Tuesday, July 29, 2014

CONVENTION REVIEW: Capital City Comic Con

Sorry this review is so late - I've been struggling to find the words to express my disappointment with this convention. I think I finally found them though, so here is my two cents... Please remember this is solely my opinion of the convention from my personal experience - I know there were people that enjoyed the convention, but I also know there were many that share my sentiments.

Capital City Comic Con, a first year convention in Austin, TX, was July 11-13th. With big-name guests, such as Manu Bennett (Arrow, Spartacus), Kevin Eastman (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles creator), Neal Adams (Batman, Superman), and Simon Bisley (DC artist), this little first year con seemed exciting and promising. The Fangirls were even invited down to host a panel on comics ("Comics are for everyone"). There were other panels scheduled, Q&As, and other great guests, artists, and vendors scheduled to attend, too. It was was shaping up to be a great weekend!

Unfortunately, it didn't turn out to be such a great weekend. I was unable to attend on Friday due to work, but made the 4 hour drive down early Saturday morning. I arrived around 11am and met up with Taffeta Darling and Black Mariah at our booth to promote the show and our panel that afternoon. I saw some great panels and chatted with cosplayers and convention attendants, sold a Firefly mug, and while I was exhausted from my drive, I was having fun and getting excited for our panel.

By the time 12:30pm rolled around, 30 minutes before our panel was set to begin, Taffeta began her hunt for Aaron, who was running the convention, to find out where the panel was going to be held. Taffeta saw Aaron walk by the table and said, "Hey, Aaron! I haven't met you yet ---" to which we heard a "Not right now!" as he went running off. Now, I understand as the coordinator of an event, especially one of this size and nature, there are a lot of fires that need to be put off, so to speak, and a lot of stress. However, Taffeta and I (Black Mariah was grabbing a drink at this time) were taken aback by his response and what we took as rudeness. We shrugged it off and continued trying to find out from someone where we needed to be for the panel.

At 12:50pm we finally got word that all panels had been cancelled for the weekend. 10 minutes later they announced the Kevin Eastman panel was taking place in room [whatever, I don't remember].

At this point the wind was knocked out of all our sails. The three of us had made the 200+ mile drive from Dallas to Austin for no reason. Taffeta had originally been invited down to the convention as a cosplay guest (though there was no cosplay contest, just "cosplay alley"), but declined. She only agreed to attend because she was promised a panel that highlighted girls in geek culture, and now that had just been taken away from us. I later found out panels had actually been cancelled on FRIDAY, but convention coordinators didn't tell any of the panelists. Had I know our panel was cancelled, I wouldn't have made the drive down.

The rest of the day was pretty defeating. None of us sold enough at our table to cover our travel expenses. Foot traffic in our area, despite being with all the other cosplayers, was poor, and although we were told the day had been sold out, attendance seemed poor. There were several empty booths scattered throughout the convention floor, too. It made the convention look empty. It made the convention look bad.

By 5pm, I was done. I packed up my stuff and opted to drive home that night, instead of staying for Sunday. I did decide to get an autograph from Manu Bennett for my husband before I left though, and my experience with Manu made my day. He was charming and extremely nice. So thank you, Manu, so making my bad day better!

Right before we left, Aaron did come by and apologize for brushing us off earlier. He tried to get us to stay for Sunday, but we all declined.

I am extremely disappointed by my experience at Capital City Comic Con. The convention was poorly organized and executed, and felt like one giant Ninja Turtles convention. Now, don't get me wrong, I love the Turtles, but everything was tailored around Kevin Eastman. Everything else felt like an after thought. Manu Bennett was scheduled to have a Q&A, but there was not a room for the panel. His Q&A took place at his booth, broadcast over the PA system for the entire convention floor. It was completely unprofessional. There were no rooms set aside for panels, but there was room for professional photo ops and room for Kevin Eastman's panel. The convention felt very commercial; like it was designed solely to be profitable through photo ops and autographs.

The conventions I have the most fun at are the ones that have some "substance" to them: Panels, activities, events... G33K3 The Con, another first year con in McKinney, Texas, was a lot of fun because they had a ton of things to do! There was "con bingo" and a scavenger hunt for kids, a costume contest, costume making panels, zombie survival panels... And you know what else? There weren't any celebrities, no photo ops... It was a very small, local convention put together out of love and passion for all things geeky and it showed. We need more conventions like G33K3 and fewer like Capital City.