I hope everyone is enjoying the wonderful weather we are experiencing and taking advantage of an eventful weekend here in Indianapolis! With that being said, below you find my final review of Indiana's first official Comic Con.
I want to give fair warning though on two key aspects of my review, so please keep these in mind.
1. I only attended today, Saturday. I didn't attend Friday due to fewer events scheduled (and other priorities that took higher urgency than the Con). I also do not plan on attending tomorrow (this is a mixture of how today went but other factors did play into my choice).
2. This is the first year for this organization and style of Con in Indianapolis. I could write several blogs comparing this Con's first year to Gen Con, but that is just not fair... they are on completely different levels!
With this in mind, Let's Proceed!
As I mentioned in the pre-review of the convention, I was worried of hotel availability and parking issues due to the mass of events planned for this weekend in Indianapolis. The city had the Big Ten Tourney, Saint Paddy's celebrations(just for you Sarah), and the Librarian Convention. Fortunately for my wife and I, we live in the right outside of Indianapolis. No hotel was needed for our trip the Con. As for parking, we have a monthly pass, so once again parking was no issue for us. When we arrived and made our way to the convention center, we noticed many parking garages were doing 10-15 dollar all day event parking. This to me is extremely reasonable and many garages were in easy walking distance to the convention, considering the nice weather. We only had one roadblock on our way to the Con! For future reference, never try to cross in front of a 5K, apparently the cops do not like it "Do not interfere with the Runners!".
Overall, it doesn't seem like with the all events occurring, anyone had trouble making it into the city and to the Convention. I would still say a weekend with less might be more favorable. I will give one to the organizers of the event. During my initial interview with Stephen from Action 3, he made this comment, “Indiana Comic Con exhibitors stand to gain from Big 10 attendees that are "casual" fans of what a “comic con” has to offer." This moment actually occurred when my wife and I first arrived. A Father and Son were looking for the Con and asked the information desk for directions. One of the women replied, "I am surprised you are asking, you don't look like the typical people going to Comic Con". They replied they were looking for a specific Comic for a family friend but were in town for the Big Ten!
Before Arrival Grade: A- (Remember this is my grade! If you had an awful time getting a hotel or finding parking....please let me know!)
Arrival/Entry to Con:
Okay, this is going to get rough. As mentioned before in the pre-review, I was frustrated about ticket prices. If you bought pre-sale, you paid roughly 11 dollars in processing fees for each ticket or you could wait in line and purchase tickets at the box office. I finally gave in and purchased my tickets online to avoid long lines and forgoing the possibility of being sold out. I went to pick up the tickets at the local Walmart that had a Ticketmaster counter, I did this on Friday. Since it was Friday, the event official started, my tickets were then printed at Will Call and I would have to pick them up on Saturday. This was a nuisance but nothing to ruin the day, so we shrugged it off and planned to go to will call. (To note: The organization has stated that they plan on going another route for ticketing to avoid fees.)
Now the fun begins. As we arrive to the convention center, we realize we have no idea where will call is or even where the convention is! We begin to look at a map and find the ticket box and assume this must be where will call is located as well. We begin our journey of looking for the ticket box, but alas none is found. Eventually where hear the convention is located in exhibit hall D and begin our way. Then.....
Three long lines with absolutely no volunteers and the only signs visible are the ones at the entrance/exit of the exhibit hall. My wife and I found a bench to relax on and watch as others look confused and frustrated. Jumping into lines they think they may need to be in. Eventually my wife finds a volunteer and asks where the will call for presale tickets, his response "You need to get into the line for people who haven't bought tickets yet.". That is right, the line for those who haven't purchased tickets yet........although I have already given them money but have not received a ticket, and we must stand in a line with no ropes, no organization, and one volunteer yelling just to pick up our tickets with those who haven't purchased one yet. Seriously! Why the hell was the option to print at home not available! After roughly a thirty minute wait and restroom break, we arrived in the hall and picked up our tickets and then.......waited in another small line. Finally, we arrived.
Entry/Arrival: D- (Once again, this is only Saturday. I understand that Friday probably went much smoother and Sunday will most likely be better as well. The only reason I honestly didn't give this portion an F is simply this is the first year of the Con here in Indiana. Still, this is an organization that puts on Comic Cons in other states; this is truly unacceptable and hoped for much more organization. I also thought I would mention that on Facebook, it was quoted that "the box office for purchasing tickets at the door will open before the comic con doors open. This is in an effort to process attendees over a larger span of time and avoid the build-up of a massive line, should the turnout be very large. The box office will open at 10 AM on Friday, 8 AM on Saturday and 8:15 AM on Sunday." And yet, when we arrived shortly at 10, hundreds had yet to purchase tickets?
As we arrived in the hall, I could only take in one fact. The con was in one major hall, a quarter of the hall was taken up by ticketing, and another by the panel floor for celebrities and the rest of the floor contained a small area for comics/toys and an artist gallery. That is it. I understand that this is the first year in Indiana, but really one hall? During my interview with Stephen, they were estimating low 5,000 to high of 10,000.....but where would you even put 5,000 attendees??????
As our tickets were torn, we walked into the Con and immediately hit a wall of attendees. We would not have a two feet radius from someone else for another 2.5 hours. This caused basically a mentality to continuously walk and just glance at booths, expect for those who thought it was a good idea to take a photo of cos-players and block a walkway that was already blocked.
I wish I could tell you how the booths were, but I can't. I'm sorry but I am not a fan of battling others just to see a collectible....especially when many of them are just innocent kids having a good time. I can mention briefly the artist alley. It was small, but we did see many talented artists and even had a small chat with Billy and Brandon/WatchMovies. Still the alley was small, but once again I assume this is due to the first year.
The panels seemed to be lacking something as well. Although the topics were good, the lack of panels was evident. We did sit on the panel with Maisie Williams and enjoyed her answers and break dancing!
After walking through the hordes of guests in a small confined space, we decided to have lunch at McNivens where during the meal began to hear that the Con was sold out and overcapacity and that people were being turned away. At this point, I just gave up, enjoyed my beer and went home to do yardwork and enjoy an evening run.
The Con Grade: C+
Although I mentioned many negatives, I cannot say it enough that this is the first year. Yes the organization and crowd was dealt with poorly but the number of guests, vendors, and artists will only increase as the Con goes forward! I'm hoping that they can see what changes to make next year that will create a better atmosphere and more enjoyable experience.
Overall Grade: C
It is hard to say I enjoyed the day, mainly because I didn't. I had to deal with ticket issues, extremely long and unorganized lines, and barely saw the con due to an overcrowded room. The Con can still succeed though. With more volunteers, structured lines/information, and larger space, the Con has a chance to become an annual event here in Indianapolis. I look forward to Pop Con, but I have to say I still want Indiana Comic Con to succeed because having two great Cons a year is something I want to look forward to!
Let me know what you think about the Indiana Comic Con and your experiences at @ShwoodyLove or commenting below!
As always, Thanks for reading and until next time!