50 great things I love about the San Diego Comic-Con!


I love that San Diego Comic-Convention.

Sometimes, I don’t shut up about it. I plan accessively over it. I have dreams about it sometimes. This leads to my attending this show again for 2019, carrying on my annual tradition for this sold-out, world famous, perhaps the grandest pop-culture show in the world. I can’t freakin wait for its 50th show (and my 25th in attending) since it started as a humble local comics convention in 1970 (held twice in that year).

So, in leading to another grand show for us nerds, here are 50 things (in no order) I personally love about this fandom converging, sequential arts celebrating, history-making, crowd-drawing, amazing thing that I shall forever be a part of…

1.  Arrival and spending time on the Exhibit Floor! It’s huge (615,000 square feet) and takes at least a full open con day to completely explore and observe.


2. The welcoming show attendants, volunteers, dealers,  presenters, booth staff and all involved, who love the show as much as the attendees…and help make it all worthwhile.

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3. Comic Books! The SDCC is still focused on comic books, graphic novels, manga, cartoons, etc.. There are lots of other distractions, but its CCI is still focused on the sequential arts. I welcome any debate on this in the comments below.

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4. The many happy returns of my favorite companies, usually consistent but slightly updated in appearance. Image Comics puts the biggest smile on face with their own little world run by creator-owned titles.

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5. Ridiculous displays outside usually put forth by big media companies promoting whatever, but I welcome each balloon, animatronic, recreation, light show, large prop, and whatever else awaits visitors and the curious open public.

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6. Watching an admired creative person at work, especially at the DC booth. Here. famed artist Liam Sharp draws Ares (of DCU lore). I answered his trivia question and won the finished result!

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7. Outrageous and totally awesome booth displays. Nickelodeon, Lego, Cartoon Network, DC usually excels with a different theme every year, in awesomely brilliant style!

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8. You may have the chance to chat with a living legend, who could just be hanging out at a booth or signing at a table. Back in 2017, I had a great talk with artist Mike Grell as he worked on a commission piece. We talked a lot about living in Seattle (where much of his acclaimed Green Arrow comics run took place).


9. Discovering something new, with many indie press creators looking to personally pitch your next great read. Writer Erika Lewis (at the Heavy Metal booth) sold me on this graphic novel blending modern fantasy and otherworldly magic. Loved it!

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10. Meeting an admired creator, having that person sign something unexpected. In this case, it was Yoshitaka Amano (best known for the Final Fantasy games, Vampire Hunter D original artist), who I snatched his placard during his feature panel, and got him to sign it as he was initially confused, then amused.

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11. Every fandom is welcome, and those communities often welcome you back!

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12. Cosplayers, of all crafts and everywhere! No matter how crazy crowded this show gets, there’s always room for cosplay!

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13. Looking through piles of stuff that are kind of organized in the dealer area, all for a set price. Develop fun conversations with others picking through, sharing fun finds and cracking little jokes.


14.  Enjoying a show panel where the complete cast is present and interacting, like this one for the TV series, Community.

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15. Seeing for yourself how a well-known creator known for controversy or the subject of heavy conversation deals with the public, perhaps giving the chance to share some thoughts and ideas on controversies and how that affects creativity (in this case, Frank Miller). The SDCC recognizes such contribution very well.

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16.  Getting a huge boost of inspiration from someone that already inspires you (Ray Bradbury (on the left, Ray Harryhausen off-screen to the right) to love what you do, do what you love.

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17.  Unusual crossovers, such as this annual TV Guide panel, where a mix of talent just get together and answer questions from the audience. Let’s see what happens!

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18. Finding out there are many around who like the things you do, but sometimes in their special way (Doctor Who).

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19. The souvenir guides attendees receive each year. Each one full of fan art, writings, insights, and the usual focus on the comics!

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20. Autograph hunting!! Plenty here to fill up, and some sketches if lucky. One fan here shares his collection of Batman related artists, writers, related talent.


21. Lots of original comic book cover and pages. Each unique and usually expensive, but much fun to look at.

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22. The love of newspaper funnies cartoonists. Jim Davis (Garfield) gives some very deep insights into this famed cat and supporting cast.


23. Familiar faces, coming back for many repeat years. This Obi-Wan cosplayer I noticed for many of my early years, often showing up to the late-night Masquerade party.  I may not know them, but many among them have an unforgettable coolness and style.


