Exiting Crown Casino at a spritely 8am, I slowly meandered toward the Exhibition Centre with hopes to quickly sign in and retake my place at the baccarat tables until the doors open. Much to my dismay, and the dismay of many, many others, I was warmly welcomed to the one dastardly defining element of Oz Comic-Con's debut in Melbourne, the queues. And I mean queues like you've never seen.
All I can do is write from my experience, and all-in-all, I had an amazing convention. The guest stars in attendance, the fanatical fans met and the organisers whom I had personal interactions with were nothing but gracious and accommodating; especially considering the circumstances of fans and the media burning the event from both ends. This positive impression confirmed by a lot of the other die-hard geeks I had the pleasure to meet, especially the two lovely young ladies who were gracious enough to lend their experiences if only to confirm my own.
With all the hate revolving around the day's events, it is one thing to anonymously post on Oz Comic-Con's Facebook page and type profanity to assuage your frustration, but a little decorum would be more appreciated. Also venomously howling spite to the young volunteer staff accomplishes nothing. These people are just doing their job, and you cowardly muttering "you guy's couldn't organise sh*t" as you pass a volunteer proves nothing other than what an amazingly ingenious wordsmith you truly are.
Just to get it out of the way; yes, the event was massive and there simply wasn't enough space to accommodate the winding queues of fans that stretched the entire length of the exhibition centre. Perhaps even a bit more. To my knowledge, organisers were fully aware of the possible onslaught of fans bombarding the convention, but it wasn't anything they were prepared for. In saying this, I won't defend nor crucify organisers for their ineptitudes, but reflect on the experience had and provide some form of constructive criticism.
What it came down to was space. Queues are ubiquitous and unavoidable at these events, but planning to accommodate this is often unforgiving. There are such simple solutions to the myriad of problems encountered on the day; most of those would include more space to move, and more staff to assist. If you know the token booths and guest star autographs and photographs will elicit lines, ensure there is enough space to accommodate. The stages also required some sound workshopping as the audio bleed from the adjacent panels was annoying for the guest stars and the fans trying to lingering on every word - very poor sound design.
Even before you'd pass the threshold into the convention, it is understandable that event organisers were trying their best, but there were very precise and clear evidence suggesting they could've done a lot more. Once inside it was organised chaos with fans lining up to collect tokens, autographs, photographs and attend the interactive Q&A panels. Some queues exponential growth created these haphazard instances where queues awkwardly snaked through the rows of shops that inevitably intersected and criss-crossed with one another. This made perusing the vendors wares difficult and walking from one end of the convention to the other an endurance marathon, inching your way through the meat grinder.
Thanks to this, the majority of my time was spent in the guest star panels to avoid the sudden onset of claustrophobia induced by the volume of attendees. Sitting through the voice-over panel with Todd Haberkorn, Eric Vale and Chris Sabat was great, reliving my childhood with the voices of Vegeta, Trunks and Piccolo from the Dragon Ball series. Personally not to familiar with Todd's work, but I rarely watch dubbed Anime. The other panels such as the Sean Maher, Julie Benz, and Fran Kranz to expand the ever-growing Whedon-verse, Sir Patrick and Daniel Steward, and Armin Shimerman were equally as enjoyable for the Trekkies, but for the real scoop its best to check out their respective interviews with Graffiti With Punctuation.
And Stan Lee, 'The Stan Lee' to whom many had come to see exclusively. No other words can express the magnitude of his presence, except it was an honour and a privileged to share the same space with the great man. In his short appearance he delighted fans with the genesis of a few of his creations that you may have heard of. The Amazing Spiderman that was originally deemed a terrible idea by Stan's publisher, how The Avengers was Stan's idea of the Justice League done right, and why the substantial box-office success of The Avengers film was a testament to his short cameo performance. Equally impressive is his performance on the convention floor, meeting fans and signing over 1000 autographs in a few hours - very impressive considering he is 89 years young.
Without a doubt the event wasn't the ideal picturesque experience that fans and organisers imagined, but Oz Comic-Con wasn't ready for Melbourne. I sincerely hope that next year they will be.