In yesterday’s blog, I talked about the good times we had a Space City Comic Con. I touched on the bad.
Now it’s time to talk about it.
First of all, Nola Nerd Couple applied for a media pass and received one. Normally, when we write about cons our only criticisms are constructive. We look for the “even better ifs.” However, when the even better if is to build fan trust, well that may be too big of an even bigger if.
It does seem that all the problems that Space City Comic Con had only dealt with the Sons of Anarchy people. However, this contained their biggest guest. Most well-runned cons would have only done pre-purchased autograph tickets for someone this big. Wizard World has done this with Matt Smith and most of the Avengers cast. Star Wars Celebration does both but they make sure the pre-purchased get their autographs first, and then, depending on the guest, they will only do pre-purchased. The supply here is the actor’s time and it is scarce, much more scarce than demand. It seems that no one had a clue to do with Charlie Hunnam.
Then rumors tend to abound about non-payment and bounced checks. (And here, here, and here). Actors themselves told us that we should contact our credit card company because they were pretty sure we got robbed. Thankfully, we did receive notification at the time of this writing saying we should be getting a refund. Now, I can’t speak to the actors getting paid, but I was seriously considering pressing charges if we didn’t get our refund back. We spent hundreds of dollars on these tickets, and we were on the low end of money being spent. VIP guests had everything pre-purchased for $1000s of dollars and didn’t have anything to show for it.
We were promised something for payment. We paid and didn’t receive anything. That’s fraud. Refunding my money is nice, but we live in New Orleans. This blog is a non-profit enterprise. The blog generates no income so the gas to travel there and back and to have a hotel for two nights doesn’t get refunded. Considering that Space City Comic Con was being sued by a certain tourist organization before the con, it would seem Space City Comic Con would have done their best to make sure this was a smoothly run con. Because it was not, it will hurt tourism. People came from all over the US and other countries to Houston to attend this con because of the guests and Charlie Hunnam in particular. This will leave a bad taste in their mouth. We will return to Houston because we have family there as well as it having IKEA, but I can see others not going back. They got burned once, and no one ever wants to get burned again.
Now, before the con, we championed Space City Comic Con. We published a preview, a review of one of the books from the artists there, and a spotlight on artists that were present. We tweeted about it. WWe did a podcast there. We had planned to do interviews, but we couldn’t because we were out a few hundred dollars and we wanted to know how that would be rectified. We spent all day Saturday trying to find out.
What really upsets me was the lack of information from Space City Comic Con. We fully understand that if they can’t give full details because there might be something that could be part of a lawsuit. However, the con never stated what was going on…not even from their point of view. The con never told us about the actors not honoring the pre-purchased tickets; the actors did. The con didn’t tell us the panel was practically cancelled; the actors did via twitter. The con never told us Charlie wasn’t coming back until after the con; Charlie’s people told us. Space City Comic Con only acknowledged these events once on social media. A few times they responded to people directly, but why not post so all could see. They didn’t inform us that an artist canceled and when we asked if he was there no one had a clue. They never tried to do damage control. Instead, they tweeted and posted to Facebook other things like the controversy never happened. I’m not blaming the media department. I’m sure they had no clue how to respond and it seems like they weren’t getting any direction.
We love comic cons. We have attended them across the country and even one out of the country. We budget our money so we can attend them. We will continue to attend more both as media and as fans. We understand cons are big business. This con had poor business management. However, cons are also about human interaction. The people that we came across were fantastic. The staff and volunteers should not have paid for upper managements mistakes. Yet they did. They were yelled at. They were exhausted. They were dejected. However, everyone we met, including the ones we might not have been nice to (even a few hundreds of dollars is a lot of money), were nice to us.
Not only did the fans deserve better, but the staff and volunteers deserved better. This con became dangerously close to a con.