By Gabriel Neeb

A meme by Michael Floyd

This was a different con. The departure of major media entities (or “studios”) had the chattering classes certain this spelled the end for the San Diego Comic Con. How could the con go on? Whatever will become of Hall H? The world wonders!

Judging by the sentiments expressed at the Comic Con talkback in Room 23ABC on Sunday, the con not only got along quite well without Hollywood, it was a largely positive experience for many of the attendees.

I knew this would be a different talkback when there was applause and cheering for the assembled members of the panel: Craig Fellows (VP of Operations), Eddie Ibrahim, David Glanzer, and Robin Donlan.

My suspicions were further confirmed when the first person to ask a question – there were twenty-eight people who rose to speak – stated that this was an excellent convention. A common tactic of the crowd was to mention how many conventions they’d attended, with two gentlemen claiming to have attended 52 and 51 conventions each.

That said, there were issues that merited the concern of the panel. ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act)-accessibility issues were the most prominent. One gentleman expressed a problem with the treatment vendors and security showed towards individuals with disabilities, saying they were either ignored or openly discriminated against (though one person singled out Funko as one that “did it right”). The panel was not pleased to hear this and took note. They did say that the demands made by the Fire Marshal, like having to remove chairs in certain areas, hindered their efforts towards ADA compliance. Other ADA complaints had to deal with the scooter rental systems, which required rented scooters to be returned by 7:00 pm even though there was significant convention programming that lasted until 9:00. For as worrisome as these deficiencies were, one gentleman said that – as someone that had made previous talkback complaints – those complaints made in the past were remedied from one convention to the next.

Although the infamous Hall H was lightly attended this year, the question of metal detectors arose concerning convention security, as they are only used at Hall H and nowhere else. Glanzer fielded this one and said that the metal detectors exist not just to prevent malicious items from being used, but also to prevent the “leaking” of proprietary footage from the studios showing reels and trailers not ready for mass release. Glanzer understood the concern for security but reassured the attendees that there are many eyes throughout the convention.

Like this one below:

Just one of the many K9 units on duty this year.

Speaking of room usage… as the convention had a handful of notable panels canceled, one attendee related the story of how the Studio Ghibli panel in Room 9 had a limited number of seats (250), and a very long line that extended onto the convention center patio. With this in mind, was it possible to use a larger room left over from panels that have been canceled. Ibrahim answered by stating that many panels had seen an uptick in attendance. Glanzer came to the defense of Programming by using a (fictitious) example of there being more demand for a panel on the cast of The Expanse than say, “David Glanzer Talks About His Cats.”

The good news is attendees were informed by the Ghibli personnel that the studio wants to return to the Convention and that yes, they need a bigger room.

Other concerns were the merchandising for the convention: the company Fanfare was cited as not having enough shirts for attendees to purchase – something the previous vendor (Graphitti Designs, who have retired from exhibiting) was able to do. There was a serious problem with the Convention screening of the film Talk to Me, where attendees that obtained access wristbands were denied entrance as the company A24 let in other ticket holders before the Convention wristband holders (the panel asked the person making the complaint to see them after the panel for further information). 

There was also a request that the convention issue and post stronger guidelines regarding cosplay. Some people were seen taking inappropriate pictures of cosplayers or physically touching costumes and the wearers.

Library programming was mentioned as having its most well-attended year since it began.

The panel also revealed that the cause of the fire alarms on Friday was a burnt pretzel.

One of the last issues raised, from a gentleman that met his fiancée at a previous Convention, was about carpeting. I don’t use war metaphors lightly, but the panel seemed to have a “thousand-yard stare” at the mention of this. There were several issues. Carpeting Is EXTREMELY expensive; Glanzer mentioned he thought a decimal point was in the wrong place when presented with an early estimate. The amount of carpeting needed isn’t even available as that industry is still recovering from the pandemic. Lastly, when the convention is finished, it has to dispose of the carpeting it used, and that is ecologically unsound. Robin Donlan hopes it comes back, but until then, it was suggested that attendees invest in comfortable shoes.

The panel finished at 4:30 pm. Other talkback panels in the past have lasted up until the last moments of the convention.

Miss any of our earlier SDCC ’23 coverage? Find it all here!

[Robin Donlan’s name and the status of Graphitti Designs have been corrected from an earlier version of this report.]


  1. I would go to a panel where David Glanzer talked about his cats at any convention, for any industry, at any time.

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