My First Con Experience | San Diego Comic-Con: Special Edition 2021

Introduction & First Impressions

When I was planning my trip to San Diego to visit my boyfriend, San Diego Comic-Con announced a smaller scale version of their regular convention on the weekend after Thanksgiving, November 26th-28th, called “Special Edition.” We instantly decided to buy tickets and put together a collaborative cosplay for the occasion. We decided to go as President Loki, and Lady Loki, also known as Sylvie Laufeydottir.

Comic-Con took firm COVID safety precautions for this event. When we arrived, we had to verify our health status either by showing your COVID-19 vaccine card, or present a negative COVID test that was taken within 72 hours leading up to the event. After this, we were given a red bracelet, and sent on our way to pick up our badges.

Cosplayers

Once we finished and arrived into the Artist Exhibition Hall, it was massive. This was supposedly a small fraction compared to a pre-COVID convention. I wondered, “if this was considered small, then how massive was the San Diego Comic-Con normally!?” I was blown away by how friendly everyone was, both employees and guests alike. People were happy to help us take pictures, and even requested to take pictures with us, which is something I have never experienced before! My only experience of cosplay was the costumes I would make for Halloween. So to have so many compliments and requests to take pictures was a pleasant surprise!

Artist Gallery & Shopping Haul

There were so many vendors with fantastic wares! Some had metal prints, glossy prints, regular prints, plush toys, crochet plus toys, nerdy custom house keys, stationary, stickers, pins, Dungeons and Dragon dice, cosplay items, and so much more! If money was no object, I would have bought everything! Here’s some treasures I collected:

The Comic-Con pin was free with the starter goody bag.

In hindsight, I thought I had bought a lot more. Then I realized that since I had been Cmas shopping while in San Diego, a lot of what I bought was for other people and was already wrapped! All of these amazing stickers were purchased from ChristaDoodles, who had an artist booth in the vendors. I was downright giddy to find a sticker that was in reference to Critical Role: Campaign 3, which had recently aired mid-October. Along with that, I found stickers from Campaign 1, Vox Machina. I wanted to buy the top-grade versions of all the characters, however, since I had spent so much money at Knott’s Berry Farm and Old Town a few days before, I had to resort to purchasing the sticker sheet to save some cash. I also purchased a well-made Writers pin, which I was lucky to catch since they were selling fast! In summary, I am totally in love with with her wares, and will definitely do future business with Christa!

The Stargate pin was purchased from the booth advertising a newly released Stargate SG-1 roleplaying game, that was apparently leftover from a previous convention. Coming from a household who are big fans of Stargate, I immediately snapped one up for my Mom and I.

An epic small-scale replica of the Stargate complete with portal projection!

The pin which recreates the scene of Lady Sylvie and Loki sitting on the train from Disney Plus’ hit TV show Loki, was purchased from NerdPins. Now that Loki and Sylvie have sentimental value to me due to my boyfriend and I’s cosplay, we each picked one up.

I would like to give an honorable mention to MistyFigs, who was also selling awesome Vox Machina merchandise! However, for various reasons, I was unable to purchase anything from her at Comic-Con. Also shout-out to Ollybits Pixel Art, whom I bought two charms from for my family. My personal favorites were the Boba Tea fandom charms!

Panels

When we were brainstorming our agenda for Comic-Con, I initially had no plans to attend panels. I was already going to have a certain level of stress being in a new place, let alone having no experience with conventions. However, we managed to hit a few and were not disappointed.

Klingon Lifestyles Special Edition

“An error made in a past timeline traps the crew of the IKV Stranglehold, forcing them to confront different fractures of time. Are they up to the challenge of trying to return to a normal universe in this combination of a fandom play/video for the 28.5 installments of Klingon Lifestyles?” – Comic-Con International Presents: Special Edition Itinerary

I will freely admit, I don’t have much knowledge about the production crew behind the Klingon Lifestyles. From what it appeared, they have attended San Diego Comic-Con frequently in past years. I had spotted some of the cast at a booth by the artists venues and was excited to take a photo with a honest-to-goodness Klingon. Then, when one of them invited me to attend their panel, I thought, “Why not? I’d love to see (what I expected to see, that is) a panel discussing head-cannons or even cannons of Klingon culture.” However, when we got to the panel and sat down, all expectations were out the window. What we viewed was a home movie skit about a Klingon crew who beam down to a planet and come across dozens of colorful characters bent on destroying them.

I don’t want to judge this crew too harshly. It’s clear they greatly enjoy what they do and the cast and crew appear to be a tight-knit family who throw all their unique ideas into the ring, mixing various formats and genres. That being said, many elements of the plot and characters didn’t always gel well. It was often incoherent, and I didn’t always understand what was happening. Their strongest point was their comedy, which got a chuckle out of me often. The title is a little misleading, but if you are passionate about home movies, or want to support small creators like this crew, I would recommend checking out their future panels.

