March 19th to 20th was the first ever Silicon Valley Comic Convention, a very unique event that very much is in line with the tech loving crowd in San Jose, California. As it’s the first one, I’ll be giving my thoughts on the convention as a whole.
Most conventions are usually about promotion. A major franchise or company takes the time to tell you what to look forward to. Not so with this con. The first major difference can be summed up by one simple image.
That is the weekend badge on my wrist. While I did also have a press badge around my neck, the majority of people had these on. Inside is a soft chip, allowing access into the convention’s main areas with a simple scan. This is how you access the main dealer’s hall, as well as how you exit. While it takes a little getting used to (removing it voids your ability to enter), it is a great method to guarantee that only real con attendees can get inside, as well as a good way to make sure the event is secure. This simple little difference basically says how this con is more focused on both the technological and technical aspects of the film, comic, television and gaming industries.
For example, I did manage to sit in on a few panels. This included major celebrities like Michael J. Fox, Nathan Fillion and Jeremy Renner. And all these icons did was take the stage, and immediately start answering questions from the crowd. No talks about upcoming projects, no attempt to sell us on something new. Just a simple connection with the fans about all the things we love about these people. And even the smaller panels were major highlights, focusing on things like costume design, art work, fiction writing (which I can vouch given my background as an indie author as an informative panel in the current internet age) and even how to protect your creations legally. And with a massive video gaming section ready for fans to distress, fun was always available. Another unique feature is a room set up by the San Jose Public Library, filled with age-appropriate comics and books for younger fans. Overall, the main focus here was on the fans and creating a great environment for them and their families.
While exploring the dealer’s hall, I also noticed that it wasn’t just simple buying more collectibles like comics and toys. From art apps to apps that allow emojis to make sounds, there was a big display of tech as well. One of the biggest highlights was seeing how VR is going to impact multimedia in the future. Things were not perfect, but these are forgivable given that this is the first year for this con. The main complaint I could make is that a lot of the panels were set up right next to the con registration area. This meant having to force your way through an insanely crowded area in order to reach a panel. Given how large the convention area is, this could easily be rectified by next year.
Silicon Valley Comic Con is more than just another convention for fans. It’s not only a place to get autographs from Stan Lee (by the way, OMG I MET STAN LEE!) and get more comics, it’s a place where you can really connect with the major players in the industry and learn how to make your own way into it. Much like the Silicon Valley itself, it’s a place where the geeky can become icons through their own talents. I look forward to seeing how this convention develops in the coming years.
All pictures taken by Ahmed Al-Sheikh and Alison Phagan