What Happened At Oz Comic-Con?

Over the weekend Oz Comic-Con gained plenty of negative coverage as a result of poor organisation, complaining customers, and massive, uncontrolled queues that spanned through the entire Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre. We spoke to the company behind the event, and other people involved in the convention industry and asked — what went wrong?

"My experience was 10 hours, seven queues, two of which were the wrong queues," reads one comment. "Line up for wrist band, line up to get in the door, line up to get tokens...

"We paid a lot of money to be treated like cattle."

"I am extremely disappointed in the treatment me and my little sister received on Sunday," began another. "The fire hazard style in which the event was ran made her feel very claustrophobic and nauseous. There was no signs pointing to a sick bay, frustrated and angry volunteers sent us in all directions, security simply sat her on a chair outside the entrance, with those in line staring at her. She needed a sick bay to lie down for 10 minutes."

So many comments, hundreds upon hundreds, on Oz Comic-Con's Facebook page. One by one they lined up to complain about their poor treatment at the Oz Comic-Con event in Melbourne this weekend. Just like they lined up, endlessly, on the day itself.

"Didn't get in," said one commenter. "Had pre-purchased tickets. Will be seeking a refund, and yes, I'm a lawyer."

*****

According to most accounts, Oz Comic-Con in Melbourne did not go well. According to the organisers, 40,000 people attending the event, most visitors left extremely frustrated at the incredible queues, uninformed staff, and overwhelming confusion and lack of organisation at the event. Immediately the Oz Comic-Con Facebook was flooded with complaints, some of which were deleted from the page.

"As this was our first major con in Melbourne," read an official post on the Facebook page, "we were in awe by the response from the fans, and we thank everyone for their patience and feedback; which will be inculcated into future events."

And that was as close to an apology thousands of fans received on the Saturday.

Earlier this year Hub Productions — the company behind Oz Comic-Con — courted controversy by using the Comic-Con name, despite having no affiliation with Comic-Con International. At that point, given the tight deadline Hub Productions had given themselves, some industry insiders wondered if Hub had the time to pull off the Melbourne show in time. Despite the fact Hub played up its lack of experience in planning such events as the reason for poor organisation this weekend, Carissa Avenhouse of Hub Productions seemed 100% sure of herself back in January.

"I’ve organised events within three weeks," claimed Carissa, back then. "I’ve been doing this for a very long time."

*****

Bill Geradts is the organiser of Armageddon, and has previously worked with Carissa Avenhouse. According to him the event was simply poorly organised.

"In 17 years of running public events," he said, "I’ve never seen this level of spite directed towards an event organisation ever.

"They monumentally screwed the pooch. Even I knew that pre-sales were huge before the show; there was no reason for what happened to have happened."

Bill's immediate concern was for the reputation of the local convention scene as a whole. With Supanova and Armageddon running across Australia and New Zealand, he's worried that the poor treatment of fans at Oz Comic-Con will drive people away from future shows.

"As an event organiser it concerns me greatly to have a show so incompetently run, it might adversely affect the entire industry," said Bill. "We set ourselves to a significantly higher standard than this. Packing a crowd in when you have neither the staff, the skill or the competency to handle them, is abysmal treatment."

***** To their credit, the organisers of Oz Comic-Con did provide an apology when we asked them for comment on the issues fans had at the event, but denied accusations they had oversold the event.

"[W]e were completely in awe of the sheer number of people who turned up, with nearly 40,000 attendees coming through the event over the weekend," claimed Hub's organiser, in a statement sent to Kotaku. "Contrary to the rumour mill, the event was not oversold, with less than half the attendees on pre-purchased tickets. What we didn’t count on was the sheer volume of fans who turned up all at once, hoping to buy tickets at the door.

"This is something we will learn from – and again, we thank the fans for the patience that was shown at the time and apologise for any disappointment for those who were unable to purchase a ticket."

But the statement doesn't address the issues of multiple consumers who weren't able to enter despite having pre-purchased tickets, or the blanket deletion of comments on Oz Comic-Con's Facebook page.

