The absence of movie stars at Comic-Con International 2023 is not sizing up to be the death knell predicted by some media watchers. In fact, the exhibition floor, and the sidewalks and streets outside the San Diego Convention Center, have never seemed busier.
Still, the no-shows from Tinseltown are getting mixed reactions from attendees.
“It’s a bummer, but I understand it and support it,” says Tim Brownell, a San Diegan who’s been to more than 10 Comic-Cons.
A SAG-AFTRA (actors union) strike is keeping Hollywood celebrities away from the convention center. No star-studded panels in Hall H. No celebrity sightings near the Hard Rock Hotel.
“I don’t think this Comic-Con is suffering because there’s no celebrities,” Brownell says. “We were going to go see Jamie Lee Curtis talk about her book, but there were too many people in line. There’s just so much other stuff to do, though. Yes it would have been fun to see a full Archer panel with all the actors. But it’s still Comic-Con without it.”
Oscar-winner Jamie Lee Curtis is a member of SAG-AFTRA, but is onsite to talk about the debut of her new eco-horror graphic novel. Ballroom 6A, where Curtis was set to speak, has a capacity of 1,000.
“The celebrities don’t make it for me–it’s not what Comic-Con is about,” says Kayla Jenkins from Poway, who’s been to Comic-Con 14 times. “There’s so many nerd things here that I love. It would be cool if Marvel was here, but I’m still having a great Con.”
First-timer Gloria Chavez, from Miami, says she’s having fun but won’t come back if celebs stay away. “We’d already bought tickets, so I did come,” she says. “I’m having a good time, but I’m very into the celebrities.”
This was also the first visit for Chris Chih from San Jose. He likes Japanese animation and has friends who are more into comic books. He supports the actors strike, but says the celebs staying away is a big disservice to their fans.
“What I’m interested in has nothing to do with celebrities, though” Chih says. “And one way or another, I’ve already spent four hundred dollars [on merch].”
Friday at Comic-Con, San Diego Sun photographer Sal Giametta was money with his inspired shots of stepped-up cosplay action: