Well, it’s about that time. Comics world news will soon be all Comic-Con all the time, as the big fest in San Diego is less than a month away (EEK!). And so let’s look at some of the news that’s filtering out:

• Biggest of all to veterans of Hall H line waiting, Marvel will not have a panel this year, The Wrap reports.

The writer’s strike, along with a potential strike by SAG-AFTRA, is making it tough for studios to show up to the annual convention without product and performers to promote their projects. If SAG-AFTRA is unable to reach a deal on a new labor contract and orders a strike, actors would not be able to do any promotional work for their films and TV shows as part of the labor stoppage.

It makes sense with Marvel’s slowdown in releasing content. The only movie remaining this year is The Marvels. On Disney+, Secret Invasion just launched, and Loki 2 is coming but Echo is being sent into the world in binge format (all six episodes dropping  at once) signaling a lack of enthusiasm.

Last year’s panel was a much needed boost for returning entertainment and the con, with a touching Black Panther tribute and more.

But let’s face it….sometimes you just need a break.

Reaction to the move has been sadness from con-goers, but the trades and dirt sheets see it as a logical development, given the uncertainties of the current WGA and likely SAG strikes.

We’ve yet to see the annual preview of who and what will be presented at the con from the studio side, but HBO is definitely out and Universal is also reportedly sitting it out.

Disney and Kevin Feige will have a few more chances this year to promote their slate: Destination D23, a Florida-based version of the Disney-only fanfest, takes place September 8-10. And the annual Disney investor’s day presentation in the fall has turned into a pretty elaborate affair and could host announcements.

Still, given the reality of the WGA strike, SDCC ’23 is looking more and more like a great place to catch up on comics news!

• D23 will have a presence in San Diego on July 22nd, the Saturday of the Con….but at a separate event, the X-Men Hellfire Gala, which takes place at the Parq Night Club

You are cordially invited to join Marvel and D23: The Official Disney Fan Club as we outfit the fiercest fashion and prepare for the powered-up party of the summer. Mutants, heroes, villains, and those in between are invited to the first ever real-life Hellfire Gala, where we’re bringing the living island of Krakoa to San Diego, California, on July 22, 2023.

The Hellfire Gala invites the human and superhuman world to witness (and be dazzled by) mutantkind’s global achievements. This revolutionary event is also where the highly anticipated announcement is made for the annual line-up of X-Men.

Sounds like a pretty spectacular offsite – but tickets are only available to D23 members. 

• The Unofficial San Diego Comic-Con Blog reports that the show will not have carpet this year. The 2022 edition featured bare concrete floors, and CCI hoped the carpet would return in ’23 but…it was not to be. It’s extremely expensive, and CCI is still in budget mode following two years without ticket sales. SDCCUB (which it must be said, does an incredible job of reporting every last detail of Comic-Con news) talked to some con-goers who fear foot fatigue:

For some, like attendee Jhon Cornejo, walking on hard concrete for days without the extra support and cushioning of carpet is going to have a big impact on his convention experience.

“I am a disabled U.S. Air Force veteran who has medical issues that I suffer every day. Its difficult for me to stand and walk for long periods due to back, knee and foot problems stemming from my military service. So the [previous] carpeting at SDCC was great cause it was throughout the hall. I was able to walk and stand with little to no pain throughout all four days,” Cornejo said. “2022 was hard on me because there was no carpeting throughout the convention floor except at the exhibitor booths. I spent more time there to keep the swelling down.”

I do recall my lower extremities taking a pounding last year – especially when I’d wander into a booth that did have carpet and suddenly felt the lush, toe-cradling difference. But that’s what memory foam is for, at least for able-bodied folks like myself. For those with back or mobility issues, the lack of carpet will be much more difficult.

• The SDCC blog also reports that menu items have changed! Several hotels and eateries have had upgrades.

– The Tin Fish, the taco stand right by the railroad tracks, a budget conscious staple for many con goers, is now Baja Rick’s Cantina. Prices are higher but that’s universal these days.

Garden bar area.

– The Hilton Gaslamp’s nondescript restaurant is now The Wild Hare.

The space and menu recently received a complete revamp, with new decor inspired by 1970’s California chill vibes. The Wild Hare is led by executive chew Emiliano Sotelo (Karl Strauss Brewing Company, Hard Rock Hotel), and features cocktails and menu items utilizing fresh produce grown at the hotel’s organic herb garden alongside other locally-sourced products.

Once again, it’s a bit more pricey. Roasted heirloom carrots are $13, for instance. (And don’t forget restaurants often introduce jacked up prices just for Comic-Con!)

– The Hyatt has also remodeled one of its bars. You’ll recall that the main Hyatt bar being closed for a year or two devastated con night life for a time. It’s back in a much more open and airier version that handled the scrum just fine in ’22.

The other bar, known to con insiders as “The Other Bar,” was a more wood-panelled affair that just never caught on with Barcon vets. They may like its new edition even less: a video game themed pub, The Arcade at Brew 30.

The new spot opened late last month and features “high scores and high pours”, with over 20 arcade games, a themed cocktail menu, and 14 beers on top. You can sip on cocktails like a Space Invaders (Bacardi rum, pina colada mix, raspberry puree, pineapple juice, and myer’s dark float) or Street Fighter (Number Juan Tequila Blanco, agave, grapefruit juice, lime juice, soda water, and tajin rum) or enjoy draft beer.

Their food options come from Market One, and include all day dining options like pizza, burgers, and a cubano sandwich.

I hope SDCCUB will forgive me for stealing just one of their photos so you can see how the old space has been modded:

As you can see, the overpowering woodwork has been retained, making the addition of pinball machines highly incongruous.

Our prediction: This will remain “The Other Bar.”

• 2022 was the last ever Graphitti Designs Dead Dog Party, the legendary Sunday night mixer for comic veterans thrown by Bob Chapman. It went out with a spectacular last evening in ’22, but it was the last one. Some folks who basically came to the con just for that party won’t be there this year. It really was the end of an era and every time I think of that night, I get a little misty eyed.

So what is coming for Sunday night in 2023? Bill Willingham threw a Fables-themed soiree for a few years but that is long gone. We’ve heard a few folks have been thinking of picking up the mantle with a modern take on the Con classic but we’ve yet to hear the official word. Watch this space.

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



  1. The bar formerly known as Renfield’s (actually “Redfield’s”, but… comics people) really was best for grabbing some food or ducking into for impromptu meetings where you could hear each other rather than the din of the lobby bar. The last few years pre pandemic it was practically a ghost town at times, so if that’s the case when you have that many people at a convention next door I can imagine it being more so during smaller events and the Hyatt people making major changes.

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