March…Spring Event Season is Here!

Tomorrow we head to Austin for SXSW and soon after we’ll be in San Francisco for GDC – two global events that feature the best and most exciting entertainment properties in the world. I’ve been lucky enough to attend a myriad of industry and consumer events throughout my career, including: San Diego ComicCon (SDCC) –…

March…Spring Event Season is Here!

Tomorrow we head to Austin for SXSW and soon after we’ll be in San Francisco for GDC – two global events that feature the best and most exciting entertainment properties in the world.

I’ve been lucky enough to attend a myriad of industry and consumer events throughout my career, including:

San Diego ComicCon (SDCC) – San Diego, CA

New York ComicCon (NYCC) – New York, NY

The Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) East – Boston, MA

The Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) West – Seattle, WA

The Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) South – San Antonio, TX

BlizzCon – Anaheim, CA

E3 – Los Angeles, CA

Anime Expo – Los Angeles, CA

TwitchCon – San Diego, CA & Las Vegas, NV

CES – Las Vegas, NV

ComplexCon – Long Beach, CA

Gamescom – Cologne, Germany

ChinaJoy – Shanghai, China

I have a problem... I save event credentials (and business cards).

While I really enjoy the more industry focused conferences, the consumer-facing entertainment events always have such a distinct component to them... the reaction from the fans!

People really show out when they have the opportunity to see and experience something unique from their favorite brands, intellectual property (IP), and influencers or celebrities.

I’ve seen fans sprint towards a Treasure Goblin from Diablo to claim legendary loot, eat bugs with the Tomb Raider Lara Croft for the chance to win a PlayStation, and get a Borderlands logo shaved into their head… just because!

The Treasure Goblin may also be carrying treats!

Thinking about this passion made me reflect on my favorite movies, shows, and games – which of my all-time favorites would I be most excited to see at an event? What are some of my more recent favorites, and what am I most looking forward to?

“If it weren't for electricity, we'd all be watching television by candlelight.” –George Gobel

All-Time Favorite Series: Psych (2006–2014), USA Network

It’s excessive how often I bring this show up to people, but what can I say? I’m a fan of delicious flavor.

The light-hearted banter between Shawn and Gus (played perfectly by James Roday and Dulé Hill), the Santa Barbara setting (shot mostly in beautiful Vancouver), and the weekly ‘whodunnit’ murder-mystery plot (who knew Santa Barbara was so dangerous?) are only a few (of many) reasons why Psych is my favorite show of all time!

Psych ran for an impressive 8 seasons and 3 movies on the USA network (not to mention 5 books) – it personified the ‘Characters Welcome’ era of the network (in good company with Monk, Suits, and many others).

I would pay a non-inconsequential amount of money to visit a Psych activation at ComicCon… Maybe it’s a tour of their Santa Barbara office filled with easter eggs? Maybe an escape room that mimics a solvable murder scene pulled from an iconic episode? Or maybe just a pop-up restaurant filled with all the amazing foods Shawn and Gus love, including ‘quatros quesos dos fritos’ and cinnamon pie.

If you’ve never seen Psych, I highly recommend giving it a go. Start with the pilot, but if you’re short with time, jump into Season 2 Episode 1 ‘American Duos’. Really, any episode in the first 3 seasons should hook you immediately.

All-Time Runner-Up Series: The Wire (2002–2008), HBO

The Wire is one of the first shows I remember binge-watching. I watched the entire first season (13 hour-long episodes) over the course of a weekend, and completed the full series (5 seasons / 60 episodes) in 1 week… Unhealthy? Maybe. Did I regret it? Not for a second.

The characters were so perfectly authentic, the challenges of bureaucracy within a police department illustrated so clearly, and the drug dealing organization – which would usually be vilified – was shown from a sympathetic, even encouraging, point-of-view. Each of the 5 seasons masterfully uses a different setting in Baltimore to provide a new perspective of the drug game and the violent crime associated with it.

A ComicCon activation for The Wire may not make that much sense. It would be either too brutal, or too boring (who wants to deal with red tape and paperwork at ComicCon?). Maybe they could somehow recreate the infamous “f**k” scene? No, I think we should stick to cast and crew interviews for The Wire and avoid any pop-up activations.

