San Diego Comic Con every year shows why it is the epicenter of all pop culture events. From the offsites to the programming to the afterparties and all the random experiences. No one SDCC experience is the same, even if you have a group with overlapping events.
I have said that SDCC seems to make all of downtown San Diego seem to only exist for us because everywhere you go you see the celebrations of properties and characters we love. It becomes a wonderful energy that surrounds and can flow through you.
It starts to get crazy on Wednesday when you see the last remaining offsites being built, setup, and finalized. While you don’t get to do the experience while it Is being setup you can see some of the fun things that will available to experience.
We also had a great group meeting as the C4CC team most of us have never met each other before in-person but because of social media it was continuing the conversations we had been having over the weeks and months, as is now common. After this meeting we each began our prep and experiences of SDCC.
Preview night and day which is also the main day for getting supplies at the local Ralph’s, CVS, 7-Eleven. You see people carrying large amounts of bottled water to their booths, hotels, and all sorts of places including the Hall H lines.
It’s also a time when you can see first time exhibitors starting to get busy. You can see Tony here helping people experience Hero Within.
For established exhibitors you can see the great works of Supernatural Law with Jackie Estrada and Batton Lash showing the awesome series it is.
Marvel which always has a few thousand fun things happening all weekend had it’s ultra-cuddlable Lockjaw.
Everyone needs a life-size Lockjaw to cuddle.
Each exhibitor has something to unique to find. At Titan Books my friend Ana (Kitty Honey Cosplay from Argentia) was on the cover a Robotech book, so sometimes you’ll find things like this you might next expect with friends from afar.
You may also see Deadpool in all sorts of random places.
Even on preview day and night there’s cosplay to be seen and wonderful events to experience. It’s a chance to walk the floor, get an idea of the floor layout, and say hello to various friends working at booths before everyone becomes extremely busy with everything they have to do. Manage the commerce, merch, various talent, etc. This is something I always try to do at each show, especially at more popular booths (larger booths) because those are constantly packed. The same with bag pickup.
Something interesting this year was that you had to scan your badge to get your bag which according to some was limited to one bag a person, though the bags had collectible pins, which people really wanted and were already trading even on Wednesday. Thought this may mean in the future we may see less bag inspired fashions unless multiple friends come together and donate bags for one outfit.
Afterparties (and there are quite of few of them) are part of the experience of SDCC. I’ll be speaking about a few of them but let’s start off with one of the best and the one that began the con for many, Game of Bloggers.
Our group Crazy4Comic Con held the always awesome Game of Bloggers afterparty welcoming many journalists and wonderful people.
A lot of journalists are very covering a lot of things usually all over the place so this was a way for people to get know each other, meet, etc. Usually, many of us are communicating online through facebook, twitter, and Instagram, but do not often get the chance to meet up for more than a few minutes. It was great to meet and talk with people who names you might only know by an @ symbol or catch up with people who live far away from each other as I do. The funny part is unless you tend to be covering the same events this might be the only time you saw of some these people and in a few cases, it was. In addition, there were wonderful vendors of geek fashion such as Elhoffer Design and Whosits and Whatsis.
Thursday is when it really starts to begin, even early in the morning you see the large amount of people coming to the convention center waiting to get in to experience things on the show floor, the programming, and just everything SDCC. The offsites begin and everything begins to flow. The energy is even more intense and continues to grow through the weekend.
Thursday already had some of the most sought after panels to get into Castlevania. “Netflix Original: Castlevania with Adi Shankar” I was asked to do video for this panel and it was really interesting to hear about the development of the series direct from the creators as well as the development of the animation. It was really exciting for all there and the panelists, Adi Shankar (showrunner and executive producer of Castlevania, executive producer Dredd), Sam Deats (director Castlevania, Powerhouse Animation), and Kevin Kolde (executive producer and showrunner for Castlevania, producer Bee and Puppycat, Adventure Time), saw the enthusiasm first hand of the fans. While they didn’t spoil anything they did say more will be coming in season two. Though I’m sure there will be more shirtless Alucard.
At the same time though basically right across from this panel was the Adam West Celebration held to celebrate the recently passed Bright Knight and the joy he brought so many. Bleedingcool has some coverage of the panel: https://www.bleedingcool.com/2017/07/21/celebrating-adam-west-panel-sdcc/ It’s this kind of panel that is truly special where people who knew Adam and loved him come together to talk about the great times.
