Seattle Invades San Diego Comic-Con
While no exhibitor erected a Space Needle at San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC), Seattle’s influence on genre entertainment was quickly evident for anyone approaching the San Diego Convention Center—Seattle invaded San Diego Comic-Con. Comic-con attendees and locals wandering the outdoor venues were greeted by one of the largest marketing activations in Comic-Con history, the 60,000 square-foot Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan Experience.
Amazon expanded that foothold in a variety of ways, including a large Fire TV experience, another year of celebrity events and interviews on IMDBoat and their comiXology booth on the show floor.
Funko represented the Seattle area with its sold-out exclusives and new Conan O’Brien figures.
The Amazon Invasion
The VR-powered Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan Experience training simulation and accompanying escape room brought Con attendees into the world of Amazon’s upcoming Jack Ryan series. Activities included a physical VR experience that included jumping out of a helicopter, traversing a plank across an alley, a night-vision first-person shooter, careening off the edge of a building via a zip line and driving through the streets of Yemen. This represents one of the longest continuous VR experiences ever developed and one of the first to engage guests in VR in full daylight while conducting strenuous physical activities.
The escape room, called Dark Ops, set attendees up for a side trip through the show’s pilot episode where they navigate five rooms, solve puzzles, operate drones, evade lasers, interrogate prisoners all while actors invoked moral dilemmas and experience operators tweaked parameters to create one-of-a-kind experiences for each team.
A couple of blocks away another massive temporary structure housed the Amazon Fire TV experience where Amazon offered multiple exposures to its line of Fire TV products and their Alexa-powered voice controls, a walk-thru listening bar complete with free mocktails and headphones that synchronized to Jack Ryan, The Good Place and Game of Thrones clips. Attendees were also offered an opportunity to occupy in the Game of Thrones Iron Throne and get their picture taken with a black or white hat in a West World themed booth.
Out on the water behind the convention center sat an Amazon commandeered boat renamed IMDBoat during Comic-Con weekend. IMDBoat hosted celebrity interviews with Kevin Smith and other events, including the crowing of Olivia Munn with the 2018 IMDb “Fan Favorite” STARmeter Award.
Amazon Prime Video does not acquire floor space on the floor, but they did bring their talent to the Bayfront Hilton where they announced renewals, as well as premiere dates for Amazon video properties.
A key announcement informed fans that season three of the Emmy award-winning Man in the High Castle will premiere on October 5, 2018, to Prime Video subscribers worldwide. The studio also announced they were green-lighting the fourth season of the show.
Other Amazon shows with premiere dates announced at the Con were:
- Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, which stars John Krasinski, premiering August 31.
- The Julia Roberts-centered Sam Esmail-directed thriller, Homecoming, will premier on November 2.
- Season 2 of modern myth-exploring Lore will take place on October 19.
Amazon also featured Neil Gaiman’s Good Omens, which will include Oscar winner Frances McDormand as “the voice of God,” the newly saved The Expanse and season two of The Tick. No premiere dates were set for those shows, but The Expanse was promised in 2019.
The final prong of the Amazon attack came from comiXology, Amazon’s digital comics service, which announced their first original books. Titles include: Goliath Girls by writer Sam Humphries and artist Alti Firmansyah, Grave Danger by writer Tim Seeley and Mike Norton, Hit Reblog: Comics That Caught Fire by writer and artist Megan Kearney, along with over a dozen webcomics superstars and editor, Hope Nicholson, and Teenage Wasteland by writer Magdalene Visaggio and artist Jen Vaughn. Amazon Prime, Kindle Unlimited, and comiXology Unlimited members receive immediate access to the titles. Those not members of Amazon’s subscriber services can buy the titles at theKindle Store or on comiXology.
Funko Pops The Con
Funko represented the Northwest on the floor with their expansive booth where a giant Thor: Ragnarokinspired Funko Pop Hulk stood guard over their horde of exclusive figures. The company joined the new exclusives e-schedule system put up by SDCC organizers in an attempt to minimize lines and eliminate the need for people to wait overnight for access to exclusive. Funko Director of Marketing Mark Robben said “this made for a safer Con. It allowed people to get into an electronic queue rather than waiting in line outside overnight. Fans were still able to get the collectibles they wanted.” Robben reported from the San Diego airport after the show closed that all the inventory was exhausted, “we aren’t shipping anything back.”
The Conan O’Brien Show also featuredFunko prominently with their exclusive Conan 2018 SDCC Pop figures. In the past, these figures were only available for those lucky enough to attend a taping of the show during SDCC. For the first time, a limited number of the Conan Pops were also available for sale and as giveaways during the Con. Retailer ThinkGeek sold other versions of Conan Pops! at their booth.
The TBS presence at San Diego International Airport placed Pop! Vinyl figures amid other Conan inspired artwork throughout the transportation hub, including baggage claims, pedestrian sky bridges and escalators.
Funko was the most ubiquitous collectible on the SDCC floor, with several retailers offering racks that reached above the heads of many attendees, each one packed full of the nearly 4-inch Pop! Vinyl figures, minis, Dorbz, and dangling with keychains, and packed out with T-shirts and items from Funko’s lines.
Beyond Amazon and Funko
Beyond Amazon and Funko, Seattle’s influence also exerts itself in panels for shows purportedly set in Seattle like SyFy’s Van Helsing (shot in Vancouver, BC with establishing shots of Seattle) and Twin Peaks.
Game maker Jam City, a FoxNext partner with offices in Seattle, brought their puzzle-based game, Family Guy: Another Freakin’ Mobile Game to SDCC in the FoxNet booth.
Oni press showed off their Young Adult book, Junior Braves of the Apocalypse Vol 2: Out of the Woods!, which chronicles the trek of Troop 65 searching for their families, they hope evacuated to Seattle during a zombie apocalypse.
While the Hollywood takeover of San Diego Comic-Con shows no signs of abating, the Seattle invasion is clearly underway. Between Amazon and Funko, many of the icons of SDCC now claim Seattle and its environs as home. As the city continues its growth into a popular culture powerhouse perhaps fans may one day see a Funko built Space Needle or Amazon dome make its Comic-con debut among a forest of fans donning silhouettes of evergreens on their Twin Peaks T-shirts.
As I entered the Uber for my trip to the airport and return to Seattle, the radio was playing an Amazon Audible commercial. Because, of course it was. Seattle’s invasion of Comic-con was complete.