by Beat Staff

It’s time for another wrap on Comic-Con, as our fearless staffers roamed from the coldest climes of the Paramount Lodge activation to the searing cauldron of the show floor to cover it. Here’s who won and who needed to go back to the drawing board. With contributions from: Avery Kaplan, Rebecca Oliver Kaplan, Taimur Dar, Heidi MacDonald, Deb Aoki, Nancy Powell, Zack Quaintence, Victor van Scoit, Ricardo Serrano Denis, and Gabriel Neeb

Photo courtesy Mitch Gerads

Winner: Comics readers Without all those big Hollywood movie guys, Comic-Con was all about the (wait for it) comics! Several graphic novels saw early release at the con, including the Werewolf Jones & Sons Deluxe Summer Fun Annual! by Simon Hanselmann and Josh Pettinger, and Three Rocks: The Story of Eddie Bushmiller, the Man Who Created Nancy by Bill Griffith. Plus, publishers like Silver Sprocket had plenty of often-hard-to-find-IRL titles, like the two latest Everything Sucks one-shots by Michael Sweater, which we have been trying to locate at our various LCS(s) for months now. We were also able to get a copy of the physical adaption of let’s get burgers by ash s., one of the best webcomics of the past few years. Finally, we found plenty of incredible small press titles, like Mexica by Kayden Phoenix, Fernanda Lozada, Aster Santiago, Gaby Zermeño, and Sandra Romero, Pimp Killer by Ghezal Omar, Ayhan Hayrula, and Phillip Ginn, and The Dead Deception by Kel McDonald. However, we did not get to spend as much time digging through long boxes as we’d have liked. Next year in San Diego! (AJK & ROK)

Winner: Trekkies – An early debut of the Star Trek: Strange New Worlds crossover with Star Trek: Lower Decks was the perfect celebration of the Star Trek fandom, who appeared in full force at the con. There was plenty of cosplay celebrating everything from Star Trek: The Next Generation (including Q from “Encounter at Farpoint”) to Star Trek: Discovery, with plenty of Cali Class crewmembers (just look at those neat uniform flaps). Better yet, the crossover episode was also made available for streaming, so Trekkies across the planet could enjoy Beta Shift’s visit to the USS Enterprise, whether they were in San Diego or not. All this, and confirmation of a SNW musical episode? Be still our Trekkie hearts. (AJK & ROK)

Winner: Hulu Animayhem activation – Along the bayfront behind the convention center, the Hulu Animayhem activation featured several different animated shows. However, the centerpiece was the giant inflatable Planet Express building from Futurama, complete with crashed and smoking PlanEx ship. In addition to plenty of irresistible photo ops, the activation also gave visitors the chance to taste a Bob’s Burgers slider and obtain a “two-dimensional” electric mucus-colored backpack, the con carry-all boasting the best intersection of style and functionality. Plus, placing the PlanEx building along the water (just like it is on the show) was an inspired touch. All in all, it was a great way to celebrate the highly-anticipated return of the beloved animated sci-fi series, the first episode of which is available for streaming on Hulu today! Bonus: these Solar Opposites pins appear to be “Disney pins,” judging by the Mickey-shaped rubber clutches. The fact that they made a Disney pin of “The Duke” from SO’s “The Wall” is endlessly amusing to us. (AJK & ROK)

Loser: Harry Potter cosplayers – Nothing says “I care more about cliched childrens’ books than real children” than continuing to wear cosplay based on an outdated series written by an open bigot. Special shout-out to the Potter cosplayer who attempted to spark a confrontation by intentionally bumping into us, two visibly trans people minding their own business, not once but twice as we stood a more-than-reasonable distance from the convention center map which she was ostensibly referencing. She was wearing Ravenclaw colors, but she had real Slytherin vibes, you know? Please, Potter fans: read a better book! There were literally thousands of possible options available at the con. Try branching out a little bit! (AJK & ROK)

Winner: Comic-Con Museum – Comic-Con Museum in Balboa Park celebrated SDCC ‘23 with an exhibit commemorating Stan Lee’s legacy that you simply have to see to believe. “Excelsior! The Life and Legacy of Stan Lee” was curated by Comic-Con Museum, Michael E. Uslan (originator of the Batman movie franchise), and David Uslan. The exhibit collected True Believers’ treasures from 10 different private collections and auction house catalogs. The result is a one-of-a-kind exhibition of rare issues and art, featuring work by legends like Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko. If you missed out on visiting during SDCC ‘23, be advised that this exhibit will be present for a few more months, but not indefinitely. Plan a visit and don’t miss out on the limited-time opportunity to experience these treasures for yourself! (AJK & ROK)

Loser: Publishers (except Simon & Schuster) were stingier with freebies and discounts than in years past. (NP)

Loser: The overall state of cosplay.

