Autograph Hound's Blah Blah Blog

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Mike Sexton WPT Choctaw 2016

I play poker. I even like to watch poker. When the WPT (World Poker Tour) can to the local casino I went.

I was fortunate enough to see Mike Sexton wandering around and got him to see this photo. I waited until he was done with his TV responsivities. He was friendly and asked if I was playing.  
It might have been slightly gauche opt have him sign a World Series of Poker photo at a WPT event but it was a photo I liked.


Tuesday, September 27, 2016

SDCC is broke

No ifs, ands, or buts, SDCC is too big.

It’s not just the issue with the size of the convention center. As with freeways, the larger you build them, the more cars and congestion you get. A larger venue for SDCC will just exacerbate the current issues.

So what can we do to ‘save’ comic con?

You won’t like it. 

  1. Reduce the amount of tickets. Reduce the badges by 1/3. It needs to be fewer than 100k.
    SDCC has worked VERY hard to allow the most people to attend and enjoy the experience.  The convention has security and fire marshals crawling all over the place to ensure the safety of the attendees. As SDCC reorganizes traffic flows and invents creative new line management plans, they have allowed more people in.
    The goal is to keep the public happy by giving more and more fans a chance to attend. Those attendees are very happy to be one of the golden ticket winners. However, that ‘joy’ is short lived.  Those attendees also experience a lot of unneeded frustrations.
    The convention has morphed. Fans used to be ‘generalists’. They could sample something from Hall H and decide that panel was not want they wanted and wander (not run) over to Ballroom 20 and check out that panel.  Or even explore the Expo floor and then head back to Hall H.
    Because of the crowds, fans have now become ‘specialists’. They target the ONE panel they ‘need’ to attend each day. They will camp out overnight and then camp out all day in the room.  They miss seeing the convention floor or the wonderful cosplayers, or autograph sessions.  Because of their camping in that room all day, they are preventing others from attending different panels.
    Because of the overcrowding, a cottage industry has grown of people selling their bathroom passes to others that want to get into a panel Ballroom 20.
  2. Double the cost of admission.  While people will complain and some will not be able to afford it, any reduction in previous attendees will be made up by new attendees.
  3. No one under 18 should be allowed to attend.
    SDCC is not ‘R’ rated. For the most part, SDCC is family oriented. I thoroughly understand SDCC wanting the ‘future’ of fandom to attend. We all want a strong fan base to ensure the future of comics and nerddom. But SDCC is the Super Bowl of the comiccons. Young fans are introduced to football in Pop Warner and high school and college. They are not instant fans of football by watching the Super Bowl. SDCC is not something for the casual fan.
    While SDCC is PG 13, many of the cosplayers are enjoying the ‘open’ venue to expose as much flesh as possible. I have no issues with that. I enjoy that. I do have issues with 5 years old learning more about anatomy at SDCC than high school kids learn in Sex Ed. 
    Removal of children, would also remove baby carriages. Besides a tripping hazard, the strollers are also clogging the aisles and interfering with the flow of foot traffic. Children often escape the strollers and are wandering. Children slow traffic and create a risk of being fallen on. 
    While roller boards aren’t allowed, strollers often are converted into ad hoc dollies to help mom and dad lug the collections they buy all day long. Which create the tripping hazard that the ban on roller boards was trying to prevent.
  4. No one under 18 should be allowed to purchase limited edition collectables or participate in autograph drawings.
    I see this at every lottery: An entire family will all pick raffle tickets.
    One, this slows the line down as the young children need coaxing.
    Two, when the family of 4 all get winning tickets to the same autograph, that reduces the remaining winning tickets and prevents other fans from even having a chance.
  5. Create one way aisles within the expo floor.
  6. Prevent venders from distributing collectable merchandise on the sales floor.  Product pickup needs to be done off site or shipped opt the buyer.
    People trying to rush outside with their large bags of collectors often collide with other fans and create bottleneck in the aisles.
    Venders trying to restock their wares create traffic jams as they navigate through the crowds.
  7. Restrict cosplayers from promenading on the Expo floor. Cosplayers are incredible, very fun to look at, and talented. However, they constantly create traffic flow issues as people stop to take photos. Allow cosplayers to roam in the main corridors but not on the Expo floor.  Create a ‘Cosplay only’ badge. They can enter the building and attend panels but not access the floor.
    A few thoughts from watching SDCC evolve and devolve over the years.


Monday, September 26, 2016

SDCC 2016 sleeping on the sidewalk

2016 was the year my buddies and I split shifts on the sidewalk.

Full Moon shining in my eyes
The goal was to be close to the front of the line when the doors opened in the morning.  Then you would hustle (without running) to get into the sail pavilion where you get in line for the WB autographs. 

If you are successful, you can get through the WB line more than once and possible have multiple autographs that day from their booth. Or just get through the WB line once and then get into the expo floor line where you hopefully get to the Marvel drawings. Or…

It all revolves around getting in line early enough to have options.  ComicCon is rough on the body and the mind.  We know pulling all nighters is devastating the next day at the convention. So we figured to split the night into three shifts.

ooooh     ahhhhhhh
I was getting in line at 9PM. I was to be relived at 1AM. I brought a towel from the hotel and got in line.  The towel was to give me a slight barrier between me and any insects on the ground.  Or any gum and crap on the sidewalk.

