‘Comic-Con at Home': San Diego's Canceled Convention Will Go Virtual

San Diego Comic-Con International 2020 was canceled last month but the beloved event is keeping fervent fans connected by going virtual

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San Diego Comic-Con International 2020 isn’t happening in downtown San Diego this summer but fans – cosplay and all, if they so wish – will still be able to get together virtually, at home.

Organizers of the beloved comics and pop culture expo are planning a digital gathering for fans dubbed “Comic-Con @Home.” Though few details have been released, organizers created a video teasing some of the highlights of the virtual convention – which every Comic-Con fan can relate to.

“Free Parking,” the video, set to slides and dramatic, inspiring music states. “Comfy Chairs. Personalized Snacks. No Lines. Pets Welcome.”

And then, the most exciting part, since it’s always hard to actually get into San Diego Comic-Con:

“Badges for all.”

The San Diego Comic-Con website hasn’t shared details just yet on what all Comic-Con @Home will entail, but those updates are forthcoming on this section of its website. For now, the Comic-Con Museum has been releasing content for fans online, including exclusive videos and its “Fun Book” series, a downloadable PDF featuring activity sheets for fans of all ages.

Comic-Con also plans to release a 2020 Souvenir Book as a downloadable PDF. For fans of Comic-Con, the annual program – filled with artwork, short articles, and panel schedules – is often a keepsake or even a place to collect autographs from comic book artists and celebrities. The Comic-Con website said the PDF will be released around the date that San Diego Comic-Con was supposed to start, July 23.

WonderCon Anaheim, which is organized by San Diego Comic-Con International, was supposed to take place in Anaheim, California, in March but was also canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, the event morphed into an online affair dubbed WonderCon@Home, so that might give a glimpse into what Comic-Con fans could expect from the virtual SDCC event.

Meanwhile, the well-known fansite, San Diego Comic-Con Unofficial Blog, is also giving fans of the expo all kinds of materials to enjoy online.

This includes a virtual “Artists’ Alley” featuring the works of artists who, under normal circumstances, would’ve set up their booths inside the San Diego Convention Center’s exhibit hall during Comic-Con.

Each year, those artists sell their comic books and graphic novels at the convention and use their time on the exhibit floor to connect with fans. For many artists, Comic-Con has been a launching pad for their careers.

The SDCC Unofficial Blog’s online edition of the Artists Alley includes links to artists’ websites and social media so artists can still get that exposure and connect with their fans.

NBC 7's Audra Stafford brings us a little bit of Comic-Con which is always better than none.

Comic-Con's Cancellation

San Diego Comic-Con International was officially canceled last month due to the impact and restrictions of the coronavirus pandemic. It was the first time that's happened in the expo's 50-year history.

In a statement titled, “The Current Situation Requires Exceptional Measures,” San Diego Comic-Con International organizers said the decision was necessary to protect public health and safety, organizers said their announcement came with “deep regret.”

Comic-Con was supposed to take place from July 23 to July 26 at the San Diego Convention Center in downtown San Diego – the same venue currently being used as a temporary shelter for homeless locals during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Extraordinary times require extraordinary measures and while we are saddened to take this action, we know it is the right decision,” said David Glanzer, spokesperson for San Diego Comic-Con. “We eagerly look forward to the time when we can all meet again and share in the community we all love and enjoy.” 

Extraordinary times require extraordinary measures and while we are saddened to take this action, we know it is the right decision.

David Glanzer, San Diego Comic-Con International

“Continuous monitoring of health advisories and recent statements by the Governor of California have made it clear that it would not be safe to move forward with plans for this year,” the cancellation statement read.

Organizers said the event would return to the San Diego Convention Center from July 22 to July 25, 2021.

The beloved, quirky San Diego Comic-Con International was born in 1970 in the basement of the U.S. Grant Hotel in the heart of San Diego. Over the decades, the “little event that could” has grown into a behemoth, taking over the San Diego Convention Center, neighboring hotels and spilling into the streets of downtown San Diego for a long summer weekend every year.

Comic-Con’s devoted fans typically attend the convention in elaborate costumes, transforming the city into a metropolis straight out of the pages of fantasy and science fiction.

Costumes of San Diego Comic-Con 2019

Summertime Sadness

Comic-Con is one of several tentpole summertime events canceled this summer in San Diego due to the pandemic.

Late last week, the Port of San Diego announced its Fourth of July, waterfront fireworks show, the Big Bay Boom, was canceled.

Last month, organizers of the San Diego County Fair – which was scheduled to run from June 5 to July 5 – announced that event's cancellation. The San Diego County Fair is the largest annual event in San Diego County, typically drawing 1.5 million visitors.

San Diego Pride – which was scheduled to run from July 18 to July 19 in Hillcrest – announced it was canceling all in-person, mass gatherings for this year’s event. Instead, San Diego Pride organizers said they're looking to move the celebration into the virtual world.

The decisions to cancel the tentpole San Diego events come after California Governor Gavin Newsom shared a six-step approach that he said will guide the state as it reopens its businesses, events, and daily life after the COVID-19 shutdown.

And that plan means mass gatherings are not likely to be allowed for a while as San Diego County, California, the U.S. and the world continue to work to slow the spread of COVID-19.

This means the summer in sunny California is going to look gloomier than Californians are used to.

“There is no light switch here,” Newsom said last month. “I would argue it is more like a dimmer.”

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