24. Meeting someone at the con, and becoming a good friend (met Mark cosplaying Captain Kirk many years ago, here he is Ric Flair), then blend in for further randomness!


25. Enjoying the show with a friend or group of (Helen, you’re awesome!), as we go to a panel or just walk around and meet a Klingon.


26. Free Swag! If persistent enough, there’s plenty to take home!


27. Many collectibles on display, especially at the toy companies. Many of them are previews for products yet to be released!

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28. No matter how busy the show gets, many will have a second to sign a badge. If you have nothing to sign for an unexpected meeting with a person of fame and inspiration, find a marker and hand them your badge!

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29.  Stan Lee for many years and still there in spirit… Nuff Said!

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30. You can be yourself, let loose and have fun, like Burt Ward, Adam West, Julie Newmar at this small and cozy press conference as they share some hilarious moments together and with the crowd.

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31. Getting the inside scoop on your favorite series, with more insight from the creators themselves (Saga panel, with Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples)

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32. Buying some really awesome collectible exclusives, that are high quality and worth every minute of the long line and the high price paid…Cowabunga!


33. The city of San Diego, really adds to the grandness of this Comic-Con. There’s a lot to see and do here, with some epic beaches and awesome nightlife. If visiting here, take extra time to enjoy the city outside the show.

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34. Very large building displays. Not sure how effective the advertising and wish it was more focused on comic books. Yet, still glorious!

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35.  The Comics Creator Connection (artist/writer speed pitching), portfolio reviews, pitch panels, workshops…many opportunities for new talent to show their stuff and become the potential top SDCC stars of tomorrow!

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36.  Artist Alley, an awesome mix of business professionals and indie folk, taking down commissions, selling original art, awesome prints, and so much more. There’s a lot of heart and soul in this area, and the SDCC has kept it going!


37.  Small press section, another great area of home-grown, indie-power delights. Here, you can find as much personality in the creator as the creations themselves!

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38. Becoming a Blood Donor for the longtime annual show Blood Drive.

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39. Really weird, sometimes mashed-up collectibles, custom made by special artists sold the designer area of the convention center. Lots here for the weirdo in all of us.


40.  Exclusives are nice, but the dealer stands have a magnificent variety of lost, very rare treasures..sometimes at a real steal of a deal.


41.  There’s usually one unexpected panel end up going to every year, totally different and of nowhere. Bloom County’s Berkely Breathed’s hilarious panel comes to mind (2014), …showing brilliant misdirection that he may or may not be Bill Watterson.

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42.  Great finds you did not know existed. You just have to look!

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43.  Back issue bins are plenty, where all your super friends are waiting!

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44. Star Wars is everywhere, and there’s nothing wrong with that!

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45.  The annual Comic-Con Masquerade show, showcasing a mix of great and sometimes very surprising cosplay.


46.  Finding an awesome outside event, very increased over the years. There’s plenty out there, with much not needing a badge to participate!


37.  Venturing out into the night, checking out the side events and stumbling across some different things going on, like this live sketching event.

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48. Crashing of many parties after the con. The After Masquerade Party at the Convention Center is often fun and worthwhile.

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49. It’s never really goodbye when you hang with great friends at Comic-Con. You share memories that will last lifetimes and beyond. Here, is the flashiest back to circa 2000, with me, my dear friend Heather (who I shared many SDCC years with ever since), Troma’s Lloyd Kaufman, and Sargeant Kabukiman NYPD.


50. The show as it is, for keeping all that is wonderful about it real and forever a part of my life.  Thank you Comic-Con (and all my friends, who I have shared this show with over the years)!

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Not the end, as I have much more to add, I will save that perhaps for the 75th, maybe the 100th anniversary.


My early years of the San Diego Comic-Con, 1994-1999


The San Diego Comic-Con will reach its golden 50th year anniversary, this year. I am super excited, not just for being the surely amazing extravaganza of this yearly event…

2019 is personally exciting for marking my silver 25th anniversary in attendance for the annual Comic-Con, since 1994.

I proudly think back to each wonderful year being special and well worth the travel costs (with setbacks at times). I always look forward to the SDCC, being my shared megacenter on converged passions in creative print and digital media routed in deep, imaginary levels of far-out storytelling. Thus, I share many personal moments with friends, interact with and cheer on creative talent, embark on crazy treasure hunts, panel-hop, discover new properties, promote my projects, do a lot of presswork, help retailers, and much more.

