Ah yes, San Diego Comic Con, aka SDCC, aka the big one that I've never attended but not for a lack of trying.
I've attended many a fan convention but when it comes to SDCC, I have been trying in earnest to attend for over 10 years (before that I just didn't have the funds or time to go). Every year, I've jumped through all the hoops and prepared my internet connection to get my ticket (just one ticket). Apparently I need a Big Bang Theory level squad to roll with, one that will work just as hard as I do to be on time and in line for the virtual queue when the open registration day rolls around. When the pandemic hit, I thought that the paradigm shift that we've all lived through was going to change my ticket acquisition fate. I mean, I was able to be a SDCC panelist for the 2020 virtual event (Comics on Campus: Fandom At Academia) and again in 2021 for the Educational Series (The Complexities of Teaching Graphic Novels on College Campuses). However, the odds were not in my favor.
For 2022, I fell again into the category of "Always a virtual bystander, never a Hall H insider" and this time around I'm okay with it, really I am. Why? Because I have been able to live vicariously through all the TikTok influencers and attendees. We all know that nothing beats being there in person to experience the activations, cosplay, panels and just plain being with people who really get you even though they've never met you. But there is also so much that happens at SDCC that it is impossible to do it all. So it was great to hear about things through social media from those who were experiencing them in real time. Personal favorites: the Marvel Phase 5 and 6 announcements, Black Panther Trailer, Shazam Trailer, Star Trek updates, new Loungefly items and of course amazing cosplay. While I'm happy to dive down any of these rabbit holes, I'm not going to for this post. I feel like my thoughts would just be a drop in the ocean of fan culture feelings and theories.
Instead, I want to do as I always do when I attend a comics culture convention in person - seek out the strange and unusual moments, because I myself am strange and unusual. At first I thought that it couldn't be done without being onsite at the event but once again I underestimated the power of social media. While scrolling uncontrollably on TikTok, I came across @alex.aster who was celebrating at her panel at SDCC 2022.
The screen shot says it all...
"After 10 years of rejections, 6 books that will never be published, here I am announcing my major movie deal at Comic-Con"
"With Universal, and the producers of all the Twilight movies, Maze Runner, all the John Green movies, The Hate U Give, & Love, Simon"
(Final Cut to)
"And I'm an Executive Producer"
I have so many unanswered questions! Down the rabbit hole we go. Bustle does a great summary of the origins of Alex Aster's #BookTok success. Here's where things get strange and unusual though, Lightlark HASN'T EVEN RELEASED YET. This bears repeating, Aster has a film deal on a book that hasn't even released yet. That has got to be some sort of Guinness World Record. Then again, this is a young adult fantasy novel and we all know that genre has churned out some amazing franchises in the last decade or so. As always, I encourage people to judge for themselves and luckily you don't have to wait until Lightlark is released on August 23, 2022 to get a sample of what lies ahead. New subscribers to Aster's newsletter can read the first chapter of the book.
At this point though, you're probably wondering, what does this young adult fantasy novel have to do with comics culture. Well, the fact that it was included in the SDCC panel line up speaks volumes to how industries and fandoms intersect. Can you imagine this happening with a new comic book? Has it happened with a new comic book? (If so, let me know) Aster's story is also an indicator of how things have changed for creators, their ability to advocate/promote themselves via social media and how new talent is found. Is it better or worse than it was before? Only time and research will tell. What's more fascinating is that even if Lightlark does not do well commercially, that doesn't mean that it won't necessarily do well among fandom or vice versa. No matter how the book or film 'perform', I'm excited for Alex Aster and I look forward to watching this story unfold (and of course read the book) and I hope you will too.
Were you able to attend SDCC 2022 - in person or vicariously? What were you personal highlights? Any strange and unusual moments?