Entrance of the future San Diego Comic-Con Museum

Despite expectations of not officially opening until sometime in 2020 or thereafter, this hasn’t stopped the future home of San Diego’s Comic-Con Museum from having hosted several events in the last few months. On Saturday, November 3rd, the latest event hosted by the space was a series of talks being called Storytelling Across Media.

These SAM talks were nothing like a traditional comics convention and lacked an exhibit hall. Instead, it was a free, one-day symposium directed in exploring the various ways that stories are being told today. The mediums of comics, gaming, animation, sound, music, film, board games, television, and books were all discussed through the twelve separate talks located in the lower level of the museum, either in the theatre or the “lodge.” Some well-known figures in pop-culture such as Jim Lee, Beth Accomando, Chris Ryall, Scott Tipton, J. Michael Straczynski, and others were in attendance. At the end of the SAM Symposium, an intimate mixer, complete with food and a bar, has held for both creators and fans. The last time a SAM talk was held was in San Francisco in 2016.

Jim Lee after showing storytelling in comics

Hosting an event such as SAM makes sense for the Comic-Con branding, as Comic-Con International’s mission statement says it is “dedicated to creating awareness of, and appreciation for, comics and related popular artform.” The more that the museum can show it falls in line with CCI’s mission, the more hope it has in generating early-memberships.

Of the talks held, one of the last and most relevant to the space dealt with storytelling in museums. The Comic-Con Museum’s curator Keegan Chetwynd, along with John Chiodo of Gallagher & Associates and Joshua Colover of Aperture Films, shared PowerPoint presentations on how modern museums engage visitors and immerse them in a story. It is worth noting that John and Joshua have a history of working with museums on design and interactive installations. After the presentation, Keegan explained how all of this tied to that of the Comic-Con Museum.

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[Left to right] Keegan Chetwynd, Joshua Colover, and John Chiodo.
Since this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, there has been a big push in asking convention goers and fans of Comic-Con what the museum should feature, ranging from topics discussed to what “superhero-inspired drinks” should be served in the café. Keegan referred to this as “Fan Curation.” It appears that the museum plans on continuing to take ideas for this fan curation for some time further. When the future home of the Comic-Con Museum opened its doors to the San Diego Maker Faire last month, they reportedly had a whole wall dedicated to asking questions of visitors, by which they could answer with Post-It-Notes. On the positive, this shows museum staff is concerned with creating a tailored experience that will still appeal to the masses. On the negative, the fact that they are still taking conceptual suggestions means that the museum will indeed not be ready anytime soon. Keegan also said that as the space “can’t accomplish what we need it to [as it is now].” Major construction is anticipated, such as removing the metal bridge that connects the upper level of the building and removing the gymnasium flooring on the main floor that is a constant reminder of the former “Hall of Champions,” the sports museum that had the space before.

Author Storytelling: [Left to right] Maryelizabeth Yturralde, Sarah Kuhn, Greg Van Eekhout, Cindy Pon, and C.B. Lee
For a free event, I felt SAM was a great experience. It will be interesting to see what other events museum planners will organize to keep the space forefront in people’s minds up until its eventual opening.

Storytelling in Sound and Music: [Left to right] Kaya Savas, Sacha Gervasi, David Norland, Michael Conelly, Guy Toubes, Jake Monaco, and Dan Bern.