Culture PickSan Diego Comic Con has reigned and raged for decades now, building in popularity to become as influential to entertainment promotion as traditional advertising and media. But in the last few years, it can’t catch a break. After COVID forced its cancellation in 2020, an at-home event in 2021, and a smaller event in 2022, the 2023 convention has suffered a major blow too, thanks to the Screen Actors Guild and Writers Guild of America strikes. What was hoped to be the full-fledged return for the convention in terms of scope and participants, is once again getting downsized.

Guidelines for the strike make clear that members must not participate in publicity events including conventions like this one. At press time, several events have been canceled, including highly anticipated panels from ABC’s Abbott Elementary, Amazon Freevee’s Jury Duty, Amazon Prime Video’s The Wheel of Time and Gen V, AMC’s Season 2 of Interview With the Vampire, That ’70s Show and Dune-Part 2. 

Marvel announced they’d be mostly absent from Comic Con this year even before the strikes, but the convention still sold out months ago, and Hall H (where the biggest happenings take place) will have some hot ticket stuff from DC Comics despite the strike. DC is in fact, taking the opportunity to make a bigger splash in Marvel’s absence, promising a huge new convention floor booth according to PR materials sent to LA Weekly. A DC Shop with McFarlane Toys and Cartamundi collectables will offer limited edition merchandise, and they tout a Warner Bros. Television advance screening of episode one of the Max Original Documentary Series of Superpowered: The DC Story (pictured) before it debuts on MAX this week, plus the world premiere screening of Justice League: Warworld.

Comic Con

Red Sonja (Courtesy Dynamite Entertainment)

Another H hall hot ticket should be the Collider panel, which puts the spotlight on directors, with big names scheduled to participate including David Leitch (Deadpool 2, Bullet Train and The Fall Guy), Gareth Edwards (director The Creator, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, and Godzilla), and Justin Simien (director of Dear White People, Bad Hair  and Haunted Mansion). An appearance by Todd McFarlane is also planned.

Animated shows continue to have a big presence at Comic Con too. Paramount Animation’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem is a big one, and others include Max’s Harley Quinn, Netflix’s Masters of the Universe: Revolution, Apple TV +’s Snoopy, and classics such as Rick and Morty, Bob’s Burgers, Futurama, American Dad and Family Guy will be there.

Other properties also represented at SDCC as of now, include Jurassic Park, Ghosts, Good Burger 2, PlayStation 5’s Spider-Man 2 game, A24’s Talk to Me, FX’s Archer and What We Do in the Shadows (screenings), Chasing Chasing Amy (which just debuted at Outfest), Tiny Toons “Looniversity”, Good Omens, Walking Dead, Red Sonja- celebrating its 50th anniversary (pictured), and Transformers (Robosen is unveiling a new robot and Hasbro will preview its new video game).

Comic Con

Funko/Blockbuster REWIND booth rendering (Courtesy Funko)

Beyond show-specific panels, big SDCC draws are, as always, the vending booths where new pop culture collectables are “dropped” daily, attracting long lines to buy; and activations with giveaways promoting various entertainment companies and products, both inside the con and at outside parties and surrounding places. Mattel, which is everywhere right now thanks to The Barbie Movie, is putting the spotlight on other faves such as Hot Wheels, WWE, Minecraft, and Monster High, with signings and special releases under the banner “12 Days of Fandom.”

Funko’s “Funkoville” environment marks the company’s 25th anniversary and a new partnership with Blockbuster via a “Rewind” video store set-up and product line featuring nostalgic figures based on iconic retro VHS titles. (See what’s new in video below).

There’s also an art show featuring drawings, paintings, sculptures, jewelry, and more created by professional and amateur artists, all available via Silent Auction or Quick-Sale.

And let’s not forget the cosplay! Dressing up as your favorite superhero, cartoon, monster and comic character (or simply admiring and taking pics with people who do) is what made Comic Con capture attention –particularly online– beyond comics “nerds”  in the first place.

Comic Con at the San Diego Convention Center, 111 Harbor Dr, San Diego; runs Thursday, July 20-Sunday, July 23. Info at














































































































































































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