ConRecon: Atlanta Comic Con
Well, I made it back from Atlanta Comic Con relatively unscathed. I built in time for loads of traffic and, for the first time in the history of Atlanta, there was zero traffic in or out of the city. Of course, right? The show, which took place this past weekend (July 13th-15th), was, in my opinion, a great success for its inaugural year.
STAFFING & ORGANIZATION:
Staffing for the show was excellent and there were always people affiliated with the show within my lines of vision. My only criticism of the organization of the show in any way was the lining up for badges (even will-call and press) all the way up until an hour prior to the doors opening.
I couldn’t figure out the reason for not just giving out badges throughout the morning. As such, many were stranded in the will-call line for an hour or two just to pick up badges and then asked to wait again in front of the show floor doors for the hour leading up to the opening. Literally, other than that, I had no other issues at this convention.
I was fortunate enough to meet up with one of the managers of the show, early on, and she was gracious enough to allow me to drop something off at a dealer booth and see the hall in its empty state prior to the crowds entering. As such, the pictures, above and some below, are nice and people-free. This was very nice of her as I am sure she was having a hectic morning.
The layout of the hall, which was very large, was well designed. There was ample room in the aisles, which is a con rarity, and as such, there was no congestion anywhere. Of course, everything was concrete which made the old dogs bark by the end of the show, but again, that is pretty common.
I was a little concerned that the artist alley running through the center of the showroom floor was going to cause a flood, but that never really caused any issues. The only artist with a line at any time was Adam Hughes (shocker) and his being on the end of the center-most area allowed for plenty of room for his fans, as they waited.
Ceiling banners in the aisles noted the booth numbers by the hundreds which was quite helpful, as well. Food ran along the back wall and there was what one might expect from con fare. A permanent Papa Johns and venders selling simple snacks, drinks and lunch-ish food. Nothing fancy, but certainly ample.
TALENT – STARS & ARTISTS
Boasting a pretty ambitious guest/talent list, overall, the show featured a wide variety of film and television celebrities include such personalities as Sean Astin, Nichelle Nichols, Cary Elwes, Ray Park and Lea Thompson. In addition, a variety of voice actors and cosplayers will also be attending such as Paige O’Hara, the voice of Belle from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. The area for this was the left-most segment of the hall and there was plenty of room for lines which were handled by staff quite efficiently.
The highlight for me (and many others), though, was artist and creator talent that included big names such as Adam Hughes, Joe Jusko, Ty Templeton, Chad Hardin and Whilce Portacio. The artist alley was well-organized where no two big names were next to each other. This allowed fans to have plenty of room to wait for sketches, autographs, etc.
What was particularly nice was how gracious and generous the creators and artists were with their time. All were sketching, almost all were signing for free and willing to chat. It was relaxed and fun. Even Adam Hughes (who doesn’t really have to do anything other than high-dollar commissions if he doesn’t want to) was doing $40 head sketches at specific times throughout the day and signing up to five items for free. It was quite refreshing to see this level of respect for fans and a love for the craft. As such, there was quite a pleasant atmosphere to the day where all could appreciate comics and art.
Dealers in the hall were fairly varied. There were a lot of Funko Pop dealers (as would be expected), apparel, modern toys, games, video games, original art, novelties and MANY comic dealers. Vintage toy collectors would have been disappointed as there was very little of that, unfortunately. However, the many comic dealers; some dealing in Golden Age, others primarily in Silver and Bronze and quite a lot of modern, made up for that for me.
I was surprised at the nice mixture of raws and slabs and prices were actually fairly low at most of the dealers. Many dealers were also buying and trading which was very nice to see. All were pretty quick to haggle and I came away with some fantastic finds which has been rare for me this season. Three other guys I met up with did very well, also. Overall, from a comic perspective, this show was a nice surprise.
EVENTS & ACTIVITIES:
The con had many other distractions, as well. The 1Up Gaming Center was pretty awesome boasting vintage upright machines which folks could play for free. It was well attended throughout the day as I could hear Centipede and PacMan pretty much non-stop. Events all took place in other parts of the convention center which also kept traffic down in the hall itself.
Those activities included panel discussions with guests from the con, live radio dramas and fantasy readings, film festival movie appreciations, cosplay panels and contest (with a grand prize of $500 for Best-in-Show and a variety of other monetary prizes!), a magician, live podcasts, freestyle D&D, comic creator how-to panels and even a live performance of the Rocky Horror Picture Show.
In closing, I had a really fantastic time at this con. Given that it was the first year of this convention, I assume they will have some growth in future years. However, this was an extremely solid showing; an enjoyable, relaxing and productive day. I very much look forward to going back, next year.