The SDCC is now more important to me than all the holidays, and birthday. I love this show, with all that connects to it. And with all that, comes the growth and constant changes it brings. Now that means lotteries everywhere, more outside events, grander cosplay meetups, more art commissions, creator interactions, celebs, and the chance for comic companies to really stand out (getting more difficult now).

But it wasn’t always that way. Comic-Con had its simple carefree years slowly escalating to its maxed-out frenzy now. You could walk in, buy a ticket, and do regular convention things like shop and meet some artistic creators or B-tier celebs, admiring the cosplay in between. San Diego Comic Con just offered more of it, which was my impression between 1994-1999, my first five years in attendance.

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The Exhibit Hall in 1998, picture credit – the 1999  San Diego Comic-Con Souvenir Guide

Conventions focusing on collectibles and fandom would become my jam throughout the 90s, starting with my first Star Trek convention in 1991, then a few small local comic conventions in San Francisco. I regularly attended a quasi-convention that occurred twice-a-week, east of Los Angeles (Frank and Sons). My euphoria bloomed from treasure hunts among dealer tables, usually obtaining cheap comics, anime VHS tapes, odd trinkets, and cards.

On with the show!

I would learn of the San Diego Comic-Con through early comic book mags including Wizard, Comics Buyers Guide, and similar zines. It seemed like an important big deal and bigger than anything I attended before. Eventually, my time to see for myself would come for the first time in 1994, with a ride offered to San Diego along with an extra ticket, by a very good friend.

My time there was short, and my wallet small. I purchased a stack worth of bargain comics adding to a pile of promo freebies (lots of ashcans) from the various booths. I also missed out on a lot of great programming…


Above: The Friday and Saturday Schedule from the 1994 Comic-Con Event Guide.

I would return to buy my own ticket for 1995 and 1996, but only a day for each. For 1997, I would buy a full pass but only attend three days. Then for 1998-1999, I come as a retailer representing my comic book store worked in Diamond Bar, California (Comics and Stuff), to engage on the more business side of the industry.

Comic books, everywhere!

Comic books were my main focus in attending, branching off as a buyer and having an interest in meeting creators or listening to them talk. Throughout the 90s, comic books and graphic novels were the center focus of the show for most attendees. Bargain bins were everywhere, vintage and rare books were plenty, and all the main companies were present.

The crazes were a mixed bag. Indie comics were on the rise, with Image taking the lead (but then Wildstorm, Top Cow sub-publishers beginning to splinter off). The bad girl craze was in full effect, where scantily clad warrior women would take charge with Lady Death, Vampirella, Shi, Witchblade, Fathom in the lead. Marvel Comics presence weakened a little since their record-breaking boost in the early ’90s, but still showing strength with its many X-Men and Spider-man titles,. DC Comics also hit some trouble spots but grabbed new attention with some very different series including JLA, Kingdom ComePreacher. 


Page clip from the 1999  San Diego Comic-Con Souvenir Guide

Plentiful presence of creative talent!

Best of all at the SDCC, nearly all the creators of the popular books were there. If there was someone you admired, just bring your books or buy some at a booth, then find out which spot that person was at for a good signing. Neil Gaiman, Garth Ennis, Grant Morrison, Jim Lee, Todd McFarlane, J. Scott Campbell, Mike Turner with many more were around!

Sketchbooks were a common thing to bring, and essential for the best personal interaction with artists. Many artists were often happy to provide a little doodle or something grand for commission price. I would just pull out a backboard from a bagged comic. I would go for pretty much anyone, but finding someone I admired by chance.


Six-Pack from the Hitman series by John McCrea…not exactly the late 90s, but definitely a favorite artist of the time.

There’s more than comics at Comic-Con, right?!

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1995 San Diego Comic-Con event guide

Right, and plenty around. But, not front and center.

The Hollywood presence was small, using the Comic-Con to promote with some grand display or large props including the train from Mystery Men or the Time Machine from The Time Machine. Such things were visually cool but wouldn’t attract much in lines unless there was signing or swag (usually a poster) given out. When there were movie panels promoting wide-release, usually the director, some staff, and some co-stars would show up. The top-billed cast to a major film would be unheard at this con, at the time.

