What did San Diego Comic-Con look like without the presence of actors or writers? Well, to start off, let’s get this out of the way. The SAG-AFTRA and WGA strikes are due to the greed of the studios and their lack of care to pay people fair wages. I commend both unions in their strike and hope that they get everything they want and more. Movies and TV would be nothing without both of these groups.

San Diego Comic-Con 2023 was already a strange event. Even without the strikes and other issues, it didn’t look like we were getting much in the way of absolutely massive announcements like we did last year from Marvel Studios. It was already trending toward a more intimate and smaller-scope event. With the strikes added to that, it was about as close as you can get to an actual Comic Convention as possible.

Yes, the number of people in attendance was the same, and the space between the booths was smaller, but the energy in the room and on the floor was still there. The only other thing that felt lacking was the number of activations (events or fun experiences that companies put on to promote their show, movie, game, or property). In previous years we’ve had explosive stunt courses, mazes, taverns, vampire-themed bars, and other photo-ops out on the lawn. This year, it was a little lighter on that front, with studios pulling out of the event.

That left the first intention of SDCC to pick up the slack, comics.

Panels, Comics, Screenings, Parties, & More

Comic-Con 2023 LEGO booth mockup

The comic books took front and center, with both DC and Marvel Comics having huge panels announcing the slate for the upcoming year. There was a bigger focus on comic creators for panels outside of Hall H and the other humongous meeting rooms as well. We also got the first-ever Bollywood film in Hall H. So, even with a lack of bigger performers and companies, the Hall was still kept busy.

If you ask me, “did this feel like Comic-Con?” I would have to say, yes.

The number of people in the hall and between the booths definitely felt the same. The merchandise and exclusives on-sale definitely felt the same. Without those big tentpoles like Disney, Universal, DC Films, or others taking up space, it gave booths like Funko, LEGO, and others a chance to shine. Funko and LEGO stepped up their game with an entire Funko-themed town at the back of the hall. LEGO built out an entire Brickbuster Store filled with mockups of VHS tapes based on LEGO properties.

Other places like NECA, Mattel, Hasbro, and Jazwares gave us plenty of figures, toys, busts, and other collectibles to look at. Hasbro even had their own gallery down the street from the Convention where they were selling their exclusives and other items. It was one part store and one part museum for Hasbro toys through the ages. For those that didn’t get to check it out, it was magnificent.

The Walking Dead

As for the TV shows and movies that stuck around through the strikes, we got looks at new The Walking Dead shows, Twisted Metal, Heels, Invincible, Star Trek, FX series like What We Do In The Shadows, and Adult Swim brought the thunder with musical performances, panels, and other shows on the lawn behind the convention center.

The stuff we were shown, like sneak peeks at Heels and Star Trek, didn’t have any involvement from the actors or the writers on the series, unless it was a pre-taped segment before the strike.

There was another medium that Comic-Con might be smart to tap into with the demise of E3, video games. Both of the largest activations outside the Convention Center were from Bandai-Namco with Tekken and Armored Core Vi: Fires Of Rubicon. Both of these weren’t just normal activations either, they gave a full-fledged story in the case of Armored Core. Tekken handed out shirts, stickers, gave playable demos, and more. They were both magnificent ways to promote these two new properties.

@thsnews Time to get recruited for the fight! Armored Core VI: Fires Of Rubicon releases August 25th, 2023! Check out our recruitment session! #ArmoredCore #SDCC23 #SDCC #Bandai #Namco #BandaiNamco ♬ dance(256762) – TimTaj
@thsnews Tekken is almost here, and we got to go through their big activation at San Diego Comic-Con 2023! #Tekken #SDCC #SanDiegoComicCon ♬ Jin Kazama’s Theme (From “Tekken 3”) – Arcade Player

Spider-Man 2 had one of the only Hall H panels this year, and they used the space and time to its fullest. They announced and showed off the voice-cast for the game, which included Tony Todd as Venom. If you were in the mood for a classic-style Hall H panel of massive proportions, this was the one for the weekend.

It might not have been the big blowout weekend for movies and TV like people were expecting a couple of months ago, but San Diego Comic-Con and the people that put it on, still gave us an event worthy of the hype.

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