This year was my fourth year at San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC) and while it was a good experience overall, I’m getting a little cranky about it. Here’s the highs and lows of my personal experience. For SDCC news, I recommend io9.com.
My experience this year was very much affected by my physical state on Saturday and Sunday, especially Saturday. SDCC is all about attitude and my attitude was grumpy. The lines seemed longer and the atmosphere more tense. Every time I tried to sit down or even stand still some staff person told me to move, which was infuriating (credit where due – when people did NOT keep moving the resulting bottlenecks were horrific). Having survived Saturday, when I was in rocky shape, I advise one and all to keep careful track of your energy levels and be kind to them. Have an exit plan ahead of time. Eat some fiber and protein. One thing SDCC does do well is provide a lot of free water. DRINK IT ALL. This is your vacation, for God’s sake. You should enjoy it, even if that means that you miss some stuff because you are taking a nap.
Even though I spent this year in an extremely cranky fibro fog, I still had some wonderful experiences. My daughter was able to get into an autograph session with the cast and creators of Steven Universe and later we went to a panel with Rebecca Sugar, the creator of Steven Universe, and the show’s co-developer, Ian Jones-Quarty. I loved hearing about the background of the show, but more than that as a parent was so grateful to cast and creators for being incredibly warm and kind towards my daughter. I am also grateful to the creators of the show for making something so incredibly positive, feminist, and inclusive.
I heard a lot of people give advice about succeeding at visual arts, at comics, at cartoons, at acting careers, and at writing, and all the advice was the same regardless of the medium. Keep going. Work every day. Practice. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Engage with your audience. Above all, remember that an idea is no good if you keep it in your head. Rebecca Sugar told us that she writes her doodles for new show concepts on scavenged paper scraps so she won’t have to feel bad about messing up a nice sketchbook with bad first drafts. Whatever it takes to give yourself permission to get those awful first drafts after you, do it and then finish your work!
You’d think it would be hard to make friends in a crowd of 100,00+ people, but personally, over the years SDCC has become less about the panels and more about the friendships. I had so much fun hanging out with people know and love. I think the greatest benefit of conventions, whether large or small, is that they help people form smaller, intimate communities of support, understanding, and a lot of laughter.
The most mind-blowing aspect of my SDCC experience has been growing from an observer to a participant. I was honored to moderate the panel “Embracing the Romantic.” Rebecca Zanetti, Jessica Cluess, Stephanie Perkins, Anna Todd, Christina Hobbs, and Lauren Billings. We had so much fun talking about the importance of romance, our favorite couples, what makes a romance compelling, and how much science fiction and fantasy fans and romance fans have in common. Thank you, ladies, for a delightful experience!
San Diego Comic-Con is what you make of it. It can overwhelm you unless you set up strict self-care rules for yourself. You can have a feminist, inclusive experience that celebrates people of color and LGBTQIA readers and creators. I come away from SDCC heart warmed and inspired and ready for battle every year, but I deliberately choose the panels that will foster those emotions. You can have a thrilling experience centered around big budget movies or you can have a slightly more calm, but still thrilling, experience centered around comics, authors, and artists.