It doesn't account for the lack of organisation, it doesn't account for the volunteers being left uninformed to deal with incredible queues Hub Productions clearly wasn't prepared for.

Ian Houlihan, the ex-Director of Gen-Con believes that Hub should take more responsibility for the poor treatment of fans.

"One thing that Hub needs to learn to do, is not only listen to feedback, but accept that feedback, and then respond to it positively," said Ian. "Clearly, with what I and many others have seen over the past 48 hours is an attempt by Oz Comic-Con, or their PR staff, to engineer an all-positive feedback approach to their event. Rather than fess up to making some mistakes, they are just deleting negative feedback wherever possible.

"But in all fairness, everyone in this industry makes mistakes. I think this is more a case of the old adage of 'a failure to plan, is a plan to fail.'"


Comments

    “Had pre-purchased tickets. Will be seeking a refund, and yes, I’m a lawyer.”
    When I read this, I thought of McGarnigal.
    And then an image of a cat in a suit with glasses and a 'stache serving up lawyer-y paper to Hub Productions people.

    Garrggh sorry to be "that guy" again, Mark, but a typo in the opening paragraph -- you've put an apostrophe in "queues".

    I'll see myself out...

      Sleep deprivation. It's my cop out for everything!

      (Thanks!)

      Maybe you could take that left over apostrophe and stick it in your colon?

      HO HO HO!!!

    Class action suit.. *hope*

      You know what i'd like?
      A classy action suit.

      That way i can looks like a composed and respectable businessman whilst flipping cars.

        This is my kind of classy action suit.
        http://images.wikia.com/marveldatabase/images/d/d5/Iron_Man-7.jpg

      How about a class action suit against all the serious wrongs Hub/OzComicCon have done to people over the years (I'm not talking about the minor things like having to line up for long periods of time, but the not getting what you paid for, false advertising, slander, not paying contracted staff, not declaring taxes on the hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash sales etc) .. wow would that be something.

        I will be taking legal action also. I have already lodged a formal complaint to the ACCC. The Department of Fair Trading will be next. I am after a full refund of two "Excelsior" tickets and compensation for the thousands of dollars it cost me in travel and accommodation to get to Melbourne from Brisbane and I got nothing but grief. And when I spoke with the organiser earlier this week, she tried to put it back on me. More ammunition for my complaint.

        Hi Shane; Sounds like you may know stuff I could use. Send me an email and I will tell you more. Cheers

          Sorry Paul, I don't have your email address

    I had a couple of mates brave the lines. One dressed as Red Hood (Props if you went and recognized him as Red Hood, lots of people were calling him "Lame Spiderman") and they had a good time despite the lines.

      Saw him. Cute dude!

        Awww shucks thanks lol. I'll be at Armageddon with more props for the costume in october so say boo or something, i dunno.

    It was a train wreck the only thing good about it was meeting stan lee

    I was there yesterday. In all honesty, it was only slightly worse than most conventions i've been to in the past. With big names like Stan Lee, Patrick Stewart and Jason Momoa, what did people expect? Queuing for things is part of these conventions if you haven't bought tickets etc already...
    Yes, they needed a bigger venue and yes, the crowds were ridiculous and yes, the queues could've been better organised but all in all, i had a great day, met some awesome celebrities and bought more nerdy stuff that i could shake a stick at...would i go to anothre Ozcomiccon? Definately.

      P. Hand! Where you been!?

        Hey 'Flu :)
        See TAY...will post deets regarding my absence tomorrow...its a long story...

      I think the problem is that the experience was so inconsistent between people. You were really lucky in that you got in quickly and got to do all you wanted. But there are claims that people who had prepurchased tickets never got inside, and that's definitely a problem.

        I 100% agree. But I cannot fathom how thats possible...People with a weekend pass yesterday were pushed to the front of the queue to get in...staff walked up and down the line asking if people had the right passes/tickets etc...those people were quickly moved to the front of the queue...

      um really those who prepurchased tickets had to wait in an extrodanairy long line whilst those who brought on the day got in, those with pre purchased tickets still waiting when they went in to locked down DID NOT GET IN despite the lies that were told, also anyone who needed air were locked out once they left the main floor, i was there i saw it happen and had it happen to me!

