Last weekend was my first time attending Indiana Comic Con. Crazy, right, considering it’s only an hour away. But you’ve probably realized by now that I’m still fairly new to the convention scene, having only started to attend in the last three years or so. This is the first year that the timing worked to where I was able to attend without hassling my schedule.
Beyond the normal excitement of attending a con, I was really interested in seeing how this one compared to the others that I’ve attended.
The biggest change to my con-going routine this time round was that my best friend was with me this year. This was pretty big as Leslie is not into fandom and geek life like I am. She maybe has her pinky toe dipped into the lifestyle. Surprisingly enough, it was her that asked to come along and I was all for it. I knew that while she may not completely relate to how I feel about cons, I was ready for her to see what it was all about.
We drove up for Saturday only as work schedules and budget didn’t really allow for us to make it for additional days. Check-in was a bit harried but only because of how that area was setup. The check-in tables for both pre-order and onsite purchases were right next to each other, but the issue was that these lines then all fed into the same entryway onto the show floor, which fed right into the flow of people already on the floor. It was a lot of traffic for a relatively small space. While there were multiple points for re-entry to the floor, this particular one was just very congested. Considering how big the convention center is, and seeing how other cons have done it, I have to think that there was some alternative setup for this process, but what do I know.
Leslie is a a huge Walking Dead fan, and as a result of schedule changes, Khary Payton was a late add to the guest list, so after a quick walkthrough of the floor to get our bearings, we headed to the other side of the convention to line up for his panel. And I really like how they did this. For the main guest panels, you could line early in a room across the way from Hall D where the panels were held. This helped ease congestion in the hallways, and depending on how early you lined up, you could give your feet a rest by sitting while in line.
I did think that Hall D was a bit excessive in size. While I didn’t attend all panels, taking into considering the attendee numbers, I would bet money that the room was never more than half full. Seriously, this room was massive and reminded me of the main ballroom at the Chicago Wizard World that was jammed packed and standing room only for some panels. But again, what do I know.
Sorry, I digress.
Khary Payton gave such a great panel. If you don’t know the name, Khary plays King Ezekiel on the Walking Dead. He is also the voice of Cyborg on Teen Titans and Rafiki on the newest Disney incarnation of The Lion King. He was so funny and shared so much about his life and his work; he was very verbose but in a personal, relatable way.
So after some more walking around we headed over to the autograph area to get in line for Khary’s autograph. I would say that we were no more than 30 people back in line. Great…right? I was I could say so. Two hours later, we finally walked away with an autograph.
Now, I’m no stranger to waiting in lines at cons; I’ve been to bigger cons with larger crowds. It doesn’t bother me to wait for something I want in situations like this. Don’t get me wrong, the actual experience was great. Khary stood in front of the table and was just as personable as he seemed in his panel. He hugged each of us, even though I wasn’t getting anything signed. He chatted while he signed her item, drawing her into conversation and laughing with us, then gave her another hug as we left. In my experience it was a bit of a one-off for an autograph to have that much interaction with the celebrity which made it all the more amazing. But here is my problem, he did that with every single person. Kudos to him, seriously. I’m not bashing Khary at all and in fact admire him for the level of attention he gives his fans. But you see, at Indiana Comic Con, autographs and photo ops are all pay as you go in cash at the time of the session. There is a luxury to this setup as there wasn’t a pre-determined number of autographs that had to be completed. But there has to be some regulation to this process. But two hours when having a relatively good line position was ridiculous. Leslie was lucky, I had the wherewithal to get in line about 30 minutes before the session was scheduled to begin. I have no idea if everyone who was in line behind us got their autograph, but I can say I was be surprised if they did.
I’m not a con expert. In fact, I’ve heard horror stories far worse than this. It’s just my opinion that something could be done to better manage and enhance the experience, to try and ensure that the process is as smooth and fair as possible across all the celebrity lines.
This aside, I did have a good time being there and spending the day with my best friend. But I’ll be honest, I did walk away a bit disappointed with my overall personal experience. There were a few panels I wanted to attend but missed, I didn’t take any pictures, and I forgot to even grab a dang booklet thing for my memory book. The biggest disappointment was that I couldn’t work it out to get Nichelle Nichols’ autograph. I could have suffered through and stood in her line when were done with Khary’s but at that point I was just tired and hungry and done.
Its par for the course, not every con can be the best thing ever. But it still sucks. Next year will be better. I’ll likely spend the weekend at the con (my budget will be more flexible as I won’t have as much scheduled next year) and it’s happening over my birthday weekend. It’s meant to be!
Having a great con practically in my backyard is a dream. It makes things so much easier for when I can’t afford to make it so C2E2, SDCC, or NYCC (#goals). I sincerely hope that Indiana Comic Con continues to grow and improve and become a noteworthy event for the Hoosier state.