As a lover of conventions, I’m very fortunate to live in San Diego, home of San Diego Comic-Con. I’m also only a couple hour drive away from Wonder Con, whether it be in Anaheim or Los Angeles. Many smaller conventions also take place within San Diego over the year. One of these that I had fallen in love with as of last year has been San Diego Comic Fest.
Headed by Mike Towry and Chairman Matt Dunford, this convention pays homage to the early days of Comic-Con. Organizers of Comic Fest pride themselves in its intimate setting. In many ways, I find it to be quite charming, lacking the Hollywood of Comic-Con and instead allowing attendees and invited guests to mingle together. A lot of love goes into this convention.
This year’s theme was Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, as the book has turned 200 this year. The Comic Fest café became the “Frankenstein Café,” highlighting the hard work that Robert Maya and Mario Torres put into the whole affair. As a particularly special treat, daughter of Boris Karloff, Sara Karloff, attended the convention, sharing intimate family home footage and stories of her father who had portrayed the classic movie monster in the 1931 Frankenstein.
As many of my articles will stand as testimony to, one of my favorite things about conventions are the panels. I see them as chances to learn and gain insight into either the inner workings of the comic world, a favorite property, or perhaps a celebrated creator. Though a small convention, this year’s Comic Fest boasted a wonderful array of panels, headed by such guests as Floyd Norman, Lalo Alcaraz, Maggie Thompson, David Scroggy, and of course guest of honor this year Karen Berger.
There were a few missteps, however. Unlike the year prior where the convention was at the Four Points Sheraton, it returned to the familiar Town and Country Resort and Convention Center that has housed it in the past. Many seasoned guests had no difficulty finding areas like the artist alley or the café, but first timers had no way of knowing that all that was located on the 9th floor in a building across the way, especially with just a sign that only said “Artist Alley” pointing at the elevators.
Vendors were also confounded. The sales floor was split between one large room and then several small conference rooms across the way. One vendor that had been assigned to one of the separate rooms was overheard saying on Saturday, “I haven’t even made my money back from the space yet!”
Overall, I had a wonderful time at the 6th annual Comic Fest. Though there was a bit of confusion at first, staff had made sure to correct signs and address ambiguities by Friday’s end. My favorite moment of the weekend was talking face to face with Karen Berger. I look forward to seeing what next year will bring.
Nicholas Eskey is an avid reader and writer. When not contributing to The Beat, he works on his personal projects, the latest being a fantasy novel called “My Personable Demon.” He lives in San Diego, California, and is frequently bossed around by his cat.