After a twenty year absence, I attended San Diego Comic Con this year. I went on a professional badge, though not in a professional capacity - no author or editor related events - and I had a fantastic time. In the weeks leading up to the con, I kept hearing about the crowds and the traffic, but neither overwhelmed me. I mostly navigated by foot or taxi, catching cabs well outside the pedestrian traffic in downtown. The biggest change from my last time here was the amount of Comic Con related activity that spilled outside the convention center. The surrounding 5-10 blocks of downtown had related content, special menus, and foot traffic - including plenty of cosplayers.
I arrived Thursday morning for the Tor panel, mostly so I could say hello to the authors afterward, including Escape Pod alum, Sarah Gailey. Serendipitously, I ran into Ann Leckie, a PodCastle alum, while there and we had a quiet lunch together afterwards. Next up was a book signing by Tui T. Sutherland, a middle grade/teen fiction author whose books are beloved by my child and, as it turns out, hundreds of others. I’ve listened to many of her books on audio now, and I count myself as a fan, too. I spent the rest of Thursday afternoon wandering the exhibit hall and taking in the sights before the weekend crowds arrived. The highlight for me was the Star Wars display of the various stormtrooper armor.
Thursday night, I attended the IGN Expanse party where I hung out with friends and briefly met a few of the cast, including Dominique Tipper, who was a joy. The party took place inside Amazon’s “activation” area, which included themed props for The Expanse and their new shows, Carnival Row and The Boys. It was a great space for a party, with plenty of seating and mingling room, as well as an excellent DJ spinning electronica from a massive, shiny, futuristic tower in the middle of it all.
Friday morning, I spent a couple hours in a salon near my hotel to get my hair as close to “Naomi Nagata” as possible. I cosplayed her character from the Expanse in part because I figured I could pull off the look but also because in my other life I would totally be a ship’s engineer. Before donning my actual costume, I attended the Scribe Awards for media tie-in fiction, where Mur Lafferty was a finalist for Solo: A Star Wars Story, and Alethea Kontis (one of our regular narrators at Escape Pod) won for her YA/Middle Grade book, Besphinxed.
Friday evening, I had dinner with a small group of authors - Charlie Jane Anders, Annalee Newitz, Rebecca Roanhorse, and Ann Leckie - where we covered a variety of subjects, mostly related to writing and the publishing world. After dinner, I wandered around downtown having drinks with Sally Jupiter (AKA the Silk Spectre AKA eatdrinkcat on Instagram) and friends.
Saturday was cosplay day #2, this time with my buddy Amos (my husband, a reluctant cosplayer, but willing to put on some coveralls for the cause). We got in line for the Indigo Ballroom early and stayed in there for most of the day. The panel for Infinity Train intrigued me enough to want to watch it. The panel for The Expanse was lots of fun, and the previews for the new season looks great. I ran into plenty of other “beltalowda” cosplayers during that one, including one person who 3D printed a custom helmet! I enjoyed seeing Daveed Diggs and Jennifer Connolly on the Snowpiercer panel, another show that looks like it has lots of potential.
But the winner of the day, by far, was the panel for The Good Place. Nearly every major cast member attended, and everyone got weepy-eyed at some point. The chemistry in that group blew me away. They’re all as funny and charming and heartfelt in real life as they are on the show. Plus, William Jackson Harper sang his made-up ode to his dog, Chico, which might be my favorite thing forever.
I rounded off my con with a party thrown by Skybound Entertainment and Saga Press. I’d been trying to catch up with author SL Huang, and she brought me as her plus-one so we could hang out. I admit I felt a little awkward showing up as a professional while still in my cosplay outfit, but I had a lovely time, and it was a great way to round out my SDCC experience.
I’ve already received an email that my badge is good for next year. After the fantastic time I had this year, I will definitely considering going back!