A brief preface: I have been attending SacAnime for what should probably be considered an embarrassingly long time: a decade of attending a biannual con is twenty cons, and while my attendance is more like fifteen or sixteen, I still consider myself a veteran attendee. I’ve seen SacAnime change locations three times as it grew, and it kind of has felt like watching a child grow. I’ve never even volunteered for the con, and yet I’m emotionally attached. I don’t know. Blame video games. Everyone does.
Anyways, I’ve been around. I’ve seen some stuff. Sacramento stuff. Vic Mignogna, voice actor extraordinaire, has literally watched me grow from age 12 (my first con revolved around a Fullmetal Alchemist panel!) to age 21 and he doesn’t even know it. I’m not involved in the gritty details of con-planning and behind-the-scenes, but I was with a friend’s artist alley booth when they tried to put artists in a hallway at the Radisson Hotel, and no one sold hardly anything. I remember when the single Jesus cosplayer started showing up. The Predator cosplay guys have always been there, I’m pretty sure; I think they keep them in a box somewhere, to be released for the weekend and then herded back in to be shipped off to SoCal cons.
So, I’ll admit getting a little jaded the past couple of years, especially as ticket prices have doubled since I started. $45 is a lot of money for someone working part-time on minimum wage, man!
I’m super glad I went this summer anyways, because it was a GREAT con. SacAnime moved to the Sacramento Convention Center proper three or four years ago, but it’s this year that it feels like they really filled the space, and used it to their best. Crowd management for cons is a huge issue, even moreso when your attendees are roughly fifty percent (Sixty? Seventy? A lot) giggling, clueless high schoolers more interested in shouting memes at each other and shrieking over costumes than actually, like, paying attention to the staff trying to shepherd them into the Dealer’s Hall.
You might be getting the impression that I don’t like nerdy high schoolers. It’s a lie. I love them. I love con-goers. We’re ridiculous, and usually in only the best ways.
I went the full weekend, and though I FREELY admit that I only attended one event where I waited in line and therefore might not have had the same experience everyone did, it seemed pretty organized to me! You go, SacAnime staff! You da real MVPs!
By the way, I believe it was their first year having a Kpop dance competition, which is the event I attended, and it rocked. Please go next time, if you didn’t. I was expecting some awkward shuffling to dances that Korean pop stars did better, and was pleasantly surprised. By surprised I mean blown away. Man! I wish I could dance.
The Dealer’s Hall is kind of the beating heart of a con, in my experience. People (like me) who don’t necessarily do a bunch of panels or competitions or the maid/butler cafe will all still pile in to buy pocky and cute accessories and a body pillow of your anime waifu (though how people walk around with those I have no idea). They’ve combined the Dealer’s Hall with the Artist’s Alley before, putting both sellers and re-sellers of imported merchandise in the same room as artists who produce all their own stuff, and it’s….not worked. The artists get shoved into not enough space and the traffic clogs up getting to see them, or they get ignored. This time, though, through some sort of organization wizardry, it worked super well! AND the autograph lines were in there! There was space! There was room to step away and breathe air not contaminated by con funk! Glorious!
Also, the artists get TONS of traffic, which always makes me very happy. I’ve not sold as an artist more than once, but I have friends who do, and I love supporting individuals over the dealers, especially as a lot of the t-shirt vendors are rumored to steal popular art off Deviantart or Tumblr or wherever and printing a shirt with no benefit to the creator. Not that I’m pointing fingers at SacAnime or even at a particular dealer, but it’s a bad habit cons have had for at least all the years I’ve gone, and I personally tend to stick to booths with official merchandise or booths with the creator right there selling their stuff, out of habit.
(Disclaimer, selling merch that’s fan art or unlicensed Star Wars stuff or other legally weird is covered better elsewhere, in articles specifically about it–suffice to say that brands like, say, Nintendo, don’t care enough to sue thousands of con artists across the nation making a couple hundred bucks on a weekend selling their LinkxMalon fan art.
All told, this summer’s SacAnime, I can honestly say, is the con that reminded me why I go to cons. It was so much fun, and the staff did their best to enable why we go to cons in the first place, which is to all collectively geek out over our favorite game and cartoons and comics! I’ll be going to the winter one in January for sure, and, with luck, I’ll see you guys there!
-Anne (DJ Blossom) a DJ with KSSU