In the middle of a downpour, Adult Swim Creative Director Brandon Lively was brainstorming ideas for 2018 San Diego Comic Con and came up with go-cart canoe races.
“The rest of it just built off of that,” he said of the Adult Swim State Park at SDCC.
The activation featured camp-inspired games and installations that often incorporated references to the nighttime programming block, such as a leather-making arts and crafts station featuring character stamps, an archery section where fans aimed arrows at Aqua Teen Hunger Force’s Meatwad, and an actual lumberjack carving a plumbus (look it up) from Rick and Morty, out of a 1,300 pound log.
Like any good scout, attendees also collected badges for participating in certain activities—plus received surprise bonus badges for scenarios like encountering a troll hiding under a bridge—and were able to buy exclusive Adult Swim merchandise at the Camp Store. Adult Swim also had a big screen featuring its streaming shows, which were broadcast live from the activation.
The idea was to make it as immersive as possible, said Ashley Wagner, senior director of marketing and events at Adult Swim.
“You come here and you’re in a state park,” she said. “You’re not in Comic-Con anymore.”
One of the draws of the activation was the camaraderie among Adult Swim fans, and she watched as strangers became friends.
The State Camp was open from 4 p.m.-2 a.m., and each night showcased different activities such as a cosplay costume contest and a Venture Bros. screening.
On Saturday, the network threw a special event featuring a live concert by Japanese rock band The Pillows, followed by the new release of a Rick and Morty soundtrack on deluxe vinyl. To get around the 10 p.m. noise ordinance, fans were given closed-circuit headphones to listen to the compilation of tunes created with Rick and Morty composer Ryan Elder.
The album will be released to the public September 28.
The activation, said Wagner, was meant to be an extension of what viewers see on TV. It leans heavily into the fandom around the programming block, and leads up to the Adult Swim Festival on October 5 in Los Angeles.
“I hope fans have a great time,” Wagner said.