From the ConNewRecaps, Reports & Reviews

SDCC 2023 – A Different Kind of Con

by Transmute Jun

Given the successful comeback of San Diego Comic Con (SDCC) in 2022, fans were extremely excited for SDCC 2023 (held July 20th – 23rd, with Preview Night on July 19th). Unfortunately, the Writers’ Guild (WGA) and Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) went on strike in the months/week before SDCC, and this impacted the event greatly. Many studios, anticipating the possibility of these strikes, announced that they would not be present at the con, and then once the SAG strike was confirmed, many previously-scheduled panels were immediately canceled, since the talent scheduled to appear were literally prevented from doing so by strike regulations from SAG.

There were some notable properties that chose to make the best of things. Some panels still took place, but in a modified form. The Star Trek Universe and What We Do in the Shadows panels were held, showcasing new footage and hosted by media/studio personnel. Ghosts was hosted by a fan podcaster who entertained the crowd with trivia questions. Manifest was also hosted by fans, with video clips from the showrunner answering burning fan questions. Animation panels such as Futurama showcased animators and other behind-the-scenes personnel. All of these panels (and more) were held in packed rooms. Fans clearly appreciated the efforts of these studios to make the best of a bad situation, and those efforts in return generated a huge amount of goodwill amongst attendees.

In this strange environment, an unexpected winner was Project K, an upcoming Bollywood supernatural film that found itself the undisputed star of Hall H (which some fans stated should have been renamed ‘Hall K’ for this con) when the cast showed up to discuss the movie. 

Of course, even with such highlights, the biggest panel rooms (Hall H, Ballroom 20, Indigo Ballroom) were far emptier than usual, and the vast majority of the overnight/multi-day lines disappeared. This left a lot more fans to wander. Panels in smaller rooms were packed, and the exhibit hall was gridlocked for the entire duration of the con. Many more attendees moved out into the Gaslamp, toward the other big winner of SDCC 2023: the offsites.

Comics were still a strong highlight of the con, with the return of Dark Horse to the exhibit floor, and the many creator signings and panels.

SDCC attendees are used to operating on the fly and adjusting based on circumstances. As such, most fans leapt into the fray and immersed themselves in the things they love, still having a great time, despite the last minute changes to the programming schedule. The vast majority of people with whom FoCC Blog spoke had a fantastic con, but a very different con from what they would have expected even three months ago. 

Comic Con International (CCI) is to be commended on how well they adjusted in this unusual year, and it was because of their efforts that SDCC 2023 was a roaring success.

Popverse has revealed that SDCC will return July 25-28, 2024 (with Preview Night on July 24). 

Did you attend SDCC 2023? Join the conversation on the FoCC forums!

Transmute Jun

Transmute Jun has an addiction to pop culture conventions, and attends as many as she can each year. When she's not traveling, she likes to stay at home reading a good book, playing a video game, or binge-watching a TV show. She can be bribed with pizza, Coke Zero and Belgian milk chocolate.