What is the definition of an event? Like… any event?
In my dictionary, it’s a gathering of people with something in common to spend time together. The event definitely should have a cause like a performance, a person of interest… Something unusual. It should be more or less organized: have time and place set, activities planned and, obviously, people gathered. Just a simple thought.
More the people the harder it is to organize something. That is clear. One person multiplies the number of variables and the more variables the harder the equation. Apparently, the equation Warsaw Comic-Con organizers faced has been too hard to solve. Or so it seems.
The whole thing started 2 years ago. It was supposed to be a convention on the level of the European ones. Stars all around, photos and autographs sessions. All that. Frankly, I have never been to an abroad convention (SDCC, I’m coming for you!) but I’ve been following plenty of them. And what I’ve seen in Warsaw wasn’t anyhow what I’d wanted to see.
It took me an hour in the queue just to get in. I do understand that you queue in such places, I’ve been there already. But I hadn’t expected an hour of it just to get in. There were completely no signs to divide people with daily tickets and 3-days-pass. Only some dude with a huge cardboard sign saying something about different queue (and nobody actually paid attention to him). After reaching the entrance, I saw a very disorganised crowd. Completely confused about how to scan their tickets and lost in how the queue to each scanner divided. Right next to them, a few irritated staff members tried to make people get through fast. Quite rudely.
Right after the entrance, there was yet another huge crowd confused about where to go now. No wonder, there was not exactly many places to go. This is my main issue with this event: there was not much to do. So what COULD you do?
Let me paint you a picture: wide stage with about three armchairs and a very bright screen as background. For a time there was no screening what was happening. It was almost impossible to determine if that black spot on this white armchair had a face.
The size of the sitting spots for the audience was very small. There were photobooths all around. So all the queueing people got stuck with people who wanted to listen to stars and all that. It would be actually nice to do something else while queueing. Sadly, the autograph section was so far, I couldn’t hear anything. They were muting the mics quite hard, I don’t know why. Anyway, who should get a better spot first, the queueing people or people who are around them, trying to enjoy their favourite actors?
So let’s say I can UNDERSTAND why the booths were so close (and completely killing the crowd, you know, not all the people were actually interested). I still would strongly suggest moving at least some displays aside. There was this large exhibition of a film props artist. It was literally in front of the stage which was the main attraction of Warsaw Comic Con. It had crazy lighting around all the fancy items and, what was quite surprising, there was some sort of photoshoot, too. What I’ve seen was a weird post-apo/Liberace setting with Michał Wiśniewski as the main star. #WAT
Yeah, I know that Korwin-Mikke is at every damn Pyrkon, but I haven’t seen Pyrkon making a star out of him.
I was there before noon and the number of people was already enormous so not only I couldn’t see Kapicic’s face, but I had light staring at the corner of my eye.
What about the content of these? Hard to say, I was too annoyed to come back later, but from what I’ve seen (from the queue!) – there wasn’t anything particular prepared. If the star didn’t take over the lead of the panel, it was pretty awkward. Case closed.
As far as I am aware there were supposed to be Gluchowski at a certain hour but I left earlier. But the whole ‘panel’ was so empty it was really sad to look at. And it was so alone on this one wall, with nothing around.
Cosplay and comics
Okay, I was there, I was there! To eat my second breakfast, but still.
At the time there was a panel with cosplay jury. The questions weren’t prepared at all. People questioned didn’t have answers to some, which looked very awkward. Especially since they weren’t public personas, that learnt how to overcome stress and lack of things to say. They were ordinary people who just got some recognition and played along. I don’t blame them, to be honest, I blame the organization. The host was trying to be engaged to cover all her guests but then it was hard to look at it anyway. Especially since she had to translate a Russian guy and went back and forth all the way.
Side note. I’m not saying actors, but there are incredible cosplayers in Poland. I didn’t know this Ivan guy, but it didn’t seem like he was very famous in cosplay circles. Why spend money to get a person that has zero points in being there?
Universal Stage – Music and YouTube
This is super awkward. I guess the most awkward of it all. There were some Polish ‘celebs’ for probably kids and adolescence because I have completely no idea who they were and what was the point of being there. Some YouTube Gamers and fascinating vocalists. And this was barely used, only up to 6h per day?