    I was speaking to one guy, he pointed out that they only reserved 3 sections on the hall for the convention and then stated that they easily needed a minimum of 8. The line on Sunday stretched out to the raining street. The first person in line was a 7 year old, rolling around on the floor from the wait. They told everyone that they stopped selling tickets, but then stated that if they hang around they might start letting them in.

    I didn't even line up, I left and went to ACMI.

    Wow. I thought the EB Games Expo was poorly organised.

      Not really; I thought it went fine. Then again, I had a VIP pass thingy... But the lady at the Uncharted 3 demo let the people play through the whole thing, no time limit, and just sat there on her damn iPhone whilst this massive line (even the VIP line) was starting to grow exponentially.

        Yeah, I played heaps of it too.

      Really? Have you been to any other events like this? I thought the EB Games Expo was very well run. Granted, I was there later in the day and didn't see the line ups in the morning etc., but from the venue and the way they had it laid out I can't imagine any logistical issues. There's always little glitches, but the whole thing seemed very professional. Of course, EB Games Expo had an entire pool of retail staff to conscript from, and a truly OBSCENE budget with no need to make any money from it (it's all marketing). So they're not even in the same league as these conventions.

    I got there at 9.50am, had my ticket(not pre-purchased) by 10am and was in there by 11.30am...
    I agree it could've been organised better...but for their first pop culture convention, they had a pretty good event...if people show up at midday and expect to get go straight in and meet Stan Lee etc...they're dreaming, it's not how these things work...

    It was interesting to read all of the commotion at OzComicCon riding off of the recent successes at Supanova last month. I was there for the Sydney one and it went off without a hitch. The lines progressed quite rapidly, the organisers and volunteers seemed to be communicating well and knew what to do (although a few were a little grumpy/blinded by power :P) and whatnot. Reading this now really makes me wonder about how Hub could go so wrong when others have proven capable of doing it right.

    40000 people is a lot to organise, no matter how big your venue. That's about a stadium full of people. Sad that people didn't get to do everything they wanted, and it definitely sounded like they could have used a bit more space.

    Seems to me that selling 40,000 tickets was a bad move. I know it's probably going to be a popular event but better to disappoint 5,000 - 10,000 more people who can't buy tickets than to piss of the 40,000 who bought tickets and couldn't enjoy themselves.

      Yeah. The fact that they claim to have had 40,000 people come through the convention speaks volumes. They've really incriminated themselves; there should NOT have been that many people allowed in to the show. While people do come and go through the day - so it's not as simple as just selling to capacity - that is way oversold. It doesn't matter what event it is, there is always a limit to how many people you can accommodate. They sold so many tickets that the event turned into a logistical nightmare, and then even as it crumbled before their eyes they continued to sell more! It's quite sad that they'll probably get away with it and still get a crowd next year; they don't deserve to be in business.

        How many people were allowed in was dictated by the staff of the convention centre and not Hub Productions. As part of their policies they also ran the ticket booths and controlled when tickets stopped being sold and how many people could be in the area at any one time.

    How was the Oz Comic Con in Adelaide like? I know it was earlier on this year but as per usual it flew totally under the radar.

      I went to the Adelaide one. It was crowded, but nothing on the scale of Melbourne, by the sounds of things. We pre-bought tickets, arrived shortly after opening, & still had a short wait to get in on saturday. Sunday, we just showed our wristbands & walked straight in.
      They were only selling photo & autograph tokens on the day... we wanted to do some Saturday, some Sunday, but after 1-2 hours of queuing when we found out we couldn't pre-buy for sunday, we decided to do all we could on saturday (& probably bought less than we would have otherwise). More than half of saturday was spent queuing for autographs & photos (& a good part of that was to COLLECT photos... they were in no particular order & were mostly just spread out on the tables for people to try & find, while being crushed by the crowd behind waiting to collect theirs)
      I only got into one guest talk, and that was only because I turned up halfway through the previous one & sat (sorry... STOOD) through 30 minutes of something I had no interest in...

