So as some of you may know my experiences with first-year cons have sadly been plagued with more than a fair share of serious event-ruining issues. In fact, it’s gotten to the point where if I never go to a first-year event again I would be content with that regardless of who they bring to that event, but that’s mainly out of fear of losing a ton of money in an attempt to go to the event only to leave empty handed. Chattanooga Comic Con was less than three hours from home for me so it made for a very inexpensive trip where I could go to the event for a day and see what it was like so I decided to give it a try and see what it was like.
First I’ll talk about the vendors because this is where I spent most of my time. I loved how well spaced out the area was so walking around and looking at everything was so easy. While there wasn’t a huge number of vendors I think this was done intentionally to make plenty of walk room and I 100% support that decision as I never once felt cramped nor did I struggle to get to any particular vendor. I also loved the variety of vendors they have. In any convention that has comic con in the name normally, I expect a fair amount of variety but more often than not there is an overwhelming focus on vendors that sell merch based on the comic book industry and often very little focus on anime, which does make sense to me given the name. This was not the case as there was easily something for a majority of the fanbases. I saw vendors that catered to anime products, comic books, Harry Potter, and more and it never once felt like any one particular genre was represented significantly more than the others. It genuinely felt like a nice mixture of various fandoms. The only real flaw I found here was that they had a panel area in the middle of the vendors. This is something that I’ve grown to be more of a fan of over the years but in this case, it created a minor issue. In a vendor area so small it blocks a couple of walkways in that area, especially during a panel. Since there was plenty of space to walk it never was a major inconvenience but I see this becoming a problem as the event grows if they don’t allocate space more out of the way for this area.
Next, I’ll talk about the guests. I was pleasantly surprised at the guest list this year. It didn’t have anyone I needed for my Fire Emblem collection, but it did have people that made nice additions to my wife’s My Hero Academia collection and our Bofuri one. Not only that but a lot of the guests that were here were those that I’ve never personally seen anywhere near my area so to be able to make a day trip and just drive down and meet them was a huge benefit. It also had big stars from the Walking Dead and Avatar the Last Airbender so there was a lot to enjoy with the guest list. Plus plenty of space was also given for the guests so it was easy to line up and meet them.
Finally, I’ll talk about the panels because if anything shocked me the most it was this. The convention actually had a wide variety of panels not just Q&As with the guests but also concerts with a band called the Harp Twins, a Super Heroes RPG panel, and more. I initially went into this knowing it was a first-year convention and just expecting the panels to be Q&As with the guests so to see the variety here was a pleasant surprise that I took full advantage of and had an amazing time. I’m also now a fan of the Harp Twins and the Volfgang Twins thanks to this event.
This is more of a miscellaneous section but there were a couple of things that I thought could have been improved on. The first is the lack of signage outside the building. My group struggled initially to find our way inside the convention center from where we parked and anytime I get lost I don’t really hold that against the convention as I assume it’s just me being bad at directions until I see someone else who is lost, which I did. Turns out we went in through the wrong door in the convention center that just happened to be close to the event so I think more signage around the building especially to help those who park in the nearby parking garages would be a huge help. The second thing is the ticket area as we were informed by staff that will-call and pre-reg were the same lines for tickets. This wasn’t an issue this year given the size of the crowd but I feel it will become one as the event grows so having dedicated lines for both would be much better. Even though I do think these things could be improved on these were overall very minor issues that provided no significant delay in being able to enjoy the events of the convention itself.
If I was ignorant of the fact that this was this event’s first year I would have been completely shocked to hear that after attending. It ran very smoothly as there was a lot to do and no organizational hiccups that made anything difficult to enjoy. This event ran with a guest list, panel variety, and vendor placement that to me surpassed events that I’ve been to that have had far more experience and so I am incredibly impressed with how things went. I have every intention of coming back next year and if it continues to build upon an already expectation-shattering beginning then I would love to make this a regular event for me.