People seem to think of Katsucon as 'cursed' lately -- either you'll get snowed in, or you'll catch something nasty that'll blossom into a flu once you get home. But hell, those things are likely at any large con in winter. Granted, I did come home with the flu, but that has nothing to do with how the con was run. How was the con run? Well, in my experience, fairly well; in the experience of others, not so well.
A positive note is that Katsu is jumping on the bandwagon of giving webcomic artists and authors a lot more exposure than before. Unfortunately, like pretty much all cons, comic artists seem to get the short end of the stick. There was a special set of Industry badges this year -- understandable, since there were so many comic artists in. And I got a table, which I availed myself of occasionally. Unfortunately, not all the tables were placed very well, and the Artists Alley was divided up across the two hotels. And within the two hotels. I've always preferred Anime Mid-Atlantic's setup, which is a string of tables going right across between Main Programming and the dealer's room; in other words, you practically trip over the artists to get anywhere, thus giving them more exposure.
The division of the con over two hotels was, overall, probably not the best decision. However, I was not at any planning meetings, so I can't say whether they could help it or not. It's very possible that these two hotels were their only options, so I'm hesitant to say anything terribly bad about the choice. However, the renovations in the Sheraton did get a lot of people turned around trying to get where they were going.
My biggest positive point for this con is the adaptive nature of the staff, at least in the departments I dealt with. A perfect example is the Friday night karaoke, which started twenty minutes late because there was no machine. But staff jumped in fairly swiftly and rigged things up with a minimum of freaking-out, and the whole thing went over rather well. I don't think anyone minded the lack of a stage and proper sound system -- I know I didn't -- and it had more of a comfortable party feel to it. There was also an overabundance of volunteers at the cosplay this year, which is definitely a good thing.
Speaking of the cosplay, double kudos for bringing back Marty Gear as a craftsmanship judge. The man has an excellent eye for detail, but an amazing amount of mental flexibility when it comes to judging costumes from a genre he has little to no experience with. Of course, I think that's a good thing -- he's very objective, and will give awards for parts of a costume, which shows he goes pretty in-depth when judging. Besides that, he's a very nice guy, which goes a long way in and of itself.
The webcomics panel went well again -- much better than last year's, which was a bit of a lovely train wreck. I credit the success this year to the con's willingness to put the panel in an enormous room, rather than cramming everyone onto two levels of seating and trusting to luck. Oh, and supplying microphones, which not only avoided missed words, but also had the effect of 'passing the conch' so there was a minimum of stepping on toes.
Getting back to staff ... the medical staff was very kind, quick to act, and understanding. Please don't ask how I found this out, but suffice to say I'd rather have been finding out about the dance and other things going on Saturday night. My praise of them still stands, though.
In all, my only true complaint was the layout. I say the staff was very adaptive, but I'm fairly sure they had to be, with how spread-out everything was. It was very easy to get things mixed up, and while I don't think dividing events between the two hotels made people not want to go to things, I think it slowed things up a bit. But this was made up for, at least in part, by staff and tech's willingness to shoulder a little extra and keep things in line. I'm hoping the venue for next year will be more organised and a little kinder to the artists who got less-than-desirable spots this year.