What makes a good convention? Better yet, what is the one thing you must accomplish at your convention for people to think it was awesome? I think that it comes down to one basic thing: everyone has to have an awesome time and want to come back. That’s it, right? Sounds easy.
But wait! Problem number one is that different people like different things. Is there a single event/type of programming/awesome thing that would please all of the people? No. So that means you need a variety of programming. Something for everyone? No, you need more than something. You need to have so much stuff that at any given time there is almost always something for almost always everyone. So much stuff that it would be impossible for one person to do everything that they want. This makes them want to come back so they can try to do everything next year. This, in my opinion, is what makes a good con.
But wait again! Should Fear The Con con try to be equal parts gaming, literary, art, and My Little Pony? No. They are gaming focused. I’m guessing though, that will try to have board games, D&D, indie games, miniatures, and maybe some card games. Enough gaming opportunities for all of the projected attendees to play something cool at any given time all weekend long. And you know what, they probably will.
The reason that ComicCons are so freaking boring (San Diego is an exception) is because they are typically designed from the ground up with just two areas of focus: 1) Buy stuff from the massive vendor room and 2) get an autograph/picture with a celebrity. There are usually costume contests and some panels or a concert or gaming or something, but these are often presented as an after thought. I have seen ComicCon program books that don’t list all of the programming, don’t list all of the rooms, don’t include much at all except info on the celebrities and a map of the vendor room.
Let me put it another way. There are two reasons for you to go to a con of any type. Either you are there to get awesome stuff or you are there to discover awesome stuff. If your goal as an attendee is to consume more of what you are already a fan of (Firefly, Star Wars, Magic: the Gathering) chances are good that you’re not going to accidentally wander into one of my concerts. On the other hand, if you are there to discover, you might test a new game from a new game designer or you might go to a panel about something you don’t know much about.
ComicCons do not promote discovery. They promote the siloing of your own fandom and encourage convention day trippers. If you want to spend your weekend discovering and growing, I humbly suggest you do not plan to do so at a traditional ComicCon. However, if all you want is Rowdy Roddy Pipers autograph and picture for Facebook, have at it.