Sunday, November 2, 2014

R.I. Comic Con 2014: The Monster That Ate Providence (And Your Money)

A dog day's afternoon in Providence.
I've been fortunate enough to attend some of the biggest comic cons on the East Coast - New York City, Philadelphia, Boston and Long Island. I've also been fortunate enough to attend smaller shows in New England.

Without a question, Rhode Island Comic Con 2014 on Saturday was the absolute worst. I've never experienced such disorganization. Worse, I've never experienced such a callous disregard for fans.

What the frack, R.I. Comic Con?

Pre-purchased tickets in hand, a friend and I stood outdoors in the rain, wind and cold for more than two hours waiting to get into the show on Saturday. We never got close and finally retreated to a local casino, where we figured to get a better return on our money.

Not once did anyone from R.I. Comic Con make an appearance to explain to the hundreds and hundreds of fans waiting in line - many of them accompanied by young children - what was happening. We were left to discuss rumors among ourselves, talk to people leaving the show and to monitor social media.

Apparently, R.I. Comic Con management was too busy counting their money to pay us a simple courtesy visit.

From what I have read, the convention center has a capacity of 17,000. At one point, officials estimated 20,000 people were inside, resulting in the local fire marshal stopping anyone else from entering, including people with wristbands who may have stepped outside for a few minutes. With hundreds of fans still waiting to get in, this did not stop R.I Comic Con from continuing to sell tickets. Even when they knew the gravity of the situation, organizers chose to make it worse by selling more tickets.

Then they rubbed it in.

First there was the R.I Comic Con posting that declared "WE ARE NOT OVERSOLD. Unfortunately, everyone loves our show so much that they don't want to leave."

That's right, fans - it's all your fault. Some of you spent hundreds of dollars to attend the show, for autographs and photo ops, and the only problem is that you want to get your money's worth. You don't want to spend a half-hour among the sci fi stars and other attractions, then run home with your souvenirs and 30 minutes of memories. You want to hang around for hours and enjoy yourself. How dare you?

In other tweets, organizers continued to decline any responsibility for this disaster. "There was no mess up. This happens a lot at large events." A lot? I've attended hundreds, if not thousands, of "large events" over the decades and never seen anything as bad as this.

As if to emphasize their tone-deafness, R.I Comic Con referred in a tweet to the issues as a "hiccup." Really? If we are going to draw an analogy with bodily functions to describe the situation, I'd choose something like, oh, I don't know, projectile vomiting on your fans?

The scenario was so bad, it earned its own Twitter hashtag among disgruntled fans - ricomiccon2014fail.

For an excellent overview for the situation, check out Anime Herald's blog.

The Providence Journal quoted the Rhode Island Convention Center's general manager, Lawrence J. Lepore, as saying, "It's not a good thing for us, because there are too many people."

Really? What about all those people who bought tickets? The ones waiting on a windy, cold, rainy day while being completely ignored by Comic Con organizers? Was it good for them?

Lepore said only 5,000 tickets would be sold for Sunday's portion of the show because 10,000 already had been sold. "That brings us to about 15,000, and that's what the state fire marshal and city Fire Department is comfortable with," he said.

In other words, they put a cap on Sunday's attendance. That means they know they made a mistake on Saturday, right? And they are going to admit it? This is where we hear an apology?


Well, R.I. Comic Con did tweet that "We are working on a remedy for the situations involving anyone who was completely unable to attend. It will take a bit of time. Please have patience."

We're still waiting.

Just like yesterday.


  1. And to top it off Eliza Dushku was mugged at that convention. Sounds like a winner of a con all around. Good news for the convention - I expect less attendees and guests because of this bad publicity.

  2. That sucks that you couldn't get into the convention.

    How come the Hello Kitty Con can work these issues out, but RI con can't?!: