By 3:30 p.m. Sunday, many of them had already endured one long line after another at Comic-Con, but for some, there was another line they were willing to stand in.
It was the line to vent.
The “Comic-Con Talk Back,” an annual event held at the end of the four-day convention, gives attendees an opportunity to offer organizers suggestions on how to improve the experience for the more than 130,000 people who flock to the pop culture gathering.
John Rogers, president of Comic-Con International’s board of directors, welcomed those attending the event, held in one of the San Diego Convention Center’s smaller rooms, Room 23ABC.
“First, let me thank everyone who helped this small city operate for four days,” he said. “Thank you.”
While many attendees were on their way home and vendors hastily packed up what’s left of their goods, Rogers listened as nearly 30 attendees got in line to speak. He took copious notes and offered the occasional apology, but he mostly listened as attendees brought up concerns.
For Jessica Estrin of North Park, two of her biggest concerns involved the line for people with disabilities.
“There was a lack of communication,” said Estrin, who’s been attending Comic-Con for 20 years. “People didn’t know exactly what to do or how to help.”
While waiting for Sunday’s sessions to begin, Estrin said there was a lack of communication and coordination between staff and security. That resulted in a lot of confusion, specifically in the line for Hall H, which holds more than 6,000 seats.
North Park resident Kevin Davis, who’s been attending for 10 years, agreed.
“Communication was a big problem,” said Davis, who was using a cane. “They tell you the wrong information, or they tell you contradicting information.”
Estrin said she was sent from one place to another, and “walking isn’t easy for me. I’m glad to get my steps but I’m exhausted by the time I get into the convention center.”
Another concern, she said, was the ADA line was situated in an area that lacked shade.
“It was hot out there,” Estrin said. “I saw people out in the sun who couldn’t be out in the sun. Some of us were trying to hide behind prickly plants and planters.”
Hall H lines, as in past years, were once again a hot-button issue.
Brenda Laguna of San Diego said the ADA line for Hall H needs to be more efficient and fair.
“At one point Friday morning,” she said, “they moved the people in wheelchairs in but forgot the rest of the ADA line.”
The San Diego Central Library, used as a venue for the first time this year, is too far, said Alfred Day, who moderated an education-related panel.
“I’d rather present at 10 on a Saturday night than do it again at the library,” said Day, who added that lack of signage made finding the panel location difficult.
Other issues brought up Sunday:
• Closed-captioning for screenings should be considered.
• Wi-Fi is better this year, one attendee said, but it needs more power.
• Better positioning of deaf and hard of hearing attendees. In one case, an attendee said many people kept on walking in front of him, and that blocked his view of the interpreter.
• Better traffic control in the main exhibit hall. “Directional lines might help,” an attendee said, “so you don’t have people going in every direction.”
• Improved crowd control in the exhibitors’ area, where some vendors “got extremely overwhelmed with people,” said one attendee.
• Inoperable drinking fountains, one attendee said, were an issue.
Many also came to congratulate Rogers and Comic-Con on another good year.
Peter Jones, an attendee since 1970, said: “I’ve watched this thing evolve and mutate. The programming is astounding. Thank you for a great show. Thank you for staying in San Diego. San Diego and Comic-Con should always be one.”
“Despite my complaints,” she said before the session began, “I love Comic-Con. I’ve been coming for 20 years, and I want to continue coming.”