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Comic-Con 2017: Everybody Wants In

As with past years, the 2017 edition of Comic-Con International kicked off July 20 with the most common sight seen in and near the San Diego Convention Center: people waiting in lines.

Morning lines to get into the venue snaked along the entire front of the convention facility. They also stretched along the back of the venue, and up and down the stairways linking the front to the waterfront promenade at the rear. Across the street, there were more lines in the Gaslamp Quarter, and next door at East Village’s Tailgate Park.

At least those anxious waiters had plenty to look at, on top of the steady parade of costumed storm troopers, aliens and superheroes. Some of the big nearby hotels were double-dipping on Comic-Con benefits, filling their guest rooms with conventioneers and their ballrooms with related events, while renting out their exteriors as mega-billboards for upcoming movies and TV shows.

One tower at San Diego Marriott Marquis & Marina housed a towering ad for the TBS comedy show “People of Earth,” while waterfront revelers could not ignore the huge poster that filled much of the north side of Hilton San Diego Bayfront, touting the FX TV series “Legion.”

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The exterior of Petco Park, always a favorite of Hollywood studios and production companies during Comic-Con, this year shilled for TV shows from Disney’s ABC and Marvel, including the upcoming “The Inhumans.” Yachts anchored along the waterfront were commandeered to promote Conan O’Brien’s talk show (being taped during Comic-Con at downtown’s Spreckles Theatre) and the IMDb celebrity info website, among other media entities.

Various Gaslamp properties were converted into a makeshift castle with an army of knights (promoting History Channel’s TV drama “Knightfall”), an eerie sci-fi-style Western town (NBC’s upcoming “Midnight Texas”) and an abandoned lot where visitors could be slow-chased by zombies (AMC’s “The Walking Dead”).

Many other non-entertainment companies and organizations were looking to become action figures during Comic-Con, at least in terms of PR if not financial action.

For instance, the University of California, San Diego used the start of Comic-Con to celebrate what it calls “Science Nonfiction.” The university posted signs on MTS trolleys, outdoor signs – and sandwich-board ads carried by street teams wearing tin-foil hats – to tout what it called “stories of real breakthroughs” born at UCSD.

Graphics, posters and T-shirts being handed out at Comic-Con carried messages such as “Firefighters Come from Space,” “Religion Solves Global Warming” and “Tattoos Can Read Minds.” UCSD officials said the non-traditional campaign was developed by San Diego-based ad agency Vitro, and the university set up a website to explain all of this further, at ucsd.edu/believe.

Also, visitors probably had to keep quiet about it, but the San Diego Public Library on July 20 began offering three new cyborg-themed library cards, billed by library officials as “the only library cards officially licensed by Comic-Con International” and available at all 36 city library locations. The library itself even had an official booth at Comic-Con, showing off the cards’ designs by noted pop-culture artist-illustrators Vince Alvendia, Bob McKeone and Attiba Royster.

And Stone Brewing Co. was very likely not the only brewer cashing in on the festive atmosphere, but the Escondido-based brewer did bring beer and sci-fi geeks together with what it called its “nerdiest collaboration beer,” a brew called Wootstout, unveiled at Stone’s Liberty Station venue on July 19. The limited-release beer, with 13 percent alcohol by volume, has a recipe crafted by Stone Executive Chairman Greg Koch, Fark.com creator Drew Curtis, and former “Star Trek: The Next Generation” actor Wil Wheaton.

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