Hydra Comic Con 2017: Head(ing) in Two Directions

Hydra Comic Con is the newest addition to the bay area convention scene.  It’s the younger sibling to relative new comer Kraken Con, but shows many common qualities in aesthetic and feel.  The inaugural year was held the same weekend as Father’s day and the Wizard World Sacramento, and delivered a unique experience that would be worth a look next year. The inaugural convention was held at the Santa Clara Convention Center.

We were only able to attend the convention for one day,  but the convention itself doesn’t require more than a day. The weather definitely did not help attendance,  but with that being said the convention saw more traffic past noon. The convention access was strange for those not staying in the hotel, as there is no first floor access to the convention without going through the connected hotel lobby. The convention center area is three stories with  the Hydra Comic Con itself mainly in half of the first and second floor. Much like a hotel con, it is small and intimate, however it lacked the community feel provided by the crowds at my previous experience at KrakenCon 2016. With that being said, the event seemed well organized, with a variety of exhibitors, a knowledgeable staff, acceptable programming and solid guests. The event did have some short comings due to its new status, as well as the convention type it represents, which I will address at the end.

Our general reasons for attending this convention were to do our first Panel to Panel panel, check out the new convention, and  meet Evil Ted Smith, all of which we can report back positively. That list actually happened in reverse order as we met up with Evil Ted Smith Saturday night for a meet up, walked the floor Sunday morning and did our panel Sunday afternoon.

The meet up is something the Evil Ted has been trying out, in order to get more time with fans and fellow creators. We first heard about it at the most recent WonderCon, but we missed it because our agenda didn’t match up. This year, we weren’t able to attend Saturday, but were lucky enough to be free for the meet up. On the way, we bumped into a couple of familiar faces and they were headed in the same direction. Once we met up at the bar we saw Ted, Bbrrrrraaapp and Zprops, all a good sign. The best way to describe the night is that we met “Uncle Ted”. He was very personable and wanted to engage in all sorts of conversations about props, fandoms, and experiences. We got some nice stories that can’t be repeated, so all the more reason to try to find him at his next one. In the end, we got a nice selfie with Ted and all the others that happen to be at the bar that night. As always, con pro tip: always hit the bar on a Saturday night (but also check the price of your drinks…).

Sunday, we arrived early to make sure we had time to check out the exhibit floor and the convention in general. The exhibit hall boasted over 100 exhibitors, vendors and guests ranging from local artists and guilds, to more notable voice actors and cosplayers. A personal draw for us was  Evil Ted Smith, as we had yet to find him at previous events we attended, most recently WonderCon 2017. The exhibit hall also featured a photo area, Rock Band stage, games, anime, and a rock wall to climb. We knew a couple of people and made sure to make our rounds and say hello. Cosplay seemed present, with a few families in ensembles. We also stopped by Evil Ted’s booth, mostly to get his approval of our costumes that his tutorials helped build. It was nice to chat with him and Bbrrrrraaapp again, and to see his wares in person. After spending time in the hall we peaked into a few panels. The panels seemed to be lightly attended on Sunday, with the ball park number of attendees rolling around 10-12, one of the heaviest being an Overwatch related panel. After our own panel, we sat in on the Ask Us Anything panel, that was mainly attended by the con organizers, or at least people familiar with them. It was nice to get a sneak peak into what goes into some decision making for new conventions such as venue, website, and attendee wants versus convention ability.

The panel was fun, and I think a great experience for our team. Fortunately, I don’t have to describe it because we managed to record it.  You can find it on my Panel to Panel page, it is the 27th episode”Hydra Comic Con pt.2″ episode.

IMG959331
Thanks for the photo Dex

We had a limited view of the convention, but from what we saw and heard it was a mixed bag. The event itself was run well, but there are a lot of questions about how the convention will progress forward. Evil Ted said he enjoyed the convention, and I feel like that is a worthwhile endorsement all on its own. The feel is much like KrakenCon, with voice actors and cosplay being a stronger draw, likely due to their connection. KrakenCon as well has gimmicks like the trading cards, to create a larger more meaningful draw. There was a scavenger hunt occurring, but when I asked a participating booth, there wasn’t much information they could provide. For a comic focused convention, there was also a lack of the common vendors, such as comic resellers, or at least they weren’t noticeable. Comic artists and writers were also not a large part of the convention. All in all, I would recommend people checking it out and judging for themselves. The ticket prices were fair, $25 for the weekend, $20 for Saturday only and $15 for Sunday. We personally enjoyed ourselves, but would recommend it with full disclosure. For those looking for a traditional comic convention, this is not the one for you, for those who are fans of anime conventions, this has all the familiar features.

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