So the con has come and gone. Ultimately, my feelings towards this convention are as follows: the convention has some good bones to it, but it’s just so over crowded that it makes it so difficult to see things.
For example: panels at this con are typically a full hour in length. Because it takes so long to load/clear the panel room, his panel was 45 minutes long. It’s one of those things where while you can respect why they clear out the panel rooms, clearly the con has gotten so big that it actually impacts the panel length itself. Not so cool.
I went to two YA panels. They were okay. The one I was more looking forward to; about new YA books coming out; was a bit of a let down. It felt like an hour of two ladies reading summaries. I can do that on my own. I was hoping they’d highlight the real high points, you know? Today’s panels were about Prenda and the porn troll law-suits and one with the voice actors behind Pinky and the Brain. Both were good.
And that’s it as far as actual panels went. I did manage to go to Masquerade on Sunday. It was fun, but I’ve seen better. There is some truly amazing cosplay going on at the con itself, but the level wasn’t quite there during the show. There were no real surprises in the winners. But then, most of the prizes were $50 of “dealer bucks.” Only the first place was any decent at all ($500 & some XFINITY gear) but definitely not something that is going to attract the big-time cosplayers.
I will say that I found that Masquerade had one tradition I rather liked – apparently while they break for judging, they ALWAYS show the Duck Dodgers cartoon, and everyone always joins in yelling “Duck Dodgers of the 24th and a half century!” (complete with finger pointed in the air) whenever Daffy says it. It’s cute and it’s neat 🙂
And a totally random aside: by Sunday we had the shuttles figured out, which helped a ton. The shuttle drivers were (for the most part) pretty awesome people too. Like on Sunday, the “express” bus agreed to take me (and eventually a half of bus worth) of people back to our hotel simply because I was waiting for the shuttle and she had no one else on the bus. That kind of generosity did help with the frustrations of the system, but without question there are kinks that need to be worked out still. Apparently they had a new person working on that this year, so hopefully he figures it out for next year. THAT SAID. Staying in the host hotels would have been nicer though; me and my roommate agree that we’d been more likely to check out the night events if we’d been there. We were just far enough away that it was too easy to come back and not want to go back out again. It’s one thing when all the effort you have to expend is in waiting for elevators. Its another when you have to either wait for a shuttle to appear at a random time or hike it. It was much harder to hike it the later in the day you got.
Ultimately my feelings towards this con are as follows:
There is a good soul in this con. I can see how a lot of people would fall in love with it. There are definitely some unique programming tacks here. The crowding issues and the disparate locations undermined that uniqueness. What good is it to have a track on Urban Fantasy if you can’t get to the hotel where its held or don’t want to risk heading over when you have another panel right after at the first hotel?
I also have lingering reservations about how the con is run – everything from the SDCC bashing (minor, but this shouldn’t be a condoned Thing) to (much more importantly) how things like fire safety regulations are more treated as suggestions than things to follow. I get the sense that the con is reluctant to shed its hotel con past, but the truth is is that it is so large that it needs to. Unless they follow through with a meaningful attendee cap, the crowding problems are only going to get worse and worse and worse. In speaking to various long-term vets of the con, a cap has been promised for years, so it seems unlikely that they’ll actually go through with it.
Logistical gripes aside, the programming wasn’t quite there for me this year. It’s always a crap shoot with cons and I know this. But other cons I’ve been to, I’ve had more options that sounded good to me. I’m glad that I went, but next year it’s time to experiment with new things 🙂
Now is the time though to get to exploring Atlanta. Yay!