Con you dig it?
What was once a comic book focused convention in years gone by is now a full blown pop culture spectacle of Californian proportions. San Diego Comic Con, especially in recent years, celebrates nerddom and fandom in all forms, ranging from classic comic books to modern day cosplay and pop culture stars. Everyone is getting in on the action, too, with multi-industry giants like Marvel (and Disney) doing panels, hosting show floor booths, and having a behemoth presence at every turn. And me? I walked with my mouth open in awe for most of my trip.
Before I made it into the convention center, I saw what looked like a movie set for the new Tom Clancy Jack Ryan show. Dozens of people were standing in line, waiting for what I later learned was a full fledged VR experience: people “jumped” out of helicopters, walked across harrowing cat walks, and experienced what it would be like to be Jack Ryan (if Jack Ryan wore a VR headset while doing his job at the CIA). The entire setup was a spectacle that I walked by every time I entered or exited the convention center.
Across the street from the Jack Ryan experience was a car that had wrecked into a fountain while a classical aria played on repeat. It was a subtle attention- grab for Castle Rock, compared to the Jack Ryan VR extravaganza across from it.
This convention is very obviously not all about comic books any longer.
That being said, rows and rows of comic books sellers, authors, illustrators, indie and heavy hitters alike, sprawled across the show floor. It was a scene that harkened back to what SDCC used to be about, but it’s difficult to appreciate the art of a comic book when Blizzard’s multiscreen booth towered over an entire corner of the massive show floor.
The Blizzard booth was super fun, by the way. There was an incredible Hanzo statue on display.
I wandered around the show floor almost exclusively for the two days I was at SDCC (when I wasn’t standing in line for coffee). There was SO much to take in! One of my favorite features of the show floor was that so much of what I love about comic book stores was still prevalent to the three ring circus of SDCC. There were hundreds of expertly crafted busts and figures of my ALL TIME FAVORITE comic book characters (Emma Frost and Rogue, ICYWW) on display, plenty of indie comics to thumb through, and all the classics to buy from resellers. There were Funko figures everywhere. Like every booth. On top of Funko having a large presence on the show floor!
So that brings me to something unique about San Diego Comic Con: the shopping. At the bigger booths, you cannot simply walk up to the booth and buy what you want. I tried. It was embarrassing. You have to stand in line to get a ticket to go stand in line at the booth to pick out what you want and buy it. They hand out menus for what’s available while you’re in line to be handed your ticket. Some of the toys, like a very specific Funko I’ve wanted since it was announced that it would be an SDCC exclusive, were on lottery systems, so even if you stood in line to be given a ticket to stand in line to buy it, you might not be allowed to buy it at all. And the most painful part of this? You may see it on ebay the following month for more than the convention ticket costs.
But all the standing in line for toys gave me plenty of time to look around, mouth agape. There was a life size Bumblebee, Lego Thanos, Lego Aquaman, Star Wars eye candy galore, but maybe my favorite feature at SDCC: the Anthem mech suits. There were actors trained to walk in these incredible suits and I was in AWE of the suit design, as well as the skill it took to walk in these intricate, beautiful machines come to life. I cannot wait to play Anthem, so seeing these suits in action just made the waiting even more difficult. I was so busy fangirling that I forgot to take pictures and I am totally kicking myself for it now.
Of course, I couldn’t go to SDCC, being the book nerd and comic fan I am, and not pick up some books. I’m excited to check out a few indie titles I purchased, including a feudal Japanese series and a darling book about a lonely robot. Truth be told, I barely had enough room to bring all my loot home. The trip was a BLAST and, SDCC being one of my fan bucket list items, I am so thankful I had the opportunity to go.
(special thanks to Jeff from Prima Games for the awesome pic of the Anthem booth)