Comic-Con 2023 has been rocking San Diego’s downtown Gaslamp District with large crowds that make the event look like it is bursting at the seams. With a huge exhibit hall, a long list of panels, and buildings throughout the area dressed up to represent various TV shows and movies, you would think it was like any other year.
However, when you dig deeper to discover which panels are there, you immediately discover that over two dozen of them were canceled. Something that happens from time to time, but this time it just so happens to be all of the major ones that bring in a lot of attendance. Most of which were to take place in the legendary “Hall H”.
This includes names like Marvel, DC, Sony, and other big names that fill the hall with thousands of audience members. Many of these attendees are willing to camp out overnight or all day in line just to gain access to these panels.
This is all due to the ongoing strikes by the Writers Guild, SAG-AFTRA, and other supporting unions (ie, IATSE). These strikes involve proud union members who have stepped out of their jobs to walk the line in an attempt to encourage Hollywood and related companies to take them seriously, pay them fairly, and not replace some of their jobs with coming technologies like ChatGPT.
Hollywood wasn’t willing to play fairly, thus strikes took to the streets bringing the industry to a screeching halt in many ways. Comic-Con is just a small example of this. TV series, movies, and more are all facing setbacks in filming and delays in release times.
Since no actors or writers could make it to the convention this year, the companies behind these TV series and movies were mostly forced to pull out completely as they had nothing (or more like no one) to show off. That or they have to reduce their panels to a few production names, corporate figures, or unrelated guests to talk about what’s to come.
In fact, if any actors or writers broke the rules by showing, we wouldn’t have been able to cover those panels ourselves since we proudly support the unions and their efforts. Some of us are union as well outside of this publication (union strong!).
Meanwhile, it has converted the convention to what has felt more like an old-fashioned Comic-Con experience. Smaller panels and more intimate discussions with comic book artists and publishers, fascinating employees from NASA/JPL, and more. That, and a much larger attendee presence within the exhibit and downtown areas.
Although most of the TV and movie industry was brought to a halt this year, it hasn’t stopped fans from showing up to support the comic book industry and the other related industries commonly found at the show.
You can say it was almost peaceful without these major Hollywood companies taking so much of the attention away from what the convention was originally intended for. However, it has become somewhat of an expectation for many despite this. So, hopefully, Hollywood will come to its senses and treat its workers with the respect they deserve. If they do, we might just see these massive panels come back next year.