This was one of those special events that you something can not make because of professional commitments, that’s one of the few downsides of SDCC and other large events, you just can’t physically make it all.
But these were not the only amazing panels of Thursday: Why Will Eisner Still Matters at 100 had comics luminaries Paul Levitz (former president of DC Comics, author of Will Eisner: Champion of the Graphic Novel, educator, comics historian), Jackie Estrada (administrator, Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards), Paul Dini (Harley Quinn co-creator, writer, producer), Maggie Thompson (writer, editor, comics historian speaking on why Will Eisner’s works still matter and more. (Video is coming soon to my channel.)
Another great panel was Paul Levitz in Conversation with Karen Berger. For those who don’t know Karen was responsible for Vertigo which has brought us publications have been adapted to fan favorite films and movies (such as Constantine, A History of Violence, Stardust, V for Vendetta, iZombie, Lucifer, and Preacher). She and Paul were talking about the history at Vertigo and her new imprints at Dark Horse. Karen and Paul are responsible in part for a lot of the properties that we enjoy today, so learning from them is always a pleasure. You can watch here:
Also on Thursday was something I would think was the most subversive panel of SDCC: “Celebrate 50 Years of Underground Comix with Denis Kitchen.” I know most people will probably have never seen any underground comix and a lot of these are VERY NSFW. Denis talked about the development as well as content and distribution which was in “head shops” places today we might think of dispensaries (of marijuana). The funniest thing to me though was that you might think a panel like this would be a late night panel, but it was actually an 11am panel.
Friday became even action packed and there were more awesome events. This year was the first year that Christie Marston (the granddaughter of Wonder Woman creator William Moulton Marston) came out to SDCC and spoke on a Wonderful Wonder Woman panel. Though oddly enough Nerdist was having a Wonder Woman March at the same time. I tried to get Nerdist to change the time so Christie could lead the parade but alas it couldn’t happen, though several Wonder Woman cosplayers were assured that I was capturing the panel so while not live they won’t miss it. This is an example of making sure with some events you know who’s coming/will be the con. You can not prevent all of these, but some things can be adapted like changing a start time.
Now there was some really great wisdom shared at the Wonder Woman panel titled “Comics Arts Conference #5: Lassoing the Truth: Marston Versus Wertham in the Wonder Woman War” (which also somewhat surprisingly was the only purely Wonder Woman panel at SDCC, other panels made mention but this was the only one solo focused on Wonder Woman). Historians, psychologists, and creatives who worked on Wonder Woman all shared their knowledge. On the history of Wonder Woman and how despite how the comics code tried to limit her and how she continues to endure.
For those that couldn’t make it here it is:
After this was two helpful panels in geek fashion and building a geek brand. One which had Tony as a speaker and another where Tony was the moderator. In the last three years geek fashion has really taken off, it has become more a new driving force in fandom expression creating multiple successful businesses from inspired fashions to fully licensed ones. This panel had a lot of great discussion about what currently exists in geek fashion as well markets that still need to be addressed such as maternity.
It’s all here to watch in it’s entirely
Now at the building a geek brand there was a lot of wisdom and great tools shared. While it can be difficult to build a geek brand, these panelists have built successful geek brands, and in some cases several geek brands. There was a lot discussion about building audiences and that’s part of building the geek brand as well as the various ways to monetize. But one of the most important pieces of knowledge came from Chris Gore is that “No one is coming to help you.” You will have to ask for help but you have to think that it might not come.
Also especially now which Ani-Mia told in her story, the networking at cons is one of the best things you can do. Chris said one of the best things to do is calling people. While a lot of us prefer email, and doing phone calls can be difficult it is one of the best ways to connect with some people as long as they take the call. We also heard about the various plans that some had with their geek brands and there was some really good ideas. You can hear Tony’s podcast here and the video is here:
Friday also had the Pop Culture Shark Tank hosted by Rob Salkowitz. Now the panel (with a recap on Forbes: https://www.forbes.com/sites/robsalkowitz/2017/07/25/pop-culture-startups-shine-at-san-diego-comic-con/#51154deb15f1) is an actual place for people to pitch actual pop culture ideas to established investors and companies. I was shooting the event till I had to go to Syfy for one of their offsites with Syfy Live (more on that in a bit). This is one of the most interesting panels because it’s one of those events at SDCC that can actually change lives. I was asked to shoot this separately before I knew that Tony would be presenting too and I helped arranged for my friend Pinguino to also speak at this event. One thing that can happen at panels like this is convergence unplanned meetings at panels you might know that other people would have interest in. Panels like this also show the real potential of connecting with audiences and interested parties who can make a brand more successful, and like I just wrote change lives.
