Well, it’s finally here! Comic-Con is back this week, and I’m going to give you a brief rundown of what’s going on in the Gaslamp during the busiest, and my favorite, weekend of the year! The easiest way to go about this is to break Comic-Con down into the three main categories: Exhibit Hall, Panels, and Off-Sites.
Let's start off with the Exhibit Hall.
This is the main show floor of the Convention Center, featuring hundreds of exhibitors and artists who have booths selling art, toys, comic books, etc. Film studios have booths promoting upcoming films and television series, and video game companies have booths where you can play demos of upcoming games. Pretty much whatever you’re fandom is, the Exhibit Hall will have something for you. Over the years, as I’ve gotten into collecting posters, pins, tiki mugs, etc, I’ve gotten better at navigating the floor and zeroing in on the vendors that have my favorite stuff. I still haven’t succeeded in getting my hands on any of the super exclusives that vendors like Hasbro or Funko put out every year, but my luck’s gotta change at some point….I hope. Anyways, no Comic-Con adventure is complete without wandering the Exhibit Hall in search of some cool merch!
Walking around the Exhibit Hall for hours on end can get exhausting, so if you want to sit down in a nice air-conditioned room and rest your feet while also hearing from some of your favorite industry talent, panels are the way to go! Of course the big ticket panel wise is always Hall H. This is the giant room east of the Exhibit Hall that features the mega panels focusing on the biggest upcoming films and television shows. For several years, you pretty much had to camp out in line overnight to get into Hall H, but last year however, with the absence of panels like Marvel or Game of Thrones, people pretty much got in without having to wait hours on end. This year, both Marvel and Game of Thrones are back, so things might go back to the way it used to be. We’ll have to wait and see. I might make a try for Hall H myself this weekend. Aside from Hall H, however, there are literally hundreds of other panels to see throughout the weekend, that also generally feature dramatically shorter wait times. The topics are far ranging, from comic book artists to video game designers, just like the Exhibit Hall, there’s something for everyone. Several times these last few years, I’ve gone into a panel at a friend’s request, and they ended up being some of the best I’ve seen. At the very least, I’d say read up on some of the descriptions and see what catches your fancy. You might end up having a blast.
The final thing I want to talk about are the off-sites.
This is the element of Comic-Con that has arguably grown the most over the years. Everyone knows how difficult it is to get your hands on a Comic-Con badge, and luckily for you, most off-sites generally don’t require one. The caveat of that, however, is that the wait times for some of the more popular ones have been known to last for hours. For days that I don’t have a Comic-Con badge, I like to focus on doing some off-sites, but I have also waited a very long time to get into some. It took me four hours to get into the Blade Runner 2049 Experience a couple years ago, but it also ended up being the coolest off-site I’ve ever experienced. As far as this year goes, Amazon is back with another huge off-site promoting several of their shows including: The Expanse, Carnival Row, and The Boys. Also back this year is South Park, celebrating the 20th anniversary of their movie, South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, which will supposedly feature a round of mini-golf. HBO is back, this time with The Watchmen Experience, and FX is looking to have several off-sites including one promoting the next season of American Horror Story. It seems like there’s going to be more off-sites this year than ever before, most of which don’t require a badge, so I’d say to anyone who still wants to experience the Comic-Con madness in some way should head downtown and try out some of these off-sites. I know the wait times can be daunting, but I recommend finding one you really think you’ll like and committing to the wait, it just might be worth it.
For many, Comic-Con can be very overwhelming, but to anyone who asks, I always say to try to experience it at least once. I can’t emphasize enough that there are so many things to do, not to mention every kind of fandom you can think of. At the very least, I’d say you can park yourself at any bar or restaurant that has patio seating and get some good people watching in. Ryan wrote a great blog just last week highlighting all the best places to get some delicious tacos in the Gaslamp, so click here if you want all the deets! I’ll see you at the CON!!!