An Englishman’s Opinion: Mark Searby’s Top Ten Peeves about San Diego Comic-Con!
Ahh yes, you all know Mark Searby – he’s a respected film critic, writing for a number of UK publications. He’s a regular guest on our Talkin’ Comic-Con: A Cup O’ Tea… Hangouts. And he’s a guy that never backs down from his opinions, however conscientious they may be. (“Jurassic World was pretty crap!” is a particular favourite.)
However, after this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, Mark has had a couple of thoughts about the whole she-bang which reminded him all that flying halfway across the globe to Nerdvana sometimes can be a right royal pain in the bum…
Forget trying to get the badges, or trying to get that downtown hotel during Hotelpocalypse, or trying to find super cheap flights, or even fighting for those exclusives on the Exhibition Floor. Here is a list of my top ten annoyances that are becoming bigger and bigger with each year:
- Repetitive Panel Guest Phrases – Don’t say “This is the best bunch of people I’ve ever worked with,” as the audience have heard that in nearly every panel during the entire weekend – so everything’s a love fest. Pack it in! Also, don’t tell us what it says on the back of your place name cards, if you could. We’ve heard the “Some of your audience might be under 18….” phrase enough to probably recite it from memory. Just make a mental note of that we know that you know that we know that you know and carry on.
- Fanboy/Girl Moderators – We are all fans, that’s why we are in the room to see the panel in the first place. But as a moderator, you need to be professional, cool and calm: don’t let your fanboy/girl out until you’ve finished the panel. Also, don’t make it just about you and the talent; we are in the room as well you know! And don’t run off to get a selfie with the talent as they are leaving the stage. This leaves the stage empty and the audience without anything to focus on. Oh, and another thing: don’t keep saying “I know what’s coming up because I’ve already seen it and you haven’t”, what a douche way to say you are better than the audience – yeah, thanks for that!
(Leonard: I think I know which moderator Mark’s got in mind on this one!)
- Panel Moderators In General – If you have been chosen to be a panel moderator, it means you have knowledge of that genre. So turning up completely unprepared and fudging your way through it is just embarrassing, and so blatantly obvious to the audience. If you can’t or don’t want to do it then tell your employers so they can find some else. I don’t want to have to sit through your stuttering and stammering whilst you try and think of another question for the panel of guests that you are meant to know about.
(Leonard: …I think I’m detecting a trend with these issues!)
- Constant Chatterers In The Audience – If you are in a panel and you are talking whilst the panel is happening then please keep it down to a whisper. We don’t need to hear your booming voice saying how amazing it looks; we already know that as we can see it. So…keep it down alright? Oh, and if the lights go down to show a video, and you are not interested in seeing it, please don’t use your phone. It creates a disturbing light in the eye line for those of us who do want to watch it. If you can’t stay off social media and keep quiet for a short time then maybe leave the auditorium, some of us are there to engage in what is happening on stage.
- Baseball Caps – If you are lucky enough to be on a panel, don’t wear a baseball cap. We can’t see your face. Even the cameras can’t see under the peak. Let us see your baby blue eyes. Also it creates a better connection with your audience.
(Leonard: Hey, I wore a cap at my panel! What ya trying to say, dude??)
- Babies – Comic-Con is crazy …like, seriously crazy. Why on Earth would you bring your baby with you? Walking round the Exhibit Hall with a baby carrier strapped to your back with a 6 month old in it. The world is already a scary place at that age; it doesn’t need to be in the melee that is SDCC at such a young age.
(Leonard: “Actually, this one is something we’ll have to agree to disagree on. The one element of Comic-Con 2015 which was a marked drop in previous years was the marked drop in child attendees so any encouragement to get them into con culture from any young age is fine by me.”)
- ‘Sudden Stoppers’ – We are all trying to get somewhere at Comic-Con, so you stopping dead in your tracks to text your mate or take a photo really doesn’t help. In fact, it creates a big build up of foot traffic behind you. Chances are you suddenly stopping will then have people bumping into you because they are right behind you anyway. If you want to text or take photos maybe step to the side.