Pop-culture presence outside of comic books was dependant on fan and cult popularity. Xena, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Babylon 5, X-Files were often discussed and sought in collectible merch, plentiful on the Exhibit floor. The Star Trek franchise remained strong, with plenty of fans dressed as Klingons and Starfleet crew proud to represent.

1999 was a killer year for movies among the geek culture, with Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, The Matrix, Austin Powers IIBlade, Blair Witch; all bringing new talk and buzz among attendees to help to promote and buy the fresh merch. Movie marketers were definitely taking notes, for the next decade to come.

Meanwhile, I would find a growing love for Japanimation, or as it was growing to be called…anime. The SDCC was a place for such fans to gather and appreciate the growing fandom of Dragonball Z, Sailor Moon, and many new imports on their way. Cosplay was well represented, as the anime conventions would raise that craft to new levels.

Indie film companies also had their presence at the SDCC, most notably The Troma booth, where Lloyd Kaufman himself would greet fans and recommend a VHS tape or something called a DVD.

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A two-page sampling of events from the 1995 SDCC Event Guide

Social interaction!

The show would grow from 34,000-42,000, keeping steady and never selling quite out. The lines to enter first on Wednesday and Thursday morning were absurdly long, leading to bigger crowds and forcing the SDCC organizers to adapt and grow for the coming years.

Throughout the day, one could easily make friends sharing a large table, waiting for a panel to start, or waiting in line; sometimes sharing in treasures gained, or overhearing a discussion of who would win in a with a fight of who, discussing latest storylines in comics. Such social interaction of Comic-Con would remain a cornerstone of its success for every year.

Cosplay was growing, though we referred to that scene as “people dressing up” and less of the sub-culture it’s become today. Craftmanship was appreciated as a surprise, though effort and tribute were worthy enough of a point and shoot of our very limited 35mm cameras.

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The Comic-Con nightlife was small, yet available for those willing to stay up. The Saturday night Masquerade and after party at the convention center was the best bonus for attendees there for that night. For many others on Thursday to Saturday, catching a movie in one of many rooms through the late night remained plentiful. I could always count on some random anime or goofy indie film to watch with a few strangers and be very much entertained. Afterward, some fun chit chat among strangers and looking to see what else left for us night owls.

The Exhibit Hall at Comic-Con, a growing thing…

Only a fraction then of what it is now. Here is the layout for 1996:

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I recall a giant life-sized Alien queen at the Dark Horse booth, something I wish would come back rebuilt. All the big comic book companies had large signs with big tables of freebies. Next up from comics were toys as McFarlane Toys were highly visible, setting a new standard for other companies to catch up. Moore Creations was popular for a while, taking some daring steps with collectible female-oriented figures…especially Lady Death, Witchblade, then Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Some variant colors of figures were around, sometimes con-exclusive. That trend was just beginning.

Overall, the Exhibit Hall had something for everyone, with surprises sometimes. I remember one time waiting in line, and suddenly I met Renee O Conner (Gabrielle from Xena the Warrior Princess). I smile and she smiled back while signing autographs for others, then a security man motioned me to get to the back of a very long line, which I had no time for.

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Panels, panels, panels!

Another essential part of a great con is always the panels of presentations, Q and A sessions, and helpful info. The first panel I went to was in 1996, ” Spotlight on Evan Dorkin,” whose cartoonist work I enjoyed in both Dork and Milk & Cheese. I enjoyed every minute of his personal humor, poking fun at audience members. I recall an awesome panel from Troma Studios (not sure on the year), where Lloyd Kaufman enacted a cheap special effect of a head squishing, very inspiring! I would also join Stan Lee briefly in a room showcasing with a short preview, the movie Blade in 1998. No Wesley Snipes present, but I was happy to see Stan Lee in person for the first of many times.

The more time I spent at Comic-Con over the years, the more exploring open rooms, sit down and see what was talked about, then move to another room..sometimes watch a movie. Such great times, that would grow!

Only a small percent of a small percent!

There are more bit to share about the SDCC in its growth throughout its 50 years, from many attendees with varied memorable, often wonderful experiences. Publishers and creatives would come and go, some keep it real, a new trend practically every year. The late 90s’s set many new roots for the next two decades, raising the experiences and possibilities of the show to its grander heights.

