Conventioneers Test the Waters at Comic-Con Special Edition

This past Thanksgiving weekend, Comic-Con International: San Diego made its first foray back to in-person conventions with Comic-Con Special Edition (CCSE.)

San Diego Comic-Con Special Edition

A much smaller affair than the usual gargantuan multi-media powerhouse that San Diego Comic-Con had become in the Before Times, CCSE ran for three days and had a projected attendance of 50,000 as opposed to the 130,000 it topped out previously.

Safety measures included the requirements that all attendees had to either provide proof of vaccination or negative COVID testing before entering, at which time they were given a wristband they had to keep on for the duration of the con.

COVID wristband check-in tables

I had actually anticipated that this would be a logistical nightmare, but at no time did I see any lines longer than 15-20 minutes.  On the contrary, the comparatively few people milling about made the usually congested walkways seem roomy and vast.

CCSE bag pickup area

Registration and bag pick-up had a similarly cavernous appearance as they were situated in the huge Hall H this year, left vacant by all the major studios that sat this one out.  In lieu of the big bags with pins and catalog-sized programs, they went with the more practical choice of hand sanitizers.

While there were no big star-studded film/TV panels or big announcements this time around, there was no shortage of things to do and see.  Rooms dedicated for gaming and anime viewing ran throughout each day and into the night, while programming of a more sedate nature focused more on fan-based activities and interests.  Presentations and Q&A on how to make independent films or break into genre writing were geared towards helping fans work towards their dreams of becoming professionals in their fields of interest.  Still other panels were run by groups elucidating on their particular areas of fascination within a given topic, such as “Star Wars Samurai Universe”

Star Wars Samurai Universe

This talk pointed out all the many contributions samurai movies, manga, and principles have made to the making of the Star Wars mythos.

Scenes from LONE WOLF AND CUB contrasted with similar shots from MANDALORIAN

TOKYOPOP had its usual panel detailing some of the latest titles to come to their large collection of manga distribution, many of which were from Disney properties.

Cosplay was abundant as usual, on the exhibitor’s floor as well as in the traditional Saturday night Masquerade.

Beauty and the Beast
Disco Snow White


There was also a touching panel that paid tribute to the late Grant Imahara–well-known not only for his work as a Mythbuster, but also for his extensive career in which he worked on Star Wars as part of ILM, and later became a consulting Imagineer whose final projects included the “Stickman” robot that evolved into the Spider-Man you now see at Avenger’s Campus.

One role I didn’t know he played was that of C-3PO, for smaller appearances that didn’t call for Anthony Daniels (he was one of the few people who could fit in the suit.)

To continue his legacy of promoting and popularizing science and engineering, Imahara’s mother has set up a STEAM foundation in his name.

Although most of the presentations I saw had plenty of room for everyone, there were a few, such as the Shang-Chi fight choreography panel, that were so crowded it seemed evident that possibly hundreds of people in line were not going to get in.  In retrospect, it seems obvious that the handful of talks actually featuring industry people would have needed larger rooms given that each one had less competition for viewers, but hindsight is 20/20.

Out on the exhibitor’s floor, it was amazing to actually have room to walk around and see things in Artist’s Alley without the huge crush of humanity that usually makes stopping at any table for more than a second impossible.

So much space!

When I asked around, the people working the booths noted that even though there were fewer people, they were still doing about the same business because the people who were there could do more shopping.

So in all, CCSE felt a little like a throwback to the early days of conventions, before all the big companies got involved and they were mostly home-grown gatherings of people who wanted to talk about genre media with fellow fans.  It was a lot quieter than normal, but I think that was appropriate for the still-tenuous COVID situation.  Although nothing can really be said to be completely safe, the measures they took–masks on inside, vaccinations/testing–were reasonable and well-implemented, giving cautious optimism for prospects of an orderly SDCC next year.  Some things were a little difficult to see working–for example, they initially said masks had to be on unless you were eating/drinking, but inevitably widespread abuse of that policy led them to mandate no eating or drinking in any of the panels.  How will this work when people are camping out all day in a room?  Hard to predict how it will be next year, just as it has been hard to predict from day to day how things will work in the past year.  All we can say is that, at least for this Special Edition of Comic-Con, things seem to be turning the corner towards a more normal tomorrow.

It’s not comic-con until you take the escalator photo.

Did you get to Comic-Con Special Edition this year? What did you think?  Drop us a note below.

Be sure to follow @allearsnet on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!

Click below to subscribe to the AllEars® newsletter so you don’t miss any of the latest Disney news!

Click here to subscribe

Trending Now

Jeanine resides in Southern California, pursuing the sort of lifestyle that makes her the envy of every 11-year-old she meets. She has been to every Disney theme park in the world and while she finds Tokyo DisneySea the Fairest Of Them All, Disneyland is her Home Park... and there is no place like home.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *