San Diego Comic Con 2019, Adventures in the Exhibit Hall

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Over 1000 miles away, I look back to the San Diego Comic Convention of 2019. I wave slowly for my 25th visit to this annual pop-culture extravaganza of the universe.

Thank you for another exciting run, to the organizers and all involved with this 2019 SDCC. It’s all been wild, jumbled together joys and madness sorted through organized chaos and a maze of thing-doing and epic quests, glory for treasure and the meeting and greeting of friends old and anew along the way.

Did I have a great time? Oh yes, I did!

But this Comic-Con is never simple and no year is the same as others. One has to fight and plan and struggle and walk and rise with short hours of sleep with hard choices to truly appreciate the subtleties of this great show. Never expect anything to go smooth, and have contingencies for whatever does not happen..

Don’t overplan. Try and leave as much room as possible for the unexpected. Your entire plan can go out the window for some greater opportunity…for example, a shortcut into the Hall H line before the Marvel Comics panel, or a sudden chance to meet an admired person of creative or celebrity status, perhaps an easy way into a very exclusive friend, or running into a long-time friend.

The greater occurrence of sudden surprises at the SDCC is at the Exhibit Hall, where you you can enter empty-handed and  leave with something of value. That could be rare treasure, a one-of-a-kind custom creation, an experience unlike no other, or a new friend or history making connection.

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A small portion of the football-field sized Exhibit Hall

Navigating the convention floor is a skill mastered best by memories and past trips to this show. Have a map otherwise if you feeling unguided through this colorful, weird jungle. For this year, the usual large displays propagated by large media and collectible production companies, with those focused on show exclusives and celeb hosting being the most attracting.  Pre-show lotteries to such helped bring some of those lines down, leaving those not lucky enough, to remain hopeless or persistent enough to take part.

For the Exhibit Hall, I spent most of this Comic-Con time. Here below, are some moments and notes of my crazy adventures of treasure hunts, side-quests, joining friends and braving the crowds and potential chaos of the this wonderful show..

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just mentioning again, the Hall was very crowded. But, that’s a good thing I believe. That more interesting things can happen, and more fun is shared.

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Some random awesome in the vinyl area, now moved away from the corner and into the center.

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Sith Troopers, the main feature among the Star Wars cluster of booths, promoting the upcoming Star Wars: Episode XI.

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The Steven Universe featured at the Cartoon Network booth, with encouraged karaoke below.

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The Lego booth again impresses with life-sized Lego displays.

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The DC booth this year was sadly missed from the front and center spot, now moved to the corner back next to the Warner Studios booth. Here, booth reps offer Todd McFarlane prints in exchange for signing up for a credit card. I refused and spent little time at the DC booth this year, because of that.

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I kind of forgot which booth this was, but love the use of dinosaurs

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Here are some pricy things!

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But,  I like cheap stuff. Here is my Q-Pop Pinky and the Brain figurine. Only 15.00 and I think exclusive to the show. I dont remember, but I loved it so much that I took it out of the package!

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A much better breathe of fresh air, to one of many small press tables now in in place of where the DC booth once stood.

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Still, plenty of comic books here! I love seeing stacks of comics on back issue bins!

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Some awesome magazines I picked up, from Warren Publishing in the late 70s, early 80s.

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This is our first SDCC without Stan Lee sharing the same mortal realm. But his legacy and spirit live on. Excelsior!

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Awesome Japanese classic style art from the Ukiyo-e Heroes booth. Check out their sight at www.ukiyoeheroes.com

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Chrono Trigger artwork from the Ukiyo-e Heroes above booth.

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The Porcupine Cat, one of the GMO animal hybrid guardians o the Genesis II graphic novel, feature at this booth. Check out their graphic novel at genesisiicomics.com, where the first chapter is free to download!

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And here is Troma Entertainment President & Co-Founder, Director, Producer, Genius. Lloyd Kaufman and his long-time friend, Toxie the Toxic Avenger! I have seen them both many times here in the Exhibit Hall over three decades. 

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The Dark Horse booth saves its best space for coloring adventures!

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And that, is how you pronounce Bill Sienkiewicz!

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My favorite piece of original comic art found from Marvel Comics Journey into Mystery #99. Price is $6000, of which I could not afford.

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Original Peanuts art from Charles Schulz

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At the Udon booth (sorry, I missed the name of the artist).

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The two prize Funko pops, exclusive to the this year’s 50th show.

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Emmalee Pearson presents her comic, the Avengables..a very silly comic about evil fighting vegetables! Find out more at www.avengables.com.

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At the Toynami booth, where the Golden Girls and Robotech share the same universe!

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After 20 years later, the Matrix inspires this great group cosplay!

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The Warner Brothers booth, where fans meet those Legends of Tommorrow.

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A large Gundam presenting its 40th anniversary booth.

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The Image Comics booth, as usually impossible to capture all in one shot, so you have to pick an angle.

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Not sure where what series or movie this figure is from, but I love it!

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A vintage shirt from the 1992 San Diego Comic Con, still fraggin fresh!

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Some Jurassic cosplay here!

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Yeah, there is lots of cosplay on the floor. I will share more on that in a separate post, soon

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Unicorn on display, summons your wallet here for a purpose!  This two foot-tall Transformer is part of Hasbro’s third crowd-funding production project.

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Ghostbusters and WWE, a strange toy crossover by Mattel coming, along with the Master of the Universe and WWE, also announced during the show.

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Love the latest cartoon classic TMNT figures on display at the NECA booth.

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Peanuts figures on display at the Super & booth….good grief!

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Michael Golden, artist and co-creator of X-Men’s Rogue. Also, co-creator of Bucky O’Hare!

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Weirdly fun, very short produced artist-made figures at the DKE booth

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Inside the Dark Crystal, Age of Resistance booth, for the upcoming Netflix show.

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King of the Hill mashup parody art, from Joel Adams

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Disney fine art from Krystiano DaCosta

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Some pins and stuff I got from the Exhibit Hall.

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I met World Wrestling Entertainment RAW Women’s champion, Becky Lynch. Also, WWE legend Rey Mysterio, and current WWE World Champion, Kofi Kingston (got a cookbook signed by him, lol). All awesome in person, indeed!

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And a shot of the Artists Alley from the corner exit of the Exhibit Hall, which is a good spot to leave off. I hope you enjoyed checking out these random joys of this year’s Exhibit Hall adventure.

Check back on strangerworlds.com for more late coverage of this year’s 50th San Diego Comic-Con!

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

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.