Shao Kahn has scoured the convention circuit, and he is most displeased at what he’s found. If he had time to waste, he’d challenge the offenders to Mortal Kombat. But Shao Kahn is a busy man, and so I’ll speak in his stead. It’s high time to address the things at cons that suck, including: massive disorganization and the uninformed staffer, greed and photo ops, and obscuring heads with signatures.
Chaos, disorganization and the uninformed staffer—I went to one con last month, and another yesterday. Mad Monster Party was putting on their very first show. Chiller, as a lesson in opposites, has been running for decades. They both had logistical problems that the promoters could have easily cleaned up.
First off, signs should be posted everywhere at a con letting fans know which guests are in which rooms. Actually find the guests I want to meet, with a relative degree of ease, makes for a more enjoyable experience. With both shows, I was searching nooks and crannies for guests. In a word: unacceptable.
It would also be great if cons would post signs telling which guests cancelled. I don’t want to have to go to a website to discover who won’t be there, when a simple sign would suffice. If I were looking for Michael Berryman at MMP, I would never have found him. Chiller is so huge that last year, when I couldn’t find Chris Sarandon’s room, after a few hours I had to ask a staffer, who informed me he’d cancelled. And on the subject of staffers…
A message to promoters: Make sure your staffers are informed. Because they almost never are. I can’t tell you how many cons I’ve been to, where those hired to help facilitate things for fans have as little knowledge about what’s going on as I do, walking through the door blind. At MMP, I gave up on the staffers very early on Day 2, because they either gave me no info or wrong info. At Chiller, five staffers had no idea what was going on with Alice Cooper’s line or where to pay for photo ops. Ridiculous.
Chiller specifically has the singular biggest issues I’ve encountered in eight years going to cons. Enter through the front door of the Hilton Parsippany and after about 100 feet walk, there’s a sunk in area to the right. The pit is where Chiller generally seats its headliners. With the thousands of fans attending the show on a Saturday, this is a nightmare. The pit becomes a tangled mess of humanity, where it’s impossible to find where a celebrity’s line begins or ends. Just making it out of there after X or I have finished our business can take several minutes (and X is an impatient bastard sometimes, which doesn’t help), as I refuse to shoulder block my way through other fans. I’ve given up hope on Chiller finding a better suited hotel, but I’ll continue to put it out there in my con reports.
These issues can all be fixed, as there are plenty of smoothly run conventions which serve as proof.
Greedy agents price gouging– Dean Cain is a nice guy. He’s smiley, engaging and pleasant to meet. He was genuinely appreciative to meet his fans, and gave them a quality experience. Dean Cain doesn’t suck.
Dean Cain’s agent sucks.
Let’s do a quick price check and see how offended you are:
$35 for an 8×10 off Dean’s table.
$30 for your own item.
$25 for a pic with Dean on your camera.
$45 for a combo of pic on your camera and a Polaroid.
Now if you’re an average American, you’re still in the middle of a recession. Maybe you’ve lost your job and had to take one at a much lesser pay rate. Perhaps you’re working two, or three jobs, just to make ends meet. Going to a convention just might be the one thing that you do for yourself, to get away from life’s troubles and enjoy life for a change.
If that’s you, you should be insulted by these prices. Dean Cain’s greedy agent wants $80 bucks for an 8×10 that costs less than a dollar to print, the right for you to hold an image on your own camera, and a Polaroid. And with Eastman Kodak’s recent problems, I didn’t know you could even get film for Polaroids. Even if you just wanted a pic with your camera, you’re still talking 60 freakin’ bucks. If I advocated violence, I would suggest fans take this agent out behind the woodshed and beat him with a belt.
But we fans are also part of the problem. This is all about what the market will bear, and this agent and others will continue to gouge as long as fans continue to pay. It’s our own fault just as much as it’s theirs. But hey, I don’t have a picture of me with Ernest Borgnine, because I refuse to contribute to the problem.
And don’t even start me on Alice Cooper’s agent, who wanted $40 for an autograph, another $5 for the 8×10, and a whopping 50 bucks for a posed photo session.
Where to sign? I’ll show you—Where a celeb signs an 8×10 is extremely important to me. It can influence my choice of photo off her table, especially if there are multiple celebs in the shot and I’m either about to meet them too or hope to down the line. I learned after a few cons that celebs don’t think along those lines at all when they sign. They’ll sign under the other person in a photo, use up all kinds of space on the people when there’s lots of negative space perfectly suited for a sig, and in the worst cases, sign over faces.
This happened once yesterday. I won’t name the celebrity, because it’s not the celeb that sucks; it’s the actually signing.
Fortunately, I caught onto this just a few cons in, and I created a very simple solution:
“Can you sign this right here, in this color? Thanks.”
Works like a charm. Try it for yourself. You’ll never be upset with a signature again.
I hope you enjoyed this education on the evils of conventions. As a teacher, I feel compelled to sum this lesson up: If promoters actually decide to get their acts and staffs together and put on smooth shows, in which kindly agents keep prices to realistic expectations, and their talent realize how not to ruin a photo, all in the convention world will be well. Until then, Shao Kahn says… IT’S OFFICIAL! YOU SUCK!