The Mob Rules

comic-con-international-logoSan Diego Comic Con has come and gone, and, as usual, the bulk of the news from it has basically been variations on, “They showed this awesome trailer that you can’t see yet!”  Which is why you had a few thousand people camping out on the street for hours on end for the chance to pile into Hall H and assault everyone with their unwashed bodies.  All for the sake of being advertised to.

There were more than a few horror stories from the line; nothing truly life-threatening, but battling roaches and lack of sanitary facilities are enough to ruin anyone’s con experience.  But as long as Hall H remains the equivalent of the cool kids, and as long as studios and Comic Con insist on treating these events like dispensations from a benevolent deity on high, you’re going to keep having people who will willingly give up nearly half their con experience to see something they can see in front of a movie in a few months.  Without the benefit of also seeing a movie.

The con has made some noise about trying to find a better solutions, but I think, deep down, they don’t want to.  Because every year, the story is about the incredible demand and the fervent fans and hey isn’t Comic Con great?  The problem is, approximately 4% of those in attendance at the con can fit into Hall H.  And only that 4% gets to see what all the hype is about.  It’s the equivalent of a video game company hyping the living daylights out of a new game, only selling copies to a hundred people, then boasting that their game must be a hit because it sold out.  That’s great, but what good does it do you if nobody beyond that select few get to enjoy it?

You know who did it right?  Star Wars.  The behind-the-scenes video they showed during their panel was up in high quality on the official Star Wars YouTube channel before the panel even ended. The entire panel was up on that channel the very next day.  Those who braved the line and got in the hall had their exhilarating live experience.  Those who couldn’t got to see the very same thing, and not on some bootlegged video that looked like it was shot in a villain hideout from the old Batman TV series.  Hell, almost every panel from the recent Star Wars Celebration was simulcast live over the net.  I watched the new trailer premiere online along with everyone who trekked out to California to be there in person.  And the enthusiasm wasn’t diminished one iota.  Those who could make it had the energy of the crowd and the proximity to their heroes.  Those who couldn’t still got to see what all the excitement was about.  Why is this so hard for Comic Con to grasp?

The sad thing about all of this is that it dominates the discussion and pretty much shoves everything not involving Hall H into the background.  Nobody talks about comic books or their creators anymore.  The whole thing has devolved into a glorified version of network up-fronts, just with a much less critical audience.  Who have no problem paying upwards of $220 for the privilege of missing 75% of what they paid for.

Maybe then the fault is ourselves.  If we’d be a little less willing to gnaw at every carrot dangled in front of us, we’d stop getting treated like jackasses.


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