San Diego Comic-Con’s Preview Night Felt Empty Without The Hollywood Hype

Gundam Aerial on display at San Diego Comic-Con via CBS 8 San Diego YouTube

San Diego Comic-Con’s annual preview night seemed lackluster compared to prior years at the convention.

SDCC Dealer’s Hall, Preview Night 2023. Photo: Jon Del Arroz

While many of the vendors had their exclusives, such as a special edition Star Wars Inquisitor: Rise Of The Red Blade novel with an exclusive Variant cover and pin from Penguin Random House, and a beautiful Batman figurine from Macfarlane Toys, the lines were shorter than usual all around the convention floor.

McFarlane Toys Twitter

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Many of the more lucrative exclusive toys sold out for Preview Night within the first hour, but the books were readily available at comic tables.

Image Comics offered an exclusive dust jacket for Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips’ new Night Fever graphic novel and a special holofoil version of Charles Soule’s Eight Billion Genies. Both books were readily available even by the end of the night.

Night Fever Dust Jacket SDCC Variant from Image Comics. Art: Sean Phillips

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Comic artists and publishers were tentative but optimistic about the show because of the Hollywood writers and actors strike, which canceled many of the more popular panels at the last minute. The studios are still running trailers and screenings of their shows, such as a Warner Brothers’ Babylon 5: The Road Home animated film, but none of the talent is there to promote the programs.

“We’re all sort of anxiously waiting to find out how that [the writers strike] affects those of us on the floor,” Wraith of God creator Aaron Lopresti told Bounding Into Comics.


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“I would like to see Comic-Con go back to its roots,” said Benn Dun, Antarctic Press’s publisher and Ninja High School’s creator. “But it is a testament to comic con that it can attract a huge crowd.”

Studios seemed to have been dialing back their experience booths as well, with very few options for fans to take photos or get some involvement with their favorite movies and shows. One of the highlights was Paramount+’s Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, which allowed fans to film their own trailers in a captain’s chair setting and with a backdrop for an alien planet.

Paramount+ Strange New Worlds SDCC Booth Costume Prop, Photo: Jon Del Arroz

Despite the positivity from the artists, attendance looked sparse for preview night compared to years past. The aisleways were far less jammed than usual, and people could walk through with ease, which is good for attendees, but at the same time, Comic-Con is infamous for having pedestrian traffic jams be nearly inescapable.

On the alternative media front, YouTubers Nerdrotic and Eric July are attending the convention along with comic artists Sergio Cariello (The Action Bible) and Mike S. Miller (Lonestar, Shadow Of The Conqueror). With Hollywood out of the picture, conventions will need to start appealing to new media alternatives to not be so reliant on the corporate publishers of the past.

Nerdrotic and Jon Del Arroz. Photo: Lupita Tovar

What do you think of San Diego Comic-Con’s 2023 schedule? Leave a comment below and let us know.

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