Meeting Informs San Diego Comic Fest to Change Date and Venue: Will It Affect Attendance?

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San Diego Comic Fest’s Mike Towry and Chairman Matt Dunford

Said to be “The Friendly, Intimate Comic Con Experience,” San Diego Comic Fest held a volunteer meeting on Sunday afternoon at the Pacific Beach public library. This will mark 6-years for the convention organized by Mike Towry, one of the original co-founders of San Diego Comic-Con. For its 2018 theme, San Diego Comic Fest will be celebrating the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein: Or, The Modern Prometheus.

Seated to Mike Towry’s left, Comic Fest’s chairman, Matt Dunford, took the lead of the meeting. Elected last year shortly before the 2017 convention, this will be Dunford’s first-full Comic Fest that he has had a hand in planning in the position, and with a little more than 4-months left until the convention’s April 20th to 22nd weekend, there is still much to be done. Of additional note, Alonso Nunez, co-founder of San Diego’s Little Fish Comics Studio, was seated to Matt Dunford’s other side. The Comic Fest chairman is also president of Nunez’s Little Fish Comics Studio.

Chairman Matt Dunford first took a few minutes reminding the room how important Comic Fest is in the continuous fostering of San Diego’s comic-book community, especially in the light of recent local events such as the changes occurring to the Liberty Station’s San Diego Comic Art Gallery. It was obvious that the chairman takes great pride in the convention, as he said, “Comic Fest keeps getting all this hype. All these creators come forward saying, ‘Comic Fest is the most genuine, down to earth, well respected con where you can just come and do your thing… It’s great for retailers, great for fans, great for professionals.” He also went so far as to say that the only major issue that Comic Fest suffered from last year was a lack of parking for the venue. As I was present for the convention last year, I can attest it was a large issue, especially during the unseasonal rains that San Diego was hit with.

The first major topic was that of guest attendees. It was teased that the likes of cartoonist Scott Shaw, who has gone to every San Diego Comic-Con save for one and has been a convention goer for around 50-years, would be attending Comic Fest again. As Mike Towry pointed out, Shaw had once written that, “San Diego Comic Fest is intelligent, warm, diverse, and no marketing.” Other noted guests will include 30 Days of Night’s Steve Niles, Disney movie Coco’s culture consultant Lalo Alcaraz, an actress from San Diego State University’s theatrical department who will play as author Mary Shelley during the convention, and possibly American suspense author Jonathan Maberry.

A major change from last year is a return to the Town and Country Resort and Convention Center as venue. Reportedly, Comic Fest was planning on staying at the Four Points Sheraton that they used for this year’s convention, but due to a cost dispute with new management they were forced to look elsewhere. This change is most likely for the best, as the Town and Country Resort and Convention Center boasts a large parking lot and has recently gone through refurbishments. “I’m happy to say that we’ll have more parking, and hopefully no leaky roofs,” said Matt Dunford. This was in reference again to this last convention, where the Four Points in various areas suffered from rain water dripping from the ceilings.

Another change from last year is the date of the convention. Chairman Matt Dunford stated that the move from President’s Day weekend was so that Comic Fest wouldn’t have to compete with the many events that would have coincided. Unfortunately, Comic Fest’s new weekend dates will have to share with Kingdom-Con, a large table top gaming convention that has been in San Diego’s Mission Valley area for the last 7-years. It’s possible that with the same dates and the close-proximity to both conventions that there might be some impact to Comic Fest attendance numbers, but Dunford felt that the demographics for both are different enough that it should be minimal.

Other topics of discussion among the collected volunteers were the likes of this last convention’s technical issues with panels and the possibility of live streaming. To the latter issue, Mike Towry said due to limited bandwidth and available “affordable” WiFi, it would not be a possibility for 2018. However, there are possible plans of video recording with hopes of uploading to sites like YouTube shortly after each panel’s conclusion.

With a little more than 4-months left until the intimidate convention that is Comic Fest, more news is expected to unfold. Stay tuned to The Beat for more future coverage.

Edit – It was incorrectly stated the venue to be the San Diego Concourse. It is the Town and Country Resort and Convention Center. Also, the Comic Art Gallery was stated as closing, but only the retail and rotating exhibit aspect will close.

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