San Diego Comic-Con 2023 was filled to the brim this year with a lot of amazing things – including panels, exclusives, offsites, and so much more.
For this year’s The Shruggie Awards (which, despite the name, is not celebrating the “wtf-ness” of the convention, though there’s plenty of that to go around as well!), you picked the best of (and one of the worst) things about this year’s con. And now, after letting you vote, we’re excited to announce the winners.
The Best Panel at San Diego Comic-Con 2023: What We Do in the Shadows
While this year’s panel for What We Do in the Shadows was just a screening of two episodes, it was one of the best attended panels of the week, and one of the very few that garnered a huge line. So is it any surprise that it topped this category? The series is smart, hilarious, and always a fan favorite at the con — and they also gave out some of the best swag of the con (are you fallin’ for Colin or shouting yas Sean?).
The Best Panelist at San Diego Comic-Con 2023: Jamie Lee Curtis
Jamie Lee Curtis made her triumphant return to San Diego Comic-Con, this time in support of her upcoming graphic novel, Mother Nature. In a year mostly devoid of huge names due to the ongoing WGA and SAG strikes, the Oscar-winning actress was already amongst the biggest names at the con this year. The panel, “Jamie Lee Curtis’s Mother Nature: A Candid Discussion of Her All-New Graphic Novel/Movie”, was high on most attendees’ must-see list and completely packed (in much too small of a room in 6A) — and Jamie Lee Curtis delivered for fans, making for a fun, engaging panelist as she discussed climate change, growth, and the graphic novel.
The Best Offsite at San Diego Comic-Con 2023: AMC’S Street of Immortality (Interview with the Vampire)
In a lot of ways, this year put the spotlight on offsites — and AMC at their Street of Immortality scared up a great time for attendees, combining the ultimate trifecta: A great, immersive experience, with minimal wait times, and tons of swag. What started out as one of the most beautiful, eye-catching wrap jobs we’ve ever seen at SDCC went on to become the top experience of the week, inviting fans into the worlds of interview with the Vampire and Mayfair Witches in Anne Rice’s Immortal Universe. You could step foot in Storyville in New Orleans, where live performers were on hand to delight you with tap dancing, singing, or just a good old fashioned conversation (or perhaps something a bit more sinister).
AMC has long had its pulse on what fans want at the con, but this year really felt like a big bold swing for the network at the con, and it’s the kind of risk we hope to see more of.
The Best Party at San Diego Comic-Con 2023: XLE Parties
For years now, XLE Productions has consistently offered fans a great after hours experience at the con — and this year, they’re taking the crown for the best party (or best parties, as it were). While many other party tickets are gone in seconds, XLE offers an accessible alternative that features plenty of entertainment, theming, photo ops, special guests (in a year where celebrities were few and far between), and more that rivals any other party at the con.
This year they programmed three nights of parties for fans, including the return of their annual kickoff party Ready Party One (this time with an “8 Bit Legacy” theme), Nostalgia Nightclub: The 90s TV Takeover, and The Monsters Ball which provided a supernatural gothic wonderland.
The Best Booth at San Diego Comic-Con 2023: Toddland
Is there any happier place on the show floor than Toddland? If there is, we’ve yet to find it. They once again took over two spots this year directly across from each other, representing Bob’s Burgers, Family Guy, and American Dad on one side, and FOX Animation Domination on the other with a focus on Krapopolis. Their pre-order system and line management makes picking up your online orders easy and pain-free on its own — but their focus on always putting fans first means you leave with a smile, because you’re interacting with genuinely great people who want to be there and who are excited for you. Plus, this year they had some of the hottest items on the show floor, with their Rupert and Wheelie Mammoth plush (which we’ll get into in a moment), and we personally watched them try to thwart vendors more than once from getting them, to ensure they went to the fans.
Just great people, doing great things. It doesn’t get better than that, and it’s the reason they’ve won this category every single year.
The Best Exclusive at San Diego Comic-Con 2023: Toddland’s Bob’s Burgers SDCC Shirts
It’s hard to win best booth if you don’t have great merch to back it up… and Toddland always delivers. For the third time, Toddland has taken the honor of having the Best Exclusive at the con, for this year’s stellar line-up of new tees for Bob’s Burgers. This year’s standout design was their “Sand Diego” logo, which saw the Belchers enjoying a beach day at San Diego (and creating the perfect tee for a year in which many did decide to have an actual beach day during the con). We always say that the very best exclusives are the ones that honor the one thing we all have in common — the convention itself.
What really pushed Toddland over the top this year though was their plush, for Wheelie Mammoth for Bob’s Burgers and Rupert for Family Guy. They were amongst the most coveted items at the con, gone in minutes (and in seconds for the online iteration), and Toddland worked hard to ensure they ended up in the hands of fans and not just flippers.
Delivering a great experience can be as simple as giving fans what they really want — and it’s a motto that’s served Toddland well. We can’t wait to see what they dish up for fans next year.
The Best Free Swag at San Diego Comic-Con 2023: Hulu Animayhem Backpacks + Pin Sets
If there’s one thing San Diego Comic-Con attendees love, it’s free swag. And in a year filled with tons of great options (seriously, it feels like most companies kicked it up a level this year on the swag front), there were no items more coveted than Hulu Animayhem’s.
Whoever came up with the cartoon backpack deserves a raise, because they looked amazing, were super useful in the con setting and beyond, and on theme with the world(s) of Hulu Animayhem, your animation destination. But if that wasn’t enough, you also got a six-pin set to go with it, for either Futurama or Solar Opposites. One pin is great swag — but a set of six?! In packaging that was both adorable and on theme?! That’s basically unheard of, and the kind of swag that’s going to be talked about for years to come. We also got a Hulu Animayhem poster, because someone decided that two amazing items on their own wasn’t enough already.
Any company looking for what fans really want to take home from the con in future should look to Hulu’s template here: Quality items with a clear tie-in to the brand.
The Most ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Thing About San Diego Comic-Con 2023: Security/Line Management
2023 was a weird year for a lot of reasons — but it was made the most frustrating by security and line management issues all week long. This was the worst we’ve personally ever seen security be to attendees, shrugging at them when asked questions, calling them losers, berating them, and giving them bad information.
We don’t blame security for not knowing where certain booths are, but the talking down to attendees and not knowing basic information (such as “Where do I get in line for Ballroom 20?” when they are literally working the door that is where you line up for Ballroom 20) is a definite problem. There was a definite attitude problem, and it’s one that’s only seemed to worsen in the last two years. Whether Comic-Con International has changed companies to save on costs, security is just harder to find, or we’ve simply lost a lot of the old institutional knowledge as staff and volunteers have left or moved on to other things, it’s hard to say. But security led to several unsafe situations this year, including letting unbadged folks up in areas they shouldn’t have been, and it’s a problem that needs to be addressed ASAP.