Held from March 18th to March 20th at the San Jose Convention center, 2016 marked the first annual Silicon Valley Comic Con. Sponsored by Apple chairman Steve Wozniak, SVCC absorbed Big Wow! Comic Fest and teamed up with The Woz to create a convention that boasted the “bringing together of two of America’s greatest superheroes; pop culture and technology”. For a first-time three day convention, the price tag was steep; about $100 for the full weekend, plus additional add-ons for photo opportunities, celebrity signings, and VIP access. Was the price tag worth it? Does the Bay Area’s response to SDCC and Wondercon hold up? Let’s find out.
REGISTRATION/ATTENDANCE: As mentioned earlier, SVCC was a pricey con. While marketed as a three day convention at $100 for the full weekend, the first day of the convention felt more like a day 0. Advertised as a “preview night”, the convention was only open from 5pm-9pm. Registration was practically nonexistent this night- for those who pre-purchased early enough, badges were mailed to attendees ahead of time, so no line for us! Preview night was very sparse- we were able to venture into the dealers hall and Stan Lee museum early and skip the crowds, but vendors were still setting up, and some hadn’t even arrived at all.
Saturday was a completely different story. A little dissuaded by the emptiness that was Day 1, I wasn’t expecting a wrap-around line for registration that went from the convention center entrance to looping around the parking lot.
Getting inside the convention wasn’t any different. Newly implemented RFID chips instead of the usual badges created huge traffic blocks getting in and out of the con- think Disneyland pass scanning, but significantly slower, and in inconvenient costumes. Convention goers weren’t very happy with the long lines and chip scanning. Cosplayers were especially bothered, bulky costumes made chip scanning to get in and out a huge pain.
By Sunday, we were back to the fairly empty feeling that I’d experienced on Preview Night. Another half day, the con was due to shut down at 5pm. While the con celebrated a whopping attendance of 60,000 (for comparison’s sake, Fanime averages about 25,000 attendees a year) I felt that a majority of that attendance clocked in on that single Saturday, and for the money attendees paid for a full weekend, I was hoping for a more full-weekend like experience.
RECAP: As with most first year conventions, SVCC had its growing pains. Common complaints were overcrowding, the RFID scanning instead of usual badge check, and lines. Lines for registration, lines for autographs, lines for panels, lines seemed to be a theme for SVCC. SVCC had a lot going for it, with its high-profile guest list and interesting panel line up; but for its high price point, I was expecting more doing, and less line-waiting. After the experience, I had almost wished I had just gone for Saturday, instead of investing money in a full weekend. We’ll see if SVCC makes it through its growing pains and remedies its bumps for 2017.