At the time, it seemed like a lot of hoops to jump through; however, after later experiences at Comic-Con, I must say that CBS really had it figured out. I’m talking about the process of obtaining an autograph of your favorite movie and television stars at Comic-Con.
I had nothing on my agenda for the first full morning of the show (Thursday), so I ventured to the CBS/CW booth on the exhibit floor and inquired about the cast signing for their new fall TV series, Elementary, starring Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu. I was directed to a Sails Pavilion “corral” to stand in line for a CHANCE to win a ticket that would guarantee me a place in line to get the autographs.
My timing was right, and although I was near the end of the line, I did indeed obtain a ticket:
The line was contained in the “corral” (and believe me, that’s the perfect word to describe the endless rows of people doubled-back onto each other in narrow holding areas, just like cattle) where it waited for over an hour. As I watched the signing time approach, then pass, I began to wonder if it was worth it. Then, they started herding people back downstairs, 20 or so at a time.
From that moment on, everything happened at lightning speed. At the CBS/CW booth, the line didn’t stop once. Before I knew it, I turned a corner and stood facing the stars, sitting at a long table in front of a sea of people who did not get a ticket, but were still allowed to gather to take pictures.
I don’t know that I got to fully appreciate the few seconds I actually interacted with Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu. I was able to tell Miller that I thought he did a great job in Dark Shadows, to which he thanked me “very much”. But I was nearly speechless in front of Liu, saying something stupid like, “It’s nice to meet you.” The thing is, these people look great on screen, but in person, they are more gorgeous than you can imagine. It’s a little off-putting (and my pictures certainly do them no justice).
The next morning, KC and I arrived before the exhibit hall even opened to get in line for a signing by the cast of The Walking Dead. The process of obtaining autographs began its downward spiral here. At the AMC booth, you had to draw a ticket from a fake log, the result of which would be that you were either in or out. Luck was with KC that morning and he was in. It was not with me and I was out. Therefore, I have nothing more to report on this signing, but I’m sure KC will tell us all about it.
What I did then, though, was attempt to plan ahead. I strolled over to the Sony booth to inquire about getting autographs from the Breaking Bad cast the next morning. I was told by a snotty Sony rep to just come to the booth, first come, first served. “WE don’t do tickets,” she said, expressing Sony’s superiority over other studios at the convention.
We did exactly what we were told and appeared first thing Saturday morning at the Sony booth. We (and nearly everyone else who appeared with us) were then told that tickets were given away the night before and that there was no way we were going to get autographs. Now, I understand that process; most studios do handle autographs that way. However, the fact that we were told otherwise infuriated me.
Even though we were told many times by security to “disperse”, I hung around, circling the booth as one of those who can only snap pictures. The policy is normally “click and move”, allowing everyone to have a chance at photos. But in this case, there was an angry mob that wasn’t going to budge. I’m sure I’m not the only one who felt like punching a security guard, although it would have been far more satisfactory to get my hands on that lying Sony rep who misinformed me the day before.
My suggestion to the Comic-Con “powers that be” would be to instate a consistent policy for autographs. And I would use CBS’s example. First of all, it keeps people off the exhibit floor and, second, it really does minimize the time it takes to go through the process. I understand that Comic-Con itself may not be able to enforce such a policy, but perhaps a strong suggestion to bull-headed studios would be a start.