Autographs and photos
I was involved only to one – an autograph from Billy Boyd. The guy himself was amazing, the queue not really. Billy was supposed to sit in his booth from 1 PM to 3 PM. I decided to stand in the queue half an hour earlier. I don’t know how long others had been there before me but it took me one and a half hour to get to Billy. For a person who wasn’t the biggest star of the event, I was pretty surprised it took that long. Why? Well, organization.
I do understand that people wanted to talk to him. I kinda did, too. But then there were some people that took more than just a minute or two. It took them five, even ten. And I may be understanding but then if I didn’t get the autograph in this time – I guess I wouldn’t at all? I couldn’t have come there tomorrow, I had no point in that, not even mentioning accommodation and money. And I believe for a lot of people it was a waste of time and energy. Because it was a huge waste of energy. Standing still in a crowded queue in loud cheering and voices from the main stage and so on. I was exhausted afterwards and I decided that I had no strength to keep going around at the convention.
What may help? Some respect maybe? Some timer that resets and rings after three minutes? And maybe rules that won’t ridiculously forbid your kids to take pictures but some to actually make this time worthwhile but shorter. Well, I couldn’t even take a confirmation pic that my Pippin Funko Pop was signed by Billy and not by me. Come on. I get it, you shouldn’t take a selfie because there’s an extra price on that. But then I guess it focuses more on the money than having fun.
Also, with this 3-minute spans… Why not give a certain hour on the ticket? You know, so you can come for the precise 30-minute period? There should be rules, sure, for instance, if you miss your time then you have to go on the end of the queue and that. But it should be doable? Just me, thinking. Don’t bother.
For the sake of photos, I’ve heard it was hard to get a digital copy and the paper one was in terribly low quality. But then I wasn’t there to judge.
Where were cosplayers? It never occurred to me how sad a convention can be without them. There were cool costumes here and there, but mostly all of them were basic – onesie of Spider-man or Deadpool. There weren’t too many people who I’d like to take pictures of. Most teenagers were more or less trying to be creative but they looked normal with extra furry ears or fancy make-up.
The marketplace was the biggest attraction of them all, I believe. It took a third of a hall and it was almost the most crowded space. The sellers were mostly manga-centred or Funko Pop!. A lot of posters of the stars – no surprise there. A lot of all the film/series merch. Nothing out of ordinary and very very doubled. Obviously, I completely don’t blame any stand owners! This should be thought through by organizers to give people the range of quality items.
What I read from a certain seller – this was a nightmare show for them, too. Not only because of some crazy rules and conveniently not following them. Also that this huge queue to the entrance was for them, too. If they had to get the “storage van” outside, they had to go in like every other person. In the lengthy queue. With heavy, not so handy nor fit to the entrance boxes. Congrats.
Comics? Barely. A few stand-alone boxes more to advert the seller rather than sell anything. There was one bigger comic-book seller which was Multiversum. And now let’s get to…
Okay, this was the biggest pain in my butt. First of all, the comic-book zone cost extra, half the daily ticket. I wasn’t that desperate to get there, but it was simply sad for all the comic artists who were there, shut between walls. If I didn’t know what it was earlier, I wouldn’t even think this was a place for attendees. It was covered all around, the entrance from the very corner and every time I was in the area, nobody was actually going towards/out. The only things that supposedly informed guests about it were A4 posters on these walls. If you didn’t intend to read it, nobody would know.
There were some exhibitions of artists and such but the less commercial ones were somewhere far away from everything. I am aware of less money – worse space rule, but then these were all around the place, wherever they actually fit. Couldn’t there be the space for this kind of stuff? No, why would we? Lego and Playmobil, of course, had these huge displays right next to the main path, but money is everything.
This was actually kind of funny because I got in there after 2 hours of walking. I simply assumed that this was all there was. There weren’t many signs of this and the doors looked more like to the toilet than to the second pretty big hall. Between the halls, there were food trucks with mostly unhealthy and overpriced food, which you had to eat because there was nothing else around (and you couldn’t actually get out and come back with a one-day ticket, see below).
