One of the most satisfying elements of San Diego Comic-Con is the accessibility of Comic-Con International – they are usually incredibly cordial and very receptive to enquiries, eager to clarify any questions that sites like ourselves might want to send their way.
As such, here at AN ENGLISHMAN IN SAN DIEGO, we’ve thought that a regular Q&A would help clear up any points that come up during chats with our followers on Twitter and social media, in the various groups that we’re involved with and, of course, on the TALKIN’ COMIC-CON: A CUP O’ TEA WITH… hangouts which we hold every Sunday. This post, then, is the first batch of questions that we have fired off to the diligent CCI Press Department on your behalf.
If you hear a statement from the organisation, from any of the individual departments or any designated SDCC/WonderCon representative, you can be sure that it has been issued via CCI’s Press Office, providing a very clear message and giving no ambiguity. The team, headed up by Director of Press & Public Relations David Glanzer, are the singular voice by which CCI communicates with the wider world.
It was only fitting, then, that they might be the ideal people to answer the first question on our list, the big question that keeps coming up on the Hangout, week after week: “Guys… What the hell is the beef with Netflix?”
AN ENGLISHMAN IN SAN DIEGO: The biggest question that has been coming up, time and time again, regards the conspicuous absence of Netflix at San Diego Comic-Con, especially with the shows that they are producing being very friendly to the SDCC audience, and I would like to find out if there is an official statement from your office as to why. I have heard word, via the J. Michael Straczynski twitter feed, that there is a specific grievance on the part of the Netflix Promotions Department, requesting that no cast members represent Netflix shows at panels and no dedicated show panels be scheduled. Can you confirm that this is or isn’t and, if so, what the issues with CCI and their events might be?
DAVID GLANZER: “Well I certainly can’t speak for Netflix but I don’t know of any outstanding issue. I know they have participated at WonderCon and we work with the same team so I am unaware of any problem. I do know, however, that we get a lot of inquiries when a particular studio or network doesn’t participate in one of our shows. But typically it has to do with timing. Filming schedules, cast availability and marketing support often falls in line with Comic-Con or WonderCon but not always. And when it doesn’t fall in line then it’s difficult to commit to appearing at the show. If a studio cannot commit fully for whatever reason, they know it’s usually not in their best interests to do a half-baked effort.”
NOTE: For the background to this question, I include here the tweets that I refer to in my question, from the @straczynski twitter account, including conversation with the SDCC Blog‘s Editor-In-Chief Kerry Dixon on her personal account. While I recognise CCI’s position, as outlined in David’s response, there does seem to be a definite axe to grind – and it appears to be all Netflix’s doing. I have reached out to the company for a response; at this time of posting, there has been none.
— JMichael Straczynski (@straczynski) July 1, 2015
@kerrydixon They told me. Didn't want the panel to happen, then told the cast not to come. Pretty clear, I'd say.
— JMichael Straczynski (@straczynski) July 2, 2015
— JMichael Straczynski (@straczynski) July 2, 2015
AEISD: I can appreciate that there have probably been many questions and discussions about line management and wristbands in regards to SDCC 2015. What were the biggest lessons learnt last year, considering that that was the second year of the system being implemented? What was the biggest complaint that you heard in your office and have the conversations made felt that that issue can be confronted and overcome?
DG: “Overall the wristbands seemed to have worked well this year. That doesn’t mean there aren’t areas we can improve upon and we are still evaluating whether the benefit for fans outweighs any potential issues. So it’s a little early to say one way or the other how we plan to proceed.”
AEISD: WonderCon is just on the horizon and many of my readers are very excited about its debut in Los Angeles. The office of San Diego is very vocal about its support of SDCC in the city, in terms of transport, accommodation and infrastructure – what concessions and assistance has L.A. made in preparation for welcoming WonderCon?
DG: “San Diego has been a great supporter of Comic-Con and for that we’re very thankful. You are correct that the Metropolitan Transit System augments the trolley system when Comic-Con comes around and hotels have been gracious in allowing us to use hotel event space. Our dealings with Los Angeles have been very pleasant as well. I’m sure you read the press release from Mayor Garcetti when it was announced that WonderCon would move to Los Angeles for 2016 (read that release, HERE). And while there are always issues to deal with and challenges no matter who is involved, things continue to progress well. We are working hard to make it the best WonderCon ever so we have our fingers crossed that it will be a fantastic show!”
AEISD: Over the last number of years, CCI has made every effort of shifting the number of professional, retailer and press badges to actual attendees. Is this something that’s going to continue and increase in 2016 or do you feel you’ve now reached a comfortable balance?
DG: “We do try to make as many badges available for attendees as possible, and while there are more people who want to attend than we have badges, we are working on how best to address demand. And, in an effort to enhance the experience of our attendees, we’ve implemented a campus of sorts (events directly across the street or within walking distance to the Convention Center) and satellite events (farther away from the Center).
AEISD: Myself, and the people I’ve spoken to, are very appreciative of the increase in comics and sequential art coverage in recent years, including the introduction of the Graphic Novel Book Club and writers discussing comics in the Toucan Blog. Can you suggest if SDCC has talked about shifting focus again in any manner, in terms of content, in regards to previous years? Any thoughts on how well the previous years have been perceived?
DG: “I don’t think there has been any shift in focus, just more opportunity to highlight the things that have always been important to us. Comic-Con and WonderCon are huge events and while it takes a small … well, BIG, army to make sure they go off with as little trouble as possible, trying to increase other events throughout the year has been a challenge.
As an example, the Graphic Novel Book Club and the recent installation at the San Diego Central Library of the history of Comic-Con were coordinated by individuals at Comic-Con who already have full time jobs. This past couple of years, however, has allowed us to increase staff which has freed up time from some of our team members so that we can do things we’ve always wanted to do. In fact we’ve been able to have a completely new redesign of the website as well. So it’s not that we’re shifting focus, we now have a bit more resources that allow us to increase our activities and that is something we are very excited about.”
AEISD: We all appreciate that people can move or join the team! Have there been any changes, additions or losses to the CCI roster, leading up to SDCC 2016?
DG: “There have been additions to the Comic-Con staff over the last couple of years as mentioned above. While I can’t get into specifics there have also been some who have left. While we’re a fun organization, we’re also a business like any other and we see people join and leave for any number of reasons. But I think we still have a pretty amazing retention rate in terms of employees, many of which have been with us for 10 plus years.”
AEISD: Some massive content is happening, all throughout 2016! On a personal level, what is that one comic/film/show that the team is looking forward to seeing, not just at SDCC? (Although, fingers crossed, right?)
DG: “That’s a tough question because our team is as diverse as the content of our shows. We’ve always said that we’re fans that put on the type of show we want to see. And we’re lucky enough to be able to do that. So there are huge comics fans here, movie, TV, gaming, manga, …. you name it, we’ve got fans of it in our office. And there isn’t a day that goes by when someone is commenting about something new or exciting in their particular area of fandom. The great thing is, in most cases, we can feature that at our shows. So while I know I didn’t give you a specific answer, I think if I did, this article would be much longer than it already is – LOL!”
Did we get any answers to questions that have been on your mind? Do you think there are any points they could expand on further? And do YOU have any burning questions that you would like to put to Comic-Con International for a future Chat With Comic-Con? As always, comments are welcome below, or you can contact us on our social media: Twitter, Facebook and Google+.