Here is the programming in the 1998 event guide for Friday and Saturday, which you can see from the earlier picture, just how much it has grown in that short time…



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What I miss, are the carefree moments of less pressure in making plans. There was definitely less of the exclusives frenzy and nearly no clamoring for celebrities. Though some lesser famous actors, directors would grow from the fandom interaction, including those notable…Bruce Campbell, Kevin Smith, Seth Green, Lucy Lawless. Comic book creators (especially popular artists including Todd McFarlane, J. Scott Campbell, Michael Turner, Jim Lee, Joe Madureira) of the best-selling books were the biggest draws of the show, for this time.

But for me, the experiences of those early SDCC years were enough to set my dedication in attending for many years forward, into the tradition I would hold, and share in many more write-ups. I would think sometimes if there was a better show for comics and related fandoms out there. Will I ever stop going to this thing? Will the show I have barely known in those old magazines, raise the pop culture of geek entertainment to mainstream status, spreading from comics to other media formats. I won’t wait long to find out, just a lot more lines with fun people.


My only remaining picture of those late 90 years, done from a point and shoot. The rest are lost, probably forever. And yes, that’s me next to Harley Quinn..either 1998 or 1999.

SDCC 2017 Recap, Part 2 – Cosplay at the Con


Cosplay remains a constant element of dedicated fandom, here at the 2017 San Diego Comic Con.

When attending the show, the people dressing up as a favorite character present the best dedication a fan can offer in appearance. Many put heavy work and thought into the craft of their outfits. Some brilliant people have variations on familiar icons. such as gender swaps, time period variations, mash-ups, or just some creative weirdness. I felt cheered in seeing more of these daring approaches.

Below are some hand-picked cosplay pics, shot during this year’s San Diego Comic Con. Click on each pic for identification info and slideshow mode.


San Diego Comic Con 2015, Part 4 – Some Product Placement

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The merchandise inside the San Diego Comic Con..

All together, a favorite aspect of the San Diego Comic Con show I love to explore inside its gigantic Exhibit Hall. This year was no different, as the variety to collectors appeared wide and wonderful. Though, I felt personally disappointing with the lack of loose action figures among dealers this year. But, they got a spread on plenty of the usual cheap trade paperbacks, geek apparel, vintage comics, packaged popular toys, and popular culture merch for all attendants.

Below, are some notable favorites to my eye for this year…

Vintage comics books look beautiful when freed from their protective sleeves, dont they?

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A favorite find another attendee picked up..described on wikipedia as “a disco album by Meco released in 1977. The album uses various musical themes from the Star Wars soundtrack arranged as instrumental disco music. A single from the album, “Star Wars Theme/Cantina Band”, reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 on October 1, 1977″

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Moss Man is a personal favorite from the classic He-Man toys. Now, you can keep your window and other tacky nerd items of choice company.

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From the Super 7 booth, a rerelease of the original classic Alien figure with metal jaws. The metal jaws somehow makes the awesome Giger creation even scarier..

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On action, the original cover to one of my favorite classic Star Wars covers, which somehow reminds me a similiar scene with Dark Helmet in Spaceballs..

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An odd artpiece from one of the custom art booths..

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Best comic book boxes art ever!

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The Chessex booth rocked my tabletop gamer senses..

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From the Square Enix booth, this Play Arts Steampunk Batman figure is a bit ridiculous, but I do love..

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(DKE Booth) Love this custom Bart, figure and package…

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(DKE Booth) Tusken Jones..

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(DKE Booth) Pity the Foot!

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Gentle Giant booth reps play with a giant replica of the Grunt figure from the early 80s Gi-Joe age!!

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The “Blade Fighter” because I love ridiculous vehicles and playsets to our popular figures, and the packaging to..

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The silly transport vehicle of the classic Kenner Star Wars line, lives again!

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I love looking through original art, and the Exhibition Hall has plenty..

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“Can you BEAR it?”

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Love that Harlock pistol!

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Nice, but I wish I could buy just the Sisko..

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That’s all just a small taste of the Exhibit Hall fun for 2015. Next up, to conclude my Comic Con tour will be some personal closing thoughts. Look forward to them!

– Orion T

San Diego Comic Con 2015, Part 3 – Cosplay Craziness

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Meanwhile at San Diego Comic Con 2015..

