San Diego Comic-Con, as most of you probably know, is the pinnacle of pop culture conventions, one of the largest shows of its kind in the entire world. To be perfectly frank, I’d long thought of such an event as terrifying – too many people, all jostling to look at celebrities and learn about the latest movies and video games. Sure, comics are right in the title, but it’s become so focused on pop culture as a whole – would there really be anything there for me?
And then an opportunity arose for me to attend, and I knew, frightened or not, I had to take it. While being part of something like LadiesCon is nowhere near the scale of SDCC, it’s important to know what the top of the game looks like, isn’t it? And as an aficionado of comic books for the past 25 years, and fantasy and science fiction even longer than that, it’s almost obligatory to experience it.
So I did! And here are some of my favorite moments. A caveat – I didn’t go to anything in Hall H, I didn’t spend any time on autographs, and I didn’t go to any of the additional sites around the city (though I passed many of them daily). Some of you might be thinking – did she do SDCC at all? Well, I did what I wanted, and isn’t that the greatest gift of all?
Next Level Displays
One of the things I really liked about SDCC versus other large conventions I’ve been to was the overall layout of the space. Booth placement was such that it maximized the main artery walking paths, but didn’t give a lot of space for folks in big costumes to linger with photos blocking the flow. It was still quite crowded, but at least traffic flowed. The booth placement gave the presenters room to do some incredible displays, and folks took full advantage, with life-size Lego statues, huge inflatables, and plenty of other eye candy. Other large cons have these, of course, but the overall flow of SDCC provided a better opportunity to appreciate them.
I didn’t take a ton of photos of costumes because frankly, when I saw someone spectacular (Viv Vision with Sparky, Silver Surfer – I’m looking at you) I was often not in a great place to ask their permission (WHICH YOU SHOULD ALWAYS DO) and would have had to been a major pain to everyone around me to get said photos. But while my overall impression was of fewer people in costume than at, say, NYCCC, those who were there put a lot of thought and skill into what they wore. (and I’m still kicking myself for not getting the two Jagermonster cosplayers I saw – you were outstanding).
Cool Stuff All Over The Place
The San Diego in the name of SDCC isn’t just the city you happen to be in – the con truly takes over a large portion of the downtown area. Whether it was random knight battles like I stumbled upon above, or a full movie set complete with faux helicopter like the Jack Ryan experience (which I had to pass daily) there was something going on everywhere. It was a bit magical, truly, to wander out a door for a breath of fresh air and find two knights sparring.
Great Talent – and the Chance to Meet Them
While I steered clear of autographs and the tv/movie celebrities, SDCC was an amazing opportunity to connect with writers and artists I love. My biggest highlight was meeting Emil Ferris, who wrote and drew My Favorite Thing is Monsters. Read my post about the book if you don’t know why this was so important to me. I couldn’t bring my giant book with me from Boston, so she graciously located, monsterized, and signed a tiny Tabasco bottle for me. Anyone who knows me knows that I love tiny things, so this was basically a dream come true.
I also attended a panel with Emil and several other amazing horror comics writers, and met Zander Cannon at preview night and had him sign my entire run of Season One Kaijumax. The breadth of who attended this show was impressive – while all conventions provide the potential to meet an artist or writer you like, SDCC is big enough to draw in folk who might not be at your more local shows.
The City Itself
My only previous experience with San Diego was a visit to the outskirts, and while I had a wonderful time visiting the excellent people who lived there, it didn’t give me a good impression of what the city is all about. This time, while I was admittedly in the most tourist-geared areas of the city, I got a much better feel for what’s going on there, and it was a lot of fun! While I didn’t get to visit the beaches, I did take a run along the waterfront, which provided a pretty thorough cross section of the city. There’s clearly many opportunities for entertainment when you’re tired of the con floor, and the word on the street is true – the zoo is a phenomenal experience.
Overall, would I go again? I think if I had another opportunity like one this year, absolutely. Would I budget it into my travel plans for its own sake? Probably not – there are so many other places I’d like to see and experiences I’d like to have. But I was grateful for this one, and who knows what the future holds?