Having Comic-Con return in November was a big deal for me. The timing - the weekend after Thanksgiving - was criticized by a number of people, and I get why, especially considering the large circumstances surrounding COVID and the holidays. But as soon as the convention was announced, I knew that I was going to try and be there, so on Thanksgiving day, I got on a plane for the first time since 2019 and flew to San Diego. The next day I went to Comic-Con Special Edition, and here are some pictures from that weekend!
For the first time, I took the trolley into San Diego. In previous years, I had always rented a car, mostly because I was transporting others and so I could use it as a place to dump all of my many convention purchases while at the show. This time, I went by myself and I knew I wouldn't be buying as much, so I decided to give public transportation a try. It went pretty smoothly! And the train is a common sight around Comic-Con, so it was about time that I took a ride myself. I'm glad that I did.
I realize that the convention center is just a big concrete multipurpose structure, but I love its distinct look. It was great to see this place again.
Unlike most previous years, I attended this show as a professional and not an exhibitor, so I had no early access or special privileges. A few hours before the show floor opened, I made my way to the convention center, where I had to get a wristband that signified that I had been vaccinated. This was a very easy process, after which I went to pick up my show badge.
There were quite a few people walking the sidewalk in front of the convention center, but the number was vastly smaller than in recent years, where the closed-off street in front of the building would be swarming with people.
I picked up my badge in Hall H. I had never actually been in Hall H before! This was also the first show in a long while where people could just walk up and buy badges and enter on the same day.
Here we are in Hall H. I followed the blue line on the floor to pick up my badge. Look at all of this space! It was incredible to see.
They pulled the Comic-Con photo background out of storage, I see.
I got in line about two hours before the show opened on Friday. There were probably a few hundred people in front of me, and soon the lines grew to the point where the hall was filled. This is the view behind me at around 11:30, a half hour before the show began.
Once the doors opened, I did my best brisk walk (no running!) through the aisles. It was markedly calm.
It probably took over an hour before it started to feel at all similar to Comic-Con. No one was in a rush to enter on Friday. The whole thing reminded my of my first year attending, in 2006. If you wanted to go somewhere and see something, you could do it without a crush of humanity standing between you and your destination.
There were also more than a few empty booths, where vendors hadn't set up yet.
As you can see, there was no carpet this year at Comic-Con. I'm sure this was a cost-saving measure.
Before too long, though, more people made their way in, and things started to pick up just a little bit.
This show had more displays than, say, the New York Comic Con from October, though they were often more scaled back. I think I've seen this Iron Man before, but I don't care. It was still fun to see some of the Comic-Con extravagance I'm used to!
Some updated Special Edition banners hung from the ceiling.
These hallways are usually packed with people in costume.
The Comic-Con lines made a modest return, and I did my best to get in some of them. This one is for autograph tickets and wound around the back of the convention center!
There was a total of one big outside banner this year, for the HBO show The Peacemaker.
Perhaps the most important vendor of all returned for 2021 - THE TACO TRUCK! I was so glad to see this food truck. It was like seeing a friend. I ordered a burrito.
I took a lot of pictures of the signs. I do not apologize.
Friday wasn't a big day for costumes, but there were still some to see. Dr. Strange's floating cloak was well done.
Hall A was the most sparsely populated area of the convention center. To fill up some space, the convention set up these canvases to take pictures in front of.
There were still a number of big, impressive displays on the show floor. I have no idea what this one was for, but still...there it is.
Star Trek actor Brent Spinner had an autograph signing for his new book! I was able to get a ticket by getting in line and then going back through the line three times. Spiner remarked at how stupid he felt getting pictures taken when you couldn't see most of anyone's faces. But this was my first Comic-Con in over two years, so hey - we're taking the picture.
There was a big and impressive Pac Man booth on the show floor, there to promote the upcoming Pac Man Museum video game.
The booth had a few displays, but was mostly set up as a way to let attendees play the new game!
This was a popular booth for the duration of the show, and one of the few booths with long wait times to enter. I did get to play the game for a while at the end of one day.
Are...are these...more Stranger Things "Scoops Ahoy" costumes? After all this time? It's like going home again.
For the first time, I finally found enough time to volunteer at the California Browncoats booth while at the show. They're a constant presence at this convention and they had an enormous booth this time around. It was a lot of fun spending time with these folks.
Here's a vaccinated Rosie the Riveter!
Look. I like taking pictures of these signs.
The Funko booth took up the most space on the show floor without question. They had a big chunk of Hall A to themselves, and they made the most of it, with two big display booths, long lines, a gameshow activity area and a DJ that played really loud music nearly the entire time (you could hear it all the way on the other end of the convention hall). I never tried to get a wristband to get some of the more hard-to-find exclusives, but I did manage to sneak in line on Friday, near the end of the day.
And here's a place where you could...slay...some demons. I think.
There was absolutely more Squid Game paraphernalia at the show than anything else. I can only imagine what it would have been like if this were a more normal year. Maybe there would have been actually Squid Games, with actual murdering.
I went to a few panels this year! This one was a Family Feud game hosted by the San Diego public library. I guess I was sitting behind Wayne and Garth?
Here's a guy who kept his mustache, just as Cesar Romero would have wanted.
The weather this weekend was, as you might expect, lovely. It was in the 70s and mild every day. The big difference from this and the July shows is that it was already dark by the time the show ended on Friday and Saturday.
I took a walk through a much quieter Gaslamp district on both Friday and Saturday. The streets were still blocked off most of the way, and there was a lot more outdoor dining happening, which I believe is a new permanent fixture.
Bait, which had the giant Squid Game display on the show floor, also had an offsite shop open during the convention. In true Comic-Con fashion, the line for this place was outrageous and the main store feature was buying things, so I waked by and didn't attempt to get in.
But I did get a picture of this Batman thing in one of the windows!
One of the few outside exhibits was a promotion for the NBC show "La Brea." It was closed by the time I walked by, but here it is, all lit up. I would get to go through the exhibit on Saturday.
This Klingon looks familiar. Maybe he's part of my house? It's always possible. This noble warrior waited for the train like all of us as the first night of Comic-Con came to an end. It was noticeably smaller than in years prior, but I still had a lot of fun (and bought a bunch of stuff, proving that some things never change). There'll be more pictures to come soon!