IS THIS WHERE YOU WANT TO BE?
San Diego Comic-Con is on most of the Internet’s bucket list events. Does it still deserve that title?
Let’s start with the city. San Diego turns its downtown into something made to advertise directly to the convention’s fans. Restaurants advertise comic-related specials, as well as some giving discounts to badge-holders. Meanwhile, several locations are rented out by larger companies like Amazon Prime, NBC, FX, and Comedy Central to feature off-sites. Off-sites are engagements that fans can take part in without a Comic-Con badge. Some off-sites include social media engagements, mini-golf, interactive experiences, and video presentations.
Additionally, San Diego shuts down several streets near the Convention Center to all vehicles for foot traffic only. This began in 2018 and is further refined in 2019. It helps keep some space around the Convention Center for people, although it does little for the crowding inside the building.
Meanwhile, FYE and other companies opened pop-up shops That can have their own exclusive items not sold anywhere else. While everyone posts their locations, it can still take some exploration to find where they are in the Gaslamp District.
The parties going on around Comic-Con can make you feel special, too. Many are thrown by large companies to get you in one place to hear about their latest shows or innovations. I attended the Nerd Nite Party with National Geographic. It made for a memorable, if crowded, night.
I know first-hand that you can lose a lot of time here.
This may sound like a complaint, however, this is a lot of praise. I spent nearly two full days wandering the hall because of the sheer amount of things to see and browse. You will find movies, anime, comic books, creators, graphic novels, role playing implements, celebrities, costume reproductions, statues, fan groups, cosplayers, companies showing off their new media, and independent creators with a bit of all of the above.
That is just the beginning.
It can be somewhat intimidating in the middle of the Exhibit Hall. Most of the larger booths are in the middle section with exclusives that cannot be found in stores. This creates a severe log jam of people looking for how to get their hands on them. I had some trouble navigating my way through there in the middle of the day.
Additionally, the Artist’s Alley of Comic-Con is truly interesting as everyone in it has industry credentials. They have each worked in industry-recognized comics. This convention is often my best chance to find both working creators and legends in the same few minutes. If you like to meet the people behind your favorite stories, you have a good chance of finding them here.
On top of it all, several signings take place in the Exhibit Hall. This is a double-edged sword. Keeping signings in the Hall means people have more of a chance to shop, however, these signings have fans flock to them for a glimpse of stars and it makes major congestion and lines around these signings. Additionally, Warner Brothers had a pair of signings for Krypton and Batwoman that reportedly had few, if any, of their series stars present.
A lot of companies hold their biggest announcements of the season for San Diego Comic-Con. Panel subjects included comic books, animated series, television shows, movies, genre reviews, and, of course, a masquerade. I adore going to Comic-Con panels. There is often a good chance of interesting freebies, on top of getting new information on your favorite hobbies. I even received a copy of Postal #1 while attending the Top Cow Comics panel. Most of the news you read coming out of Comic-Con comes from these panels.
Meanwhile, the problem is that the panels are truly too much of a good thing. You will often make choices at least twice per day where you have to decide between two of your favorite subjects/shows/comics.
It is unfortunate that this was Comic-Con’s 50th anniversary, and there was no real special event outside of panels about the history of Comic-Con. In my opinion, San Diego Comic-Con is about the leading edge of entertainment, not the past of it.
San Diego Comic-Con has unparalleled by its host city and sponsors. It is your chance to see more than the next ten conventions you visit combined. However, you will have to understand, you will not be able to do everything. Because of either demand or overlapping schedules, you will likely have to give something up.
With that said, San Diego Comic-Con is somewhat unique in size, scale, and radiance. In the end, you will get a lot out of it, if you are willing to put some work into it.