Comic-Con 2015 was the first time in almost a decade that I could not attend. While leading up to the event, I thought about the types of things I would miss, but it got me thinking about how much I would be able to see from the comfort of home.
Last years convention for me was spent waiting in lines that never moved for panels that I got to watch on official streams that aired shortly after the panel ended. As a ticket buying, hotel room staying, badge securing son of a gun who took the time to be in San Diego at one of my favorite events, I was pretty mad, but hopeful that the Comic-Con organization would make appropriate changes to the system so that the people at the event would be able to have an experience unlike those at their computer screens.
While waiting for the schedule to be announce and trying to finagle my way into some sort of a pass for Comic-Con 2015, I was presented with an opportunity to attend the Electronic Entertainment Expo/E3 for the first time. I’ll say outright that one of these conventions is for the public (SDCC) and the other is a trade show usually reserved for those in and around the industry it is for (E3). Despite this clarification, I believe that there is a lot that SDCC can learn from E3.
At E3, the biggest game publishers and system manufacturers have press conferences in order to announce their products for the coming year. The announcement of these items and information about them is public and quickly shared. As a result, folks with a “BUY IT NOW” mentality are forced to latch onto any information that they can get while they wait for release. The exclusivity comes in playing Alphas or Betas at the convention itself, but with modern digital media, developers welcome live demos of their work to be shared with the masses.
At Comic-Con, a growing number of panels are accepting live streaming while cutting off for any footage that gets shown. This approach allows studios to “maintain secrecy” while giving the attendees a sneak peak at what they’re working on. A sign that the times are changing came from two of the biggest contributors at the convention. Warner Bros/DC and Disney/Star Wars brought footage that was shown at the panel and released immediately onto the internet that quickly became some of the most shared content within the coming days and weeks.
By having footage brought to the convention made available for all, it eliminates the needs for shaky secret camera grabs and the subsequent freak out from the associated companies. Mentioning Warner Bros again, the way they shook their finger with the “not mad but disappointed” approach they took with the Suicide Squad was laughable and sad. By eliminating the off screen recordings, it also generates an overall quality boost in the footage that gets shared.
Some may argue that this process takes away the exclusivity and special nature of being at a convention, but my favorite things about a convention was being able to meet the people who work on my favorite things. I remember that with my first year as a con-goer I got to meet Jay Mewes, Pro-Wrestler Shane Helms, Darwin Cooke, Rooster Teeth, Mega 64 and more! All of this was just from being able to walk around on the floor. The media frenzy that surrounds Comic-Con has changed the nature of the convention. By making it more friendly to a modern audience, the Con can return to what it once was, a fun place where nerds can meet and celebrate the things that they love without worry if the person next to them is going to get the last exclusive Transformers set before they do.
That’s my main problem with the convention right now. It’s become more of a selfish process of people wanting to report on the latest exclusive piece of information. Because we as a society are floundering for any scrap of information to satiate our bloodlust for information on the next season of *Insert Show Here* or the *Insert Movie Here* movie trailer, it allows this behavior to continue. By changing the system to remove the exclusives from the content itself and move it to whichever news outlet does some more reporting, it could thin out the numbers and bring the Convention back to the days where you could wander the floor and meet other con-goers who happen to be your favorite contributors to said medium.
I’ll recall one last meeting before wrapping up because it was something I’ll never forget. I met the then current President of DC comics, Paul Levitz, on the floor of the San Diego Comic-Con. CRAZY, right? He was checking out one of the smaller shops a few aisles away from “his” booth and I just went up and thanked him for his contributions to the business.
These sorts of experiences are what made Comic-Con the titan it is today. With the overall acceptance of comic book stories as a driving force for the entertainment industry, Comic-Con began to change externally. With the help of other conventions, E3 especially, I feel like Comic-Con can create memories as an experience for the people who have been going since it’s inception or new attendees. In the case of Star Wars, it gave the masses what they wanted by seeing a glimpse at the production while providing a once in a lifetime experience of a live concert for all of the panel attendees, much to the chagrin of Kevin Smith.
Change is good, Comic-Con. Let’s hope you start to embrace it.