While there were some truly excellent exceptions — the group that did Into the Spider-Verse, the Apocalypse guy on stilts, the Jedi dog — this year felt noticeably lighter on cosplay. Not that I entirely minded, see below… (ZQ)

Winner: Traffic flow. Because there was less cosplay, there were less people taking photos with cosplayers, thereby entirely gumming up traffic flow in whichever space. (ZQ)

Winner: Invincible. Good things come to those who wait and not only did Robert Kirkman announce the official November release date for the second season, but dropped a surprise Atom Eve special on Friday. As I’ve mentioned, I was only casually familiar with the Invincible franchise before the animated series, but after the series premiered I became hooked. It definitely inspired me to pick up the Invincible Universe Compendium at the Image booth. Unsurprisingly, it was nearly sold out as was the majority of Invincible related books. (TD)

Winner: Barbie. Though technically the #1 movie in the movie didn’t have an official presence at the convention, you wouldn’t know it by the sheer number of cosplayers or how much it was trending over social media. Part of me really is curious how many attendees at SDCC took the time out of their schedule to see a screening nearby. That’s assuming nearby screenings weren’t sold out. I already had a strong interest in seeing the Barbie movie for myself, but it’s only increased since getting home. (TD)

Winner. Publicists. Hats off to all the publicists at SDCC working around the clock to deal with all the last minute chaos and adjustments. (TD)

Loser. Publicists. That said, I can’t deny that everything went smoothly with so many last minute press opportunities and confirmations hitting my inbox Tuesday night. Definitely had more than the normal amount of originally confirmed interviews that were canceled the same day they were meant to take place.

Winner: True Love – One couple got engaged at the DC Heroes photo shoot. (GN)

Winner: Panels – No big media events left attendees to filter in all the other panels. Attendance noticeably increased. (GN)

Loser: Hollywood – The Convention got along just fine without franchise-driven panels and answered the question if Comic-Con needs Hollywood. (GN)

Loser: Pretzels – A burning pretzel caused the fire alarm on Friday. Not only are they too expensive, they’re drama queens. (GN)

Winner: Library Events – Marked increased attendance this year’s events. (GN)

Winner: Jack Kirby – from all the costumes of his characters on the Floor, to long lines for the Jack Kirby Tribute Panel on Sunday, it feels like the Man never left. (GN)

Winner: Makoto Yukimura (and Kodansha) – Based on his panel appearances, autograph sessions and his comments and photos on his Twitter feed, the creator of Vinland Saga had a blast during his first visit to San Diego. Upon arriving, he autographed a stack of Vinland Saga books at a San Diego Airport newsstand. He later visited the USS Midway Aircraft Carrier, sampled some cactus tacos at Tacos El Gordo and “animal style” cheeseburgers at In-n-Out, and just seemed endlessly delighted to meet and talk with fans. (DA)

Losers: Anyone who wanted an autograph from Makoto Yukimura who didn’t plan aheadMany peeps walked by the Makoto Yukimura autograph sessions at the Kodansha booth on Friday and Saturday were disappointed to find out that the event was ticketed, and that tickets were distributed online a few weeks in advance of the show. This makes sense, in that it ensured that Vinland Saga’s biggest fans would get a chance to get an autograph, and respected Yukimura’s limited time/energy at the show. But as one guy who was turned away grumbled, “I’m a casual attendee of the show, and I don’t keep up with all this kind of stuff.” There was one additional signing session at the Dark Horse booth on Sunday, but that too was ticketed, and wristbands ran out within a ½ hour of show opening on Sunday. Also, that room for the Makoto Yukimura panel on Saturday was waaay too small – SDCC doesn’t clear rooms after panels, so if you didn’t show up in the room several hours in advance, you likely got turned away at the door. (DA)

