SiliCon 2022: A New Kind of Con
by Transmute Jun
SiliCon has had a short, yet turbulent, history. It began as Silicon Valley Comic Con in 2016, the brainchild of Apple Computer co-founder Steve Wozniak and Marvel Comic’s Stan Lee. The idea was to merge a comic/pop culture convention with technology, and this concept was well-received by the local community. Unfortunately, the con took on too much too soon, and while its 2016, 2017, and 2018 shows were large in scope and enjoyed by attendees, the financial outlook was not as good. Additionally, Stan Lee’s failing health and Steve Wozniak’s reduced involvement left the convention without a firm leader at the helm. The 2019 show fell short in comparison to its first three years, and had less to offer to attendees. In February 2020, the event was rebranded as SiliCon, and taken over by Adam Savage (Mythbusters).
Fans of Savage know that he is fascinated by maker activities, and regularly crafts his own props and cosplay items to wear/bring to cons. Savage reimagined SiliCon as a Maker event, focusing on the physical creation of pop-culture-related items. Unfortunately, the disruptions caused by COVID caused the 2020 show to be cancelled, and the 2021 show, while exciting for attendees, was small and incurred a financial loss for the event.
With all of this history behind it, SiliCon 2022 (held August 27-28) was both this convention’s comeback and its rebirth. For the first time, Adam Savage was able to construct the kind of show that he wanted, focusing on Maker activities and events.
The exhibit floor in 2022 was much smaller than before, with the majority of what used to be vendor space now taken up by Maker activities. Tables with heat guns, paints, glue and tools were literally at the heart of the event, with activities conducted in the middle of everything, for all attendees to see. There was an open feel; Makers were not shut away inside of a room, but instead sharing the floor with everyone. Additionally, the majority of panels were Maker-related, including numerous workshops on topics such as 3D printing, working with EVA foam, prop design and kit-bashing.
There were still remnants of the technology and pop culture history of the show. NASA returned to both the Exhibit Floor and panel rooms, and a live broadcast from the International Space Station was one of the highlights of the con. A handful of celebrity guests attended, including Karen Gillan (Guardians of the Galaxy, Doctor Who), Ray Park (Star Wars), George Takei (Star Trek), and Christopher Lloyd (Back to the Future). The premiere event of the entire convention was undoubtedly The Expanse reunion panel, featuring cast and creators from the television series (for more on The Expanse at SiliCon, be sure to look here). Yet despite all of the fanfare surrounding such events, it was clear that SiliCon had evolved, and that Silicon Valley Comic Con is no more. Adam Savage has created a new kind of convention, and his enthusiasm for the Maker focus was clear for all to see.
Did you attend SiliCon 2022? What did you think of its new Maker focus? Join the conversation on the FoCC forums!
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