Comic Con Special Edition is an incarnation of San Diego Comic Con. SDCC could not take place during the pandemic. The normal, summer SDCC had to cancel in 2020 and 2021. However, this Special Edition is scaled down version of comic con. There were still industry and professional development panels, autographs, and a large dealers hall. However, it was very reminiscent of the early days of the show.
The dealers hall is the center piece of the show. Still large and booming with geeky wares, it is interesting to note that anime and manga had a much larger presence than their American counterparts. If you have been paying attention to graphic novel sales, manga has been outselling Marvel and DC. I’ve been to comic cons where anime content was regulated to a corner, but now it’s everywhere.
The Gundam Base’s replica of the RX-78-2 beckons you to enter in. We did check out the Gundam Base booth for the exclusives, but we did notice curious fans wanting to check out the display of giant robots and model kits. We also checked out the small press zone. I always like checking out what the world of indie comics are like these days. I picked up merchandise from Boston Metaphysical Society and Diwata Komiks. There was a lot of interesting independent books to check out.
Artist Alley was a mixture of fan artists selling prints, stickers, and decals. We also had professional artists selling their personal collections and signing off for fans. This was a great place to shop for holiday presents as it guarantees something unique and personal to the people we love.
Cosplay is always a defining trait of these shows. The top fandoms represented were Squid Game (all ages too!), Demon Slayer (it was cool seeing families dress from the series together), and Marvel (this is will always be a staple so as long as the MCU is in the zeitgeist). I attended a Marvel Cosplay Meet Up on Saturday cosplaying as Katy from Shang-Chi. I was kinda nervous since this was my first Marvel meet up, but I stuck with the other Shang Chi cosplayers (including one from the comics!) and made new friends from that!
Panels were mostly fandom focused or professional development. If you are aspiring to be in comics be it writing, publishing, or illustration, Comic Con Special Edition had a variety of panels that you could attend and get some industry insight. I attended a few panels such as GeekEd, Marketing Table Top Gaming, etc. I tried to get into the Shang Chi stunts panel, but the line was wicked long. There was no room for folks in the tiny panel room.
From a panelist perspective, our panel went great! We hosted the Mythology of Final Fantasy panel at 7:30PM on Saturday evening. We still managed to pack an audience willing to be educated about world mythology referenced in Final Fantasy. We are forever thankful for the staff for being ever so helpful in getting us set up, making sure we’re hydrated, and keeping us on time.
Though Comic Con Special Edition lacked the major Hall H crowds, there were still lines for the Spirited Away screening and the indie Filipino American film, Lumpia with a Vengeance. We wanted to check out the latter, but because it was already supper time during the premiere and “lumpia” would probably be referenced, we opted for dinner.
Comic Con Special Edition did have guests signing autographs. I did observe a few of the lines. Anime voice actors were consistently getting lines. Authors were spending one on one time with fans. I got to meet Andy Le and his stunt team. Andy Le played Death Dealer in Shang Chi. We talked about martial arts and his team encouraged me to keep on training.
I would like to emphasize the smaller crowd compared to the 100,000 attendees a summer comic con would bring. I never felt sardined in. I could walk around the dealers room without my personal space being invaded. It also helped that Comic Con Special Edition required 1) masks indoors at all times and 2) vaccination or negative test as requirements to enter in the space.
Overall, I know we may not have Comic Con Special Edition like this again. It was a nice feeling to have the OG Comic Con return to its roots in 2021, even if it’s for one year. Downtown San Diego is growing on me. I do like the food selection in the Gaslamp District. We even made time to visit The Cat Café as they were having a special event for comic con attendees. I enjoyed the vibe, meeting new friends, re-connecting with old (but not obsolete) friends.
Until then, whatever happens…happens.