The Comics and Toys Monstercon has come and gone this past weekend, and my feelings were a bit mixed.
First, I'm glad that they moved into a larger venue. This con was spilling out the doors it's inaugural year, and they finally scaled up to space that was more than adequate this year. I'd like to see more comic creators, but the crew that was there was great. Tsunami Studios was well-represented, and I always enjoy speaking with them, though Garry McKee wasn't there (he did an awesome Conan sketch for me at last year's Heroes Convention). Budd Root and Andy Smith were on break when I went by, so *pthhbbt* to them, in a friendly manner. The movie guests were spectacularly friendly, Chuck Williams and Robert Harris in particular . Brian Krause was fairly nice, though smaller than expected (of course he acted alongside short people for years -- it must have made him seem taller), and we got to see him eat from the concession, like us reg'lar folk. The vendors were pretty good, overall, and had some decent swag. As always, we enjoyed the demos from the SCA. Costumes were great, and there was some good cross promotion with Scarowinds. The price to enter was good, especially for pre-registration, and there were some good charity auctions and raffles. Last year, they also tied in some charity, including a blood drive. That's a strong positive, and I think they need to keep that aspect up as time goes on. We didn't get to hit any of the gaming or evening activities, but that's the price you pay for attending with kids.
That last bit relates to the biggest negative; last year, this was probably the kid-friendliest con I'd been to. It had plenty of activities for the smaller folk, and the bouncy castle they had was wonderful -- one parent could watch the kids entertain themselves while the other wandered. This year, not so much. There were a couple of kid events that looked thrown together at the last minute, and that sort of disbanded after a few hours. That was disappointing, both to us and our kids. I was also a bit put off to see two local "paranormal societies" represented. Sure, it's partly a horror con, but most of the people seem aware that monsters aren't, well, real. Maybe I should aim Alison Smith and S.A.P.S. at them
I get the feeling that Monstercon really, really wants to be a horror convention with other elements added in, but I don't think it'd have quite the draw without the diversity from comics, toys, and gaming. As it is, I think they have the right blend to keep growing (especially if they can continue to land decent guests). They just need to remember that kids come to cons, too, and plan accordingly, and I think that success will continue.