The first in-person Comic-Con since the COVID-19 pandemic began wrapped up in downtown San Diego on Sunday.
Here’s a look at the sights and sounds of the pop culture convergence and a few observations after its two-year absence.
A COVID-Safe Crowd
Some returning fans found this year’s Comic-Con to be slightly less crowded, even though the convention was back to its full size of more than 130,000 people over the four-day event. While still crowded on the exhibit floor, there was room to move and some of the lines for panels and events didn’t seem as long.
The COVID-19 pandemic remained a concern as all attendees had to wear face coverings and provide proof of vaccination or negative tests. To the credit of attendees, an overwhelming majority of people followed the rules and kept their masks on inside the San Diego Convention Center and other facilities that hosted panels and events.
Oh sure, there were a few people whose masks didn’t snugly cover their noses, and some people could be seen not wearing their masks temporarily. But it appeared that most people behaved and followed the rules.
The ‘Activations’ Were Impressive
Movie and TV studios go all out to design elaborate “activations” to promote their upcoming productions. This year’s most impressive activation may have been the Netflix site for their new action movie, “The Gray Man.”
Located in a parking lot near the New Children’s Museum, the activation featured a life-size tram crashed into a building. Fans had to enter the back of the tram and complete three challenges designed to test their thinking skills, strength and speed.
The last challenge involved running on top of the tram as smoke and sparklers went off behind them. This was filmed so that fans could later receive a video of their exploits to post to social media.
Fans Weren’t The Only Ones Excited
Fans weren’t the only ones excited to be back in person for Comic-Con. Several actors, creators and celebrities commented on the return of Comic-Con.
“I have not literally been in front of people in two years. This is great,” said Chris Hardwick, host of the “Talking Dead” television show talking to a large crowd in Hall H as he moderated a panel with the cast and crew of “The Walking Dead.”
A New Group of Cosplayers
As usual, a lot of fans attended Comic-Con in costumer. Cosplayers, as they’re called, included several of the usual, including “Spider-Man” and “Batman.” But there were a few new players, including “Starlight” from Amazon Prime Video’s over-the-top superhero satire, “The Boys.”
“This is really a safe place to be a super nerd and dress up,” joked Mike Judge, creator of “Beavis and Butt-Head.”
The Valet ‘Minions’ Help Out
Don’t know if this was a labor action or self-deprecating humor but valets at the Courtyard by Marriot Hotel wore bright yellow “Minion” t-shirts.
Comic-Con Is Still Expensive
Yes, Comic-Con can be expensive, even if you live here and don’t have to pay for hotels. Signs advertised parking at one hotel of $80. Another location was advertising $50 parking.
See you in 2023
Finally, for those keeping track, Comic-Con is set for July 20-23 next year, with preview night on July 19.
Luis Monteagudo Jr. is a freelance writer and pop culture enthusiast. He has written for The San Diego Union-Tribune, USA Today and numerous other publications.