Second is the most important rule I have learned about the best way to enjoy SDCC. You will never see more than a small fraction of all there is and it’s just about guaranteed that you won’t make it to something you and many, many other people want to see. When that happens, here is what you do: go to the room next door. Or any nearby room with space available. Every year, doing that turns out to provide some of the Con’s most surprising and memorable moments.
Plus of course there’s the pure pleasure of just walking around, looking at all the displays and costumes, and spotting performers and creatives either on panels or sometimes just hanging out. I was once going down an escalator when I saw on the up escalator next to me most of the cast of “The Hobbit,” including Benedict Cumberbatch, Andy Serkis, and Cate Blanchett. “Look over there!” I said quietly to my husband, pointing to a man crossing the street a few yards away. “Why, who is he?” “Uh, look at your badge.” All the badges last year featured “The Walking Dead,” and ours had pictures of Norman Reedus. And one time, a guy wearing a Mexican wrestler mask asking about Bernie Wrightson art at a booth turned out to be none other than Guillermo del Toro.
A highlight every year is the Masquerade (the costume competition). One year a couple perfectly re-enacted the battle between Rey and Kylo Ren in “Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens,” every detail of their costumes and lightsaber thrusts exactly like the movie. And then, he dropped to one knee, pulled a ring out of his pocket, and proposed to her. 6,000 fans stood up and cheered.
SDCC also always has the latest technology. Long before they were commercially available, I saw a 3D printer that made action figures of Predator to order, holding a replica of each purchaser’s head.
So, what is SDCC going to be like without all of those unreproducible in-person experiences? The good news is that you can find out for yourself. Everything is free and almost everything is open to everyone. Cosplay optional. Take a look at the schedule. There is something for everyone, including:
- Henry Winkler and children’s book veteran Lin Oliver discuss their New York Times-bestselling book Alien Superstar and its forthcoming sequel, Lights, Camera, Danger: Alien Superstar 2
- J. D. Lombardi (host/producer, YouTube’s Lombardi Labs and middle-school science teacher, Glendale Unified) along with Justin Montgomery (MentalXhaustion.com), Guadalupe De La O (STEM teacher/science instructional coach, Alliance Schools), and G. L. Lambert (screenwriter, G.L. Lambert Explains It All podcast) will trace conspiracies and propaganda throughout comics, shows, and movies, and how they correlate to the current climate of increased conspiracy theories.
- The artists behind some of Cartoon Network Studios’ hit series provide top tips for aspiring storyboard artists worldwide, to learn how a concept or script is brought to life through the beloved art of storyboarding.
- The art of collaboration panel includes 2nd unit director/stunt coordinator Hiro Koda (“Stranger Things”), stunt coordinator/performer Jahnel Curfman (“Cobra Kai”), professional video game streamers Avori and D Rich (303 eSports), producer/supervising editor Arielle Kilker (Netflix’s “Cheer”), and supervising editor David Nordstrom (Netflix’s “Cheer”).
- Panels on Afrofuturism and Black Religion, LGBTQ characters on television, the upcoming “His Dark Materials,” women in Hollywood, what’s next for “Upload,” and Bugs Bunny’s 80th anniversary.
- Acclaimed director Scott Cooper (“Crazy Heart,” “Hostiles“) and horror maestro Guillermo del Toro (“The Shape of Water“) tease their upcoming Searchlight Pictures movie “Antlers” along with how they designed the Wendigo-inspired monster. In addition, the two go in-depth on the craft of filmmaking and how they create a visual style.
Stay tuned. We’ll be covering the highlights.