By Nicholas Eskey
Taking his regular seat in front of the all too familiar line consisting of convention goers, Comic-Con International’s President John Rogers readies himself for the inevitable. The “Talk Back Panel” always signifies the end of a convention, giving the chance for attendees and vendors alike to voice their opinions on their experiences; the good and the bad.
After John Rogers gave his customary greeting and opened the microphone, the first person thanked everyone for the convention, and asked what Mr. Rogers saw in comparison between Anaheim and the new Los Angeles venue. “They all have their pluses and minuses,” he said. “LA has more food trucks and food options, Anaheim is… Anaheim.”
Afterwards, a string of random questions and comments were presented to the Comic-Con International President. They ranged from: The convention being too spread out (due to the two exhibit halls are separate buildings connected by a 2nd floor bridge), lack of crafters in the artists alley, the wish for “panda parking” in Comic-Con and Wondercon in Anaheim, and that movie trailers at Wondercon showed both rated PG (like “Finding Dori”) and R (like “The Purge 2”) in front of children.
A repeated topic it seemed was the new badge scanners. This year, located at every entrance to the halls, Wondercon featured standalone scanners resembling the ones you would see at department stores. Attendees and vendors were asked to place their badges up to the scanner every time they entered and exited the halls. One at attendee commented on how they felt scanning both entering and leaving was tedious to them. John Rogers responded by saying, “The idea behind it is that, let’s say someone has a group of five friends and they all take their badges and sneak it to their friends outside for entry. If they don’t scan them upon exit, then the machine will beep showing they never left, and there’s no way anyone’s going to get away with scanning five consecutive badges when going out.”
Another question came up to why there were so many scanners, even in the hallways outside of the main hall. “There are many, many, many, many, many door here [the Los Angeles Convention Center],” said Rogers. “Making it so that there are many methods of getting in. And because of the potential rain, we couldn’t lock them.” One man asked if they could instead use an archway scanner, since he had difficulty bending over to touch the badge to the low scanners. “That will cause interence,” said Rogers. There were also comments about wheelchairs having difficulty getting over the small scanner floor bumps, how they were too low, and the difficulty one man had on clipping his lanyard to the thicker badge, him asking why that was. “Um, because that’s how they’re manufactured,” said John Rogers. The best comment though was a suggestion that the badges use a retractable lanyard. Mr. Rogers liked that idea.
It might come as a surprise for some, but not for others, that Anaheim will be getting Wondercon again next year. When asked why, John Rogers said, “It’s all about dates. It just so happened that LA wasn’t available for the date we wanted next year, but Anaheim was.” Breaking the trend, Wondercon next year will not be on Easter weekend, but instead the first weekend of April.
As a last point of discussion, it was asked of the status of the San Diego Convention Center expansion. “They are back to [saying], ‘no land, no money, no space,’” answered John Rogers. “Unless you have 600 million dollars you’re willing to give up?” he added.
So there you have. Check in chip badges may be what we have in store for this year’s San Diego Comic Con, Wondercon will be back in Anaheim next year, and plans for SDCC expansion are back to square one.