This past weekend I attended the Central Canada Comic Con, C4 for short. My expectations, set by last year, were quite low. But, every year offers the chance for a convention to reinvigorate itself, to make changes for the better…
First and foremost, just to get this off my chest, C4 still doesn’t feel like a convention to me. It feels like a glorified toy show. They had the opportunity to change, and while some changes were made, not nearly as many as I’d hoped. If you read my previous post-show linked above, the vast majority of what is there can be applied here. Aside from a brief description, I’m going to essentially focus here on giving a quick rundown of what is new. What they’ve improved.
It’s just two giant rooms that are almost exclusively used as stores. And the third room is basically just guest q & a panels. They could do so much more, themed panels, industry guests, informational panels(Learn to Cosplay, Drawing Comics, etc.). And everything you want to do costs extra(and not a small amount either)… so essentially your ticket gets you access to the store, with one noteworthy exception: the cosplay contest was free this year. This was an absolutely necessary change, but one I’m very glad they made.
But that wasn’t the only positive change… there were some major organizational improvements. For starters, they separated the ‘buy stuff’ queue from the ‘pick up wristband’ queue. Just as importantly, they made the line for events completely separate from the line to enter the convention itself – previously they were very close together which caused some confusion. There is still room to improve as the queue at this point took place at the bottom of the escalator and they didn’t pre-check the ttickets to get into each event. This led to a potentially disastrous issue as the line got heavily congested at the top of the escalator resulting in them having to quickly shut the escalator down to prevent people from being crushed in the line. Fortunately, there didn’t appear to be any injuries, so all seems well and hopefully they can learn from that for next time.
The cosplay contest was also the recipient of two big positive changes – at least from my perspective as a photographer. First, the lights were left on meaning better visibility of the costumes and better quality pictures – from what I’ve seen a few are a little oversaturated with light, but the vast majority will be usable after some post-production – a huge improvement over last year. Secondly, all contestants were strongly encouraged to stop and pose at different locations on the stage – allowing for different photo opportunities, and ensuring that – with one exception due to minor camera issues – I was able to get a relatively decent picture of each contestant(or so I believe – we’ll have to see how post-prod goes but I’m hopeful).
C4’s greatest asset is once again the attendees, with interesting vendors, nice people, and amazing cosplay everywhere… but it’s weakness is once again a lack of things to do. Time not spent at the convention does not feel like a missed opportunity, but rather a relief and a respite. This is the only convention I’ve ever attended or viewed in which I felt as though there was way too much time and not enough to do, and that much hasn’t changed from last year. With organizational improvements in place, hopefully next year they’ll focus on scope and try to leverage their growth into more interesting events.