    Yes it was badly organised, but much of the vitriol being directed at the organiser should really be turned back on the person spouting it.

    I was there both days, on a $200 Excelsior ticket.

    I realise full well that not everyone can afford this (nor could I afford the $500 Platinum ticket, which guaranteed first-in-line placement at most if not all signings and photos), but to think you could show up on the day, in some cases halfway through the day, and not expect queues for Patrick Stewart and Stan Lee, is idiotic. My wife saw a news article where a couple was whinging because they'd flown from Perth and complained about not getting in... despite showing up halfway through the day and not having a ticket. Really?!

    Definitely there should have been MUCH more signage. On Sat morning, nobody knew where they should queue. Eventually organisers can and redirected people (some of whom were annoyed, though this was ~8am so nobody was really disadvantaged by this).

    VIP/Excelsior/Platinum people got in first, and those with any smarts went straight to the token queue, and got tokens for everything we wanted within ~10-20 mins. Sure those on cheaper tickets might have had to queue longer (MUCH longer in many cases), and some were annoyed when tokens for the big names sold out before they reached the counter, but how could you NOT expect that for such big names, especially if/when you get there late, without a ticket?!

    Many pre-purchased tickets and couldn't get in, but I don't know the specifics here. They should obviously be admitted before buy-on-the-day people, but they still can't assume they'd get to see the big names, anyone would realise they'd sell out.

    Volunteers were terribly underinformed, I totally agree. At most photo sessions, autograph sessions etc, there was one line. Everyone lined up there, though it was known well in advance that VIP etc got priority entry. As such, when a volunteer or organiser got involved, multiple lines had to form for the VIPs etc first, with everyone else lining up behind them. Again, these queues often took hours, but for the big names, it's expected (and as for the length of these lines, snaking through the venue, I doubt any venue could handle the sheer mass of people who turned out to see the stars); the 'less popular' queues seemed to go without a hitch.

    I hear that some volunteers were rude, which is of course totally unacceptable, but somewhat unavoidable in the case of volunteers whom for all I know weren't interviewed etc in any way before being 'employed'. At the same time I saw many volunteers subjected to unreasonable rudeness and abuse from attendees, when they were doing the best they could with what little info they clearly had, in the face of such huge numbers of people.

    It was definitely a hazardous setup; it was almost impossible to move at times, and those less mobile (parents with prams - a bit of a silly thing to do, I reckon, but that's just me, and yes I'm a parent - or those in wheelchairs) had a very hard time getting through.

    There were no seating areas except the stages, which organisers cleared after each panel to allow priority to those who were queueing outside for the next panel. Understandable, but not great for ill or less mobile people who just needed a seat. Other than sitting on the floor in the few areas with enough room to do so, it was very difficult to sit anywhere.

    Pass-outs weren't allowed, or weren't clearly explained. My mate went out to put stuff in his car, assuming his wristband would ensure re-entry, but was refused by security and told he'd have to line-up again (in the line that went hundreds of metres, out the door and down the street), but only when he found an organiser was he readmitted. Sure, it's ok to deny passouts but at least make this clear, if that's the preference.

    Sunday ran MUCH better. VIPs etc got in 30 mins early, so all our tokens were sorted. The queues for normal tickets seemed better, though I walked through a still-massive queue at ~11am to hear an organiser yelling out that all Stan Lee events were sold out etc, to groans of disappointment, but again... what do you expect?! They have to limit the tokens to ensure everyone who BUYS one, gets their photo/signature. Anyone who did, but for some reason DIDN'T get what they paid for, should definitely be refunded, with that I totally agree, but I have no idea if this even occurred; the organisers deliberately sold fewer tokens to ensure this didn't happen, but again if it did, a refund is essential.

    There seemed fewer people on the second day, which is usually the case, but the volunteers and the organisers all seemed much better prepared and the queues were handled with a much better anticipation of what would surely occur, ie queues were still REALLY long, but I found it much easier to move around Sunday, and two lines were effected almost immediately once people arrived (ie one for VIPs etc, one for general admission).

