Having spent threedays at the Chicago Comicon, I have some mixed reviews of it. On the whole it was a good weekend but there were things that really could have made it quite a bit more enjoyable.
First the good stuff: the attendees and vendors (the ones selling comics and geeky stuff) were great. Everyone was their to celebrate their particular brand of geekdom and, although often in costume, be theirselves. The general mood was one of happiness and acceptance.
One of the highlights for me was the Bruce Campbell film festival. It was essentiall a series of full length feature horror movies that would like either never see the inside of a theater or have a very limited runs in theaters. I got to see three of the films: Inner Demons (which I mentioned in my previous entry), Meet me there, and Killers. All three were good films and quite enjoyable. It was interesting to be able to have a short Q&A seesion with the people involved with the movies afterwards.
I also enjoyed the panels. Twice I went to Joel Hoedson’s panels and even broke down and got his autograph afterwards. I also went to the John Carpenter panel and got to ask him a question. And on the last day I attened a panel that was hosted by four professional movie critics about the joys of the B movies. I even got to participate a little bit in the discusssion on that one.
Now fot the bad. The bad all boils down to one thing: the venue. Comicon was hosted at the Donald E Stephenson Convention Center in Rosemont, Illinois. I have never attened a convention there before and I pray I never have to again. Simply put, it was probably the single worst place I can think of to host a convention. Some reasons for this are:
1) Parking. Parking is $13 per day. That I am fine with. What I am not fine with is paying $13 per day and then having to walk a 15-20 minutes through parking lots trying to figure out how to even get to the convention center and try to cross a busy road, taking ones own life in their hands, and having no shuttle bus service. Then the proceedure for paying for parking is so unclear nobody really knew how to do it. Oh, but take your ticket with you. Why? Because you may have to pay for parking in the lobby of the parking garage. Or you might not. Or they may be nobody on duty. But there might be. It depends. On what? Who knows?
2) Food. You would think having a major confrence center like this would be an opportunity to have a variety of resturants to cater to all these people. I mean this is a captive audience. And at $13 for parking with no in/out privledges, people are going to tend to want to stay there. One might also think that there would be plenty of resturants around the convention center to cater to the overflow from these conventions. Yet there was little of either. The convention center itself had little in the way of food options. Oh, there are several food stands there with the standard crap (pizza, cheeseburgers, and hot dogs) at exorbant prices ($8 for a luke warm, tasteless cheeseburger. Really?) BUt for a four day convention, that doesn’t go over very well.
Now to be fair, the hotels had several restaurants (again at insane prices) and there were restaurants a few blocks away, but I came to the convention center to actually attend the convention, not wander all over Rosemont looking for decent affordable food.
The coup de grace, however, was the food stand at the convention center when my daughter wanted cheese pizza and they just sold the last slice. I asked if there was more coming. The person looked at me like I was asking here to move a mountain and mumbled something we couldn’t understand. I said “I’m sorry, did you say there was more coming?” Now see glared at us and said, with much distain, “I said it’s coming.”
So now, really feeling the love, we get to the cashier and I am astounded that there is a tip jar there. This is a line where I get my litttle cardboard tray thing, I put the food on it, I put the drinks on it, and everything I want I have to do and the little bit of assistance I ask for I get treated like shit and now here, at the end, is a tip jar. Incredible.
3) Cellular signal. Two of the three days we were there the cellular repeaters were down the bulk of the day. Now being in IT, I know stuff happens, but honestly they need to have back up systems in place to allow for this type of thing.
In short I was very unimpressed with the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center. In short it seemed mismanaged at best. I will be a happy little camper if I don’t have to go back there again.