Thank you for your photo with me, kapla!

Secrets to Successful Self-Publishing, from Concept to Audiobook-Michael C. Grumley

“Best-selling author of the Breakthrough series, teams up with renowned audiobook narrator Scott Brick to share secrets of successfully self-publishing your novel, getting it to the marketplace, and ultimately seeing it released as an audiobook. From choosing a lucrative topic and avoiding common missteps to establishing an effective social media presence and becoming publisher-ready, Grumley and Brick offer invaluable insights in this attendee-interactive panel.” – Comic-Con International Presents: Special Edition Itinerary

This panel was straightforward. There was a lot of great advice that, as a writer, gave me a glimmer of hope that one day I can be successful with my own publishing. It was interesting to get an insight on how the audio-book world works, and didn’t know the significant popularity audio-books truly had!

How to Promote Yourself and Your Work Online

“Learn from Denise Vasquez (artist, author, writer, photographer, actress, recording artist, content creator) how to promote yourself, how to showcase what makes you and your work stand out from the rest, how to find your niche, and how to attract clients online.” – Comic-Con International Presents: Special Edition Itinerary

This presenter was very sweet, and gave me vibes of a loving and caring mother who wants to share her advice with as much people as possible. Ms. Vasquez has been in the industry well over ten years, and has dipped her toes into dozens of different artistry and content creating. She had lots of wisdom to divulge concerning advertising on Social Media, and building a profile for yourself as an artist. It gave me lots to think about.

How to Get into Character

Liezl Fernado (costume designer, Everwing, Miss Global Pageants) Gina Su, (actor, The Bold and the Beautiful), and Harry Mok (producer, writer, Animal Crackers, Rambo: First Blood Part II) share their wisdom and experiences to bring your film projects, cosplays, and productions to life. Q&A session moderated by Francis Kong (curator, Imagine Talks).” -Comic-Con International Presents: Special Edition Itinerary

Admittedly, for various reasons, I only caught half of this panel. However, what I caught was really good! Harry Mok shared some personal stories from his directing career, and Gina Su excitedly advertised an upcoming short film she is acting in, whose cast is completely Asian and tells a futuristic Science-Fiction story based from an Asian point of view, which sounded very fascinating! At the end was an acting demonstration where Gina Su and a member from the audience shared a few kicks and punches (all pretend and in good fun), which was very cool and comedic!

I wish I could have caught some more panels while I was attending Comic-Con. However, since this was my first convention, I didn’t want to stress over running around trying to catch events, and instead take it slow. There were tons of various panels that I have no doubt was full of fascinating and intriguing content. I will definitely attend more should I find a way back.

Cosplay Masquerade Competition

The Cosplay Masquerade was essentially a costume contest for talented men and women who wanted to show off their skills and to win hefty prizes. Right off the bat, we were hit with a surprise appearance by none other than the myth, the legend, the meme, John Cena. He crashed the host’s introductory speech in a Peacemaker costume and advertised his upcoming television show of the same name, where he stars as DC Comic anti-hero Peacemaker. He was hilarious and stoked to be there.

After he finished, the hostess continued on with the show. There were twelve contestants, some had entered in years past, some were brand new. Everyone did a fantastic job and provided a wide range of unique costumes and presentations. The winners of the contest included “Sexy AF Red Trooper,” who was apparently a returning contestant popular among returning Comic-con goers, “Golden Eagle Wonder Woman,” who ended up walking away with three different prizes, totaling to $1k, “Arakkoa Outcast as Skeksi,” “The Incredible Hulk Cosplaying as Freddie Mercury,” a comedic highlight of the show, and “Dancing with the Celestials.”

During intermission, a dance group known as the Corps Dance Crew did a wild and enticing routine based off of the hit Korean Drama “Squid Game,” as well as a lightsaber battle performance between the Jedi and the evil Sith lords by the Saber Guild.

Conclusion

My first convention experience was fantastic! I enjoyed cosplaying, I was thrilled to take pictures with talented costume designers! Everyone was so friendly and welcoming; not one person was ugly or passive aggressive towards me! It was completely unexpected! I experience anxiety often, especially in a social setting. I’m almost never comfortable alone, let alone with strangers. But that wasn’t the case at Comic-Con. I wish I could personally thank everyone I interacted with for gifting me such an experience. If I lived more locally, I would definitely Comic-Con more often! It was like I had found my place, my community, and I long for that connection again. Thank you everyone who attended San Diego Comic-Con. I wish you all the success with your careers. You are so talented, and so caring, and you helped this anxious ball of nerves have a great time at San Diego Comic-Con.

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