SDCC 2019 – the recap!

Oh, Comic-Con. This was my ninth year going, and while it may have been considered a slow year compared to previous years, it was still a fantastic time. It’s interesting to see how my perspective on Comic-Con has changed over the years, and how priorities have shifted over time. I’ve mellowed out a bit over certain things, but I like to think years of experience affords me that kind of luxury to take it easy and not be as frenetic over trying to get to “that panel” or to scramble for “that celebrity sighting” because I’ve already done those things. This may have been the most carefree Comic-Con I’ve been to to date, and whether or not that was reflective of the quality of activities around the convention this year (generally more popular activities = more frantic planning and scrambling to get to places), it’s still always a good time at San Diego Comic-Con. Here’s my recap!

PANELS

As I keep going to Comic-Con, panels start to fall lower on my list of priorities each year. When I first started going I’d be camped out in line to get a chance to see all the cast members and showrunners from my favorite TV shows and movies, and maybe get a cool swag bag or a sneak peek at some exclusive footage out of it. Nowadays I feel like if I have to be in line for longer than 3 hours for a panel then I’d rather catch it on YouTube later. That being said, I went to the Terminator: Dark Fate panel mostly because I wanted to see the governator, and had a great time along with a surprise appearance from Tom Cruise at the end!

I also saw the Sesame Street live performance, and IT TOTALLY MADE MY CON. It was so, SO fun, packed with nostalgia and it still had just enough time at the end for Q&A to hear some great stories from the puppeteers. I loved that the puppeteers were out in the open for this, so you got to see them at work without hiding behind camera crops or covered tables.

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I even wore a relevant shirt for the occasion!

EXHIBITION HALL

Maybe it was just me, but did anyone else feel like the exhibition hall was eerily quiet this year? I’m not sure if there was better crowd control or if it’s because a lot of the big booths weren’t there this time around. It was also notable to me that the booths have gotten significantly less flashy, and the swag handouts were diminished. This was especially surprising to me because this was supposed to be the 50th anniversary! Where was all the fanfare? Where was all the excitement? Maybe I’m just turning into a salty SDCC old-timer? Otherwise I welcomed the extra breathing room, but it definitely felt a bit odd to me.

OFF-SITE EVENTS

Year after year, I feel like the offsite events outshine everything that’s happening in the convention more and more! That being said, there’s also a certain gradient of quality that happens with those offsite events too. I’ve also found that the quality of the paid actors interacting with guests at these offsite events can make or break the experience.

Highlights:

Painting like Bob Ross at the Comic-Con Museum pop-up: I normally don’t venture too far from the convention center during Comic-Con, and Balboa Park feels like traveling to a foreign country once Comic-Con is in full force. But since this year felt like a slower year I didn’t mind wandering off a bit farther to try something cool! The Bob Ross painting experience was just as awesomely soothing as I thought it would be, and the instructors were totally channeling the spirit of Bob, by teaching everyone to paint happy little trees, or  gently encouraging us to just “tap tap tap the brush” to paint a nice little landscape. This was easily the most relaxing thing I’ve ever done at Comic-Con. 😀

Conan O’Brien taping: The Conan O’Brien tapings have been one of the best off-site activities you can do since they started four years ago, and this was no exception! I saw the cast of It: Chapter 2, and managed to catch a glimpse of James McAvoy as he walked into the theater! The Conan O’Brien tapings are always a fun time, the ticketing process is relatively painless (although it’s gotten significantly more difficult as the popularity increases), the theater is small enough that you’d still get a better view than you could in Hall H, and you always walk out with one of the most coveted pieces of swag of the con. I’m willing to say that #ConanCon outshines Comic-Con itself in a lot of ways.

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So creepy! I love it!

Brooklyn Nine Nine activation: NINE NINE! That whole thing I said about having good paid actors? The folks at NBC did a great job at finding people who would goof off with people in line and for setting up a fun little off site event for fans of the show. I just wish I had some more time in there to really appreciate all the little details when they recreated the characters’ desks.

FX activation: See, THIS is how you handle an offsite event. Sure, there was a line to register, but once you were signed up then everything else was a breeze, with easy re-entry if you decided to leave, and a super fast and easy reservation system if you didn’t want to wait for a particular event. Everything was efficiently run, good swag was given out in a timely manner, wait times were painless, and again, GREAT paid actors to make for a fun experience. I didn’t get to visit the American Horror Story portion, but I heard great things about it. I visited the What We Do in the Shadows vampire house, where they managed to squeeze in a good swag grab, a fun photo op, and hilariously fun interactions with actors, all in a small space. The “vampires” were hilarious and quick on their feet to basically talk shit to anyone who spoke with them, and 100% made the experience.

Low points:

Amazon’s experience: You know how I said FX’s setup was well-run because once you got through registration everything else was a breeze? Amazon did not do that. I tagged along with a friend for the press preview for this, and while we got to bypass the line to get in, everything else inside didn’t seem to be moving much, and this is even with a smaller crowd because at the time it was media only. Sure, I got some free churros. But everything else seemed to move VERY slowly, and we didn’t even make it into the Expanse escape room (in which other friends had told us that it wasn’t even worth it). Eventually we had to head out to our Conan O’Brien taping so we bailed out.

Pennyworth: Ok, maybe I shouldn’t shit on this one too much because the wait was short (I would’ve been PISSED if I had waited hours for it), but were they even trying?? A lot of things weren’t set up yet or they weren’t operational (why even open if you’re not ready yet?), and the paid actors were either horrible (the fake British accents were bad, SO BAD), non-interactive, or just plain absent. My sister told me when she showed up she saw two actors going through shift change and they completely broke character to discuss shift duties in front of everyone. Someone else reported that they saw actors straight up checking their phones while in costume. It could’ve had good potential because of the cool speakeasy setup, but otherwise this one was a flop for me. Maybe it got better once they got their shit together, but they clearly weren’t ready for the public when I stepped in on Thursday.

CRITTERS

Every single one of my critters was found and checked in, including the 3 guest critters made by Gina! My timing and “crochet mojo” was a bit off this year, but I’m always so, SO grateful for everyone who enthusiastically joins in on the hunt and for those who pick up my critters to give them a new home! I’ve been doing this since I first went to Comic-Con in 2011 and it’s always made my con experience a fantastic one. 🙂 I also got an international adopter from Germany!! I always get excited when one of my critters finds a home somewhere else on the globe. So many happy faces! You guys are exactly why I do this year after year. 🙂

Another year, another SDCC in the books! Here’s to hoping that I’ll make it to year 10 next year!

1 comment on “SDCC 2019 – the recap!”

  1. We have been attending SDCC since 2011 also! Next year will be our 10th, just like you. I remember when I first learned of Geeky Hooker and I was hooked 😉 I still have yet to find a critter but I was oh so close the year with the guest monkey critter – I never ran so fast loaded down with so much LOL. I love that you do this and this year my hubby and I dropped freebie stuff all over the con. We had items from different subscription boxes that we did not want, so we gifted them all around. It was fun and I hope everything found a home – we didn’t ask for a response on the finds. I look forward to what you will bring us in 2020 and I hope you have a great year until the next SDCC.

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