Junji Ito and Jim Lee hanging out

Winner: Junji Ito (and VIZ Media)

Horror manga master Junji Ito was another comics creator from Japan who looked like he was enjoying his first visit to San Diego. While this wasn’t his first visit to a N. American comics show (he last visited TCAF and Crunchyroll Expo in 2019), VIZ Media rolled out the red carpet and put on a big show at the Marriott Marquis Hotel and at the VIZ booth of original artwork and manga pages from some of his most famous works, including Uzumaki and his latest release: Soichi, which features a scary kid who likes to put curses on people. The pic of Junji Ito in an oversized Barbie box was just another example of Junji ito being down to have fun, anytime, anywhere. (DA)

Winner: Dark Horse

After a year away from the exhibit hall, Dark Horse returned to their centrally-located spot with a spacious, spankin’ new booth that had lots of room for signings, meetings and sales of exclusive goodies. (DA)

Loser: The Rest of the Manga and Webtoon Publishers Who Were MIA at SDCC

Maybe I’m the only one who pays attention to this trend, but there’s been a steady decline of the amount of manga publishers present on the SDCC exhibit hall floor. Kadokawa and their publishing subsidiaries Yen Press, BookWalker and J-Novel Club opted to focus on Anime Expo instead of SDCC. Since switching distribution from Macmillan to Penguin Random House, Seven Seas has opted to skip SDCC in recent years. Fanfare Ponent Mon gave most of their booth space to digital publisher Inky Pen, leaving only a token array of their books on display. Drawn and Quarterly opted to skip having a booth this year too. There’s no shortage of manga / anime / webtoon readers at SDCC, and it sells really well too – so why is there so little of it at the show? (DA)

Winner: First time con-goers

The absence of Hollywood actors and panels meant that this edition of SDCC was unique, one of a kind when considering the norm for the event. People that got their chance to attend the con for the very first time (like myself) got a show that felt like it was centered around comics rather than the big movie stuff we’ve grown accustomed to. It made for an experience not many have been able to get in recent years. A comic con about comics. Who knew such a thing could work? (RS)

Winner: Toys and Action Figure Booths

If people thought the show would’ve been dead for the lack of Hollywood actors causing massive, labyrinthian-like lines at the floor, well they underestimated the pulling power of collectibles booths. Final Fantasy, Bandai, Tamashii Nations, NECA, and most every other toy and action figure booth caused enough lines to make comic con feel like it’s old self. We. Might not be giving these booths their due by not recognizing how truly important they are for attendance numbers. SDCC proved it could survive without Hollywood, but can the same be said if toys and collectibles suddenly went MIA? (RS)

Loser: Industry Comic Booths with Limited Comic Book Offerings

While Image and Mad Cave Studio brought more than enough comics for every attendee to get hands on, Dark Horse and IDW barely had any for purchase other than a few ashcans and a book or two here and there. Titan had a good selection, but 2000AD was mostly just displays of board games and a few figures. For a show that finally got a chance to let comics shine, this felt like a missed opportunity. (RS)

Loser: Ticketed…everything

Tickets can be a good strategy to let people enjoy the con without having to do several lines to first get a book or item and then making another line to get them signed. Problem is, a lot of the tickets that were handed out had to be claimed online weeks before the convention actually started. Not everyone was privy to this and many (myself included once I realized my chances of getting Jamie Lee Curtis’s horror comic Mother Nature had been dashed because I didn’t know about the ticketing stuff Titan went ahead with) lost out on many great books and figures they were hoping to catch at the con. Not everyone is going to be visiting every publisher’s website to see if there’s a ticket system for their most anticipated purchases. Asking for a book and hearing “it’s only available for ticketed attendees that already cued online weeks ago” is a special kind of heartbreak in a space where discovery and special releases are such an integral part of it. (RS)

