As media folk and fans emerge back into the real world after their sojourn in the land of the fairy folk – aka San Diego Comic-Con 2018 – it’s time to look back at who ruled and who drooled. Everyone is talking about the tv and movie losers but who nailed it on the comics side?
WINNER: DC Comics – Grant Morrison and Liam Sharp on Green Lantern and Kelly Sue DeConnick with a new take on Aquaman were strong books that got the buzz going.
LOSER: DC Comics – the “cult on a boat” press event for “Heroes in Crisis” was just…odd
WINNER: Emil Ferris – To no one’s surprise, My Favorite Thing is Monsters cleaned up at the Eisners with three wins and Ferris had another amazing show interacting with her fans and fellow pros.
WINNER: Marjorie Liu – five Eisners for Monstress and the first ever win by a woman for Best Writer made this a year to remember for Liu. These Eisner Awards were the most inclusive and varied ever signalling a lot of change to come.
LOSER: The asshole who crashed my panel and dropped a name to avert suspicion. Im’ on to you and that is not how you get attention in the industry.
WINNER: My Hero Academia/Kōhei Horikoshi – the manga-ka superstar appeared at sold out panel after panel.
LOSER: Room planning for Horikoshi – his spotlight panel was held in a huge room but it could have been even huger and hundreds of fans were turned away. It’s time for giant manga guests to hit Ballroom 20!
WINNER: DC Movies – With Marvel gone, Warner Brois ruled Hall H with strong presentations for Fantastic Beasts, Godzilla and the Lego Movie 2. Shazam! looked surprisingly charming and Aquaman made a splash. Haw haw.
LOSER: DC Universe – The Titan trailer was the talk of the con and not in a good way. If this is the WB’s way of ramping up streaming as AT&T takes over and wants more content, they may need to rethink the grimdark tone.
WINNER: Berger Books – they have a must-read comic with the announcement of Invisible Kingdom by G. Willow Wilson and Christian Ward.
LOSER: The Experience at Comic-Con – a hodgepodge of brands in a lackluster parking lot setting.
WINNER: Comixology Originals – the newly announced titles show that this imprint isn’t going to be a nothing but action-adventure type stories and welcomed a diverse slate of creators.
LOSER: Marvel Comics – Announcing the return of Uncanny X-Men was cool! No creative team on the new Uncanny X-men. Not as cool. And while the return of Marvel Knights with Donny Cates, Matt Rosenberg, Tini Howard and Vita Ayala was exciting, it’s only for a one shot. Marvel didn’t have a bad con, but they couldn’t match DC’s well oiled PR machine.
WINNER: Marvel Films – although Marvel not attending lowered the overall mayhem at the con, not having to put on smiles the day after the James Gunn disater was a blessing for all.
LOSER: Marvel TV – Jeph Loeb coming out in a Karate Kid costume was just tone deaf and awful and had the added virtue of keeping otehr Marvel controversies going.
WINNER: Lion Forge’s Catalyst Prime and Gail Simone – getting a big name for a big project got a lot of attention as the con kicked off. (See disclaimer.)
LOSER: Whoever was flogging those weird Trump Titan books.
WINNER: The Skybound Lounge – a pleasantly retro setting with plenty of space, sunlight, wine and surprisingly good coffee turned into one of the most enjoyable hangs at the con.
LOSER: The Wired Cafe – not even a line to get in on Thursday.
WINNER: Manga – despite a lot of no shows due to Anime Expo being a few weeks earlier, the booths and panels were packed, showing no lack of interest among fans.
LOSER: Nickelodeon – not enough programming despite so many classic 90s brands returning.
WINNER: Demolition Man’s Taco Bell activation – two iffy brands united for an immersive experience that everyone was raving about and some called the greatest activation they’d ever seen.
LOSER: Deadpools’s Dream Suite – this was one of the hardest activations to get into, but it was a detailed but quiet setting. When the first word you think of to describe a Deadpool tie-in is “low energy” you may have missed the mark.
Lines: Programming got shuffled amongst Hall H, Ballroom 20, and Indigo with major studio gone and allowed for breathing room that let even casual fans enjoy the experience of Hall H.
Exclusives Lottery: The new system had exhibitors relaxed and buyers anxiety low as set times let them enjoy their con.
Offsites Experiences: Jack Ryan wins for immersive narrative experiences tying back to the actual story. Taco Bell, while not as grand as Jack Ryan, but for level of detail and commitment to the bit. LAIKA bringing all ages behind the scenes into their worlds with waits rivaling those of bigger brands.
Swag: The Beat shirts. Ready Player One VHS copy of movie and vinyl soundtrack. Jack Ryan challenge coins. SYFY for it’s daily artist exclusive t-shirts.
Library: Continues to deliver on quality content about the comics market. Especially this year on diversity of content and readers.
Small Press: Had a great crush come Sunday as people were buying loads. The normal Sunday crowd felt bigger, perhaps because exclusive hunters left out of the lottery had time and money to spend on new discoveries?
Lines: Less activations, and more immersive activations leads to longer wait times at the offsites. Keep the quality up, but learn from SXSW on scaling an activation.
Programming Rooms: A couple misses on the popularity of certain brands lead to undersized rooms. Brooklyn 99 and My Hero Academia serve as examples.
Offsites: The Experience at Comic Con felt like the Island of Misfit Toys. While it was nice that it was open to those without a badge, the quality of activations was low and felt like a dumping ground for brands.
Kyle Pinion, AJ Frost. Victor Van Scoit, Gabriela Taveras, Zack Quaintance, Taimur Dar, Alex Lu, Hannah Lodge and Heidi MacDonald contributed to this report.