    To me, the worst things were the queues (the length of which was NOT the organisers' fault, though the number of people allowed in at any one time should've been less, and monitored to facilitate this, and the organisation should've been better, re the different queues), the lack of seating, and the lack of information given to volunteers.

    I know I had it much better than most with one of the expensive tickets, but I got everything I wanted (4 autographs and 4 photos with guests, including both Stan Lee and Patrick Stewart), and had overall a great time, even if it was pretty damn tiring stuck on your feet most of the time (though easy enough to take a break any time in one of the stages for a guest panel etc), and difficult to move amongst masses of people.

    It was definitely badly organised in many areas, signage and lack of defined queues being paramount, but I believe much of the bad press is the fault of people who didn't think ahead, and realise just how in demand these people would be, and to pre-buy tickets AND get there early, and are looking for someone to blame for their own lack of forethought.

    I'm sure I'll cop some flames, meh, but I reiterate, anyone who PAID for something they did not get in the end, is definitely entitled to a refund. Any token bought for which the promised 'service' was not provided, should receive a refund. Anyone who got IN though, is not in my opinion entitled to a refund just because they didn't get what they wanted, except where the above applies.

      Well said, my thoughts exactly :)

      Extremely well put sir.... However...
      You went in on a $200 VIP ticket, and as you stated you could not afford the $500 Platinum ticket, but what about Joe & Mary and their 3 kids that rock up on the day and do not have the money to folk over $1000 total to get your experience?

      Oz Comic Con advertised and assured people over and over again that they could show up on the day, buy tickets/tokens/etc, and if they were willing to wait a little bit longer then they could get to meet people, get autographs, get photos and what not.

      In terms of the company, you're their ideal customer. You can spend big money and can walk away with a positive outlook on the experience. However, a majority of people who got angry are the ones who do not have the extra cash to splash on the VIP and above level tickets.

      If Oz Comic Con wish to continue running future conventions in this manner where they only deal with those with deep pockets full of cash, then they are going to lose business very quickly. Supanova is without a doubt THE BEST run convention in the country because they balance things out between the VIP ticket buyers and the common patron. OCC did none of this and it's come back to hurt their brand

        This comment has been deemed inappropriate and has been deleted.

          inappropriate. What a joke. Last time I lay the truth down.

        I totally understand that, and as I said early on I realise not everyone can afford that. As I also said though, it's unreasonable for (some) people to complain about showing up halfway through the day without a pre-purchased tickets, when such big names as Stan Lee and Patrick Stewart were going to be there - regardless of anything the organisers did or didn't do, it would be pretty silly to think these guys wouldn't draw HUGE numbers, and consequently it's obvious a) that it'd be busy, and b) that photo/signatures ops may well sell out.

        I think the biggest change the organisers would have to make for next time (aside from different MANAGEMENT of things like lines and signage) is a bigger venue, or at least more of the same venue - that way they could sell more admission tickets (ie not sell out of those), and not have to stop people entering the venue due to too many being in there already (or at least not have to do this as frequently). Ideally it would also help with OHS, not having SO many people crammed in there; had there been a fire etc there'd've really been nowhere to go.

          I've been doing cons for 20+ years and NEVER bought a premium ticket. Until this con, with a bit of planning, I generally can do everything I want (although conflicts in panels can't be helped). I got there at 8am on Saturday morning. Was in the door at 9:15 and lined up for a Stan autograph. I was in line for about 4 hours and it sold out before I could. I then went and lined up for the Stan talk. Basically I spent from 8am - 2pm in a queue. I didn't get the chance to walk the floor until Sunday.

          On Sunday I arrived at 7am. I was lined up ready to rush for Stan tokens. At 8:15am or so they started a second line and let them in at the same time as us who has been waiting for hours. This wasn't VIPs, this was standard people. I felt sorry for the people in the freezing cold who watched all this happen.

          I SHOULD NOT need to buy a VIP ticket to be able to enjoy a con. The only people who claim to have had a good time are those who paid. My solution is just not to go to another Oz-Comic Con.. with all the other cons I'm quite happy to miss them.

    The Dig?

    Was intending to go with some friends on Sunday but we heard about the queues and everything and given the weather decided not to bother. Sounds like skipping was a good choice.

