Comic-Con International: San Diego (SDCC) - Post-Show Field Report

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San Diego’s Comic-Con International sometimes is called the mecca for all fans of comics, manga, science-fiction and fantasy. It is a four day event that takes over the city of San Diego, and where every fan wants to go at least once. Why? Well, because it has everything: off-site events, conferences, special anime shows, parties, cosplay contests, and the chance to meet your favorite artists, actors, and directors.

Official Website: http://comic-con.org


Basic Info

When it was Established The very first Comic Con was held on March 21, 1970, when it was known as the Golden State Comic book Convention. It was later on called San Diego Comic Book Convention, which later morphed into the Comic-Con International: San Diego, or SDCC for it’s fans.

Length of event It lasts four days, from Thursday to Sunday, plus a half an evening on Wednesday for professionals, exhibitors, and all guests who managed to score tickets for all four days.

Place San Diego Convention Center, Petco Park, and the nearby hotels. Comic-Con has sprawled all over the city in the last few years.

Cost Badges for Thursday, Friday or Saturday are $60.00 dlls each for adults, $30 for juniors 13 to 17, and U.S. Military or people older than 60. Sundays are $40.00 for adults, and $20 for juniors, U.S. Military and Senior citizens. If you manage to buy passes for all days, you can get a Preview Night badge for $45 dlls for each adult, and $23 for Juniors, U.S. Military and Seniors. This makes that going for all 5 days $265, although it may be a bit more expensive next year. Tickets sell out fast, in one hour after they start the on-line sale in February-March, which fans have started calling The Hunger Games.

Hotels

As the convention has grown, so has the impact it has on the city. While the official site lists a great variety of hotels that can be reserved through their own service, and said hotels agree to accept up to six people per room if needed, the truth is that every single hotel, hostel and airbnb’s available rooms are occupied.

While this would be a problem in any other convention due to the distance, Comic-Con International also has a free shuttle service for all attendees, with 8 different routes that pass near all the hotels listed on their site and some others. The trips can go from 15 minutes to an hour, but it’s a 24 hour service and it’s a great way to rest a bit before

Company message for attendees

Comic-Con international: San Diego is a non profit educational corporation dedicated to creating awareness of, and appreciation for, comics and related popular artforms, primarily through the presentation of conventions and events that celebrate the historic and ongoing contribution of comics to art and culture. Besides Comic-Con International, the corporation also organizes the Wonder Con in Anaheim.

What to Expect

It is hard to tell what to expect of Comic-con as every convention is a bit different. It’s important to say that it’s the biggest convention in North America so if you have never been to one, you will be overwhelmed by the sheer size. It’s not just the convention center, it’s also the surrounding area.

If you can only get a ticket for a day, the best day to assist is possibly Saturday, although Fridays are good too if you are more into collecting than into panels. There are a lot of lines for almost everything, so you have to be ready to stand on your feet for long amounts of time depending on how popular the thing you want to see is. The advantage is that most people around you are in the same boat, and they are all friendly. So if you get stuck in a line, make conversation! You are sure to make new friends.

Best thing is that even in the longest lines, there’s not much time to be bored. Street Teams, surprise cosplay, and even the occasional celebrity coming to give coffee to sore and tired fans have been known to appear from time to time.


What to Bring in Order to Enjoy the Event

Given the long lines, water is a must. Stay hydrated and always carry a water bottle with you. A backpack is also a necessity, since while the convention gives away a very nice souvenir pack provided by Warner Bros., they tend to be particularly flimsy and can break with too much weight put on them. While many booths accept credit, it’s a good idea to carry cash (Even better if you budget daily if you worry about overspending, which is a real danger with so many exclusives and cool things to look forward to), and a bit of hand sanitizer is always good to avoid the dreaded con funk. Another real necessity, given the heat in the city, is a bit of deodorant. Trust us, that will make the con more enjoyable for you and other con-goers.

Your cellphone will also be your most valuable tool. Thanks to the official app, you can carry your map and the panel listings at all times without having to carry the sometimes cumbersome program book (That this year was a monster with 200 pages)

What to do While There?

We’ll try to make a summary of everything you can see in the exhibit floor: The biggest booths are Iron Giant, Weta, Marvel, and DC, which usually bring exhibits of their hottest properties. This year we had a life-sized Kaytoo from Rouge One, and a place where you could take your picture holding Thor’s hammer from the Legend’s figure series, while in another you could be part of The Last Jedi’s poster. The History Channel’s Viking booth made you a warrior video, while you could also take pictures of the actual costumes for Justice League, walk around the Walkers of the Walking Dead to take a selfie or risk a bite, and visit Squarepants Spongebob’s pineapple.

You could also go to the Marriot Grand Ballroom near the Convention Center for continuous anime screenings, from both classics to some hidden gems; or to the game area, either at the Marriot or at the Convention Center Mezzanine, for both tabletops and videogames depending on what you prefer.

