Comic-Con 2012: When Autograph Lines Get Ugly

Posted on July 26, 2012 by

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The cast of Comedy Central’s hit show “Workaholics” proved adept at entertaining fans waiting in line for their autographs at San Diego Comic-Con 2012. Photo credit: Deborah J Bell

Appearances by popular media idols at San Diego Comic-Con 2012 almost always meant a lengthy wait in line for those fans wanting celebrity autographs — often without any guarantee of success — as well having to be on the alert for unspeakably rude people trying to “Bogart” their way into or ahead of others in a queue. High-demand lines could also be closed without warning, such as when the celebrity had a panel scheduled to immediately follow their signing and time was running short. Fans with a large capacity for patience undeniably fared better at snagging a signature from their favorite star than those with shorter fuses.

Line jumpers were ousted swiftly at Comic-Con 2012. Security was not amused. Photo credit: Deborah J Bell

The best system in place for autograph seekers appeared to be the distribution of wristbands or tickets. A good example of this was the “Workaholics” cast signing, typical of the more orderly arrangements upstairs in the convention center’s Sails Pavilion.

By comparison, the “Community” first come/first served cast signing at the Sony Entertainment booth downstairs could only be described as a complete SNAFU. First come/first served arrangements are problematic at best, and disasters at worst. The “Community” event turned out to be the latter.

The cast of “Community” looking a lot happier than the hundreds of fans who were turned away at Comic-Con 2012. Photo credit: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Several hundred “Community” fans waited patiently upwards of two hours only to be turned away empty-handed at the last moment, and with no apologies from Sony Entertainment Television booth staff. Using a wristband or ticketed system for the limited number of autographs available would have eliminated much of the wave of disgruntlement that followed. It is hoped that organizers took note, and will adopt a different and more fan-friendly system next time.

At super-sized conventions it often happens that extreme frustration is handed out in equal measure with extreme elation. Some fans have a harder time dealing with letdowns in such a highly-charged environment, as was evidenced by the occasional verbal outbursts from overtired or overwrought attendees.

Best lesson learned from Comic-Con 2012: It’s wise to maintain a laid back attitude and be prepared for disappointment. You really don’t want to be that guy in the green spandex tights having a giant meltdown in front of 130,000 people all holding cell phone cameras, now do you?

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Posted in: Conventions, Events, TV