Sheeeeeeeit. Merch would be welcomed, though!

Recent Favorite Series: Twisted Metal (2023–), Peacock

"He thought Chris Kirkpatrick was the best member of NSYNC. Are you nuts?" –Sweet Tooth

Twisted Metal 2 is one of my favorite video games of all time, so I was both excited and skeptical to see Peacock launching a series based on the franchise. The characters in the video games were ironic and sadistic – their motivations unfolding as you play. However, I was skeptical because 95% of the game is vehicular-based combat, something very difficult to translate to live action.

Well, Peacock and the production teams behind the Twisted Metal series did a fantastic job adapting. They kept the dark yet silly tone and created a world where vehicle combat makes sense. The world feels big, yet we spend a lot of time getting to know the various characters. Each character feels like they were plucked from the game!

Raise your hand (or comment, I guess) if you're unfamiliar with the games, but have watched the series. What was your reaction? I have so much nostalgia for the games, I wasn't sure if it clouded my judgement. I imagine if you’re on board with the dark humor and violence, the series would still be highly enjoyable whether you’re familiar with the games or not!

What would a Twisted Metal ComicCon activation look like? No need to guess, Peacock had a very cool activation at San Diego ComicCon last year! It was a key stop along Sweet Tooth’s nationwide tour.

I’m looking forward to seeing how they promote Season 2!

“Every great film should seem new every time you see it.” –Roger Ebert

All-Time Favorite Movie: Die Hard (1988), 20th Century Pictures

Come out to the coast! We’ll get together, have a few laughs…

Die Hard is one of the first movies I remember watching as a child (my mom would say: “I didn’t win mother of the year that year”, but I would argue I had the coolest parents).  I’ve watched this movie during every Holiday Season I can remember… It’s perfect in so many ways. Bruce Willis and Alan Rickman both absolutely crush their roles, and the practical special effects still impress.

I have so much to say about why I love this movie, but instead I just recommend watching the Season 1 episode of The Movies That Made Us on Netflix, and/or this YouTube Video from Back in the Day. Both do more justice than I ever could, and I’m trying to keep this article under a 10-minute read.

I will, however, absolutely cement myself in the “Die Hard is a Christmas Movie” camp.

How about a Die Hard ComicCon activation? Absolutely count me in. We could brainstorm 100 great ideas, but we'll save it for a creative brief someday…

All-Time Runner-Up Movie: Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse (2018), Sony Pictures

After seeing Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, all I could say was “wow”. At the time I wasn’t too familiar with the Miles Morales storyline, but I’ve loved most Spider-Man things, so why not give it a shot?

I was immediately blown away – the way they introduced Peter Parker/Spider-Man through a comic book introduction (and continue to use that trope throughout), how they made sense of a multiversal storyline, and how cool Miles Morales' Spider-Man was (*chefs kiss* to the Jordan 1s).

Imagine how surprised and excited I was when Nicholas Cage and John Mulaney show up to voice Spider-Man Noir and Spider-Ham, respectively. No movie could have reinvigorated my love for Spider-Man more than this one.

In my years of attending events and activities, I’ve probably seen more Spider-Man cosplayers, photo ops, and artwork than any other IP… and I’m here for it!

Recent Favorite Movie: Top Gun: Maverick (2023), Paramount Studios

Top Gun: Maverick may not be as ‘recent’ as some may have in mind, but what do you want? This is an ill-defined ranking system and I’m the one writing it… so I choose 2022’s Top Gun: Maverick.

Full disclosure, my expectations for this film were low before seeing it. At the time, it felt like we had been getting a lot of ‘20+ years-later’ sequels, none of which did anything to impress. So I went into the IMAX theater reluctantly, and boy was I in for a ride.

Not only did this movie smash my expectations, it made the 1986 film look mediocre in comparison. The practical effects were astounding, and coming out not long after the 2020 shutdowns, it felt like the first real theater experience I had in ages. It was funny, dramatic, thrilling, and action-packed – it was everything you could ask of a blockbuster movie theater experience!

