Growing up, I attended tons of comic conventions but never imagined I would attend California’s biggest and most popular convention of all time! When Kat and I were assigned San Diego Comic-Con, I was thrilled and anxious to cover such a huge-scale event! It was going to be my first time attending SDCC, so I was reasonably nervous, but Kat (who has attended SDCC three times) assured me it was up my alley. With that encouragement, Kat and I planned out each day, purchased our train tickets, packed our bags, and were ready to start our SDCC adventure officially!

Thursday, we arrived early, and upon our arrival, I was not surprised to see costumes and cosplays as far as the eye could see. I saw folks cosplaying as the Owl House Hexsquad, Team Avatar, Sailor Scouts, and Straw Hats were all the costumes I recognized immediately. With so many people present, getting inside was a reasonably long line, but it was worth the wait! Upon entering, I recognized more and more costumes, including American McGee’s Mad Alice. Each variation was beautifully detailed and recognizable. I wondered if I could pull off the outfit. I was a HUGE Alice in Wonderland fan. 

Kat and I had separate schedules daily, so we split up to cover more ground and attend our pre-selected panels. For instance, I started the day with the Building the DC Universe on WEBTOON panel, where they discussed Batman: Wayne Family Adventures, Vixen: NYC, and Zatanna & the Ripper. It was wonderful learning about how WEBTOON adapted and reinvented these well-established characters, and if you would like to learn more about WEBTOON and its collaboration with DC, please tell us in the comments!

Throughout the day, I attended panels that revolved around my interest in writing and animation. I learned a lot and loved being surrounded by fellow writers and animation enthusiasts. It’s fantastic how SDCC had so many panel options designed to appeal to everyone and anyone. I even attended an Animation Brain Trust with American animation historian Jerry Beck and American film critic Leonard Maltin. I had the pleasure of meeting Beck at WonderCon, and it was fantastic to learn more about his experiences in animation and how he and Maltin put together their book, Of Mice and Magic. If you love animation and have a knack for history, I recommend this book! When I learned Beck would be SDCC, I brought my copy, and they were both kind enough to sign it! It made my day!

Between panels, I got my copy of Belladonna, signed by author Adalyn Grace, and Lore Olympus, signed by author and comic book creator Rachel Smythe. If you are still getting familiar with either of them, check out the links I provided. They are both incredibly talented writers with lots of love for their fans.

Photo of Author Adalyn Grace. Photo Source: Brandi Ortiz of TGON.

To meet Rachel, I spent an hour in line talking to the person beside me. I’m not great at conversation, but I wanted someone to talk to. We both loved Lore Olympus, so we started with that and moved on to discuss other WEBTOON series we found enjoyable. It was oddly fun talking with a stranger. Usually, I would be totally against it, but something about these conventions brings out my confidence. 

I made it to the Exhibition Hall. It was so crowded that I forgot it was technically a workday. By the end of the day, I bought a Mystery Grail box (containing one mystery Funko Pop) and a mystery bag of books from my favorite indie bookstore, Mysterious Galaxy. I typically avoided mystery boxes because you never know what you’ll get, but that’s half the thrill. I ended up with an exclusive Big Apple MHA All for Once Funko Pop and three random YA novels that look fun!

By the end of Thursday, I was happy with how I spent my first day at SDCC. I was bummed I did not have much time to explore the Exhibition Hall, but I reminded myself that Kat and I still had three more days to explore. Believe me; there was much more to explore.

By Friday, big surprise, plenty more people were waiting to get inside, and yet again, it was a hassle getting entry. Kat and I waited along with everyone else. Usually, I try to be patient, but I was incredibly anxious because I would be late to the Golden Age for Women in Comics panel, where WEBTOON creators Rachel Smythe, Instantmiso, and other creators were set to speak. As I practically paced at the entrance, I was astonished to see Rachel and her fellow panelists barred from entry despite being panelists. 

