Just about everybody over the age of 12 who had gone to
the fabled San Diego Comic Con over the past several years has perceived the unbelievably massive overcrowding as an accident just waiting to happen. Well, this year it finally happened.
As reported here and elsewhere, last Saturday a
confrontation between two attendees ended with one being stabbed in the eye. It seems the perpetrator took exception to the guy sitting in on a panel just so he could get a seat at the next panel. Quite frankly, that’s a common occurrence at the San Diego show.
The attacker was arrested and charged with assault with a deadly weapon. That deadly weapon was a pen, but, according to the police, the
pen was used in a deadly manner. Barring additional, heretofore unrevealed
information – like, the victim was wielding a Klingon Daqtagh – this seems like a reasonable charge. I’m sure it’ll be plea-bargained down to something like community service at a Soylent Green plant.
There’s only so much security you can provide when you squeeze an eighth of a million people, most wearing gynormous backpacks, into a confined space that restricts movement. If you’re not willing to be in line for the better panels hours and hours early, you will not get in. And there are
dozens and dozens of those; trust me, I’ve been on more than a few. Last couple years those of us who participate in panels have been hustled into “green rooms” afterwards in order to escape the crowds.
If it’s panels you’re looking for, in San Diego you’ll be lucky to attend two a day while spending the rest of your time standing in line.
Those lines exacerbate the difficulty of getting around.
This isn’t restricted to the panel rooms: signings and appearances in the main
room (p.k.a. “the dealer’s room”) or in Artists’ Alley promotes exceptionally
dangerous crowd conditions.
Doesn’t San Diego have a fire marshal’s office? If so, what the hell are they smoking? They couldn’t get away with this in most other cities; I’m reminded of the first two New York shows put on by Reed Exhibitions that were corralled by New York’s bravest.
It’s a no-win situation; the San Diego Comic Con has outgrown its facilities, and it may have outgrown manageable reality. Lucky for us comics fans, it’s been years since the San Diego show has really been about comic books anyway.