    To be fair, I don't think anyone commenting on Facebook "lined up" to comment - certainly not in any sort of context like they lined up on the actual event days.

    It surprised me how many people continued to complain on the Oz Comic Con Facebook page during Day 2, after they had already physically experienced what Day 1 was like. It's not that I feel those patrons aren't entitled to complain, but after already having had an extremely bad experience on the first day only to yet again seem surprised that their experience during the second day was just as shit as the first just sounds so silly and naïve... didn't they learn anything at all during their day 1 experience about what to expect from Hub and this event?

    Hub Productions have a lot of valuable lessons to learn from last weekends chaos and I hope they do implement changes based on feedback like they suggest they will. Their "Kotaku apology" is dismal - sure, apologise to those who didn't get a ticket on the day, but how about apologising to those who DID hand over their hard-earn dollars to buy tickets that paid for your event? Sure, people make mistakes and mistakes are totally understandable - but this was a colossal fuck-up beyond a mistake; putting aside their poor communication and training for volunteer staff (who I feel just as sorry for), they had Patrick Stewart and Stan Lee as their major draw cards - who, on this Earth, would not have anticipated these two men drawing in massive crowds at a comic convention? That's just "lights are on but no-one's home" thinking right there.

    I think Armageddon and Supernova coordinators can sit back and rest easy without worry of Oz Comic Con ruining the "industry image." A lot of patrons who commented made it quite clear that both Armageddon and Supernova manage to handle their events, at the same location, far better than Oz Comic Con did. If anything, I would suggest that Hub have only helped strengthen the Armageddon and Supernova fan base and promote the effectiveness of those two conventions.

    On a more positive note, props need to go to Patrick Stewart and Stan Lee who, some commenters reported, stayed back to continue signing autographs. I would just love to hear what they thought of the entire day.

      Agree I heard that Stan Lee in particular stayed back for hours signing.

        They did both stay back for hours. On Sunday Stan Lee's signing was 3pm-4:30pm but he started well before that and stayed until everyone in line got through. Considering his age it was a Herculean effort.

      One thing that does concern me is the number of people who seemed to think that Oz Comic-Con is a branch of San Diego Comic-Con. I heard a lot of comments along the lines of "yeah it's a shambles but it is the first Comic-Con in Australia."

      I doubt the confusion would do any actual damage to the reputation of SDCC but if I was them I'd be a bit pissed.

        Stan Lee started at 3.20 I was in line and saw when he arrived for that session but all guest stayed back to sign the photo's that fans had taken with them due to the fans having to wait till after 5pm to get their photo's

      Armageddon and Supanova have both had their share of disasters though. Although of course they're not going to mention that, what with their glee in all the bad press for Hub and OzCC.

      It's kind of like Sony and Nintendo when Microsoft started making consoles. They weren't happy about it, thinking Microsoft was muscling in on their territory but in the end there was more than enough gaming money to go around. Just like there's enough convention money to go around. These conventions aren't (or shouldn't be) competing, they're complementing each other. So they really should stop bitching about each other and badmouthing each other whilst glossing over or failing to mention their own failures and teething problems.

        I get that there was going to be teething problems (and I'm sure Supernova and Armageddon had theirs) but it just baffles my mind how epically they underestimated the number of people the big name guests would bring.

        Queue management, volunteer training, ticket sales etc I'm happy to put down to teething. They improved somewhat over night so hopefully they get these things sorted for next year.

        Thinking that space was big enough for the number of people who would need to line up for signings, photos and panels was just an epic lack of market knowledge and foresight.

        I'm sorry but I can't see any comments from Supanova in any of these Kotaku articles. Hub Productions even had a stall at the last Sydney Supanova. Guess they focusing more on November tour in Adelaide and Brisbane, rather then petty bitching.

        As far as I'm aware, Supanova welcome any competition with a friendly handshake, a smile and the words 'bring it on'!

          pretty sure thats not supanova's attitude to competition, least that the feel i get, supa is commenting just not being quoted, In the past hub have been known to threaten legal action against any company who stands up against them from what i hear so supa probly just doesn't want to give them more ammo so to speak.

