San Diego Comic-Con International wrapped up yesterday. If you had any Facebook friends in attendance or follow anything studio or comic book related, then #SDCC probably dominated your news feed over the weekend. A few of you reading this probably went and had a blast. Others of you may be feeling a bit of Con-Envy. I am reaching out to the latter group today. Having attending SDCC twice, I feel secure in saying you shouldn’t feel bad for missing it. Here’s why:
10. The Crowds – SDCC has had over 130,000 people in attendance in recent years. That’s not counting venders, celebrities, and studio staff. The convention center can only hold so many people, and this one convention is frequently challenging capacity. If you’re not good with crowds, this is not an event for you. They’re nearly impossible to avoid on a con weekend, even outside of the convention center.
9. The Smell- Even San Diego gets a little toasty in July. 130K sweaty bodies in one space make for an interesting environment. With or without cosplay, some folks bring the odor home as an extra souvenir.
8. The Overpriced Proximity Dining- Thirsty? Maybe you’ll find a vender in the convention center selling $5 sodas. Hungry? How about a $7 pretzel. Sure, you can venture outside of the convention hall for a bite. Every restaurant in the neighborhood will fly the Superman crest to show they are Comic-Con friendly, only to have a special third-weekend-in-July menu with notably higher prices. That’s assuming you can get a table when you want one. True, you can go deeper into SD and find some great food. Just be willing to hike a little more, navigate the bus system, or give up whatever parking space you managed to grab.
7. It Takes All Day to Get in to Hall H – You’ve seen the photos of people literally camping out to get in to the spotlight panels in Hall H. These are the big announcement and Q&A Panels that get the most publicity through social media and other outlets. The typical strategy for one to get in to Hall H is to get in line as early as possible, get inside, and stay until you see whatever it is you want to see. For some, just getting in is the reward. I had one friend who wanted to see a particular panel two years ago. He got in line too late to see that one, but stayed in line just to finish the journey. He waited in that line for 8 hours before finally getting in. Panels were still running, but by then it was so late in the day that the line was actually gone.
6. Everything in Hall H Gets Posted Online Within 48 Hours – Most of what you will actually “see” in Hall H is projected on the jumbo-tron, because you’re nowhere near the speaker. All of this footage is recorded, and much of it appears on the Internet in the near future. Sure, you have the feeling of “I was there! I heard it FIRST!” Being “first” isn’t everything.
5. Toy Displays are Cool, but You Have Better Uses for Your Money – If you can get through the crowds on the vender floor, you may get to see a cool display of “Comic-Con Exclusive Action Figures.” These displays are fun to look at because there was a lot of care and artistry in curating and setting up these displays. You can get a bit of joy in looking at them… and it ends there. Will it really make you happy to shell out $300.00 for a particular character presented in a particular costume from a particular panel in a particular issue of a discontinued title? Will having it in your house, unopened, be more satisfying than paying your electric bill?
4. It’s No Longer About the Comic Books – Comic-con has been referred to as the world largest annual toy fair. It’s also one of the biggest film industry media events. The studios have taken over the con and made it about what they plan to sell over the coming years. Watch our shows! Buy our merch! Worship our actors! Yes, you’ll see comic book stuff there. DC and Marvel have no problem sharing the stage with Warner and Disney.
3. Screaming Bible Thumpers – Nothing says “vacation” like a self-righteous, self-loathing closet-case with a bullhorn telling me I’m going to hell because I think BATMAN and WOLVERINE are cool.
2. If You’ve Been There/Done That Once, You Don’t Need to Go Back – There’s little reason to go to SDCC more than once unless you have a professional stake in going. The experience has little improvement on repeat visits.
1. *Phoenix Has Our Own… No Less Than Two, Actually – Don’t get me wrong. I love San Diego. I love going to San Diego and experiencing San Diego. But you can save the car/plane ride and get the con experience here in Phoenix. In January, our own convention center hosts the Amazing Arizona Comicon. This one IS about the comics. Nothing is booked unless it’s comic book (paper and ink) related. Then there is, of course, Phoenix Comicon. PhxCC is not SDCC, and it doesn't want to be. There has been growth, but nothing like the studio party we see in California. The fan favorites, however, know that the fans are here. The city is a welcoming place that appreciates a kind visitor. There are others like Lepri-Con and Con-Nichiwa. There are too many to list. If you look hard enough, you can find an event just about every weekend.
*EDIT- An earlier draft of this suggested Phoenix Comicon was trying to be San Diego Comic Con. It was since brought to my attention that this is far from the truth. I apologize for this. I acknowledge this was a poor choice of words on my part. I'm a big fan of the Phoenix Comicon and mean no disrespect to anyone.
**EDIT- Sorry to suggest that there were only two cons in Phoenix.
So don’t feel bad if you missed out on SDCC. You didn’t miss anything. It is a cool experience, but not always an enviable one.