I was asked to be part of a Syfy event at 4pm so after the three main presentations, I quickly made my way to the meet up point. Interesting enough there was another convergence as Travis (https://crazy4comiccon.wordpress.com/2017/07/28/its-a-wrap-on-my-sdcc/) was also chosen for the same event. Things kept changing in the rapid pace and live environment that was SyFy Live so what was planned kept changing even up to the last minute, but it was a unique experience and for those there you also saw some of the crazy behind the scenes that happen.
After this was one of the highlights of SDCC the Eisners. I have been going to the Eisners every year since I started coming to SDCC (except for last year when I had to deal with a large brand using my photo without permission or credit) and it is always a wonderful time. You see great people in comics being acknowledged for their works, you here stories of people who win, and some crazy things from the hosts and guest presenters such as Wayne Brady, Phil Lamarr, Tom Lennon, Danny Pudi. You can also see friends you might not expect there, but the encounter factor does happen. It’s a different kind of event than the rest of SDCC and as I’ve written before something to be experienced.
Here you saw all sorts of different content of the comics and sequential art form be honored. The entire list of Eisner Winners can be found here: https://www.comic-con.org/awards/eisner-awards-current-info
It was an entire celebration of art, humor, and remembrance of great pop culture personas who were lost this year. The memorial is always important because there’s so many pop culture people who helped make pop culture some very well-known others not, but they all deserve to be remembered and celebrated.
The Eisners too has its own afterparty as well, it’s a much smaller event than most afterparties and it’s more akin to one of the after parties in the Hyatt lobby (which were easier to attend since I was at the Hyatt). It was a nice event with live music chatting with fellow comics and pop culture professionals, and just a nice cordial event.
For some this would be their final afterparty of the night, but for others like me there were more afterparties to go to and we were asked to be at.
There were two in particular BANGARANG and SYFY. First up BANGARANG hosted by Bernie Bregman. For those of you who don’t know Bernie Bregman he’s The Geek Gatsby and founder of Nerds Like Us and throws some of the best parties and events in California and he’s expanding into more markets. His events are also very inclusive and welcoming which is not always case with afterparties.
There was a step-and-repeat and small red carpet that everyone could get free pictures taken at, which is common at many afterparties but it is a nice touch to get fun pictures with friends at.
In the main areas there were video game stations and couches play games on the dance floor there was live music and various DJs spinning as well as the headliner Dante Basco (known for his works in Hook and Avatar: The Last Airbender).
BANGARANG as well as the premiere of his new short film also named BANGARANG which had a feel of the classic Hook. It premiered to a full house of cheers.
The photos here show Bernie doing his magic as hosting making sure that everyone is engaged in the event.
There was a cosplay contest prize of a TCL 4K HDR TV which is one of the biggest prizes I’ve seen for a convention afterparty cosplay contest. Awesome convention personalities and hosts Leo Camacho, Abby DarkStar, and Ireland Reid were the judges and there was some great cosplay.
The vibe here was a happy, inclusive, and fun.
After this as has been seen in a few of the other blog posts I made new friends and connected with other members of the Crazy4ComicCon Team at the SYFY Party. I liked that SYFY party was serving free bottles water and fresh baked soft pretzels, little amenities like these that are truly useful after a long of SDCC.
Now of course the afterparties still continued at the hotels as the hotel lobbies especially of the main hotels. The Hyatt has always been known for its afterparties, even from the early days of SDCC, the beautiful location of the hotel It too can be a wonderful place to see friends, perhaps a celebrity or two or do a quick photoshoot.
Underwatch (Overwatch characters in lingerie) Zarya with @kbndmichelle
A great thing that the Hyatt had this year was a 24-food market and convenience store that sold hot food till 5am. I know the guides say to make sure to eat, stay hydrated, etc. It’s easier to stay hydrated because of water in the panel rooms and several events, but making sure to eat especially late night and early morning if you have a packed schedule like most pros can be very difficult. This in the Hyatt solves that problem and the food was reasonably priced.
A few hours sleep and now it’s on to Saturday the busiest day of the convention. Saturday for the most tends to be the most packed. Saturday is usually when the most announcements and such are made and it is also the day. That the most people go to the offsites because unlike the convention center the offsites do not require a badge.
