A Hellish Day Stuck Outside the Con
This is not the write-up I had planned.
I had planned to attend Boston Comic Con on Saturday August 9, 2014 and join my fellow New England Horror Authors at the New England Horror Author table selling and signing our books. The majority of the group had signed on for the entire weekend, and as such had pre-paid for the entire event. I could only be there one day, Saturday, and while I could have pre-bought tickets, I did check and was advised that tickets would be sold at the door.
So, my sons and I trekked to Boston for our first Comic Con, even meeting my brother and his wife there. What we found was immediately disheartening.
A gargantuan line, one that seemed to stretch from Boston to New York awaited us. Okay that’s an exaggeration. It only stretched to Rhode Island. But seriously, it went on for several blocks, a line full of eager, energetic and very excited fans, many of them dressed to the hilt in their favorite comic book costumes.
I checked in at the front door and identified myself as one of the New England Horror Authors there to sell and sign books.
“Did I have a pre-paid wristband?” I was asked.
“No,” I said.
“Then you’ll have to wait in line.”
I looked at the ominous line with designs to reach Mars.
“Yeah. That one.”
“But I’m an author here to sell books. I’m paying for a table inside.”
“You need a paid wrist band to get in.”
And so we trekked to the back of the line. Welcome to the life of a small press author. Hey, is that Rodney Dangerfield I see?
At the back of the line, we were all in very good moods, and why shouldn’t we have been? It was an absolutely gorgeous day, a perfect day to be outside in Boston, and we were among a group of very enthusiastic fans. There were also plenty of neat costumes to see. Batman seemed to be the most prevalent costume around, with Spider Man a close second.
We were all psyched and pumped, but then someone said, “You do realize we could stand in this line all day and not get in. The show could sell out.”
Why did you have to say that?
The words proved prophetic.
And it happened just as things were looking up. The line started to move at a brisk pace, and we all thought, this isn’t so bad. In fact, we got to within several yards of the front entrance before it all came crashing down.
Suddenly, the line was diverted to the side of the building, the Seaport Trade Center, and as we walked, I saw that this line was heading towards the back of the building, an immense structure.
I stopped to ask one of the staff members standing outside. “Why were we sent into this line when we were just getting to the door?”
“Do you have tickets?” I was asked.
“You’re in the right line. That’s the line to buy tickets.”
I didn’t like it, but at least my fears had been eased, at least we were in the right line. This particular line was moving quickly. People were all walking at a rapid pace, and there was lots of chatter, as everyone was wondering the same thing I had been wondering: where was this line going? Would it wrap around the entire building?
And then it suddenly stopped. Suddenly we were all at a standstill, and we were still on the same side of the building. As we waited in this second line, and people started talking to each other, it became clear that this line was a mixture of people with tickets and without tickets. This did not bode well. People began to grow restless.
Meanwhile another line of Comic Con folks heading in the opposite direction from our line and moving rapidly, continued to file past us with alarming speed. We started asking these folks where they were going and if they had tickets or not. The answers were consistent: we’re in line for Comic Con. We have tickets. We don’t have tickets.
Well, that’s this line.
What the hell line are we in, anyway?
People began to grow very restless, and the chatter going around was not good.
Suddenly a group of very frustrated Comic Con Staff appeared and started shouting out instructions. We were told that the line we were in was for people with tickets only. If you had tickets you were in the right line. If you didn’t have tickets, you had to turn around and get into another line, which set off a storm of incredibly angry people. I thought I was going to be part of a torch wielding angry mob a la the old Universal Frankenstein movies.
The folks with tickets who were told to stay in line wanted to know where the hell the line went.
It goes all around the building, they were told.
“So, even if we pre-bought tickets, we might not get in?” People asked.
“Oh, you’ll get in. You just have to wait in line.”
“How long will that be?”
“We don’t know. Probably several hours.”
“So I pre-bought tickets and I still have to wait in line for several hours? I’ve been here since 10:00! What’s the point of pre-buying tickets?”
And then there were those folks, like us, who were in a worst predicament- we hadn’t even purchased tickets yet. We were told that we were going back to the original line outside the building, the one we had already waited over an hour in.
What is going on? People wanted to know.
We were then told that we had been given wrong information by people who didn’t know what they were talking about, which is how we ended up in the wrong line which led around the building. Well, that made me feel good.
As our line slowly returned to the front of the building, it suddenly stopped. And it remained stopped. We waited, waited, waited. We decided to investigate the front of the line. We discovered that the front of the line was roped off from the entrance, and the folks at the head of our line waited behind the rope for the line of pre-paid customers—- the one that wrapped around the building— to enter.
We surmised that nobody in our line was going to be sold a ticket until the other monstrosity of a line had filed in and all the pre-paid customers had entered. That was our fear, although we were still hopeful.
We stood in this still line for yet another hour before Comic Con staff finally arrived with the dreaded news we’d been fearing: we are now selling tickets for Sunday. We are not selling tickets for today.
We were told, “We oversold the show. We sold 12,000 tickets today. This building has only a 10,000 capacity.
“So there’s no way we can get in today?” People asked.
“Not really. There’s a slim chance that once we let all the prepaid customers inside, we would sell tickets.”
“How long will that be?” “We don’t know. Maybe four hours, but if you buy a ticket for tomorrow now, we can guarantee your entrance tomorrow morning.”
For some reason, that guarantee didn’t instill me with much confidence.
The line went ballistic. Many fans were vocally outraged and told the staff so. “This is the worst organized con I’ve ever been to!” “If you can’t run a con this large, don’t do it!” “I’ve wasted my entire day in line!”
As for me, while I enjoyed the time with my sons and my brother and his wife, it’s not how I would have chosen to spend my day, waiting in a line for hours only to be told eventually by Comic Con staff to go home. The entire fiasco could have been avoided by four simple words said to me when I first arrived at the front entrance: We are sold out.
It was such a beautiful day in Boston, too beautiful to spend standing in a line to nowhere.
“Holy ticket line calamity, Batman!”