Steve Wozniak hosted the first eve Comic Con In Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley Comic Con – http://svcomiccon.com/ I attend several Cons around the country and was very excited to be checking out the first Silicon Valley one.
Steve Wozniak wanted to host a comic con in the San Jose area, because that is where he is from He got together with few of his friends and colleagues and started planning. He later purchased the smaller, Big Wow Comic Fest that happened in the area. Silicon Valley Comic Con was targeted more towards media guest, signatures and film panels than comic books and artists. Some guests included – Steve Wozniak, Stan Lee, William Shatner, Jeremy Renner, Ray Park, Nathan Fillion, Alan Tudyk, Sean Astin, Christopher Lloyd, Astro Teller, Jon Heder, Julie Benz, Karen Gillan, Michael J. Fox, and Lea Thompson.
Wozniaks whole idea for the con was to merge geeky comic and pop culture with technology. That lead to some interesting areas and changes that are not typically seen at some other cons. There was a nice little section in the middle of the con that included various VR companies for example. People could line up and try out some of the latest games and demos on Oculus, and Vive headsets. The line ups were big but pretty reasonable compared to other places I’ve seen things demoed, like at CES which had normally 2+ hour lines. It was nice to see the technology was included in the comic con typical experience.
There was also a cosplay section, a cosplay contest, a comic book museum area that showcased many prints by Stan Lee and others. Typical merchandise was available for purchase in t-shirts, funko pops and geeky gear. For many who want to attend San Diego Comic Con but can’t get tickets for whatever reason – this seems like a decent alternative in this area.
The Back to the future panel was a highlight for most of the con goers and it included Michael J fox, Christopher Lloyd and Lea Thompson. This panel was an extra $10 surcharge if you wanted to attend on top of the $99. No other cons do this for a main event. Not even San Diego Comic Con. Worse yet there were several glitches with this experience including people sneaking past security to enter, VIP line up areas blurring into regular user areas, and the worst – over selling so many people who paid didn’t even get access. I’m not sure why this happened at all. It really felt like they were exploiting the fans. Big A – listers like this panel can cost more sure, but they should be found without having to cost users extra after a roughly $50 a day price tag.
The Not So Great of Silicon Valley Comic Con
The main complaint of the weekend at Silicon Valley Comic Con was lack of organization. Signs were rather limited. You couldn’t find where panel rooms were, or things were happening. Except the Games room. The games room which was a ton of classic arcade games that people could play, which was pretty neat. The panels were hard to find. The outdated program guide had guests that were no longer speaking,, incorrect rooms and other outdated information. Silicon Valley Comic Con wanted you to log on to their website or use their app. Sometimes the onsite wifi didn’t work either which made it hard to find where and what panels were happening. The loud speakers had announcements that told you of some important panels and where they were located and this was quite helpful, but unfortunately only for a few panels. Many panels had changed rooms, but there were no notices that the rooms had been changed at those room. It was really kind of a mess.
Perhaps one of the more interesting issues was the badge itself, an RFID braclet. To embrace the technology side of things at Silicon Valley Comic Con, these bracelet required you to scan, supermarket checkout style, in and out of the convention. A nice idea in principal and when my group arrived first thing in the morning it went quite well. What didn’t go quite well is later in the day. Many of the panels were located on the bottom floor requiring you to scan out or more specifically not be scanned in at all. The entrance and the exit were at roughly the same area. It caused a huge and lengthy traffic jam for attendees as you can see in the picture below. More spots were needed. More volunteers were needed. Volunteers were super happy and tried to be helpful but often times lacked any more information than the people around you might have.
The only food or drink available at Silicon Valley Comic Con was on the top floor of the convention. It had ridiculously long lines and was usually very sold out. There was not enough seating for those lucky to get food either. Lots of food was available outside the convention though and many chose that route.
Guests who purchased VIP were particularly displaced when they found that “free drink and food” in their area didn’t last long. Even the cups for the water coolers ran out pretty quick. The early access they were supposed to get for many of the events often didn’t happen either. The lines were often a bunch of people telling other people where to be. When it came time for security to allow access, the end result was likely a different story. People would flow in from all directions because they were not sure where they were suppose to be. Most VIP although annoyed accepted that it was ‘first year of Silicon Valley Comic Con’ and seemed ok about it.
Because it is the first year of Silicon Valley Comic Con, of course there will be some hickups and things might not go as smoothly as planned. The team needs to get better at dealing with con pain points and get someone on staff with more organization experience. Overall I enjoyed the con experience and really enjoyed how they added various technology elements into the mix. It made for a fun experience and merging of various worlds. With a bit more organization, signs, volunteer training and logistical hickups, I expect great things from the con in the future.