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Comic-Con 2023 begins without big studio representation

LEGO Group San Diego Comic Con Booth
Posted at 9:01 AM, Jul 20, 2023

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - One of the region's largest events returns Thursday, but San Diego Comic-Con will focus less on Hollywood, more on comics, owing to an ongoing strike between studios and screenwriters and actors.

SAG-AFTRA, which represents 160,000 actors, went on strike on Friday, joining striking Writers Guild of America members who have been on the picket lines since May 2. The double-barreled strike is the first time in 63 years both unions have walked off the job simultaneously.

The SAG-AFTRA list included the core demands of general wage increases, protections against the use of actor images through artificial intelligence, boosts in compensation for successful streaming programs and improvements in health and retirement benefits.

As a result, the multiple-day Comic-Con will have no HBO, Netflix, Marvel, DC, Sony and other big studio representation, and few large-enough draws to fill the San Diego Convention Center's largest stages.

However, hearkening back to the 54-year-old convention's earliest days, comics will take the forefront. The convention is still sold out and planning to draw upwards of 200,000 people to the region.

Comic-Con spokesman David Glanzer told the San Diego Union-Tribune on Tuesday he believed the strike was the cause of the studios skipping the convention and that similar outside forces had impacted Comic-Con before.

"It's not uncommon for Marvel, and other studios, to miss Comic-Con from time to time," he said. "But we always look forward to their future return."

The convention shuttered for two years during COVID and Comic-Con International received more than $2.5 million in Payment Protection Plan loans during the pandemic, all of which have been forgiven.

Some of the presentations and panels which have been chopped off the schedule include Disney's The Marvels and "Ahsoka," HBO's "House of the Dragon" season two, Sony's "Kraven the Hunter" and Universal's "Last Voyage of the Demeter."

But what can comic fans still expect?

First off, the exhibition hall and Artist's Alley will return, allowing merchandise purchases from nearly every strain of superhero, science- fiction, fantasy and pop culture.

On Thursday, Paramount Pictures still plans to bring a panel presentation at 11:30 a.m. for its new film "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem" with footage. At 2:30 p.m., the creators behind Insomniac Games' Spider-Man 2 will join voice actors to discuss the upcoming PlayStation 5 game.

San Diegans aren't left out, with locals leading panels such as "From San Diego Kids to Hollywood Animators" Thursday at 3:30 p.m., a panel of native San Diegans who made it big in Hollywood animation and will talk about the paths they took, the skills they learned on the way, and the major films, TV shows, and games they've worked on.

Couldn't get a ticket? Not to worry, as just about as many things happen outside the SDCC as within.

For the second year in a row, the Consulate General of Mexico in San Diego will present Casa México "to celebrate and showcase some of the most iconic and emblematic features of Mexican pop culture through presentations, exhibitions, live music, and a taste of our world-renowned gastronomy."

Located in Seaport Village, Casa México's 2023 theme will be "Rius," named after influential cartoonist Eduardo Humberto del Río García, who died in 2017. It will feature live music performances, a fusion of circus elements with comedy and a sample tasting of various regions of the country.

"With a brand-new hospitality suite in Seaport Village, Casa México during Comic-Con represents a great opportunity to show a positive image of our country, presenting the work of "Rius" and the states of Nayarit and Baja California, with their breathtaking tourism destinations, explained Carlos González Gutiérrez, Consul General of Mexico.

The San Diego Public Library also will have Comic-Con adjacent events, such as offering a cosplay repair station for when the Sephiroths of the world arrive and costumes get a little dinged up. Cosplayers can use the lab's sewing machines and supplies, 3D printers, laser cutters and adhesives for free. It is open Thursday to Saturday between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. and July 23 between 1 and 4 p.m. No appointment is necessary, and all ages are welcome. Find that in the IDEA Lab on the 4th floor of Central Library, 330 Park Blvd.

But getting to the Convention Center can be easier said than done. Parking can be expensive and frustrating. Metropolitan Transit System will offer a special event line of the trolley between the Balboa Avenue Transit Center and 12th & Imperial Transit Center every 15 minutes, Thursday through Saturday to accommodate large crowds starting at 6:55 a.m. and ending at 10:35 p.m. at Gaslamp Quarter Station.

"Comic-Con is a great opportunity for San Diego to showcase why it is America's finest city and a big part of that showcase is our public transportation system," said Stephen Whitburn, Chair of MTS and City Councilman. "MTS is proud to be an important transit resource for thousands of attendees so they may enjoy themselves without having to worry about traffic or parking."

Trolley lines will run increased service throughout the convention. One caveat to cosplayers, no weapons -- real or simulated -- are allowed on MTS transportation.

All events are subject to change with the ongoing strike.

Copyright 2023, City News Service, Inc.