This past weekend, San Jose hosted its very first Comic Con. Pop culture and technology merged for this 3 day event, which was held at the San Jose Convention Center. I decided to attend one of the days, but made sure I got to make the most of my time there. A few friends and I ventured out early Saturday morning and took a train to the event. In about an over half hour trip and walking a few blocks, we arrived at the venue just after it opened. First line of business was to do a quick scan of the exhibit hall. Among the vendors included the typical geek merchandise you’d normally find at any Comic Con, with the addition of booths that featured current developments in the tech industry (e.g. Virtual Reality (VR) demos and mobile applications). The latter were scattered in between the retail booths.
Each day of the convention had a schedule of celebrities signing autographs and/or doing photo-ops. Much of that was arranged towards the back of the exhibit space. There was also a section of the hall that had the Delorean from Back to the Future, an area with various Marvel collectibles dubbed the Stan Lee Museum, another museum featuring a collection of Star Wars memorabilia, and wax figures from Madame Tussauds.
And what is a comic convention without panels? I had the opportunity to sit in on the Spotlight on Back to the Future panel with Michael J. Fox, Lea Thompson, and Christopher Lloyd, which was amazing. This was a paid panel in which those interested in attending had to purchase a separate ticket in addition to one for admission to the convention. Staff made sure to clear the hall of attendees from a previous panel before ticket holders were allowed in. I also saw a bit of a discussion regarding the future of technology between Steve Wozniak (co-founder of Apple) and Palmer Lucky (co-founder of Oculus) following that panel.
The vibe I felt throughout SVCC was mainly positive. I ran into several friends there, and they were having a great time. Meeting Stan Lee for a photo-op and autograph would make me excited too! But yeh, been there, done that. 😛 From the looks of the crowd, many were simply happy to be there. For myself, this was redemption for San Francisco losing WonderCon a few years ago. I also saw some attendees in awesome cosplay. Even MythBusters’ Adam Savage joined in on the fun (he also made an autograph/photo-op appearance).
The first year of a new comic convention also has its downsides. As with majority of these events, there will be lines. That was very apparent if you came in to purchase your ticket on site. One of our group waited nearly an our at registration to purchase and pick theirs up. There were also pretty long lines for the food vendors, of which a few had sold out of their inventory not even half way into the day. Via word of mouth, those who had VIP access to the event didn’t so much get actual VIP treatment, which is sad considering 1) It’s Silicon Valley and 2) What’s the point of spending extra money if you’re only going to be seen as any other “regular” attendee? I had general admission, so I didn’t get to experience this first hand.
Overall, I had a great time at the convention and hope to see many improvements implemented in time for their next one, which will take place March 2017. The Bay Area has more than enough potential to hold their own annual Comic Con. I wouldn’t see this as a replacement for larger cons like San Diego or New York. Not just yet, anyway. The concept of SVCC is great, but it is very much in its baby stages. This article touches on the ups and downs that the event and downtown San Jose businesses experienced last weekend. San Francisco may not care too much about the geek culture that Comic Con brings (although they will host their own later this year in September, at a smaller venue compared to when WonderCon once graced Moscone Center), but I’m 110% behind San Jose. Looking forward to next year!
Just came across some great photos from the event. You can check them out here.