I had the pleasure of attending a pre-convention orientation tour and interview session as arranged by Michele Lew Peterson at Wondercon in Anaheim this past Spring, and I praised the event as an excellent resource that really shows how accessible Comic Con International is endeavoring to be. I was delighted to learn that there would be a similar press event at SDCC giving reporters access to the show floor before the show even started and talking to select companies and publishers to hear what they had in store for the show.
It was not only very exciting but very informative, so let me take you on that tour with me through photos and some selected information I learned on my tour.
We started off at the Nickelodeon booth, and if you’ve ever been to SDCC, you know that Nickelodeon does things BIG at the convention. They are appealing to adults and kids alike, and in the crush of Preview Night at the con, if you do have a child with you, this is the place to see their faces light up and watch them have their first big geek experience at a convention. Last year, there was a kind of ascending swirl of light and color, but this year, the design aesthetic was to have life and energy bursting up through the floor, David Bittler told us, showing us around the booth.
Though these photos show the early stages of set up, they are impressive indeed. The booth has 3 “activations”, we learned, an outlet for selling exclusives, an area to use an app called NITO which uses facial motion capture to match the participant to either a clip of Spongebob or TMNT and the clip will then be e-mailed to you, including you in the video. The third activation at the booth is a “voiceover experience” where similarly you can pick a scene from a cartoon, do the voice parts for the scene, and your voice will be incorporated into the clip for you.
Also, the booth will be hosting signings for the TV cast of TMNT and a Spongebob cast reading. A new show launching on July 25th, called Pig, Goat, Banana, Cricket, is being introduced at the con with 1000 copied of the first episode being given out. Bittler said that the booth construction each year is a challenge to welcome new fans and continue to wow old fans with new experiences. Tonight, on Preview Night, they’ll be hosting some voice talent as well.
Our tour moved on to The Walking Dead Booth, and it is quite simply terrifying. I say that having not even been inside the trailer that’s going to have corpses dangling inside it, apparently. Outside we got to witness up close and personal the final touches on the makeup of some of the Walkers who will roam the convention and participate in the booth. Their makeup and costumes were exquisitely put together and they were good-natured enough to attack us for about 20 minutes worth of shambling photo ops. Their coach even demonstrated for them the walk and approach they should mimic at people attending and it was really unsettling! Bravo to The Walking Dead for their attention to detail and commitment to the fan experience.
We made a quick stop at the Image Comics Booth, and while they were still setting up a rather massive presence, perhaps an even larger booth than last year, they were happy to talk about the many exclusives, panels, and signings happening this year. Big on the release slate and stocked in large quantities were the collected edition of Wicked + Divine Vol. 2 and the trade volume 1 of Wytches. Many writers and artists who are doing signings, for instance Scott Snyder, will be operating on a ticketed wristband system, where every morning of the convention first thing, you should turn up at the Image booth to claim a signing wristband for that day and return later during the appropriate time to take part.
Some of the items that are particularly cool that Image are selling this convention are a new Nowhere Men Vol. 1 t-shirt (in both red and teal) a new teal Image Logo t-shirt (previous only available in white on black), a Wytches Vol. 1 hardcover, and a They’re Not Like Us vol. 1 trade edition. Image are also running a wide range of panels looking at aesthetics, process, mainstream creators who also do creator-owned projects, and realism, as well as a Spotlight on Jimmy Robinson and Spotlight on Eric Stephenson panel. You can find Image’s full convention information here.
Following on, we visited IDW’s Booth, which has expressly expanded to about twice the size of last year’s booth and has incorporated a new quite efficient and attractive signing area. The booth houses both IDW comics properties and IDW gaming. We spoke to Rosalind Morehead at the booth about all the interesting books IDW have brought to the con that are particularly new and relevant.
We have books like the beautiful new edition of Essex County by Jeff Lemire that will be available in a Sketch Edition for $150 dollars, sketched in by Lemire, and the normal edition which will be $75 dollars.
We have the Artists Edition of Scrooge McDuck where Don Rosa and Mike Zeck will be present signing at the booth, a special single issue featuring the Women of Transformers (and there will be a panel on the same subject hosted by Morehead). Morehead spoke about how things are really moving to the “next level” with female creators involved in the creation of Transformer comics and how exciting a time this is for the property.
Then there’s the Eisner Nominated Little Nemo, which has received a new convention edition (and Gabriel Rodriguez and Eric Shanower will be doing signings for IDW), as well as Onyx by Rodriguez and Chris Ryall. Last but not least there’s the new Star Trek/Green Lantern crossover in its first issue and convention exclusive edition. IDW Games also debuts the Chew Boardgame with John Layman and Rob Guillory signing and having a launch party on Thursday for the game, and the game at this convention also comes with a special variant edition of the first issue of the comic! If you buy the game at the convention, you will also get special SDCC variant edition tiny green Chogs (vs. pink) to use as game pieces. It’s a Chew festival for sure.
Morehead also reminded us that aside from the many panels they will be holding at the convention, there’s also a great opportunity to visit the new IDW offices and the exhibits of Kevin Eastman artwork only 5 miles from the convention center. Tonight there’s an Open House from 6 to 11pm and Liberty Station is also having a party nearby.
The last stop on our tour was a visit with Boom! Studios, whose well-stocked and large booth has been turned at an angle this year dominating a large block of the show floor with great art stretched toward the ceiling. Mel Caylo spoke with us and took us on a tour of their special exclusive items this con, which included the special blind-bag Mighty Morphin Power Rangers pack (consisting of a large plastic black bag, inside of which is a comic-cover like illustration of one of the Power Rangers in their suits holding their helmets, and on the back is a special 6 part comic, which is complete when you collect all 6 mini-posters), to a supercool Lumberjanes cover which has cameos of the creative team and editorial staff imbedded (as well as being packaged with a special “badger of honor” badge), a Maze Runner original graphic novel which is a prequel to an upcoming film, a comic for Super Mansion (and upcoming animated webseries via Sony), a Steven Universe trade collection, a special Issue #2 variant cover for Lantern City, and several others.
Last but not least Boom are debuting, a massive, over 200 page edition of the Art of Mouseguard. Caylo held up the tome and flipped through it slowly for us, and it “went on forever” in my experience. Here are lots of pictures of the page flipping:
Boom! Studios will be hosting a whopping 12 wide-ranging panels at SDCC, so you’ve just got to check them out based on your interests. There will also be copious signings at the booth for many creators based on these exclusives, debuts, and more.
In my whirlwind tour of the show floor, I saw plenty of excitement and enthusiasm for the show from the booth-runners, publishers, and designers of the SDCC experience fans are about to embark on! With only a few minutes to go, since Preview Night is about to open.
Many thanks to SDCC for arranging this press tour. As a repeat attendee, I highly recommend the feature continues since it does a lot to show fans how the show is planned and run from the perspective of the companies who take part.
Hannah Means-Shannon is EIC of Bleeding Cool and @hannahmenzies on Twitter
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