Aug 04

SDCC 2011 part 1 – the convention explodes into the street

So, for my first post on the San Diego Comic-Con 2011 (SDCC) I thought I would post some pictures and talk about an exciting trend that, to me seems to be altering the convention forever.

These pictures are from my first day in San Diego, Wen July 20, 2011. The convention was going to kick of with it’s Wednesday Preview Night and I had arrived early enough to sight see and take some time to explore. I arrived at where I was staying in the Gas Lamp district and the first thing I saw was this…

note: click on the images to see a bigger version at

Adventure Time pizza durring the San Diego Comic-Con 2011

At the top of the building is an inflatable of two of the most popular animated characters on TV today, Jake the morphing dog and Finn a funny kid with a hat with bear ears from Adventure Time! They are best friends and live in the land of Ooo where they have adventures fighting monsters and rescuing princesses. The show is one of the best things on TV today and it’s fresh and original and attracts fans of all ages. I am myself a big fan.

Let me take a few steps back to the last time I was at the SDCC, in 2009. One of the new things that year was that the Sci-Fi Channel (SyFi) had partnered with a local restaurant a block from the convention center to transform the business into Cafe Diem from the series TV Eureka. That meant that instead of having a big booth in the convention center, they choose to basically have a restaurant as their temporary home. That meant that they were not dictated by the rules and hours at the convention center and the business they partnered with stood out even more then they would with out the new branding. CLICK HERE to see what it looked like this year.

The idea of breaking out of the convention center into downtown was so cool and different…fast forward to this Summer, 2011. Now there are many of these temporary pop-up businesses that have skipped the convention center and partnered with local businesses. This year there was the 3rd year for SyFi ChannelĀ  joined by Spike TV, Conan O’Brian, South Park/Comedy Central, EA Games, some Marvel monster truck thing, a stand alone video game convention and more. But there are two pop-up businesses that stood out to me…

The characters above were part of Cartoon Network’s take over Ciro’s Pizza to the hit show Adventure Time. Outside you are meant with graphics that feature a graphic of Lady Rainacorn (a magical creature and girlfriend of Jake the Dog) and an inflatable candy person (the Candy Kingdom is a major location in the show). Inside all the walls were covered with a digitally printed mural of the locations and characters and enhanced with colored lighting and TV’s played clips from the show as well as interviews with the creators and fans. Here on the walls we see images of the snowy kingdom of the evil Ice King bathed in blue and purple lighting by the Soda Machines and then transitioning to more bright and sunny lighting at Finn and Jake’s tree house and over to the Candy Kingdom.

Adventure Time pizza durring the San Diego Comic-Con 2011

Adventure Time pizza during the San Diego Comic-Con 2011

Adventure Time pizza during the San Diego Comic-Con 2011

Adventure Time pizza during the San Diego Comic-Con 2011

And to even stand out more, they had a group of young guys who were dressed as Finn and passing out tokens for a free slice of Pizza and a Drink from 2pm to 4pm every day of the con, how cool is that.

And they also have a parade of characters from the show twice a day for a meet and greet.

Adventure Time pizza durring the San Diego Comic-Con 2011

Most of this would have been impossible to do in the crowded convention center, but this temporary business was one of the stand-out elements of the event.

Another of the standout elements of the SDCC was Trickster, a pop-up store featuring the art, comics and other goodies by some of the hottest artists today. The Trickster was set-up by a group of artist frustrated with the heavy movie/TV heavy attention at the convention and wanted to focus instead on art and artists. Inside a converted wine shop there was a FREE retail space filled with drool worthy merchandise and room for small classes that cost extra. At night they had live models, drinking and partying and someone outside was selling sushi. Words can not explain the energy in the place. Here are some photos at a quieter moment on Wednesday before the crowds invaded.

Trickster durring the San Diego Comic-Con 2011

During the convention they had great artist signing books and meeting and greeting peers and fans alike. HP was on hand to print out files for free and the publisher of the Trickster hardcover book was on hand to discuss printing services. Simply an amazing achievement and possibly a game changer for the identity of the convention.

So, the question on my mind is where will this trend of pop-up businesses for the convention go next. I can clearly see it being doubled by next year as some of the biggest players forgo the convention center for a more visible spaces in the Gas Lamp district. That is good since there will be more room in the hall for some that could not get a space and the big companies can take their brand to new levels on the outside. We’ll see what happens in July 2012.

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