Cincinnati Comic Expo 2017 - Convention Review
There are 2 Reviews featured here.
Spootychick and Solace reviewed the convention space, layout and panels.
ChallengerFalls reviewed the entertainment & cosplay.
---Spootychick & Solace's Review---
This year is hard to beat considering Stan Lee was the headliner for the convention. This years convention happened to be the same time as Salt Lake Comic Con so the availability of some celebrities was going to be limited.
With that being said the line up this year included Jason Issacs, Wallace Shawn, Pom Klementieff, John Ratzenberger and many other media guests and artists.
-Volunteers were more visible at the convention this year and appeared to be more knowledgeable and available to answer any questions attendees had.
-Better use of the convention space this year as it appeared the group displays and interactive booths were setup in a better place near the back of the convention show space. This allowed for less of a group bundling in an area were other booths were fighting for the same traffic. The celebrity signing area was moved toward the back but away from the main vendor area to allow for better flow into and out of the area.
- The staging/ticket area was very well setup to allow people to line up inside the building prior to the main show room opening. This allowed attendees to pick up tickets from
will call early and be ready ahead of time. We observed a good line snake setup for both standard attendees and VIP’s.
-Celebrity overflow lines were not well defined. We noticed Wallace Shawn was gathering quite the lineup the first day that continued into the next two. No changes were made which could have helped alleviate the situation some. Attendees were going to the end of the line only to find out that an overflow line was somewhere else. We have seen where fire marshals get involved at other conventions because there is too much congestion. While it didn’t get to that point we feel that moving a few of the celebrities to other open areas and making their booths bigger would have alleviated a lot of the issue.
-Long walks to get to panel rooms this year. We feel the panels suffered this year as there was longer walk required to get to the main events panel rooms. This required going up escalators and around to the back side of the main convention space. With all that walking back and forth over the 3 days we put more then 9 miles per day of walking in. We can say that while the convention can draw and be great, the panels are what a lot of fans look forward to and we were hearing complaints about the distance for the older convention attendees.
-Panel Host/Moderator. This is the biggest negative of the group. While the staff (Chris) and the volunteers were doing a great job there seems to just be a failure on the panel host side. There appeared a lack of preparation on more then one occasion and the fact that in one panel it felt more like an interview rather then a panel just left a bad taste. It had some of the attendees ready to go up and host the panel themselves (us included) because we knew we could do better. This is where we heard the biggest amount of complaints from those attending.
-Duplicate Vendor Goods. While we can understand a large convention having multiple vendors with the same type of sales, it just seemed we were seeing the same items way too often between many of the vendors. Tons of Pop Figures and less handmade items then we would of expected. We saw so many of the same toys, decals and figurines we were wondering if there was any additional variety. While there were the unique vendors with good crafts we just felt underwhelmed.
-Security entrance availability. While we appreciate the attritional detail we felt it could have been done a bit better. The main security entrance had 3 lines setup and a long line outside. One line was for cosplay weapons searches while the other two were for everyone else including bag checks. Now when critiquing security it is always difficult to understand the motivation but it’s always good to see as it invokes a sense of safety. We feel 3 entrances was a bit small and would of liked to seen one or two of the blocked entrances utilized for people needing bag searches, VIP, Press, or General public. It’s just a nit-pick but it’s understandable.
-Looked to be a shortage of Panel room volunteers. While we awaited the start of the Cosplay contest we noticed only 1-2 volunteers able to assist Chris and then they disappeared after the start. This left Chris and us backstage to assist some of the cosplayers who had limited vision or movement off the stage for safety. It appeared volunteers were being moved around and taken from teams without notice which was causing problems in the panel rooms when nobody was there except Chris who was in charge.
-Utilize signage/sign posts/dry erase with celebrities schedule. There were a few occasions in which celebrities were on lunch/in panels/in photo ops and attendees were asking when they would be back. To have a posted sign at the beginning of the line with the daily schedule would help alleviate the questions and having people line up when nobody is there to tell them otherwise
While not my first comic convention, Cincinnati Comic Expo was my first visit to the city itself. Spooty and Solace can tell you all about the celebrities, the vendors and the convention itself. When I go to a con, I want to know what events will entertain me. I’ve always thought that which separates a good con from a bad one is what they offer outside of trinkets you can buy and famous people who charge an arm and a leg to let you snap a selfie or shake a hand.