There are about a hundred panels and conferences every day starting at 10:00 a.m so it’s virtually impossible to visit every single one. They’re divided by Comics, Animations, Movies, Television, Games, Sf/Fantasy.Horror and “Everything Else” that covers from Stunt work to the application of Science to different forms of comic work, besides some super special screenings of some movies that won’t be released until months later.

One of the best parts of the con is the Artist Alley where you can find old legends of the comic book work next to incredible newcomers who are just waiting to be discovered. There, you can get sketchbooks, prints, commissions, pins and bookmarks that are one of a kind, plus some great advice if you can talk for a few moments with the artist if there’s not a long line behind you.

The Convention is divided in Halls, from A to H. They’re not divided by walls, but it’s a good way to know which door you need to go through depending on what you want to see. Hall A is dedicated to gaming vendors, B to mostly old comics and book editorials where you can grab some great new novels, meet the writers and even snag free preview copies. Hall C is where you find the Independent and Small Press, as well as the webcomic booths, all of them staffed by the authors themselves. Hall D has the bigger booths, such as Marvel, DC, IDW, Dark Horse, Hasbro and their toy exclusives in two different booths, Mattel and the CW. This is where signings with the huge stars happen, and you can find yourself face to face with Chris Hemsworth if you’re in the right place at the right time.

Hall E is mostly toys and some smaller TV show booths, although this is where you can find Fox and, if you’re a Dr. Who fan, the BBC booth is normally around there. So is the Walking Dead exhibit and the Ash vs. the Evil Dead and Fear the Walking Dead. Hall F is the Fantasy and high quality art. This also is where we can find part of the Anime stores, such as J-list and manga stores where you can find 50% off manga volumes in English.

Finally, you get to Hall G, the Artist Alley and the booth with probably the second longest line in the whole convention: the Funko Booth, where if you are lucky, you can get up to 100 different exclusive vinyl figures. Hall H is not part of the exhibit floor as it is reserved for the biggest and most popular panels over all four days. This is where the newest movies are presented, where you can see the A-list celebrities and the longest line you can ever find as some people may even camp for up to two days hoping to get in.

And that’s not counting the off-sites, which include the Petco Park and the parking lot of the same, where we can find a literal fair setup by Adult Swim.

The only two big events that don’t happen at Hall H are the Eisner Awards Ceremony, that happens in the Indigo Ballroom of the Hilton and is a ceremony to celebrate the best comic book authors of the year. The other is the Masquerade that happens in Ballroom 20 inside the Convention Center, and it’s one of the biggest and most elaborate cosplay contests you can find on this continent.

This year, the Masquerade was a full house event, filling the ballroom and two overflow rooms where you could watch the show through screens. It totaled 6,000 viewers, according to the coordination of the event, and had 39 entries with 100 costumes total on the stage.

Best in show was Dawnseeker Ix’kin Arakkoa Sun Sage, worn and made by Malis Vitterfolk, while other prize winners were Onslaught, worn by Jason Aulicino, Empress Fe’ir by Rebecca Roberts Ryan, Darkwraith from Dark Souls, worn and made by Edgar Mayoral, and Samurai Jack by Blair Heald.

Among the prizes, the winners received free full memberships to Comic-Con 2018.

Cosplay

Every year, besides the contestants, you can see hundreds of people wearing cosplay at Comic Con, ranging through all ages and subjects. This particular year was pretty much dominated by Rick and Morty cosplayers, as well as a veritable army of Yondu Poppins’ from a line in Guardians of the Galaxy. But there were surprises: Some Ruffios from Hook, a gorgeous group of Hula Disney Princesses, a gorgeous Ta-Fitti from Moana.

Here you get everyone to try their favorite characters, bring some nostalgia back –like, for example, the Rainbow Brite cosplayers that crop up here and there- or just make fans smile, like the perfect Silent Bob that will not talk to you since he is perfectly in character, or the man who has been dressing as Waldo from Where’s Waldo? for about 15 years and counting, allowing you to find him in crowd pictures.







Final Thoughts

Comic-con International is a very special convention for a lot of people. While it is true that it has grown exponentially in the last few years, to the point where sometimes it seems as if comics are no longer the focus, it is still one of the very few where you can meet and see fans from all over the world coming together through love for pop culture in general, and one of the only where the whole host city gets in on the festivities, making everyone feel at home.

There have been some complaints, sure. Most recently, the big online store Mile High Comics pulled out of the con and wrote a long letter citing failing sales as the culprit. But even then, fans still come in hordes, and they still enjoy the special madness that comes with Comic-Con.

As long as you remember that there’s no way you can see everything, and to be happy with the special moments you do get to witness, there’s no convention like Comic-Con. It grows bigger every year, and thus, every time you come, it’s like the first time again.

Adalisa Zarate

Writer

Author: Adalisa Zarate

The fan with the rainbow hair. Has been an anime fan all her life. Lives in Mexico City for the time being.

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