Comic-Con from Home: A tech perspective

Comic-Con at Home 2020: I was typing this up as a Twitter thread and decided to just put it here instead. It was supposed to be 10 tweets now its an 11-minute read.

For context, I just co-hosted the biggest online tech conference in June — read about that here — and I’ve been to Comic-Con International in San Diego many times over the past 30 years!

The last time I was there was in 2016 and was planning to be there this year. They, like everyone else, cancelled the event and went online and this week launched their first virtual event. 2020 was to be their 50th Anniversary too!

DAY 1 + Preview Night

I sat through Day 1 of #ComicConAtHome and here are my knee jerk thoughts:

  • All panels were pre-recorded which is fine, but they just uploaded to YouTube, with no commenting, no live chat, no engagement. Although great panels they purposely took away the “live” feel. I can understand why but still... Engagement: C

I loved most of the panels — you can’t be disappointed when they are still able to arrange all the casts of Star Trek, New Mutants, Brave New World, Nathan Fillion and Friends and more to Zoom in for a panel — I just thought there was so much tech that could have made it better.

They had time.

The partners had time.

I hope the next big pop culture show takes advantage of what they learned from this because I think it can still work.

Let’s see what happens tomorrow.

DAY 2–3

I just hit the end of Day 3, Saturday.

Exhausted from being in Zoom calls during the week and now watching them for leisure. Lols.

More commentary notes:

  • SDCC used Sched to allow you to create a schedule because there was a ton of panels going on concurrently.

This is super interesting — the same SyFy panel on Todd McFarlane (which was great if you are a fan and is embedded above) has 390,000 views on the SyFy YouTube channel and 10,000 on the official SDCC YouTube channel (where I watched it via the Sched link) that means that SyFy doesn’t even need to be part of SDCC to get views and probably did this as a favor and to get into the spirit of the “@ Home” event. Remember SDCC has a max capacity of 130,000 people! That means SyFy got 4X the exposure for $0. I think a lot of people are going to re-think SDCC 2021 in terms of attendance and activation spend.

Below is my personal experience — you can look at any hotel site and pick these SDCC dates to see how much I paid for this comic book — ok maybe not right now but take a look again later when they open for 2021:

I just got this X-Men comic book in the mail today — so cool to receive it this Comic-Con weekend.

My primary observation of doing “Comic-Con at Home” is that this 9.8 CGC copy of X-Men #141 from 1981 (Part 1 of the original Days of Future Past story that was the basis for the movie) is the same price as 1-night in a 3-star hotel room in San Diego this specific weekend.

I’m not done yet — I will watch a few more panels tomorrow and link up more screenshots of stuff I saw so you can see more of the event from one place — hopefully this is helpful to someone looking at producing an online conference in the next 12 months. Remember, Web Summit from Home is on in December so a way to see how we do it again if you missed Collision from Home.

DAY 4 (finale)

Ok last comments — its been gruelling.

I’ve basically given up on watching the panels.

Sunday at the live event I have also already left to be the traffic and usually checked out of the hotel in the morning.

Yes, for the super nerd you can stay there for 4 days and the Preview Night easily there is so much to do and see and as it extends out into the streets of San Diego and things are always changing and promotions come and go even if you are there in real life you are missing 60–70% of everything too.

I guess that's why I am so happy to work with Web Summit. They are often referred to as the Olympics of Tech which is 100% true but to me they are the Comic-Con of Tech. 😂

This Boom Studios panel was one of the better ones done up. Easy to see the names of the panelists, there are graphics of the comics they are talking about and the company logo is easily shown. The moderator balanced all 3 guests and the great way that they probably got you coming for one of them but learned about what all of them were doing and piqued your interest on all projects. Also editing is not a dirty word. You have the ability to cut dead air because there is no audience reaction so take advantage of it.

In comparison this is how a Hollywood studio edits together their panel, great graphics in theme with the movie in this case Bill and Ted Face the Music, get an A-level MC in Kevin Smith who we know is so entertaining who cares if the panel is boring because we know he will keep it rolling. I learn a lot from Mr Smith — I am pretty sure he met these people 20 minutes before they started recording yet it felt like they were all his friends and we were hanging out with them. Next year just pay him to MC all of these if its online again or at least get a bunch of professional ones (wink wink).

This is the SDCC Discord server — mostly used for gaming updates which was great and I am assuming everyone who is into gaming knows how to use this. I can imagine that tabletop games lose 80% of their value in this format though.

I don’t want to get into the madness of actually trying to buy something online at this event — but I was ready to get this gorgeous Michal Cho X-Men lithograph from Mondo — it was in my shopping cart and as I pressed buy it was pulled out and marked “sold out” so in the 3 seconds it took for me to move my mouse to the “buy” button it was gone. Sure there were less than 200 copies available but there must be a better way to do this surely? Does Mondo even need SDCC? They can sell these any day any time. Very frustrating for those that got up early to get it. Meh! This video talks about some of these online ordering issues but hey grown men complaining about not getting a chance to buy toys is whatever.

Thanks to The Comics Beat and Newsarama who covered most of the panels so you don’t have to sit through them.

According to Steve Weintraub of Collider everyone who did a panel organized it themselves and recorded and submitted it. So the Constantine 15th Anniversary panel was organized by Collider themselves. Again, this panel had over 40,000 views more than Hall H could have fit (only 6000 seats and not everyone cares who is speaking as they are probably waiting for a Marvel or Star Wars panel and there just to hold their seat) and with 100% less stabbings.

Another site to hit up for more SDCC stuff. Its basically the Amazon show floor booth but more multimedia.

Ok, as you can see there are a ton of tech opportunities for something like this to make it more fun and more engaging. My DM’s are open on Twitter.

  • I feel the e-commerce options could have been done better for timed, limited edition and timezone shopping.
  • Uber for MC’s — honestly, I didn’t know what I did was actually that important until you see what happens without one.
You can look back at these photos of SDCC’s in 1982.

I think it was a good run to keep people entertained during a pandemic so THANK YOU, Comic-Con International non-profit volunteers! But it is also a huge opportunity for a startups to get into filling out one of the wide, gaping holes here as it applies to many, many of these types of events and now anyone can set up their own SDCC if they have the tech to make it good .

SDCC is a special kind of beast — half the fun of this specific event, like E3, is that it’s like walking into a live comic book. A festival celebrating what you have been reading and watching all year compressed into 4-days.

But with the proper tech in place, everyone can attend, all the artists and retailers can sell more, and all the companies can get more people to learn about their projects.

I hope to Asgard that SDCC builds on what it learned and returns with a hybrid event in 2021. I am excited about the possibilities.

thoughts on everything from startup ecosystems, conferences, anime, video games, comic books, digital entertainment to cats and ninjas.

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