The future of The Land of Wanders

Graeme McMillan rounds up all of the complaints and dark sides and whatnot in a fairly brilliant post all should read:

It was the con that, it seemed, confounded a lot of people. Press shut out of panels, celebrities turned away from parties, comic publishers vowing never to return and 125,000 fans all in one building for four days without end. Every year, San Diego Comic-Con ends with people griping that it has gotten to be too big and that something has to change, but was this the year that lived up to the complaints?


He has a few good quotes, including this from mediabistro.com, with a title we’re stealing forever more: The Land of Wanders:

Anyway, we are posting this after midnight because there is no filing room. We were directed to an outlet in the hallway for all our computing needs. We promise to never bitch about the burnt gratis coffee in normal press rooms again.


We haven’t mentioned it in a while, but Comic-Con has absolutely the crappiest press room of any event we’ve ever been to. We promise to go see EAGLE EYE just because they gave us free Wi-Fi, but next year, some movie about teen zombies on a sex rampage at sleepaway camp really needs to sponsor a better press room, with nuclear lemonade or something.

Graeme quotes Tom McLean’s must read on the problems of covering Comic-Con, but what caught our eye was the first comment:

As a longtime Con-goer I just want to say that Comic-Con is not a press event and was never intended to be, it is a FAN event and it is refreshing that an event exists that doesn’t cater to press, big-wigs or anyone except fans.


That would be nice if it were true, “Longtime Con-goer,” but the truth is, marketing is the reason for the explosion of Comic-Con. Since there are really 90 different events rolled up into one, we hope that “Longtime Con-goer” can continue to appreciate the show on his or her own terms.

Some of the most interesting group coverage of the show was that from the locals, The San Diego Tribune’s Comic-Con blog. The coverage we saw was definitely from a non-fannish viewpoint, and included such things as a report on a strip show.

Finally, poor Barbara Vey, our fellow PW blogger, was at the show and had a great, great time, but as a book blogger, not as a comics blogger, she learned the meaning of “faux pas”:

There were no celebrity spottings for me today, but I was told I “just missed” the star of Supernatural. I did manage to catch up with author Greg Rucka, whose novels I’ve been reading for years. When I mentioned that I didn’t know he had written comics, there was an actual gasp from his fans waiting in line. I scrambled to say that I did read his regular books and I’d check into his comics, but the crowd started getting nasty. I think I was this close to tar and feathers.


Her conclusion?

Bottom Line: Never mention that you don’t read comics at Comic Con.


A lesson for all, Barbara, a lesson for all.

Comments

  1. Re: The Comic Con press room –

    Hahahahahahahahahahaha…ad infinitum.

    Water only?

    Not enough outlets…

    No posting of conference schedules outside the door so we could like “make other arrangements” – to post stories on time? I walked into two separate conferences at different times.

    Thank god for Twitter.

    And yes, Eagle Eye was good to provide wifi. Let’s see more of that sort of stuff next year. I’m looking at you guys — Anchor Bay and Dimension Extreme…

    And would it be really inconvenient for some publicists to come by and hand out press kits at the con too? I covered a panel simply because a publicist followed up – came to the (cough, cough) press room and handed out press kits.

  2. “As a longtime Con-goer I just want to say that Comic-Con is not a press event and was never intended to be, it is a FAN event….”

    While it may have started that way, anyone with eyes to see and read may find SDCC to be quite the opposite. But in truth, I find it to be a rather solid mix of all worlds. Give credit to SDCC that they continue to look forward, and not back.

    Perhaps next year’s press room will make changes…. at least providing some electrical taps / extensions for more outlets. But we must remember this is a volunteer army. A sponsor, as Heidi suggests could make the difference.

  3. Hollywood’s passionate groping of comic and genre movie nerds over the last couple of years is eerily reminiscent of the investors falling all over themselves to get their hands on dotcoms in 2000. They don’t fully understand them, and yet they seem like they must be a good investment somehow. Wow, look at all the people lining up for our panel!… who were going to go and see our movie anyway. Really, who lines up for four hours for something they’re not sure about?

    What happens when the studios figure out that they’re throwing themselves all over the nerds for nothing? Paramount seems to have figured it out. The nerds did nothing to help Snakes On A Plane and New Line (in fact, they did more harm than good with their love of the hilarious internet memes being mistaken for love of the movie). Dark Knight is pretty monumental writing on the wall. It was awfully nice of WB to come back with Watchmen stuff when Dark Knight proves they so obviously do not need to.