When I got I line, I warned the people around me that I had friends joining me later. Just so no one got upset about line crashers.   After that I didn’t socialize. I took my shoes off, placed the towel on the ground and tucked my shoes under one end of the towel.  Then I lay down and rested my head on the shoe pillow. I pulled my phone out and set the timer for 1 AM and held it in my hand. I closed my eyes and tried to rest.

the pretty colors....
First day on the sidewalk - Thursday sometime in the AM.  I was treated to a very bright full moon.  At some point in the night while I actually dozed, a thundering crack of steel echoed through the area as a cargo train stopped. the thunder was car after car colliding as the bumped into each other at the near shipping port.

Second day on the sidewalk - Thursday 10 PM. Fireworks at Petco Park. That is only 100 yards from where we were trying to sleep.

Third day on the Sidewalk – Friday night. After an hour Chatty Cathy finally ran out of steam while talking to her friend. She left. Yeah. Now friend feels he needs to keep up the conversation to some stranger. Ugh.  At midnight, I wake myself up with a loud snort/snore that scares me and about a dozen people. I apologize and roll over to cuddle with my shoes.
not quite ships passing in the night, but seen very early one morning

Once my buddy relived me, I caught the shuttle back to the hotel. I crawled into bed for a few hours of sleep. Then got up and showered and brought my backpack.  I might have said hello to the wife at some point.

Yes boys and girls, that is the glamour of sleeping on the sidewalk at ComicCon. 


Friday, September 23, 2016

SDCC 2016 recap and random thoughts

2016 was going to be THE year. The year that we were going to ‘jump the shark’ and get in line SO early that we could easily queue through the WB line twice and possibly be in the front of the Fox line.  This was the year we were going into get ALL of the premier autographs.  This year we were going to rival the ‘Pros’ with our autograph haul.

This year, SDCC offered at LOT of bright shiny treasures for the bold and adventurous.  Cast signings from Suicide Squad, Wonder Women, Luke Cage, Game of Thrones, Walking Dead, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and a Deadpool DVD signed by Ryan Reynolds

With such a source of wealth, it was hard to keep expectations low.  We HAD to score 1 or more of these highly sought after prizes. We flew into San Diego salivating and hungry.  We were already mentally framing some of these posters on our walls.

My friends and I struck out on all counts. ComicCon chewed us up and spit us out like soggy sunflower seeds with all of the salt sucked off.

I’ve mentioned before that SDCC is an emotional rollercoaster.  Between my friends and I, I like to think I’m the even keel one.  I try to roll with the punches. I try to remain positive and provide support.  I try to keep in mind the successes and the failures. I know that ComicCon is a marathon and as I get older, it’s tougher to keep pace with the young ones.   I have compensated in several ways to help me reach my goals.  I rarely attend panels. I don’t spend time tracking down swag. I’ll actually sit to rest and have a ‘real’ lunch.

I must admit, this year, I was quickly disillusioned and actually said ‘no mas’.  By Friday morning, I announced ‘never again’ to my friends and wife. 

While I learned that my shoes (covered with a towel borrowed from the hotel) makes a decent pillow while I slept on the sidewalk, I also learned that there were more than a 1000 people in front of me when I put my weary head to rest on those worn loafers.

When we entered the WB line so far back that the ‘good stuff’ was already gone before we reached the end of the line, I realized we didn’t jump the shark.  In fact, we didn’t even get close to jumping the shark. We might not have kept pace with last year.  I lowered my head in defeat. I asked myself what we needed to do to really jump the shark. I did not like that answer.

The rest of my SDCC weekend was tainted. I was exhausted and defeated and lamenting the fact I was not coming back. I had some highlights but I kept focusing on the failures instead of the successes.

Over the years, I have met a few people at ComicCon I see regularly. Some of them I know their names and we have long chats. Others are nodding acquaintances and we exchange a few words.  As I was ran into these people, I was saying good bye. I was mentally divorcing myself from SDCC.  When I got home, I told my non-SDCC friends that it was time to move on.

As I was working on my blog and reliving the week through my posts, I started to realize, the week wasn’t so bad.  I had more successes than I remembered.  While I did not score HUGE, I did have 3 very memorable and very exciting encounters:  American Gods, Fear the Walking Dead, and the Trimbles and the Star Trek Concordance. 

So I have mentally moved from ‘no mas’ to ‘hmm, I wonder how we can game plan this better next year’.  I can’t claim I will be disappointed if ComicCon rejects me and I don’t get a badge but I won’t be disappointed if I do go.

Just a few more months before badges are on sale. I’m sure I’ll be fully committed on attending by then.


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Chef Duff SDCC 2016

This was the second year that I was aware that Chef Duff was at SDCC.  I was thinking the wife would attend the panel and possibly get the autograph for me.  That didn’t work out according to Hoyle. That’s ComicCon.

Even though I got to the panel early, it was capped. Even though I was surprised he was so popular, this is ComicCon, I should have expected that.  Even as they closed the room, there was already a line forming for autographs.  I kept my eye on that and found a place to sit and play Words with Friends.

Once the panel was over, 2 lines formed outside building for a signing. One for the kids in the audience and one for fans and guys like me.  Chef Duff was friendly and talked to the kids first. Then he stayed for the rest of us.  He had his own extra thick sharpie that didn’t work very well. I should have insisted he used my blue sharpie. Maybe next year. He did stay a while and chatted and signed for his fans. He was another nice and friendly guy.