For comic book and film and television enthusiasts around the world, San Diego Comic-Con is the ultimate pop culture pilgrimage, something like a trade show that is also the industry's largest gift shop. As artists announce their huge Hollywood slates, comic authors fill artists' alleys and passionate readers, thinkers, and artists program panels, filling each and every ballroom at the convention. COVID-19 and the monkeypox epidemic, which were designated a global health emergency during the weekend the convention took place, are still
SDCC attracts over 130,000 attendees per year, but it did feel less hectic than previous years.
In the face of COVID-19 and three years of social distancing, SDCC felt less overwhelmed. Cosplayer Brenden Keller who had crafted a very impressive Qrow costume appreciated the COVID awareness, but would have preferred it to be more like last years Special Edition, which was held almost entirely in the convention center.
Keller explained that he felt that he was lucky to have a little less crowded this time, despite the apparent decline in SDCC attendance. It's not pleasant, you get weary, and it's not as fun. he also shared some great advice for anyone considering attending a convention.
This year, high humidity and 80F (or higher) temperatures spanned the whole five-day event. Wednesday's Preview Night has always been slow, but by SDCC standards the city felt like a ghost town. By Thursday, the streets were busier, but they were still easily walkable. Saturday is traditionally the busiest day of the show, but even then it was possible to walk the floor without bumping into people or getting stuck in human traffic, something that cant be said of years past.
While no attendance numbers have been released, David Glanzer, SDCC's chief communications and strategy officer, spoke to Forbes in the days leading up to the convention, saying, "People bought their tickets in 2019 and there have been some refunds and exchanges," but I expect it to be packed.
Rebecca Ann, a bookeller and comic artist at Mysterious Galaxy, had some interesting thoughts on why the exhibit hall felt more pleasant to navigate. It also allowed for bigger aisles and safer protocols, as opposed to Comic-Con Internationals own WonderCon earlier in the year. There were exhibitors that were not masking even after being told to, and people just casually walking around on the floor without masks, which meant that it was the best con they've ever had.
As part of the convention, face coverings as well as a recent negative test were required. Once approved, attendees were given orange wristbands they had to wear in order to enter the convention center. At times, the line was hundreds of people long and an hour-plus wait in the hot midday sun.
SDCC's COVID protocols were a step up from those used at other recent conventions. I liked how they handled it. For exhibitors, your COVID station and your badge station were in the same location. It's just a smarter approach.
Parker explained that he could not just sit and see through the crowd during his first year in the game. But at the same time, people were still coming to buy. It wasn't the worst year, nevertheless.
Theresa from Calimesa, California, has been attending SDCC for years, but this year's show was a disappointment. She explained that things just didn't feel the same back then. Back then, you used to go to your panel, buy your Funko, and just participate. But today, people now have a chance to see your panel, and if you want to see another one, you go to another line.
The Hall H lines appeared to be much more reasonable from the outside this year, with the new rules appearing to reduce the amount of people willing to wait, and a lot of high-profile panels still letting people in within minutes of their starting time. It was a significant improvement over years before, and hopefully allowed more people to see one of SDCC's most famous parts.
RJ Perry, a writer/artist who has attended SDCC before, found enjoyment in the less well-known moments. Especially the small independent publishers. And, of course, he got to meet some of the best pros I grew up admiring.
Jules Chin Greene, a journalist, felt the same way when I saw Rob Liefeld walking in the opposite direction. It was amazing, I suppose, since it was my first experience of Comic-Con, and they felt that it helped them deal with the stress of the event.
The staff at the Bayfront Hilton, where many high-profile studio press conferences take place, went on strike on Wednesday night, with their demands quickly being met by Thursday. Its pretty cool. I hope to come back here someday just to be here. That would be much better.