    Are the studios there merely to be nice to fans (like the Lost panels are)? They have to be, since they can’t be promoting to the press as they can’t get in. Or have they just not thought their clever plans all the way through? The phalanx of terracotta warriors outside the Hyatt did much, much less than Roger Ebert’s three stars in helping The Mummy 3 overcome 9% on Rotten Tomatoes to pull down $42M this weekend (well, Ebert and the fact that millions of people will flock to a mindless fx-laden summer blockbuster no matter how critically reviled, CCI presence or no CCI presence).

    So why do studios bother? Will they continue to as the recession tightens budgets? Then what happens to CCI?

  4. *”Are the studios there merely as a nice gesture to fans”

  5. That would be nice if it were true, “Longtime Con-goer” but the truth is marketing is the reason for the explosion of Comic-con.

    True, but the marketing at Comic-con is a very different kind, it’s one of the few places where you can generate word-of-mouth marketing and try to create actual buzz, which the likes of Variety and THR are only moderately useful. Comic-con is worth covering, but the true bang for the marketers’ buck is if they can get those fans to hit their usual online hangout and tell everyone they can “OMG, it’s going to be even cooler than we thought it would be!” While I think a blogger with a following — like, say, a Whitney Matheson of USA Today or a Maureen Ryan of the Chicago Tribune — can be helpful, the more typical kind of coverage — which, for TV, ends up looking like the articles that came out a couple weeks earlier at the TCA, doesn’t really stand out.

  6. John Tebbel says:

    Press treatment gets to the self-hating, outcast gestalt of the biz, extreme even for the arts in America. The tune goes–

    “We can’t treat the press well because we know they are charlatans and freeloaders because we’re not a legitimate art and incapable of generating legitimate news so anyone saying they are covering comics is a fool or a knave, deserving no privilege, even no quarter.”

    Growing is hard, adulthood a constant struggle. Comics censorship and the resulting prolonged adolescence of the medium is a strain on everyone.

  7. Torsten Adair says:

    Didn’t Dark Knight engage in viral marketing at last year’s Con?
    One zeitgeist effect from all this hype is that up geeks are getting mainstreamed off the short bus. I’m seeing parents in comicbook shops, even chatted with one about old Richie Rich comics! Theaters are packed with normal people, even GASP teenaged girls, who are reading a graphic novel because they saw a cool movie preview.
    CCI has three different cons which cater to three different demographics and markets. They overlap each other in clientelle, but that’s okay.
    CCI does need to get its act together, because Reed Expo knows how to stage big shows with lots of press and celebrities (Book Expo). Three years of staging a comiccon in the most difficult convention center in the nation, and they are already the #2 con. (Yes, it’s a small pond, but I’m talking humpback whales and giant squid.)
    We saw one major con begin to wither this year after years of amazing numbers and press. It could happen again…

  8. Tom Spurgeon says:

    That post was aimless and mostly stupid. Was it really by Graeme?

    I’m sympathetic to the press folks that were on the ground and asked to cover panels and simply didn’t know what they getting into, because that must have been tough. I’m slightly sympathetic to media folks that provide a lot of direct coverage of the show’s events that found the show difficult to negotiate. I’m not sympathetic at all to anyone else, and I’m openly hostile to the notion that the con should bend over backwards to guarantee press access to so many people that provide indirect or half-assed or supervisory or overly personalized coverage.

    I was treated well by all the publicists with whom I was interested to work, was able to be totally informed about everything in my coverage area without much if any work at all and was treated well by the Con. I value my free press pass, the ease with which I’m able to pick it up beforehand, and the easy and open access I have to con officials before, during and after the con despite the fact that I have like 23 readers. I’ve covered trade shows in multiple industries that I guess were more comfy and featured vendors much more used to the press but they were generally a much bigger pain in the ass to use, let alone use to any effect outside of fellating the PR needs of those companies. God help us all if we ever start having a refined aesthetic when it comes to the relative level of trade show amenities.

    All these people complaining about things like the state of the press room while David Glanzer kills himself to work with every new media site in the world in the week following his busiest week of the year should be flung into outer space or be forced to spend a cross-country trip seated next to that dude from the other thread with a hard-on for people’s supposedly deficient parenting skills.

    And screw the 1987 mentality that comics = fantasy genre. If Comic-Con is going to have shit that’s not comics, there’s no reason I can think of it shouldn’t be a Tom Wolfe lecture as opposed to another panel hyping a movie about teenage werewolves. Why not? That notion of comics as a gutter fantasy equivalent needs about as much of a comeback as Aircel Comics.