    Was really wanting to go but now that I read this, kinda glad I didn't go

    Im so pissed off i waited in line for 2 hours to get a token to most likely wait in another enormous line to meet Stan lee only to get to the front of the line and be told tokens for both autographs and photographs had been sold out... They needed a bigger venue and more damn tickets and tokens I missed out on most likely the only chance I will ever get to meet my comic book idol, thanks a lot

    Stan signed over 1000 autographs on day 1 alone (according to Stan himself; I was lucky enough that the photographer changed rolls - or something, if she was using digital - giving me a precious few moments to chat with 'The Man' before my photo)... that to me indicates plenty of people getting what they wanted, and seems to imply plenty of tokens sold and fulfilled.

      Stan also remained behind for hours longer than he was supposed to, giving as many people as he could an autograph they waited an extremely long time for. That's not Hub Productions giving customers what they paid for - that's Stan being an awesome human being. Also, if you consider that over two days Oz Comic Con received over 40,000 patrons even if you halved that amount as Day 1's numbers 1,000 autographs out of 20,000 patrons for the first day isn't really that many. A lot for one person to sign, yes.

        Stan Lee is a super hero, it's a shame that Hub will get credit for his generosity in covering up their mess. With guests that big there are always going to be a lot of disappointed people that miss out, but it's not hard to plan ahead, cap the number of photos/autos that will be available on each day and advertise that these things will be limited. Most importantly, watch the line and KNOW how many you have left to sell and close off the line at that number, don't leave people standing in line pointlessly for HOURS after you already know you've reached your cap.

          I agree it was Stan going above and beyond to do this, but you've got to realise as well that the more tokens they sell for autographs, the less time in the day he'd have to do other things like photo opportunities and panels. He was pretty much fully 'booked' all day with these things, so they COULDN'T really provide more autograph tokens, without having fewer photo ops (of which there was only one slot anyway) or panels. I agree that 1000 is a small proportion of the 40,000 that attended, of course it is, but that has to be considered against the above.

          I'm not trying to unreservedly defend the organisers, in many ways it was an absolute shitfight, but at the same time, a lot of irritation seems to come from people stuck in long entry/token queues and not necessarily getting what they were queueing for at the end (eg tokens selling out), but that's as much as result of the huge numbers that turned out, that in many couldn't really have been mitigated by even the best organiser.

    In related news, this is a semi-amusing post that talks about one patron's experience at Oz Comic Con last weekend: "Melbourne Oz Comic Con - A Letter Home From The Front Lines" - http://steelcalavera.wordpress.com/2012/07/01/melbourne-oz-comic-con-a-letter-home-from-the-front-lines/

      As the NPH of his squad, I can verify that this was our experience. Overall, pretty frustrating but not entirely unexpected.

      I think the biggest disappointment was that people who were buying tickets on the day were getting in before the people who had pre-purchased. People in front of us in the line to get tokens told us how easily they got in, and were then frustrated by having to queue for tokens.

    I do feel for the people who shelled out for the Patrick Stewart dinner though.

    The whole time he wasn't all that well - handshaking was off limits due to his arthritis, and on day 1 he had to quit an autograph session early due to a draft playing havoc with the arthritis, so the whole signing table for him and his son Daniel was carried around to the other side of the partition by volunteers, and on day 2 it was back in the original spot but covered by a marquee.

    Apparently he and Daniel quit the dinner after 10 minutes (!), having come down with the flu. That would be pretty annoying, especially considering how much fun it seems like the attendees of the Mitch Pileggi and Jason Momoa dinners had. Mitch was my standout, the friendliest guy, happy and congenial to each and every person he saw. And Julie Benz put her arm around me. *dies happy*

      It's understandable if people are sick that they have to back out of these things and nobody can blame them (the guests or the organizers) for that.

      That said given that kind of situation those who've paid a lot of money for that kind of thing should be offered some kind of compensation, perhaps a discount on their next event in the least. It's a shame that it happened but from what I hear (admittedly second hand) if the guests had been treated better and looked after appropriately throughout the day they would have probably been in a better state to have attended the event properly in the first place.

