Yesterday and today I attended Marcon in Columbus, Ohio. This was my second year at the con, and I can say there was a marked drop in quality this year. I didn’t bother to “live blog” because there was nothing to really blog about.
I did have a wonderful time with the people there. I cannot stress that enough – I had an AMAZING time, but not because of the con. In fact, almost in spite of it.
Three things really hurt Marcon this year: 1) very poor programming, 2) confusing information and 3) very low turn out due to the scheduling of the con. Let’s talk about the last one first – next year, Marcon is moving back to May, which is when it traditionally took place. It won’t be on Memorial Day weekend, due mostly to the hotel not wanting it scheduled then, but it will be on a better weekend than Easter weekend. I’m not sure what the idea was with moving it to Easter weekend – most folks will entirely skip Sunday (I will) because it’s a family holiday, and practically no one gets any work holidays for it. It’s just a really DUMB move to have the con then. A random weekend in May is MUCH better than on a holiday that’s not a goof off holiday.
Ok, now lets talk about the confusing info – there was precious little signage at the con, and to get info on cancelled panels you had to go to the art show (and not the info booth). As usual, some of the listed times, like when registration would open, was…well to call them embellishments is a stretch. Registration of Friday was supposed to start at 11am…it didn’t get going till 12:30. But that didn’t really matter because…
…the programming sucked and nothing really started until 4pm. I get not having enough panelists – see the first point about horrible con scheduling. However, that doesn’t excuse things like scheduling the two costuming panels AT THE SAME TIME. Or putting one of the Dottore Who skits against Rocky Horror. I also understand wanting to do adult panels late…but 11:30? The people in the Kink 101 panel were yawning and falling asleep because duh, they were tired as fuck.
An honorable mention on stuff the con failed at was the dealer room. There were fewer stands there this year than last, and honestly most of the folks there were raking people over the coals for cash. There was, for example, a single sword dealer there, and they were selling katanas that go for $30 on BudK.com for $150. Now I get “con prices” on some stuff – but seeing Party City steampunk goggles that sell for $6 marked at $35? Even the t-shirts were expensive. I bought a con shirt, as I always do, and it was $28 this year. Last year I believe I only paid $20. Again, the move to May might help attract more vendors and competition might drive down some prices, but I have to say, I walked through the dealers room so many times and I honestly either found nothing I wanted or what I did want was terribly overpriced.
Marcon has so much potential to be awesome. It used to be – it was on its way to becoming the SDCC or Dragoncon of the midwest. Then something happened, I don’t know what (though if I find out, I’ll write about it), and it’s been headed down hill ever since. I sincerely hope that the move back to May brings more people. I plan to volunteer to be a panelist next year, since I can definitely speak to writing and blogging, as well as other geek topics that I’m an expert on (Star Wars, Transformers, Stephen King, Lovecraft, etc.). I might also offer to help them with their horrible web page – you can’t find shit on it and the gallery link has been broken for literally a year now.
Again, the people there, the friends I got to hang out with and the wonderful folks I met, they were definitely reasons I will come back again, but this con needs help. Perhaps someone (me, maybe, and my friends) should start a “help Marcon shine again” effort. But I can honestly say, the con didn’t feel worth the $60 I paid this year.