SDCC 2023: More Hurdles to Overcome

Last year I wrote the following in my post-San Diego Comic Con 2022 write up, “Here at MediaMikes, we’re fairly confident SDCC 2023 will be better.” I’m glad I didn’t say that we’re fairly confident things will get back to a chaotic normal. SDCC 2023 could be summarized as last-minute disorganized chaos. From 2020-2022, it was the pandemic that rattled things in San Diego, but now it’s the strike.

First off, we’re not blaming the writers or actors. What they’re doing is noble and they deserve the pay and respect that they’re demanding. We even got to talk to a few striking writers and actors at SDCC and they expressed their utmost appreciation and admiration for the convention. But what that did to the studios attending, as well as the fans attending, is what really caused some of the more massive headaches at this year’s iteration of SDCC. I don’t want this to be a negative piece, so I’ll start with some of the positives we witnessed at SDCC.

Because the infamous Hall H didn’t have Marvel or big names, a lot of the people who would most likely be spending their weekend in line for Hall H had plenty of time to visit a busy exhibit floor, which we assumed translated to more cash for those selling their merchandise; and there was plenty to go around. From the usual comics and art, we saw a fascinating array of goods directed at all nerds, including those who aren’t. If those Hall H line people weren’t going to the sales floor, they were going to smaller panels where some much deserved unknowns got some well-deserved attention. In the few smaller panels we attended, we definitely noticed rooms filling to capacity which meant more eyeballs on small studios and products. We think that’s great for independent artists and others who were still able to attend.

The lack of Hall H luster also meant that SDCC offsites were busier. Some of the studios and entities really stepped up their game this year with free goodies that were worth their weight (and wait) in gold. For instance, “Only Murders in the Building” had fans solving puzzles for Selena Gomez make-up products (which aren’t cheap) while Paramount+ showcased a wide variety of their programs with goods along-the-way, including an actual “Good Burger,” spray-on tattoos, and “1923” photo ops. For Trekkies, you also got your chance to sit in THE captain’s chair. Hulu also managed to hand-out boxes of TV show pins that delighted hardcore fans of “Futurama,” “Solar Opposites,” and other animated shows. As for the best offsite, it really goes to “Interview with the Vampire,” by AMC+. The immersive offsite offered food, drink, goodies, posters and a near bite on the neck.

Unfortunately though, not all that glitters is gold. A24 may have a mess on its hands because of its “Talk to Me” screening. Nothing against the directors or actors, but A24 really bungled the secret screening, leaving hundreds and hundreds of upset fans, some of whom had waited all day to see the movie. While A24 movies may be fantastic, their PR and handling of the screenings are abysmal. That being said, the people behind SDCC have plenty of blame as well. Because of the strike, the biggest name attending this year was Jamie Lee Curtis who was touting her new comic book. Instead of moving her to Hall H, they kept her in a significantly smaller room which led to one of the longest lines of the entire con. They also have failed to bring back one vital thing for those who stand and walk all day, carpet. The floors would have been less merciful if fans got to actually stand on something that wasn’t concrete.

All in all, SDCC continues to be my geeky love/hate relationship. While I look forward to it every year and get excited with each passing day, the hate in the relationship sometimes boils over during or after the convention itself. As I become a hardened con goer, I’ve learned to pick and choose my battles every year. Even though I still go home licking my wounds, I also go home with fond memories and goodies. So even though my feet are sore, my skin is burnt and at times I found myself looking from the outside in on various things I wanted to attend, SDCC remains a flawed geek mecca. As for next year…let’s just hope the old phrase, “bad things come in threes,” doesn’t come to fruition for SDCC 2024.

Fred Williamson Talks About His Film Career and the State of the NFL Today

They called him “the Hammer.” While playing for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Oakland Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs, Fred Williamson was one of the most feared defensive backs in the history of the NFL, finishing his career with 36 interceptions in 104 games. He retired in 1968.

That same year he followed fellow football star Jim Brown to Hollywood, appearing on such television series as “Star Trek,” “The Bold Ones” and “Ironside.” In 1971 he had a recurring role as the title characters boyfriend on “Julia.” He made his feature film debut in the Academy Award winning film “MASH,” and later appeared in several classic “Blaxploitation” films, including “Black Caesar,” “Hell Up in Harlem” and “Three the Hard Way.” He also appeared as a Vietnam vet in an episode of “The Rookies.” A few years later, that character was featured in his own film, “Mean Johnny Barrows.” The story of a troubled Vietnam veteran trying to make it back in the world, the film preceded “First Blood” by six years. The film was also Williamson’s directorial debut.

Since then, he has appeared in such films as “From Dusk ’til Dawn” and “Starsky and Hutch,” as well as a series of films featuring ex-cop turned private eye Dakota Smith.

Mr. Williamson will appear at the Kansas City Comic Con from Aug. 12-14. Prior to his appearance he took some time out to speak with me about his “rules” for making films, the state of today’s action films and why the NFL isn’t what it used to be.

