Photo by Beth Accomando
For the first time in 50 years, Comic-Con International has had to cancel its physical show and will be placing its pop culture convention online.
COVID-19 forced Comic-Con to cancel its Anaheim show WonderCon earlier this year because of coronavirus concerns about large gatherings. So the nonprofit organization was braced to have to cancel its larger annual event here in San Diego.
Comic-Con just celebrated its 50th show and the event draws upwards of 135,000 attendees to the San Diego Convention Center with even more people flocking downtown without a badge just to engage in the ever-expanding footprint of the pop culture extravaganza.
People who had purchased badges for this year’s Comic-Con had the option of a refund or to convert the badge into one for next year. The good news about the online version of the show is that no one needs a badge and there won’t be any long lines to wait in. Anyone and everyone can partake in the online panels and seminars.
Of course, for those of us who love the experience of attending Comic-Con, waiting in lines is often where you make lifelong friendships and meet people who share your same obsessions — and we will miss that.
David Glanzer began attending Comic-Con as a movie fan, then started to work as a volunteer before becoming spokesperson for the organization in 1984.
“I think one of the big things about Comic-Con is not just the programs and the panels, and the educational aspect, but the community of meeting with people,” said Glanzer. “It is free to anybody who wants to attend. No badges. You can watch it from the comfort of your home. Instead of having to worry about what can you watch at a particular time, your biggest decision is probably which panel to watch first.”
Comic-Con is trying to create as much of the show online as possible so there will be panels, a masquerade, and even an exhibit hall with show exclusives.
The website has a handy MySCHED app to help you plan your Comic-Con online experience. What’s exciting is that my mom, my relatives on the East Coast, my friends in Wales can all can a taste of what I’ve been enjoying for decades without the stress or hassle of trying to secure a badge and navigate the massive pop culture convention.
Although I long for the real event and will miss it dearly, I am excited about being able to attend more panels myself and to be able to share them with anyone. Even Glanzer may be able to finally attend some panels.
“We’re hoping that for the first time in many, many years, I and the staff and the volunteers will actually be able to take part in some of the fun stuff at Comic-Con has to offer,” Glanzer said. “We’ll see. But that’s our hope.”
Since Glanzer and many of the staff create a show that they themselves as fans would want to attend, he suggests that anyone planning to partake in the virtual convention should be open to the variety the show offers.
“You may find that you’re a fan of something that you had no idea you’d find interest in,” Glanzer said. “One of the great things about Comic-Con is the diversity of people, the diversity of things we have going on. I started going to Comic-Con because I was a huge film fan. I’m still a huge fan. I had read some comics as a kid but didn’t know much about it. But wow, when I finally started attending Comic-Con, I’ve always loved history [but] I didn’t realize that there were comics that were war comics. I think oftentimes people think that if you have one area of interest, that’s the only area of interest you have. We all know that’s really not the case. So I would say to anybody who comes in for the first time, who may not be familiar with the show, to go ahead and just explore. Think outside the box. Check stuff out that you might not normally check out because you may be a new fan.”
Program information has been announced on the Comic-Con website under the Comic-Con@Home tab.
Comic-Con@Home begins July 22. At this point in time, Comic-Con has not decided exactly how programming will drop, if it will become available online all at once on Wednesday night or if panels will become available each day.
Also still to be decided is how long these virtual events will remain available. Because of rights issues, some will expire after July 26 while others may be left up indefinitely.
I will have a follow-up story highlighting my panel picks and confirming details about the online experience.
To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.