• Sarah Mason

Comic-Con Diaries


Photo by Sarah Mason for The HMC.

Marvel and HBO skipped this year's San Diego International Comic-Con leaving extra room on the sidewalk in front of the San Diego Convention Center for diehard, annual fans to congregate--something nobody has been able to do since Comic-Con's peak in 2015 at 170,000 attendees. Is this the future of Comic-Con? Will the numbers continue to decline? Hard to say. There were a number of factors this year including the absence of HBO and Marvel. Marvel did have a presence with Marvel Games and Marvel TV Series but did not have their usual Hall H movie panel giving the DCU the space to put their best hero hopes forward -- Aquaman, Wonder Woman 1984 and Shazam. The Warner Bros. Hall H panel included Godzilla: King of the Monsters and Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, where fans were surprised by Johnny Depp in costume crashing the panel to deliver a monologue from the movie as Grindelwald.

HBO's absence and the coming end of Game of Thrones and the declining ratings of The Walking Dead also played a factor. After news leaked that Andrew Lincoln aka Rick Grimes would be leaving the show after the upcoming season 9, and then creator Robert Kirkman echoed the news at a panel, Lincoln was forced to confirm to the 7000 fans in Hall H the news that he in fact is leaving. We were in the press pit and although people were sad to hear the news, the reaction was tempered. Gone was the rock star crowds that used to welcome the cast in the height of the show's popularity, 2015. As we have said many times on the Harold and Maudecast, TV audiences are very different from comic book audiences. They never should have killed Glenn. The ratings have suffered since and continue to decline. We have now entered the stage where the cast members are leaving by their own choosing vs waiting for the dreaded call from showrunners telling them their character is being killed off. Lauren Cohan also confirmed, though not at the Hall H panel, that Maggie will no longer be with the group after season 9 but remains somewhere in the universe. Huh? We know she has a new TV show coming out apparently the producers and Cohan are keeping their options open when it comes to the fate of Maggie.

Also absent this year was the number of Cosplayers out and about in the convention and around San Diego. The annual ball had spectacular cosplay but we did not see the vast numbers we are a custom to seeing. Smaller, regional shows have been gaining momentum the last few years and are taking some of the numbers away from San Diego. Our overall assessment is that SDCC peaked and now its going back to the fans. And that is fine with us.

Here's our breakdown of the show!

The Show Floor

Photo by Sarah Mason..

This Lego figure of Thanos was Marvel's biggest presence at Comic-Con 2018. We visited the show floor on Preview Night, Wednesday July 18th. It was certainly crowded but manageable which is more than I can say for years past where you literally could not move in the aisles.

I picked up this lovely Creature from the Black Lagoon enamel pin that was part of this awesome set from Yesterdays.



Jake picked up this Comic-Con exclusive from Q-Fig of The Joker

One of the most surprising and exciting booths on the floor was Upper Deck. Their entire booth was an art gallery with incredible pieces like this, Pulp Fiction Wall Art by artist Dave Perillo.

Here's more pictures from around the showfloor.

ConanCon

Conan O'Brien, Andy Richter, Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, Anna Gunn, Dean Norris, Betsy Brandt, RJ Mitte, Giancarlo Esposito, Bob Odenkirk and Vince Gilligan. Photo by Sarah Mason.

For the fourth year in a row, Conan O'Brien brought his show to Spreckels Theatre in downtown San Diego for ConanCON. This year's guests included the casts of Breaking Bad, THE PREDATOR, GLASS and AQUAMAN. Lucky audience members went home with one of four of the Comic-Con exclusive Conan Pop figures from Funko--We got the Rebel Pilot! We were fortunate enough to attend Night one of ConanCON featuring the cast of Breaking Bad, Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, Anna Gunn, Dean Norris, Betsy Brandt, RJ Mitte, Giancarlo Esposito, Bob Odenkirk and show creator Vince Gilligan.

ConanCon has become one of our favorite events at Comic-Con. Tickets for this years shows sold out in one hour. Conan and his incredible team pour everything into these shows, delighting Comic-Con audiences with specially catered bits, videos and surprise guests like Jamie Lee Curtis who gave Conan his Comic-Con Citizenship Test. He passed.

Good bet Conan will be back next year for the fifth annual ConanCON. Start working on your connections now -- these tix are the hottest in town.

Hall H

Jason Momoa, Amber Heard and Nicole Kidman, AQUAMAN, Warner Bros. Panel, Hall H. Photo by Sarah Mason.

Warner Bros. took full advantage of the absence of Marvel and HBO with a star packed two hour panel in Hall H featuring their upcoming slate of films. Warners brought 465 feet (as opposed to its 199 feet in 2013) of screens — each of which are 20 feet high. No other studio is allowed to use them, and Warner’s partner, AV Concepts, invaded Hall H a week early to run diagnostics and set up the screens (which took four men to open) to run their special illustrations and first-look footage. Warner and AV also schlepped down custom servers and 22 projectors with 200,000 lumia of projection that allowed for 25,000 pixel-wide images. They used Comic-Con’s sound system, but created specific panel art for each film.

The Warner Bros. panel opened with Newt Scamandar (Eddie Redmayne) appearing on stage. As he shouted the spell "Lumos!" bracelets distributed to the 7000 audiences members lit up. Aisha Taylor then joined Redmayne on stage and introduced his fellow castmates from FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD, Alison Sudol, Dan Fogler, Katherine Waterston, Ezra Miller (dressed as Toadette from Super Mario) and new to the cast, Callum Turner, Claudia Kim, Zoë Kravitz and hot as ever Jude Law who plays younger Dumbledore.

Jude Law and the cast of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, Hall H. Photo by Sarah Mason.

Johnny Depp shocked fans, coming out halfway through the panel in full costume as Grindelwald to deliver a monologue from the film. It was amazing and a great moment for Potterheads like me!

Johnny Depp at the Warner Bros, Fantastic Beast: Crimes of Grindelwald Panel, Hall H. Photo by Sarah Mason.

Next up, THE LEGO MOVIE 2: THE SECOND PART! Warner Bros began the panel with a video featured Wyldstyle (Chris Pratt) and Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks) with Batman (Will Arnett) and Aquaman (Jason Momoa), who Batman insists is not the real Aquaman as the real one is a blonde haired nerd, Cue the old school Aquaman waving hello. Enter stars Chris Pratt and Elizabeth Banks with writer/producers Chris Lord and Phil Miller (THE LEGO MOVIE) who briefly talked about the film and asked some audience questions.

GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS introduced a new cast of characters played by panelists, Millie Bobby Brown aka Eleven from Stranger Things, Vera Farmiga (Bates Motel), O'Shea Jackson Jr. (STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON) , Thomas Middleditch (Silicon Valley) and Director Michael Dougherty (KRAMPUS). The crowd was electrified viewing the first trailer which showed off Godzilla's Titan friends, Mothra, Rodan and King Ghidorah.

SHAZAM, looks like it may deliver on its promise to