You’ll hear plenty of people complain that Comic-Con has gotten too mainstream- that there are too many movie and TV panels that aren’t related to comic books at all, and that it isn’t what the convention was about.
I am not one of them. I admit, I complained about Twilight having a panel at Comic-Con- mostly because it brought a lot of people who had no idea about Comic-Con etiquette. Pre-Twilight, nobody would have thought about camping out for days for the panel. We all knew that it was private property, that they discouraged that, and most people simply lined up for big panels a couple hours in advance. And the noise… you could hear them from a mile away. Not only that, I felt bad for any panel that was in the room prior to the Twilight panels- the room was filled with Twilight fans and there wasn’t room for any of theirs- why they weren’t scheduled first in the day is beyond me.
That said, I was glad that a whole new group of people were being opened up to the Comic-Con experience. Because, the bigger it becomes, the more I can trust it’ll be there next year. Yes, Comic-Con is huge. But if hotel rates keep going up (as they have) and other behind the scenes fees increase, it’ll be harder to keep something going if it’s just geared towards fans of comic books.
I love comic books, and yet, I haven’t bought a single comic book at SDCC all the years I’ve gone. I’ve met vendors who sell online and bought from them later, but never bought anything that wasn’t from an individual artist on site. It’s too hard to leave and come back, and I wouldn’t want to carry around valuable issues with me. I’ve bought prints (and had storage for those with me), t-shirts and weapons.
Honestly, I hadn’t even gone to any panels until a few years ago. I enjoyed roaming the floors, and hadn’t wanted to tear myself away from the excitement there to wait in line. But it’s lots of fun.
Some of the complaints I saw is that it’s too crowded now, and that tickets sell out before you find out who’s going. I’m not sure about you, but I’d much rather be surrounded by people who wanted to visit Comic-Con for the experience than someone who only wants to go because Movie X has a panel.
I love the idea that networks and studios want their shows and movies to have panels. Because it means that they see people who go to Comic-Con as the audience they want. Those panels aren’t cheap to put together. While I don’t talk much about what TheBoy does, I can say that a good portion of his last week has dealt with material for a couple of panels- and the hours that went into making sure that someone has a 10 minute reel to show… it isn’t cheap.
Nor do I think of it as going mainstream or selling out. I think it’s more of an acceptance that geeks are everywhere. We’re awesome. We watch movies, play video games, read comic books and other printed materials, and buy merchandise. Because Comic-Con isn’t just about comics anymore. It’s a party that geeks of all backgrounds can visit, meet others, and have a grand time. And it’s one that’s being done with more style every year.
Frankly, I’m a little disappointed that Twilight won’t be there this year. Take a deep breath. Not because I’m secretly a fan, but honestly, it seems disrespectful to the fans not to. I know that Eclipse just came out and they haven’t started filming Breaking Dawn- but would it have been too hard to put together a Q&A with some of the cast? What I took away from it was that Summit doesn’t really care about the fans themselves, they’re more concerned with how much money they can make from them. But hey, it opened up space for someone else to show.
If you still aren’t sold- for those who’ve struggled to get a friend or significant other to come with you because they think it’s too geeky, just show them who have panels and who is exhibiting on the floor. It might be just enough to get them in the door and lure them to the geek side. Next year, at least. Comic-Con is completely sold out of tickets and has been for some time. So if you want to go to San Diego in 2011, make sure you visit Comic-Con.Org regularly. And start saving up!