Loser: The Fire Alarm

On Friday, at around 6:30-6:45pm, the convention center’s fire alarm rang out, asking people to evacuate the area. Confusion took over, no sense of urgency followed, and even the staff were left puzzled. Basically, no one got really evacuated. After a while I overheard one staff member tell another that it was a false alarm. That was the only confirmation I got regarding whether I should leave or not. Should the fire have been real, I don’t think anyone was really prepared to get people to safety in a timely manner. One staff member did say “hey, at least you were here for the first ever comic con fire…if there is one. You saw history being made.” Little did we know it was all a burning pretzel’s fault. (RS)

Winner: The Vinland Saga Booth

Like the Viz booth, which had original Junji Ito artwork and an overall Ito-Verse theme, the Vinland Saga booth also featured original pages on display and concept art illustrations that made walking through it a treat. I hope more publishers realize how cool original artwork can be and how many people it can draw into their booths. It sounds like a recipe for success to me. (RS)

Loser: Convention goers that got wristbands to the screening of A24’s TALK TO ME… only to arrive and find out A24 overbooked the screening with A24 Insiders and other parties. And the people that got shuttled into the screening then had to find other transportation back. And A24, the Convention committee wants to have a talk with you. (GN)

Winner: Oni Press Oni did a really cool thing this year with its booth, wherein the publisher essentially gave their creators space to table, complete with positioning in a busy area (far from the most cramped and unfriendly artist alley in all of comics) and section in back to store their wares. It made it really easy to buy books like Pink Lemonade, Xino, or Chef’s Kiss, and then subsequently stay for a laid-back and casual chat with the creators, who seemed to spend plenty of time there over the course of the weekend. (ZQ)

Winner: Transformers Transformers had a big con. There was a con-exclusive Transformers #1 ashcan by Daniel Warren Johnson available at the Skybound booth. There was a panel with A-tier creators elaborating on plans for the new shared Transformers-G.I. Joe Energon Universe. And there were these new Transformers toys on display that could transform with a voice command. That’s a lot of cool Transformers stuff (none of which had anything to do with the movies) for one show. (ZQ)

WINNER: Decreased FOMO

There was a lack of FOMO in the air compared to prior SDCCs. Even if you’re not a Hall H/B20/Indigo person, the crowd anxiety can affect you. But the con felt in a flow state that allowed attendees to be more present. (VVS)

WINNER: Hulu Aerial Drone Show

The drone show was dope. That Saturday night freight train that usually traps people at the convention center?

That wait felt less interminable thanks to the aerial constellation GIFs above. Folks were digging it from all over the con grounds, with the best views near the Hilton Bayfront—the bridge and parking garage.

A brand experience that didn’t require lines and scaled for everyone’s enjoyment.

And just as the show ended, that freight train moved along. (VVS)

WINNER: Process Panels

There was space in programming for panels that dealt with how to make a thing, rather than the thing itself. The rooms were packed with engaged attendees, and filled with great Q&As.

A few of those gems were The Making of Magic w/ Holly Black, Magic The Gathering Live, How to Pitch Your Tabletop Game, and Feng Shui (VVS)

LOSERS: Amazon After Dark Hopefuls

The intentions were good, but not enough to handle the interest. Priority lines didn’t get inside till over an hour after open. General Admittance lines wrapped around the block hours before open. Without capping off tickets, many were left without entry from the GA line each night. That left folks with folks leaving the location with more bad vibes than good, which is never great for brand equity. (VVS)

LOSERS: Activation Exclusion

Many brand activation invites went live randomly with RSVPs being gone in less than 5 mins. That left many feeling left out of some secret club. It’s bound to happen with 150K people vying for few slots.

Prior years had RSVPs open at announced set times. They’d still get snatched up in 5-10 minutes. But at least fans felt they had a chance. (VVS)

LOSERS: Gaslamp’s Lack of Comic-Con Culture

With Hollywood not around, SDCC vibe didn’t go deeper into the Gaslamp like usual (pop ups, activations, etc.). Made for a culture clash come Saturday night that was kinda blech. (VVS)

WINNER: Activations

The studios may have stayed home, but the marketing spend had already been made, and once again the Imagineers went all out with amusement park level activities and giveaways. The Hulu backpack gifted after a few hours waiting in the sun was a frequent target of jealousy, but I most treasuyred the little jar of honey I got at a Yellowjackets photo op in the Paramount+ display _ handy for morning yogurt and post BarCon sore throat alike. (HM)