- Exhibitor Amnesia – If you have a stand selling or giving away stuff, please please please know what you have available on your booth. To keep saying “I’m not sure” or “Come back later” just doesn’t help us wanting what you have. SDCC is non-stop all weekend; we probably don’t have time to keep swanning back every few hours just to see if you have finally found out the answer to my question.
- Jaywalking on West Harbour Drive – That little off shoot of Harbour Drive that is right in front of the Convention Centre is perfect for walking along. But we aren’t allowed to because we get shouted at by security and/or the Police. Look, I’m an adult I know how to cross the road and also move out of the way if a shuttle bus is coming through. You don’t need to bark at me like a child crossing his first ever road.
- Smoking Section – There really isn’t much time to have a quick smoke at SDCC, yet if there is time at least give them an area that doesn’t resemble a Game Of Thrones dungeon or behind three rows of iron railings & between two fairly large plants. They are still nerds like us all, just nerds with yellow teeth.
(Leonard: Nah, get rid of ’em! I’m sure we can drift the smokers away on a barge off the bay, all on their lonesome, far far away…!)
At C2E2 one year, a panel for an actor from “Being Human (US)” had the WORSE moderator ever. I think they just grabbed some guy and said hey, do this panel. I’m pretty sure every fan in the room could have done a better job.
Eep! Any ideas who it was? The ones for the WB/TV Block on Saturday weren’t brilliant…
I think the moderator ones could be more pointed at Chris Hardwick than Aisha. They are both huge fans, but I’ve heard Chris say a few time “Wait until you see this, its amazing”
If I may add to the list of pet peeves:
1) Audience Q&A at Panels. This portion of the panel needs to be shortened. The 60-90 minutes goes by quick and I don’t need half of it taken up by unoriginal & sometimes annoying questions. Yes, there are good questions maybe, 1/10. The rest are same old questions like:
Q: I’m an aspiring actor/blogger/writer/artist what advice can you give?
A: Never give up. Keep trying. Keep learning. (Same old answer)
Q: Thank you for being here. I love you and your work. Can I get a picture/autograph?
A: Sure (All the while the audience groans)
Q: Will this or that happen in the show like it did in the book/comic?
A: Hey no spoilers. You’ll just have to wait and see. (Heckled by the audience and sometimes the moderator).
2) To expand on the ‘sudden stoppers’: I stop for 5 seconds to put something in my backpack and security hassles me to keep the aisles clear. I understand and start to move, only to have my forward progress impeded by a group of people chatting it up in the middle of the aisle. Where the hell is the security to unclog these lurkers.
3) Strollers: I have to agree with Leonard. We should promote this nerd culture for the future youth. I plan to take my sister’s twins to their first comic-con as soon as they are potty trained and can walk a good distance. One thing I will not be taking are strollers. These evil devices take too much space and always seem to run into my ankles. They should not be allowed in exhibit hall even if they are not oversized. Once a parent/guardian tacks on a few swag bags, merchandise, and poster tubes, those normal sized strollers are battering rams.
4) Communication: In this day of age of social media and up-to-minute information it boggles the mind that you can get 3 different answers to the same question depending on who you ask (volunteer, security, or CCI staff). Would it be so difficult to have a single source from which all your employees and helpers can go to get the latest info. We could calls this site “Visage book” or maybe “Tweet Tweet”. I mean its a billion dollar idea.
5) Lines: specifically Hall H. This ones a toughy, because people will always try to game the system. But if you say no lining up for the next days panels and then allow an unofficial line to form then WTH!! I honestly don’t have a suggestion on how to fix the multi-line, official and unofficial lining up for Hall H but whatever we have now is broken and needs to be fixed. It sucks to know that I’m about to go into Hall H Friday morning only to find out that there are a few hundred people already lined up for Saturday’s panel.