The Vendor Hall and Artist Alley
The Vendor Hall took up the three largest rooms in the Convention center combined. The first section was dedicated to the ticketing area. There were ques for regular tickets, press, VIP, Special tickets, and Groupons. These lines were almost always empty as the staff worked very quickly to process everyone and get them into the hall. The main hall opened up to a large selection of vendors. Past the venders was Artist Alley, comic creator guests, and a stage for taking pictures with cosplayers. Finally the back area of the hall was dedicated to the celebrity guests. Each guest had a table with it’s own line for autographs and there was a photo opportunity area shared by all against the far wall. Restrooms and food vendors lined the outer walls.
There were a few vendors worth mentioning. Big Dog Ink was handing out free first issues of two of their comic titles. The Voltron Table overwhelmed me with nostalgia and had created custom USB keys shaped like the Lion Keys and loaded with Voltron digital media. Brimstone comics were giving out samples of their BBQ and hot sauces and was manned by former professional wrestler Brimstone. There was a table selling trades and hardbacks for $5, another table filled with quarter boxes, a Doctor Who booth, and more T-Shirts than I have ever seen in one place. It took almost an hour to just walk the floor glancing at the tables not looking at anything too closely.
Many of the booths were clubs or organizations just there to talk to people. ZOD was there teaching disaster preparedness through zombie apocalypse. As an eye catcher though they also displayed weapons created for fighting zombies. There was a baseball bat with a saw blade fastened to the end of it sitting right next to a zombie fighting robot that was still being constructed. Not to be outdone the R2D2 building club had multiple R2s driving around the hall floor and was showing off the build process. They are currently working on a Dalek as well. The Ghostbusters club was showing off how they built movie quality proton packs and traps. Whether your interest was steampunk, female geeks, or even haunted houses there was an organization there to talk to.
The highlight of the vendor hall for me was Artist Alley. Over the course of the three days I had the opportunity to talk to Daredevil artist Chris Samnee for over an hour about Superman, conventions, fans, and just general chit chat. He was a prime example of how a creator should behave at a convention. He was humble and pleasant to talk to. Fans tried to tip him for signing autographs and he told them there was no need because they were buying his books. Artist Jorge Molina and writer Colin Bunn also showed similar positive interactions with fans. While another creator on the floor was charging $20 to take a picture with them these creators were doing a real justice to their professions.
While there were countless pieces of art that tempted me I only bought two. There was a sketch artist that met the perfect combination of skill and price for me to add two new purchases to my collection. The first is a Christopher Reeve Superman sketch right out of Superman the Motion Picture. Talking to the artist he shared my own frustration about most art being either overly posed or a fight scene. Superman is a hero and should be seen saving people more often. The other new addition to my collection is a sketch of Two-Face that was purchased for the sheer skill of it.
The Vendor Hall, while primarily being a place for retail, did have a good balance of things to see and people to talk to without feeling pressured to make a purchase. This is important as other conventions I have attended have not had much more than vendors doing the hard sale in their Vendor Hall. Like all vendor halls though there was one major downside. The isles were roomy, but the hall was so crowed that I lost track of how many time people bumped into me. Large backups for cosplay photos only made it harder to get around the floor.
Tomorrow I will get into more of the programming and celebrities of the convention. For now please enjoy some more pictures from the convention floor. Click on them to see the full size.