      With the dinner only Daniel left after 10 minutes due to being ill. Patrick was there for a full hour.

        Ah that's great, that's different to what I heard.

    I survived Melbourne Oz Comic-con 2012, and all I got was this pretty cool serenity t-shirt.

    They should have used more of the convention center. I was shocked at how small the whole thing was.
    Barely seemed worth the trip from WA. Thank god for the Game Masters Exhibition down the road, and the pretty cool stuff you melbournites have around.
    And Nintendo DS Streetpassing in the queue.

    Kent, you've pretty much said everything I wanted to say, man. (Full disclosure, I'm the mate that put stuff in the car).

    I started typing a response...but ended up making myself angry at people.

    The final line of the article, "I think this is more a case of the old adage of ‘a failure to plan, is a plan to fail." pretty much sums things up.

    If you're going to an event such as this...plan ahead. Rocking up on the day and expecting to have contact with the big name guests will only end it tears.

    Pre-purchase your tickets.

    Get to the event EARLY. As early as you can. 7am has served me well at Armageddon, Supanova and now Oz Comics (although that was less important this time around with an 'Excelsior' ticket). But even on Sunday, word had gotten around, and there were still 100+ people lined up on Sunday at that time.

    Know where you need to be and when you need to be there. I didn't see a floor plan until I was lined up on Saturday on an event flyer, but it turns out they had put it up on Facebook a day or two earlier. If you need tokens for photos/autographs...GO THERE FIRST. This is also where the previous rule comes into play...if you're quick to get to the venue, you're quicker INTO the venue, you get quicker to the token booth.

    If you've got a token, that token SHOULD be honoured. But better safe than sorry, always get to the queue you need to be in early. Even with the 'Excelsior' priority access to Stan Lee, for both photos and autographs we were in line an hour prior to the start of the scheduled time-block. This will allow for any goof ups/communication breakdowns/line re-arranging and still get you through reasonably quickly once things get moving.

    There were crowding issues, yes, but these happen even at Armageddon/Supanova at the peak of the day. The total floor space of Oz Comic Con exceeded that of Armageddon (who use the same venue_ by a bay or two. Could stalls have been further apart? Sure, but if you're pushing a pram around and complaining you can't move...that's just silly.

    I could go on, but aside from a few glitches (Saturday morning's ticketing/line issues being probably the biggest I saw) I really enjoyed the weekend, and everything I wanted to get done, got done.

    Bring on Oz Comic Con 2013, I say. If they, Supanova and Armageddon can all learn lessons from this past weekend's failings, all the better.

    In my opinion Hub have ABSOLUTELY NO EXCUSE for underestimating the number of attendees. NONE.

    Anyone who looked at that line up of guests could have told them that the space they hired wasn't going to be big enough. And having Stan Lee's signing in the middle of the floor was just stupid. I was working at one of the booths and went for a wander around before 9am on Saturday. I took one look at the taped area for Stan's signing queue and did a face palm. There was room for about 20 people.
    Then later on it was impossible to browse the floor because you kept getting trapped by walls of people.

    The volunteers were horribly uniformed (which isn't really their fault) and were often not assertive enough to properly manage the queues (especially when people queue jumped). I asked two volunteers for information re: Stan Lee's signing and got different answers, then when I told a staff member this she said "were they in a t-shirt? [staff wore shirts, volunteers wore tees] Yeah, they don't know anything."

    The whole event was an OHS nightmare. I'd never seen a horde of stampeding nerds before but I almost got knocked over by one on Sunday morning. As soon as the doors opened everyone RAN directly to the token booths. At one stage some of the exhibitors were yelling at people to walk, not run (the PA announcement, it does nothing).

    One thing I will say is that, at least inside the event, the queue management was heaps better on Sunday. Obviously there wasn't much they could with the same amount of space but they made sure to keep the intersections of the aisles clear and had the queues snake around in a much safer and simpler way.

      Whoops, typo. I meant to say that the volunteers were horribly *uninformed*. Not horribly uniformed. The t-shirts were pretty cool.

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