by Rob Salkowitz, author and futurist
After 18 years of attending San Diego Comic-Con, I’ve come to the conclusion that there is no such thing as the Con; there are over 130,000 different cons all happening at once, filtered through the perceptions and interests of each attendee.
If you look in the news reports, you’ll probably see that the Star Wars panel with J.J. Abrams was a huge hit, Hunger Games’ Jennifer Lawrence captivated audiences with her off-the-cuff style, Conan O’Brien loomed over the event with giant banners plastered all over the Marriott Marina hotel promoting his live specials from the Con and lines of fans clogged the show floor to catch a glimpse of the cast from Warner Brothers’ Superman-Batman movie, including stars Ben Affleck and Henry Cavill.
I didn’t see any of that stuff, though I was aware it was happening. My interests lay more on the publishing side of the business. I was especially excited to see civil rights icon and Congressman John Lewis turn up at the booth of small-press publisher Top Shelf to sign copies of his memoir, March: Book Two. In an era when celebrities are often famous for simply being famous, Lewis has a claim to genuinely changing American culture for the better, and it speaks volumes about the growing legitimacy of comics as an art form that he chose to tell his story as a graphic novel.
Another great moment of the show was the Eisner Awards (the comic book industry’s equivalent of the Oscars). Wins by relatively new faces like Raina Telgemeier (Sisters, Smile, The Baby-Sitters Club) and Gene Luen Yang (Boxers & Saints, American Born Chinese) over traditional superhero comic mainstays signaled a changing of the guard and a recognition that the fandom is evolving in more diverse and interesting ways.
Naturally, fans in costume (“cosplayers”) were everywhere. Though dressing up has become commonplace at just about any fan event, SDCC is still where the hardcore cosplayers come to really strut their stuff. Here are a few photos my wife Eunice and I snapped while walking the aisles.
Some will complain about the lines, the crowds and the costs, but after four-and-a-half exhausting days, San Diego Comic-Con 2015 closed on another high note. Hundreds of thousands of fans got to see their heroes up close, shop for unique and exclusive items in the world’s largest geek pop-up mall, preview next year’s biggest film, TV and videogame properties (along with a few flops…) and spend a rapturous weekend in the company of folks who share their interests and enthusiasm.
Were you at San Diego this year? Share your Con experience in the comments!