LOSER: The Walking Dead

Once the driving force of the con, this franchise has settled into sorta just being there, despite a Hall H appearance and a brooding Daryl Dixon display on the side of a hotel. Gone are the days when laughing congoers raced through an escape room on the balconies of PetCo Park. (HM)

Project K: Prabhas, Deepika Padukone-starrer gets new poster, release date  - Hindustan Times

WINNER: Project K/Kalki 2898 AD

The first ever Tollywood film (or any kind of foreign film) to be promoted in Hall H had big shoes to fill as the only movie to be featured at the con due to the SAG-AFTRA/WGA strikes. But the SF extravaganza captured the imagination of many with an all out pr blitz on Wednesday and Thursday, including two parties, a squadron of Stormtrooper like figures patrolling the show floor, a plane circling the convention center, and a Hall H extravaganza with live drumming, candles and international stars. A sizzle reel showing the vibrancy and popularity of Indian cinema brought a welcome freshness to Hall H, and the panel itself did a good job of showing the excitement over the movie, which started the week as Project K but revealed its name as Kalki 2898 AD.(HM)

LOSER: Prabhas

Maybe it was being in front of all those people (Hall H was about half full) , maybe it was staying too long at the cast party, but superstar Prabhas was a bit tongue-tied on his Hall H panel appearance. Luckily the icon of millions recovered later in the day:

WINNER: Oni Press

After a rough year or so, Oni presented at the Diamond Retailer Lunch with some fresh looking books from Jay Stephens and soon to be superstar Matt Lesniewski. It was nice to see a publisher getting behind some underexposed talent, and reporting strong orders based on that. (HM)

WINNER: Prestige Format

A lot of publishers seem to be getting into serializing comics in the perfect bound 48-page “prestige format” and charging $9.99 for it. It’s part of the reality of rising prices for periodicals and consumer pushback against same. (HM)



LOSER: Wallets

Prices for basic food at the con were INSANE.



One person tweeted this horrific sign.


While a $13 Pepsi was pure usury, $6 for a bottle of Pepsi and $12 for a Starbucks breakfast sandwich were the norm, making a run to Ralphs even more of a necessity than ever. As the CBLDF’s Jeff Trexler tweeted, it’s a diminishing spiral:

Convention concessions are in an upward doom spiral. Association meeting attendance throughout the year is still way down, leading contracted vendors to raise prices, which further drives down attendance and sales, etc. The result is brutal right now, esp. at SDCC ….


Hotel rooms remained at high but expected prices, but God forbid when the convention’s contract with them comes up for negotiation. A larger than normal block of rooms were available during the con with Hollywood peeps canceling, but they went for $500-up a night. (HM)


LOSER: High end collectibles and restaurants

Was it just the absence of Hollywood folks with some money burning a hole in their pocket, or the looming recession? Whatever it was I was a bit shocked on Sunday to talk to some art dealers and back issue dealers who said it was a terrible con for sales of high ticket, one of a kind items. I did hear some back issue dealers said it was a great show, and comics and book publishers definitely did fantastic, but not everyone did.

The absence of studio folks was the direct cause of a loss of income among higher end Gaslamp restaurants tho. Hitting one for a business dinner Saturday, our waiter said the place was busy but “nothing like a Saturday night at Comic-Con normally is.” (HM)


WINNER: Comics

Everyone said it above, but this anonymous quote from a Hollywood producer nailed it: ““If there is one single summation … it would be that Comic-Con is now too big to fail, and that Hollywood needs Comic-Con more than Comic-Con needs Hollywood.”



LOSER: BLUE BEETLE – Coming out in three weeks and the biggest Convention presence is a costume at the DC Comics booth. [Sarcasm]Another brilliant move from Warner Bros-Discovery[/Sarcasm] (GN)


WINNER: David Dastmalchian – new projects announced. A mask series based on his series Count Crowley. (GN)





  1. Forgot to include the entire Beat staff in the l r list…
    Winners understand in the real world not everyone sees eye to eye on everything and don’t view neuroticism an admirable trait to be brandished in public.

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