Ahead of time, many viewed this year’s San Diego Comic-Con with something close to suspicion, convinced that there was no way that the lack of movie and TV panels could be overcome when it came to giving fans what they came to the show for. As the Sunday afternoon Talkback panel revealed, however, nothing could have been further from the truth.
It’s not just that the San Diego Comic-Con 2023 Talkback was better than the 2022 Talkback, although that would have been notable in itself; it’s that, at the packed panel in Room 23ABC at the San Diego Convention Center on Sunday afternoon — so packed, in fact, that it was standing room only — there were almost no complaints about the show whatsoever, with multiple attendees thanking the panelists for making the show the best one yet.
That isn’t exaggeration; the four representatives from Comic-Con International who hosted the panel — Robin Donlan, president of CCI; Eddie Ibrahim, director of programming; David Glanzer, VP of marketing and PR; and Craig Fellows, VP of operations — were greeted with multiple variations on comments like, 'This year, I just wanted to say, amazing job… everything went as well as it could have,' 'Everything went great, so good job,' 'You guys really knocked it out this year,' and the like for the full hour of the panel, with the overall feeling from those attending that this was the year that San Diego Comic-Con had finally solved all of its problems.
Well… almost all. (Perfection would be boring, if we’re being honest.)
What was particularly interesting about the few complaints raised in this year’s Talkback, however, were how many of them weren’t actually about what had been done by Comic-Con International itself, but by partners and exhibitors at the show this year. There were, of course, requests for the return of carpeting on the show floor, which were met by reminders of the cost (both financial and ecological, in that carpeting has to be destroyed after each event), as well as questions about better ADA access — something that could, and should, always be worked upon and improved from show to show — but other than that, the finger was being pointed elsewhere when it was being pointed as all.
Specifically, there were complaints about the film studio A24 bussing in non-Comic-Con attendees to a screening of Talk To Me that was advertised as being for SDCC attendees who’d won wristbands… only for literally zero wristband winners to make it inside because attendance was capped upon outsiders filling the theater. “We’re not very happy about that,” Glazer says, implying that further conversations would be had with the studio. Amazon similarly came under fire for reportedly not considering ADA needs or involving ADA attendees in planning for its Good Omens off-site afterparty during the show; again, it was suggested that further conversations would be had.
Curiously enough, one matter that this writer has expected to be raised as a problem was, instead, treated as a positive: the unusually long lines for panels, and the fact that — without Hall H and Ballroom 20 being as busy as usual, due to strike-related cancelations — many more panels in smaller rooms were full than was traditional were seen as a sign that Comic-Con was healthy by both panelists and panel attendees alike.
“One of the things that was frustrating for us when the strike was announced was that people asked, how are you going to move forward without this element of the show. Hall H is fantastic, and we hope they come back because they’re an integral part of the show, but so is the independent film festival. So is anime. So is gaming,” Glanzer said. “We were never worried about the strike.”
Popverse saw it and did most of it, and you can find all about our guide to All the big news, magic, and moments from San Diego Comic-Con. And if you want to go to SDCC next year, we have the San Diego Comic-Con 2024 dates as well.