I’ve always enjoyed cosplay, so of course I snapped a ton of pictures of folks in costumes and attended the contest. As a veteran event DJ, I’m always interested in the official parties thrown by the event staff; in this case, it was the Harry Potter-themed Geek Ball. I even went so far as to check out Sci-Fi Speed Dating as it’s something you I’ve never done before.
The first thing I noticed with this contest was it was divided into four separate classes: youth, novice, journeyman and expert with an additional contests for best prop. In my brief conversations with the judges, I knew the day was stressful for them. However, each of them exuded a passion for this event. I watched part of their pre-judging process, their interactions with the contestants, while brief (which they very much had to be) was very cordial and encouraging. They appreciated the thought and energy each person put into their outfits.
The event itself was packed. Three to four hundred people were in attendance cheering on their favorites. This is where the judges shined. It wasn’t a boring parade of participants clad in various armors and robes simply walking across a stage. The judges acted as true Masters of Ceremony with their mic work. Jesting with contestants and each other, they provided personality to what could have been an otherwise stale event. They kept the crowd cheering until their voice grew hoarse. This event was memorable and certainly worth attending.
Sci Fi Speed Dating:
This one had me a bit nervous. There’s a certain stigma associated with this practice, but I wanted to know for sure what it was about. Being a single nerd can be a tough endeavor and I wanted to find out if there was in fact hope through on-site speed dating.
Let’s start with the staff. They were simply incredible. They sold the product well and were upbeat the entire time. Their job is to sell hope and they do it well. They told stories of folks who’ve met and married, made lifelong friends or con-hopping buddies. All of those things were enticing to me (who doesn’t need more friends?)
The process is simple enough; you get three minutes to chat with your date before rotating to the next one. With the large group I was in, there was a lot of information to digest and a lot of people to meet. There were about 70 people in my group (30 women and 40 men). It did not feel like 3 minutes per date and in the end, the math didn’t add up. That made it very difficult to have a two-way conversation. One person would tell their story and the second would begin but be cut short. The other major flaw in this system is for those who travel to the convention. You will likely meet mostly local folks. I met exactly 0 from Michigan, which is where I reside. There are a few other organizational details I could harp on and I likely will send them some suggestions.
The question really is “Does it work?”. In short, yes… if you are attractive and/or interesting (same as normal dating). I made a couple new friends through the process and enjoyed their company at the Geek Ball later that that evening. I think I’d enjoy it even more if it were in my local area with the prospect of something long term. Overall, attending this and spending time with the people I met was the highlight of my weekend, but it’s shortcomings cannot be overlooked.
The Harry Potter Geek Ball:
OK. I’ll admit it. I’m not the biggest Harry Potter fan in the world. However, that doesn’t mean this dance is inherently going to be lame, right? There has got to be a good time in there somewhere, and I was on a mission to find it. Thematically, I actually thought it was pretty cool. There several games going on to participate in and several concessions stands with various foods and refreshments. I can’t speak to the price of the alcohol as the lines were too long to bother. They extend some 50 people deep each at the two stands serving early on. The pizza was not very good and entirely too expensive.
But how about the entertainment? The night started off slowly as folks lined up to get their drinks. The dance floor remained relatively empty for the first hour because of that. The DJ they hired was patient and eventually got the floor moving. By the middle of the night, he had the willing dancers eating out of his hands. He lost the crowd with poor song choices and several repeat selections long before the night ended. The prize drawings dragged on for over 40 minutes, causing the dance to end early. What was advertised as ending at midnight ended up being 11:15 with the scores of announcements they made. Frankly, this event was poorly organized and the dance floor mismanaged. Had it not been for the good company I was with, I would have offered an even lower score than I have. The people and the thematic elements saved this a bit, but the dance was a bust in its entirety.
The Expo was a very enjoyable experience, save my displeasure with the dance. It’s a medium-sized convention working its way to the having that big con feel. I can genuinely say I’m looking forward to seeing what they do next year. I do plan to attend again next year and I hope to see you there!
Overall Grade – C+ 79/100