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London Comicon “The Boy Who Wasn’t there”
July 15, 2014 By Steve Eyre
At lunchtime on the Saturday of the London Comicon, I battled my way through thousands not fortunate enough to have a press pass, who were still waiting to get in. I found a small Italian restaurant and sat down for some much need sustenance and a glass of vino.
At the next table, a lady, who I now know as Vivienne was consoling a young guy called Mathew ,who I took to be her son, as they had been unable to get into the Comicon because of the horrendous amount of people in the queue.
Mathew was dressed as Doctor Who with the added touch of a Superman belt buckle and had, I suspect, some kind of learning difficulty.
My heart went out to him; there are few things more crushing than not experiencing something you have so looked forward to.
I apologized on behalf of the comic community in general, and the organizers specifically, that his dreams had been shattered. Finding out that he was also a big Spiderman fan, I gave him a signed print I had bought that morning and Vivienne took some photos of us both which I promised to put on the site. I also said that if she would email me an address I would send Mathew some Doctor Who goodies from our Archive.
There is a lesson here for all of us in the film and Comicon industries who have a responsibility to fans like Mathew who’s money and good will sustain us all.
With the cinema led explosion in the interest in all things film and comic related, organizers must realize that demand outstrips supply and that their venues, even ones as big as Earls Court cannot logistically accommodate the sheer mass of people that want to attend.
At New York Comicon for the last few years, thousands of people have been turned away, including families with young kids who have been working on their costumes for weeks and looking forward in eager anticipation as only kids can do. Its not right.
Never one to identify a problem without offering a solution. I offer this suggestion to convention organizers.
Decide how many people you can comfortably accommodate in the venue. This does not mean how many people you cram like cattle into a space so that it takes five minutes to shuffle five yards.
It should be an enjoyable experience, not a test of endurance where moving in a straight line, buying a drink or going to the bathroom is a trial of epic proportions. And people shouldn’t be wondering if they would survive the crush if the fire alarm went off. Once a maximum number is decided, make it advanced tickets only so twenty thousand people aren’t traveling miles to buy a few hundred ticketed available on the day.
Spread the event over more days, clearly the demand is there so spread it over more days. Conventions used to be one day, now its three. Why not five?
Although I hate to say this, I advocate increasing prices. This would organically reduce numbers and allow organizers to make the same profits with fewer people.
As a business man, I understand the importance of profit. But chasing the last buck at the expense of your customers enjoyment, goodwill and most of all well being is not the way to build a sustainable and morally conscientious business. If we continue down this path, MARK my words, it will end, as it has form many already, in tears.
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