Anyway, the E Hall was pretty… Boring. Or for people that decided to do exactly what they’d do at home. I believe it was a solution since there was nothing to do there anyway. There was a lot of computers, consoles and stuff, including vintage. Some people played with friends but most of them seemed pretty alone to me.
Which bring me to the game boards zone and complete lack of people there. I have no idea if it was because of the bad games or the location which was cut out of everything. Anyway, not so many people stayed there. It was sad. I’ve always thought it was an amazing way to spend time at conventions if you’re tired or you’re having some free time. Or maybe just get around and meet someone. Clearly, not at Warsaw Comic Con.
The last thing to tell is the kids’ zone. It was actually pretty awesome, it had bouncy castles and things! But then I was thinking… Is the event for teens or for young parents or…? What’s the focus on?
I guess I covered it all in the case of ‘attractions’. Now let’s talk about what was wrong.
Firstly and most importantly. The one-day ticket cost 60 zł (~15 Euro). It equalled ONE ENTRY on the Warsaw Comic Con area. If you wanted to get there by car, the parking lot cost an additional 20 zł (2,5€) but you couldn’t just leave to get to your car. If you did, you had to pay for another ticket. Because the use of the car isn’t to have unnecessary things there, eh?
And the car would actually come handy because Ptak Warsaw Expo is far away from the city centre. I cannot judge the place, but then it is kind of hard to get. And it is confusing because you have to get to one bus stop to get to another and the journey by bus takes around an hour. Of course, the additional buses are not covered (there were two big events in Warsaw at the time) so it was very crowded.
You may say that there were the event buses, for free! Sure. I had no idea where they were taking people. The name of the stop on the website wasn’t quite clear and there was no map or anything to guide me. I decided to get back with these buses (of course, old machines) and the finish line was not where I expected. I’m not from Warsaw, I have no idea which stop is which. And Google couldn’t tell me either.
About the webpage… It was very pretty, very simple and completely clueless. The info couldn’t be compared to the reality, the maps were neither updated nor clear to read. TBH if I wanted to plan anything pre-event, I wouldn’t get there. The FAQ was the laziest one I’ve seen. And the major guest: the English version was different from the Polish one. Not translated. Redone. And don’t let me start on the huge Polenglish. Everything was mixed up and if you didn’t know either, you’d have to presume or translate by yourself.
PS. I do enjoy the regulations page. In the Polish version, there’s only parent’s consent. In English – there’re two links to Terms and Conditions and no parent’s consent. To sum up: you’re either Polish adolescent or foreign grown up that reads that stuff. Cool.
Last but not least: The cost of the event. This is allegedly the only such event in Poland. They invite stars, they sell autographs and pictures. And I’m telling you, the money involved is not for average Pole. The prices may be comparable with the Western conventions but sadly the worth of złoty is not comparable and neither is average salary. For a teenager to go to such a place is even worse since it’s usually the parent’s money.
Especially since the money doesn’t equal quality. The stars are being cancelled a week before the event and the money may come back to you if you write a dozen emails but then you have to wait a long time to get it. Also, I don’t want to think if my money would be returned if I didn’t go to the event at all and wanted to return the entry and the other autograph ticket as well.
Earlier editions at least had some lectures. But since it was Fandom that took care of it (unclear source) and they broke up the partnership, Warsaw Comic Con decided to just throw it to the bin. It would definitely bring some fun to this event but why would they bother to cover it up?
Next one is planned in late 2020. I guess the wave of displeasure was really too high. Will they take this time to rethink it? I hope so. Because it is completely not worth going and I really do not recommend anybody to have the same experience.
To compare, they had 14 000 people this year. Pyrkon however – without stars and all that bullshit – had over 50k. It’s cheaper, more fun and close to the city centre. I guess it’s obvious where I stand.
I still believe that one day the real convention, comparable to the western will appear in Poland. But this has to be made with experience. At the moment it seems like a baby trying to walk in its daddy’s shoes. It doesn’t know how but it does anyway. Pyrkon started to invite stars recently. For instance, last year there was Felicia Day. Photo and autographs sessions were free and it was simply a nice addition to the event instead of making her the main star. This is how it should go – slowly, checking the response. Smart decisions and slow development. I wish you that, Warsaw Comic Con.
Thank you for reading this lengthy disappointment note. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did with writing it.