regulate entry .
From then on we were restricted to letting in 50 at a time as people left the show.
This was something we could not expect or forsee
At the end of the weekend we think that the attendance may have grown around 40% to 50%
And that is quite shocking and unexpected.
Other things on Saturday buckled but did hold and worked , but things will need to be looked at and fixed for future comic cons.
As to tomorow sunday is normally around 40% less members of the public on pre sales and on the day so we feel we will be fine
there are a few things we are planning to help you all also.
At the end of the day shows like this do grow fast in one show this has happened twice before Heroes LFCC is one i remember well.
We de brief we learn and we correct and fix for the next event so we get it right for you the fans that make these events happen
I just wanted to talk to you all and say sorry that some things are not what you all had hoped for but we do care and we do listen and we do want to get these events right for everyone.
Thank you for reading and we look forward to seeing you on Sunday
What say you? Were you there? Was it fun? What can be done to end such logjams?
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.