Review: Silicon Valley Comic Con 2017
It’s been a crazy couple of weeks.
We (myself and Francine, my Ladies of Nerditude partner) did manage to get things to settle down long enough for us to attend Silicon Valley Comic Con in San Jose, California from April 21st-23rd and we were ready to blow off some steam. On the morning of the 21st, we gleefully set our work emails to out-of-office messages, swung by a local bookstore for a massive sale (we were so good! We only walked out with three books total!), and were on the road from Reno at about 10 AM.
The drive from Reno to San Jose is about four hours and we chose to fill that time with Felicia Day’s audiobook, “You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost)”. If you haven’t read it – please, please do. It’s funny, tear-inducing, and inspiring. By the time we reached our hotel, we were pumped to get our lady nerd on.
Festivities for the con itself did not begin until 5pm, so we enjoyed a meal at the Falafel Drive-In and made ourselves human again. We organized our con backpacks and the ridiculous amount of food and beverages we’d brought and prepared to catch a bus from our hotel to the convention center. Pro tip: always have exact change for the bus.
There were a few panels on Friday evening, and we chose to attend the one about Virtual Reality. The panel featured those working on the technology as well as those creating content for the device once it is more publicly available. It was interesting to learn about how content would be filmed and created for interaction, as well as how the main challenge the gadget is facing is affordability.
Francine and I cruised the gigantic vendor’s room to get a feel for what was for sale and what groups had booths. We stopped and talked with the people at SETI, admired movie-quality props from Star Wars and Back to the Future, and fangirled when we saw Nichelle Nichols casually sitting at her autograph booth, chatting with a volunteer and looking as elegant as ever. I’m not a Star Trek fan personally, but I know the importance of Nichelle’s role in the universe and the social impact she has had. Francine, who loves Nichelle dearly, did not feel brave enough to approach. We stared from a distance and probably creeped out a few passersby. We’re only mildly sorry.
Booths sold the usual fare: Funkos, tees, sabers, beautiful art, creepy art, and handmade items like journals and jewelry. We didn’t make any purchases at the time since we were going to meet up with some people after we left the building and didn’t want to heft bags around with us. We did have a few great art pieces picked out for the rest of the weekend though (and we checked to be sure there was plenty of stock).
Through the magic of Twitter, we met Sara, who runs Plus Size Cosplay (plus-size-costumes.com) and her friends, who were all wonderful. We had agreed to meet up at the outdoor activities being held at Plaza de Cesar Chavez Park and found ourselves awkwardly wandering around the area wondering who exactly we were looking for. There were food vendors, bars, and a giant outdoor movie screen playing the first episode of a new dystopian TV show, though we were not sure of the title. Kids darted through the people with lightsabers in tow and even the dogs were in costume.
Once we had located Sara, we enjoyed fandom talk, conversations about being a lady nerd, expectations for the convention, and what the other did – our podcast, and her cosplay. We also were treated to watching cosplayers go in and out of the Facebook trailer, where they were displaying their new VR technology. After a few hours of fun, we headed back to our hotel, happy to have made some new friends (and maybe GISHWHES teammates?).
Saturday was jam-packed with panels and guest appearances. Francine and I had to go our separate ways to see everything we wanted, and we had differing interests in some respects. Before we split up, though, we had a run in with the GCPD Cosplay Squad Intiative (follow them on Instagram as gcpdcosplaysquad), who were some of the best cosplayers we’ve come across at a convention. Their booth was set up to appear as the main office of the Gotham City Police Department as depicted in “Gotham Central” and we got a kick out of the two ladies at the front desk. We were booked for running an underground Funko smuggling ring, but luckily were able to talk our way out of a trip to Arkham Asylum.
While Francine went to panels for Steve Yeun (who was a little late) and Buzz Aldrin, I made my way to see John Cusack. I’ve always loved dark comedies and Mr. Cusack’s work with movies like “Grosse Pointe Blank”, “The Ice Harvest”, and “Better Off Dead” had a great influence on my humor and writing style. The audience was a little smaller than I expected and I was a little sad to see he was wearing a baseball cap (it was kind of hard to see his face, even though I wasn’t back very far), but he happily answered questions and spoke about how he got interested in film.
We ran into our friends from Wasteland Exports (@WastelandExpts) in the vendor room and admired their custom-made, Post-Apocalyptic cosplay largely based off “Fallout”. They were kind enough to help us get interviews with cosplay stars Abby Darkstar (@abbydarkstar) and Kit Quinn (@MissKitQuinn) and we wanted to be sure to give them a shout out! You can listen to our interviews with all three of these amazing cosplayers in our latest episode.
We capped off Saturday by going to Robert Englund’s panel together. Mr. Englund is a highly entertaining speaker and chose to host his own panel instead of having a moderator. He answered about four questions from the audience, taking the long journey to an answer, but engaging and enthralling everyone as he spoke. He did confirm that if another Freddie movie is ever made, he will not play Freddie, but would gladly make a cameo (one we’d love to see!)
Sunday saw Francine and I splitting up again – her to a Star Trek and Law panel and me to a panel of writers led by Andy Weir, author of “The Martian”. Six authors were present to talk about their experiences with traditional and self-publishing, as well as the writing process.
Francine headed for Adam Savage’s panel while I went and explored the booths for artists and builders. I became utterly fascinated by a group of people who built movie-quality, life-size droids from Star Wars. I wanted so badly to take a half-built R2 unit who was making his way through the crowd beeping, whistling, and dancing, home with me. I imagine we’d be best friends, even if I wouldn’t be quite sure what he was saying. Friendships bridge all gaps, right?
We met back up for the Cosplay Melee panel, with Xavier (@XfactorSpeed77) and Jacqueline (@JacquelineGoehner) from SyFy’s series. Francine recognized Xavier from the first episode and we were both incredibly impressed with the costume pieces he had brought with him. He spoke about inclusion among nerds and how he feels fandom is becoming more open to all.
We finished our time at the con with Gina Torres’ panel and fell in love with her all over again. She was elegant, witty, and thrilled to talk with fans. The moderator of the panel asked a few questions, but most came from fans. We were treated to stories of Nathan Fillion and Alan Tudyk, but also to stories from her journey into voice-acting and the series “Suits”. We could have listened to her talk all night!
All-in-all, the Silicon Valley Comic Con folks did a great job. There were a few hiccups with panelists either being late or not showing up, confusion over line set-ups, and the fact that someone took off with a couple of pieces of art we had purchased (from right in between my feet, during a panel). However, the press room was nice (free coffee and tea? Yes, I’ll have that, please) and every con has it’s growing pains. For its second year out of the gate, we’ll give SVCC four stars and see you next year!
Were you there? What did you think of SVCC?