MIKE SMITH: At age 78 you are still working steadily.

FRED WILLIAMSON: I make three movies a year.

MS: Is it as fun and exciting now as it was when you started your career?

FW: It’s more exciting because I control what I do now. Most of my films I direct and I write the stories. I hire three or four writers to write the script and I take the best parts from each writer and rewrite the whole thing myself. It’s more fun and more creative.

MS: Do you still make sure you get the girl and don’t lose a fight?

FW: That’s only two of my three rules. Number three is you can’t kill me either. You can’t kill me, I don’t lose a fight and I get the girl.

MS: I see you have another Dakota Smith film coming out.

FW: Yes, I have a new film called “The Last Hitman.” I also have a film that I made in Berlin called “Atomic Eden” and after that I have a film called “Check Point.” I have three films coming out in the next six months.

MS: You’re coming back to Kansas City this weekend. I assume playing in Super Bowl I would be your favorite memory of your time here. Do you have others?

FW: All the time I spent there in Kansas City contributed to my creative years in football. I had a great time in Kansas City. Kansas City was a challenge. You have to remember that this was in the 1960s, so the racial prejudice was very strong there and in other communities at that time. But for me that was motivation…it was what helped make me as great as I was. Someone telling me I couldn’t do something was an extreme motivator for me.

MS: Looking at the way football is played now – you can’t hit in training camp, only one practice a day, defensive players appearing almost afraid to hit for fear of being fined – do you think the game has gotten better or worse since you played?

FW: The game would be more expensive for me if I played today because I’d probably get a $25,000 fine the minute I stepped on the field. (laughs) The “Hammer” tackle would have gotten me kicked out of the game and fined $25,000. I think the thermometer is if you – the refs – can hear the tackle, it’s illegal. If you can hear the pads hit up in the stands, it’s a 15-yard penalty and a $25,000 fine for unnecessary roughness. It’s the changing of the game. That’s why you don’t see that many hard tackles now. Guys are reaching in and trying to stop them with their arms because they really don’t know how to tackle anymore. And these running backs are gaining more yards because no one wants to hit them. They run through arm tackles because most of them are strong runners so they just run through arm tackles.

MS: Nobody seems to know how to wrap up anymore.

FW: You can’t take a chance anymore. Wrapping up means laying your shoulder into him. You can’t wrap a guy up until you stop his momentum, and you have to stop his momentum by cracking him. But now if you crack him too hard it’s a penalty. How do you stop a guy without being able to hit him first? You can’t stop him with an arm tackle.

MS: How do you feel about the action films of today. Are they better now or worse then your films of the 70s and 80s because of being able to use computers?

FW: Computer things are boring, man. Who wants to see some guy jump out of an airplane and land on a moving car when you KNOW that’s not real? That’s not possible. To me it’s boring. They are losing their audiences because now the special effects are the star of the movie. Why do they pay a guy $20 million when the effects are the star of the movie? They need to go back to the days of Robert Mitchum. Gregory Peck. Richard Widmark. Burt Lancaster. Guys like that. You saw how they walked and how they talked. It wasn’t the fact that they could fly through the air or bounce off of a building or just miss getting run over by a car and then getting up and shooting the bad guy. No, no, no. Let’s go back to reality. There’s nothing real in those films.

MS: Thank you again for your time. I hope you enjoy your time back in Kansas City.

FW: I’m looking forward to it. I’ve got a lot of old friends there and a lot of former players that still live there so I’m looking forward to recapturing that experience.

Win Passes to the Upcoming Kansas City Comic Con

Media Mikes has teamed with the promoters of the Kansas City Comic Con to give (5) readers and their guests passes to attend the convention, which runs from August 12-14, 2016.

Kansas City Comic Con features celebrity guests like Billy Dee Williams, Nichelle Nichols and “the Hammer” himself, former Kansas City Chief defensive back and action film star Fred Williamson.

All you have to do is let us know below what celebrity guest you would like to see at a future convention. On Monday, August 8th, (5) random entries will be selected and the winners will receive (2) passes to attend the convention. Those chosen will be notified by email.

For more information and a complete list of guests head here.

Good Luck!

Win Passes to the 2016 Kansas City Planet Comicon

It’s the biggest and best convention in the Midwest and, once again, Media Mikes is offering some lucky readers a chance to attend the 2016 Kansas City Planet Comicon.

This years convention, which will be held at Bartle Hall, will feature celebrity appearances by, among others, comic book legend Stan Lee, “Harry Potter” co-star Tom Felton, “Star Trek” star George Takei and “American Horror Story” actor Denis O’Hare.” Three days of celebrities, cosplay and comics.

All you have to do is let us know below what celebrity guest you’d like to see at a future show. On Thursday, May 19, (2) random entries will be chosen and those people will receive (2) 3-day passes to the convention. The winners will be notified by email.

For more information head to Good luck!