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The Pros outweigh the “Con” at Silicon Valley’s first Comic Con

Josh Santiago, A&E Editor

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Silicon Valley Comic Con made its debut at the San Jose convention center on Mar. 18-20, as Bay Area fans everywhere were desperate to pack into their very own fabled “local Convention Hall.”

Silicon Valley Comic Con was founded by none other than Steve Wozniak and Stan Lee, in an attempt to bring the convention experience “closer to home,”  SVCC is the first major Comic Convention in the Bay Area since “Wonder Con” left San Francisco in 2011.

Walking in, the main floor was extremely crowded. Crammed into the San Jose Convention center were hundreds of booths and exhibitors, and an estimated 30,000 guests and ticket holders. Nearly every pathway doubled as queue lines to purchase items from various booths and displays. This made it extremely hard to maneuver, and with the ever-shifting lines, it was difficult to keep track of where everything was, though attendees never seemed bothered by the massive crowd. From intricate cosplays to obscure video games to cleverly designed hoodies, the crowd was decked out in various pop culture memorabilia, and there was always something to look at while being paralyzed by an immovable food court line.

The lines for panels were unprecedented, as fans rushed to see Stan Lee, Jeremy Renner and William Shatner in their individual panels. In a twist unique to SVCC were science and technology-driven panels in addition to the pop-culture fests that the other panels offered.

Cosplay was ever prevalent throughout the convention. In order to combat previous harassment connotations, SVCC encouraged guests to ask for permission before taking photos of cosplayers. Regardless if a person was dressed up as the popular Deadpool or the obscure Lucina from 2011’s “Fire Emblem Awakening”, photo opportunities were abundant and inclusionary for all. The cosplay community was overall accepting and extremely willing to interact with the entire scenery. A highlight of the day was witnessing a Spider-Man cosplayer chase down an identically dressed 6-year-old for a high five. There were no fewer  than five visible Kylo Rens on the show floor at any given time, with more than enough Reys to defend the convention.

Perhaps the largest presence was the “Silicon Valley Virtual Reality” pathway. Numerous tech demos and test opportunities were crowded around by attendees waiting to get their glimpse at the future. It took nearly two hours in line to try the award winning “Thunderbird” simulation. Though the simulation was impressive in sheer technological advancement, the VR experience was cut short to keep lines moving faster, only allowing the simplest puzzle to be solved before being hastily moved along. A much more extensive Virtual Reality experience table was managed by Google, who had an intricate cardboard setup combined with a Samsung Galaxy phone. Though “Google Cardboard” isn’t the newest VR on the market, the short film “On Ice” was an extremely immersive experience.

Various displays of movie props and animation frames were sprinkled throughout the main hall. The wax museum was only moderately terrifying as eerily accurate renditions of Steve Jobs and Captain America were out on display. Several replica cars, such as the DeLorean from “Back to the Future” and Ecto-1 from “Ghostbusters” were available for photo opportunities and general geeking out. A gaming lounge was also present, allowing for attendees to sit down and relax in front of a wide variety of gaming consoles separate from the chaos of the main hall.

Prints of art, as well as fan-made posters and pins were some of the more unique things to buy on the show floor.  “Artist Alley” was primed with fan art and original comics, with the majority of sellers being local artists and writers. Merchandise sold out quickly. Foam swords and virtually all men’s T-shirts were sold out three hours into the convention, with no new stock coming out until the next day. Many of the booths did not actually sell memorabilia or clothing at all; the majority sold vintage toys and collectibles.

Comic Con even leaked to various parts of downtown San Jose, with outside restaurants and crosswalks filled with an overwhelming amount of attendees lined up. Even for a first time convention, SVCC still found a way to cram a true Comic Con experience into the Bay Area. Despite an overwhelming crowd, SVCC was a unique experience. There were strong hints of the convention returning in 2017, which would be a godsend for Bay Area nerds and enthusiasts.

 

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The Pros outweigh the “Con” at Silicon Valley’s first Comic Con