  9. John Tebbel says:

    Comic Con is it’s own thing now. The comics might have birthed it, but it’s grown up, moved out and set up it’s own shop. If it had stayed true to comics or any other damn thing it would not be the talk of the world for five days.

    Most attendees are exquisitely well informed about the hardships they will certainly encounter. No attendee has a right to complain, but since each attendee is also a non-conformist, we must complain.

    And David Glanzer is the best, a real trouper, official holder of the tiger’s tail.

  10. The Beat says:

    Tom, I ‘m not sure what you mean by the “1987 mentality”. NOn fantasy and yet comic based material has always been on display at Comic-Con. the WHITEOUT, and A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE movies were both previewed at Comic-Con and neither are fantasy. If they make a sitcom based on a comic (actually haven’t they already and I missed it?) I would expect that to be marketed at the show. LOST has no comics, but several comics writer work on the show, HEROES has a comic, etc etc etc

    I have a very hard time seeing how HAROLD AND KUMAR and THE OFFICE have any comics tie in — whether to the work of Ogden Whitney or Jim Mahfood — unless you count the fact that The Beat once had a crush on Alec Baldwin.

  11. Steven R. Stahl says:

    Tom Spurgeon wrote: “That post was aimless and mostly stupid. Was it really by Graeme?”

    The fourth comment on the blog entry, by Annalee Newitz, indicates that the piece was written by Graeme McMillan.

    SRS

  12. Jim Caldwell says:

    You have to search for his by-line.

    12:00 PM on Sat Aug 2 2008
    By Graeme McMillan
    4,001 views
    41 comments

    It’s on the right-hand side of the page, across from the pictures of Boba Fett, above the Gawker banner ad.

    No, it’s there. Look again.

    Tom,

    Maybe we don’t need a comeback of Aircel Comics, but how about Solson? I want more Reagan’s Raiders! Maybe even a next generation featuring Bush’s … er, Bushwackers.

  13. Tom Spurgeon says:

    My apologies if everyone who has uttered the complaint “What does that have to do with Comic-Con” did so making a sophisticated analysis of each individual project’s comics connections and landed on those few rather than a blanket appraisal of whether or not a certain project seems comicbooky to them. I’m certain they’re all still mad about Frank Capra.

  14. Tom Spurgeon says:

    And that was a rhetorical question based on my admiration for Graeme, not a technical question based on my being a dumbass!

  15. The Beat says:

    OI everyone take a rhetorical step back!

  16. The year Lost debuted its pilot at SDCC, it had zero comics connections.

  17. tom sez: “despite the fact that I have like 23 readers. “

    Cool; always wanted to be part of an exclusive club of some sort

  18. Unpopular says:

    “be forced to spend a cross-country trip seated next to that dude from the other thread with a hard-on for people’s supposedly deficient parenting skills.”

    I sleep during plane rides, so it should be very pleasant for them.

  19. While checking my email, I noticed this “news” teaser on AOL News:

    “There’s no better place to preview TV shows and give back to fans than Comic-Con, and this year, networks embraced the opportunity like never before. After all the star sightings, exclusive footage, and hard-to-get swag — we covet the Sci-Fi Channel’s purple tote, labeled “BIG FRAKKIN’ BAG” — our heads are so full of great stuff, they just might explode. And wouldn’t that be appropriate for Comic-Con? (Warning: Spoilers ahead!) — By Patricia Chui and Raven Snook”

    and this teaser:
    “More About Comic-Con
    “Check out the scoop about fall TV from the Television Critics Association press tour.”

Trackbacks

  1. […] From the comment section at The Beat. Bookmark to: Hide Sites […]

  2. […] So this afternoon, I’m reading all kinds of things about San Diego Comic-Con and the importance of it (here, here and here.)  And really, from the comfort of my chair thousands of miles away from San Diego I have to ask is the comic convention there really all that important? […]

  3. […] “Comic-Con is it’s own thing now,” John Tebbel noted in the comment area of an interesting Publishers Weekly blog post. “The comics might have birthed it, but it’s grown up, moved out and set up it’s own shop. If it had stayed true to comics or any other … thing it would not be the talk of the world.” […]

  4. […] “Comic-Con is it’s own thing now,” John Tebbel noted in the comment area of an interesting Publishers Weekly blog post. “The comics might have birthed it, but it’s grown up, moved out and set up it’s own shop. If it had stayed true to comics or any other … thing it would not be the talk of the world.” […]

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