Ottawa Comiccon 2012

Looking for my Flickr photos from the event?

I really enjoyed myself at the first (potentially annual) Ottawa Comiccon. There were some small issues, which I would like to address first, and then I’ll get to the good stuff.

The Bad

Lots of people are letting the organizers off the hook because it is the first event like this in Ottawa, but I found out that the organizers are the same people that do the Montreal Comiccon. They should be experts by now and as such, I think the small things that would have made a big difference to a lot of people really stood out.

Lack of Signs
I couldn’t believe how few signs there were. On the first day, I was looking at a huge line, and I asked people what they were in line for, and the response was that they were in line for food. They had lined up at the cantina, which didn’t serve hot food, and when I mentioned about the giant food court, many of them had no idea. Not surprising since there weren’t really any signs pointing out the food court area.

On Sunday, I arrived to find two lines. Neither group really seemed to completely understand which line they were supposed to be in, and so I began tweeting messages hoping that an organizer would see how confused we all were. I asked them to take a piece of paper, a black marker, and put up signs letting us know which line was for what. Twenty minutes later, the sign appeared. Thanks for listening!

Talking to a few people, this confusion about signing times, where things were happening, how to get in and out of rooms, where to line up and more really put a frustrating vibe to a mostly good event.

VIP?
So, VIP people didn’t really get much special treatment. We got early access on the first of the two days. It really should have been for both.

We got preferred seating at William Shatner’s event. It was strange to me that they didn’t make all of the major speeches as VIP preferred seating. It seems like that would be a huge up-sell for next year. Want to get a nice seat near the stage for the A-list people? Buy a VIP ticket.

Many people seemed frustrated, especially for the Brent Spiner speech that they weren’t getting preferred seating with their VIP pass.

We got a tote bag and a t-shirt. Other events usually provide a free comic or some other swag beyond a free t-shirt, and while I am not going to harp on this, it would have been nice to get more “stuff” to bring home. In planning this event, they should have found more “free” things they could do for VIP purchasers to make it more appealing.

Volunteers or Decoration?
Lastly, train your volunteers. Many of them were just door stops or barricades as they looked on with their empty eyes as we walked by them. Asking questions only seemed to lead to either stressful or unhelpful conversations.

I know this can be difficult, but providing them a good list of FAQ’s, some basic training on what to expect (even an hour or two would have helped), and some tips on dealing with difficult people would have greatly improved the event.

Not every attendee was kind to the volunteers, and not every volunteer was kind to attendees. I doubt you’ll get many volunteers next year unless you rectify these issues and provide them with more confidence, information and usefulness.

The Good

There was so much to enjoy at this event, and being my first, I can honestly admit that I was overwhelmed. I think it was a great event to help me better understand what I can potentially look forward to this fall at Fan Expo in Toronto.

Artist Alley
There were some amazingly talented people in the artist area, and being right by the door the VIP’s go in, it was a perfect first sight as I walked into the doors. The variety was great, and the number and amount of space occupied seemed perfect for the overall size of the convention floor. The wide lanes made it easy to get around groups of people.

Costumes
People dressed up and it was spectacular! I took so many pictures, and those that dressed up in costumes were super courteous with their time. Some people were only able to shuffle forward two steps between picture requests, and despite the long days, it never seemed to wear them down. When I would request a picture, all of them would drop whatever they were doing and pose. I really appreciated that, and I hope in future events, the coordinators do more for those that dress up to encourage it because they were half of what really made the event for me.

The Food!
I write that with an exclamation point because I was pleasantly surprised with how good the hamburgers and lemonades were. While a bit pricey, they were the perfect food and drink to keep me going through the day. I didn’t try anything else, so I can’t speak for all of the options, but I would eat and drink the same things tomorrow in a heartbeat.

Celebrity Guests
While not all of the guests were equal, the two that I got to interact with, John de Lancie and Vic Mignogna were great. I got to have a short conversation with Q thanking him for the characters he played in Andromeda and Stargate as well as letting him know that my favourite episodes of any Star Trek series were the ones that included him, to which his response was, “tell them that!” (speaking of William Shatner, Brent Spiner and Marina Sirtis).

Vic Mignogna voiced Brolly on the anime series Dragon Ball Z. Brolly has long been one of my favourite characters of the series and so it was cool to meet him. We talked for several minutes about how he fell into voice acting, and how he has done so many anime voice overs for North American audiences. During his introduction of William Shatner, he had to stall, and ended up singing the American Dragonball Z intro song, which was very cool, and strange. It seemed impossible to me that the upbeat singing voice of the intro and the deep, frustrated voice of Brolly could be the same person.

Panels
I didn’t attend many panels, but the ones that I did make it to were done really well. While not always the best organized, the folks at the front of the room were high energy, funny, and engaging. This part of Comiccon felt more like the conferences and events I’ve attended in the past, and I really appreciated them. There was limited seating, but that made it much more intimate than the crazy crowds rushing through the main exhibition area.

Conclusion

I’m exhausted. It was a great two days, but I feel like I need a day or two to recover. I am not sure yet how I’ll build stamina to last four days come this fall in Toronto, but I’m super happy I went to Ottawa Comiccon. I look forward to seeing what they do next year.

Did I mention I spent too much money?

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5 Replies to “Ottawa Comiccon 2012”

  1. So it sounds like you had good time except for the inacurracy’s in the volinteers.. So next year you my be asked to be in charge ha ha

    1. I don’t want to be in charge. I’ve learned in doing this video production that I am not going to volunteer for stuff. It is easier to just attend things so you don’t have any responsibility and can have all the fun. šŸ™‚

  2. As someone who volunteered at this year’s Comiccon, I have to say I agree with your list of bad points completely (with the minor exception that not all of us were vacant and unhelpful!). But we were just as frustrated as you with the lack of signage and volunteer training. We were forced to figure things out for ourselves whenever we were asked perfectly reasonable questions, and although we tried to share that info with our fellow yellow shirts, it wasn’t an easy task keeping everyone up to speed. I was amazed when I learned that the VIP pass didn’t get folks into the other panels first, or even to the front of the line for photos and signings. I for one will be sending the organizers a list of suggestions for how to improve their front line of unpaid bodies, and it starts with putting a well-marked map in everyone’s hand and more than one sign on the wall!

    1. I can’t help but make generalizations based on my own experiences. I’m glad not all of you were vacant šŸ™‚

      Thanks for you comments, and hopefully next year, things will be even better!

      1. I think they’ll have a lot more volunteers next year, and hopefully the majority won’t be the socially awkward types (particularly those who are uncomfortable dealing with the public). I totally get that many of this year’s volunteers could be… ‘difficult’ to comunicate with šŸ˜‰

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