You can see fun things outside like the kid sized landspeeder
Inside the booths are at their busiest such as Dark Horse
and Sneaky Zebra (look I found Nick)
is working their hardest to film to bring awesome CMVs:
There are also some really great panels that happen such as “Comics Greats on Will Eisner’s The Spirit” because without Will Eisner all of what we know in comics and the pop culture that comes from it would not exist.
Later in the day was the Pop Culture Hero Coalition panel, called “SuperheroIRL: End Bullying!” The Pop Culture Hero Coalition works to end bullying (something many of us in pop culture have experience and in some cases experience still), that was founded by my friends Chase Masterson (of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, The Flash, Dr. Who) and Carrie Goldman. On the team is also well-known psychologists and very involved fans Dr. Andrea Letamendi, and Dr. Janina Scarlet. You may have seen Andrea on several documentaries in fandom and you may have read several of Janina’s works if you have read any of the psychology of series edited by fellow psychologist Dr. Travis Langley.
This panel had a wide variety of special guests such as Bill Prady (co-creator of the Big Bang Theory), Dan Dio (writer and co-publisher of DC Comics), (who had to leave early because they were double booked) actress Genevieve Padalecki (who sits on the board of the non-profit Random Acts, the charity started by actor Misha Collins), Vanee Matsalia (teacher and contributor to Black Girl Nerds), co-writer Andrew Aydin and illustrator Nate Powell of March.
Nichelle Nichols, Uhura, who entered the room to a standing ovation, was the most special guest of all.
Each panelist spoke on their experiences, challenges faced, and how they were working to make the world better. The panel also featured on CBS http://www.cbs8.com/story/35947373/anti-bullying-panel-hosted-by-pop-culture-hero
After this I had some quick photoshoots with friends:
Seen here with SydneyMarie Cosplay, Countess Autumn Lynn, Crimson Vice, and AZ Powergirl.
I then was doing the video for the Eisner Award winning Sonny Liew who had come to SDCC all the way from Singapore. He spoke of his works, who he wants to inspire, and more in his conversation with Paul Levitz:
This was a spotlight panel for a truly amazing artist and it was a little surprising that more people weren’t at this event, which was some of the humor shared by Paul on the panel and little later online.
The last panel for me this day was Elfquest: Countdown to Final Quest (with video coming soon to Elfquest.com) this panel was all about the 40 year journey that Elfquest has had as one of the original indie comics leading the way for so many of the independent comics that exist now that we know and love. There were plenty of teasers from the conclusion of the Final Quest as well as some discussion of the victory convention tour for Elfquest which will be quite exciting.
After this was the Saturday afterparties with the primary being the Red Wedding Party thrown by Hero Within and Crazy4ComicCon. Held at the House of Blues there were plenty who came out for this afterparty and also for the Screen Junkies Afterparty (held at the outer side of the House of Blues). While there was confusion from various people as to which party was where, everyone really enjoyed themselves and had a wonderful time.
When this party ended it was time for another round Hyatt afterparties where I got to catch up with Warner Archive (you know the people who release great products like Batman: Mask of the Phantasm) and Pingunio long time pop culture photographer journalist if you read pretty much any big pop culture site over the ten years you have seen her works.
Sunday was the lighter day after this usually a time when many are getting their belongings packed and checking out of their hotels and getting their final purchases from the show floor. It’s time to also see some great cosplay because each day can be full of amazing work and Sunday had plenty.
It’s also the time you see the mass exit of everyone from the convention center as well as sometimes seeing the team meetings such as those with Marvel and Dark Horse as you exit.
It can also be a time to say goodbye to friends as we did with Jeff (of C4CC) with Travis, Alli, and myself (also C4CC) as we brought him to the train station where we encountered my friends Jack Conway (producer of many things including Game Talk Live) and Jo-Ellen Elam of Firefly Path. Even when SDCC is technically over you can still encounter friends and connect people while the magic of SDCC is still in the air.
For those like me leaving on Monday there was still one funny final thing to see of SDCC, the FedEx offices. This was the day (and according to the clerk so was Sunday) when everyone came to ship their SDCC loot everywhere. A way to have some of the joy come to them even after SDCC is done.
This is the abridged version of things that happened with me at SDCC. As always there is more. Now I didn’t get to see everything that I wanted to see, but that’s always something that happens with every SDCC. I didn’t get to see everyone I wanted to but I did see others I did not expect and I did make new friends.
Each year brings new experiences and new things to think about. Each SDCC is unique and if you do some of the same events there is always something new to experience.