Rather than a ComicCon activation, let’s get a full-on theme park dedicated to Top Gun. Jet simulators, roller coasters based on their flight paths in the movies, real skydiving/parachuting, and a piano bar with Anthony Edwards and/or Miles Teller look-alikes (or maybe the real guys)!

“Playing video games is something I enjoy in my spare time. I'm a gamer, always have been.” -Kevin Garnett

All-Time Favorite Game: Madden 2002 (2001), EA Sports [PS2]

This was a very difficult to narrow down – there are so many genres of games, and so many amazing games within each genre. I chose Madden 2002 mainly because I probably played this game more than any other game in my life (at least within 1 calendar year).

I built a Cleveland Browns dynasty that lasted 30 full seasons. I played games against my friends any opportunity we had. I even created myself and my middle school teammates in the 2002 NCAA Football game, played 4 seasons, and then drafted each of us to the aforementioned Browns dynasty.

I just couldn’t believe what a jump we made from the PlayStation 1 football games to PlayStation 2 – the graphics, gameplay, and game modes were all so much better than I could have imagined at that age. Only a few years prior I was still playing as Bo Jackson in Tecmo Super Bowl for NES.

Since then, John Madden (may he Rest In Peace) has reached the pinnacle of legendary status, the Madden franchise has released another 24 years worth of games, and the name has become an icon across the globe.

Will we see an official Madden activation at ComicCon? Maybe, but either way Madden is already a franchise cornerstones in sports-gaming culture, and they have a huge presence at all kinds of events; Madden even hosted its own tournament, party, and concert during Super Bowl weekend.

All-Time Runner-Up Game: X-Men 2: Clone Wars (1995), Activision [Sega Genesis]

I should be choosing a game for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) – I learned the alphabet by memorizing ‘Game Genie’ codes for Mario 3 when I was a toddler – but in 1995, X-Men 2: Clone Wars was everything I ever wanted in a comic book video game. I already loved the X-Men from the comics and animated series, and this game gave ME the opportunity to be Wolverine, Nightcrawler, and Magneto… what!?

As much as I loved this game, it was INCREDIBLY difficult. This was before we could 'save' games, and there were no codes (that I knew of) to advance levels or provide ‘infinite lives’. To be honest, I’m not sure I ever beat this game until I replayed it in college!

Now, it’s hard to compare this game to a masterpiece like Insomniac’s Spider-Man PS4 (or any of the sequels to follow), but without X-Men 2: Clone Wars, I may have never become the Marvel fanboy I’ve grown into today.

We don’t even have to consider what an X-Men activation may look like at ComicCon; after all, it’s one of the bedrocks ComicCon was built on. You can catch me there dressed as Wolverine… just staying patient until Insomniac releases their Wolverine game!

Recent Favorite: Ghost of Tsushima (2020), Sucker Punch Productions [PS4/5]

I may be an account guy, but I know this is beautiful art direction.

If you’ve ever wanted to be a Samurai in the middle of an all out war to save your small Japanese island from invasion, then you are in luck!

Ghost of Tsushima has one of the most beautiful environments you’ll see in a game, and the story is enthralling from start to finish. It has skilled battle sequences, endless armor customization, poetry, and hot springs.

There's many amazing story-driven RPGs, but to me, Ghost of Tsushima is atop them all!

Would Ghost of Tsushima have a presence at ComicCon? It’s hard to say since the game was originally released in 2020 when there was no events happening. If there’s eventually an activation that promotes a sequel, I hope it takes inspiration from Shogun’s (FX) SDCC activation from 2023!

What Are Your Favorites?

I appreciate those who stayed with me along this journey. Whittling down these favorites was a lot easier said than done. One thing I’m realizing, I need to watch more Rom-Coms!

I’d love to hear about your favorite events, activations, shows, movies and games! Drop a comment, send me a message, or let’s grab a beer (or Topo Chico) and chat!

Note From Author

If you’ve made it this far, check out what I wrote last month! If you already read that too, I appreciate it! Consider subscribing to Compadre’s Newsletter if you want to see some cool stuff every now and then. Email me at if you want to do something interesting together!

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