Characters from our fictional fandoms come alive, through the fans and their cosplay representations. Such has been a tradition for decades, through the term of cosplay has been more widely used through modern times. Now, the scope of popularity can be measured through the presence of those “dressing up.” For 2015, Harley Quinn, Batman, Deadpool, Spider-man, Wolverine, various Jedi Knights, Guardians of the Galaxy, Aquaman (!) remain constant among con-goers.

I was happy to see some attendees have a go at more recent and upcoming characters from films, including Harley Quinn from the Suicide Squad, the Dark Jedi from Star Wars ep. VII: the Force Awakens. I love the throwbacks that appeal to my love for pop-culture nostalgia, including those from GI Joe, Back to the Future, Mighty Mouse. I also enjoy the more obscure characters that get some cosplay love among the attendees including the monster from Five Nights at Freddy’s, the Borg Queen, Union Jack, Devestator.

Below, enjoy some pictures I took, featuring my favorites for this 2015 show..

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Next up for part 4..some interesting, odd stuff!!

– Orion T

San Diego Comic Con 2015, Part 2 – Great Creative Minds of the SDCC..

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The San Diego Comic Con, where one can meet and be inspired by some of the greatest creative folk in our modern times.

These wonderful people are everywhere; at booths, panels, parties, just walking around. You could meet or be in the same room with a hardworking actor, an accomplished writer, a fantastic artist, an innovative game programmer, a veteran dealer. Often times, there are invitations to make some connection, which include purchasing original work, receiving industry advice, answers to questions, getting an autograph, and the sharing countless more insightful and inspirational words. Some are well-known, as others just starting out. Some are there (but not limited to) to promote big projects, while others are there appealing to our inner nostalgic loves. All of which, barely scratch the surface of these exciting interactions of a Comic Con.

So below, include my highlighted moments I captured among favorite people observed at the this year’s show. Some are candid, others open themselves and welcome the ongoing audience. Enjoy, and also consider some of their  creative works..

Sunday at the DC Booth, where Art Baltazar and Franco Aureliani (Tiny Titans) did some sketches for patient fans. The Darkseid one is mine!

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Game designer and creator of Fluxx, Andy Looney!

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Legendary artist Rob Liefeld. who many love to hate and hate to love.

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Bob the Angry Flower creator cartoonist, Stephen Notley!

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Back at the DC booth..Brenden Fletcher, Cameron Stewart, and Babs Tarr; the current creative team on Batgirl.

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Artist Tony Parker and writer Paul Cornell, creative duo of the new series This Damned Band! I did an awesome interview with them, of which I will share in the near future on SW!

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Stan Sakai, legendary cartoon artist/writer/inker/creator of Usagi Yojimbo! We also had a talk, of which I will share soon.

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Chris Burnham, a new favorite artist of mine and all around cool dude. Notable works include Batman Incorporated and Nameless.

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Art Thibert, awesome artist and inker being chill in the Artist Alley..

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Samantha Newark, voice actor of Jem form the original Jem cartoon. Was also the voice of the first female Transformer and love interest for Optimus Prime, Elita-One.

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Eric Shanowar on the left (not sure who is on the right), enjoying some hot dogs.

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Stanley Lau, also known as Artgerm, shares in his world of art and digital work..

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Another legendary artist, Steve Lieber..

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Fight Club and other works writer, Chuck Palahniuk

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Adam Warren (Empowered), working on a Shanna the She-Devil sketch. We also had an awesome interview, to be shared in the near future!

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A self promoter, name unknown. One cool Count costume, ah ah!

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William Shatner, promoting his new digital comic series Man O War.

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Image Comics: Where Creators Own Aesthetics panel with Rob Guillory (Chew), Jamie McKelvie (The Wicked + The Divine), Stuart Moore (EGOs), Lee Loughridge (Deadly Class), Scott Snyder (Wytches), and Joshua Williamson (Nailbiter). I learned from this entertaining panel, I should really read Nailbiter.

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Batman (current series) team..with Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, Danny Miki

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Grant Morrison, at his own panel discussing much on DC’s past and future of Multiversity. His time with us was a blast, as he let loose and shared much insight on his way of thinking and writing.

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Cosplayers, of which I will feature more in my next posting, Part 3!

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– Orion T