They were equally anxious to be let inside, but the employees refused to let them in before the allotted time for general entry. I understand they probably had protocols in place, but it did not make sense to bar panelists from entering the building, especially when their panel was in less than fifteen minutes. Eventually, the allotted time came, and everyone, including the panelists, was let in, and we all rushed for the escalator. 

I was oddly grateful for the delayed entry because it allowed me to ride the escalator with Rachel and the other panelists. Resisting the urge to fangirl, I thanked them for their work and said I was looking forward to their joint panel. I was thrilled to see that Rachel recognized me from the previous day. What an excellent start to my second day at SDCC!

The panel was wonderfully informative and inspiring. I loved learning about how these extraordinary women came to become creators. As a writer, I loved learning from their experiences, which made me want to go home and write! It made me feel like I could be like them one day, telling my story on a grand stage! 

Left to Right: CRC Payne, Instantmiso, CM Ramsburg, Jamila Rowser, and Rachel Smythe. Photo source: Brandi Ortiz of TGON.

Afterward, I spent three to four consecutive hours exploring the Exhibition Hall and felt like I had barely scratched the surface. I explored Artist Alley, bought a couple of Toynk mystery boxes, and ended the day with a panel depicting mental health in comics. It was not as informative as I would have liked, but I at least left with some new knowledge and a refreshed perspective. 

Then Saturday came. I only had one panel planned: How a Greek Myth Became the World’s Biggest Comic: A Fireside Chat with Rachel Smythe. Yes, more Rachel Smythe. Don’t judge; I am a big fan. During the panel, Rachel was set to talk about how Lore Olympus went from a mere idea to a best-selling comic. If you want to learn more about what went on during the panel, please tell us in the comments!

After the panel, I explored more of the Exhibition Hall and came across the Cartoon Art Museum booth, where several artists were sketching commissions requested by passersby. Seeing these different art styles come together was great, but one particular caught my eye. It was a DC and Super Mario crossover: Poison Ivy with Pirahna Plants. Comic artist Jodi Tong drew it. I saw it, loved it, and had to have it. I also ended up buying a sketch of Princess Peach from her.

By the time Sunday rolled around, I was exhausted. After four consecutive days of attendance, I was happy and sad for SDCC to end. Since it was our last day, Kat and I tried to make it count and split up again to cover more ground. 

I got copies of The Coldest Girl in Coldtown and The Darkest Part of the Forest by the American author Holly Black and my copy of Legends & Lattes signed by Travis Baldree. If it wasn’t apparent by now, I love to read, so meeting these authors was a fantastic way to enrich my experience. Reading helps me write, and it helps me relax, so it was pleasant and reassuring to meet like-minded people who appreciated a good book.

Afterward, I walked around the Exhibition Hall for the last time and saw some things for the first time. I saw different artists, authors, and game developers. I chatted with the Writers of the Future when I recognized one of their contributors as April Solomon. If you’re a writer or illustrator specializing in fantasy or science fiction, the Writers of the Future may have the perfect contest for you! Any amateur is eligible!

Again, I only had one panel planned: D&D Enters the World of WEBTOON. I’m not too familiar with the world of D&D, but I am very familiar with the enlisted writer and creator of Suitor Armor: Purpah. Some of you may recall I interviewed Purpah a couple of months back. If you’re unfamiliar with Purpah and want to learn more, click here for a link to my original interview. And if you’re interested in learning more about what was announced at the official panel, please tell us in the comments! 

Left to Right: Ryan Maniulit, Purpah, Paul Morrissey, and David Lee. Photo source: Brandi Ortiz of TGON.

Crowded floors and gatekeeping employees aside, I had a wonderful first time at SDCC and would recommend it to anyone looking for a fun time. As such a large-scale event, not everyone can attend, so I learned fast to appreciate every day. Even after four days, I barely scratched the surface of what SDCC had to offer. I attended several panels and scoured the Exhibition Hall to my heart’s content. It is genuinely something I would love to experience again someday!