Thursday 23 July 2020

Stay-at-home Comic-Con

Comic-Con@Home has begun. As we all continue to make sense of the 'new normal', Nick Smith, our resident US-based stellar scribe, looks back to the beginning of San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC) and forward to its possible future in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic...

Guest post by Nick Smith

I have always been intrigued by Comic-Con International: San Diego but have never been able to attend due to limitations of cost, distance, time, chilblains and a totally rational fear of people dressed as orcs. You know, with big plastic axes.

If you’re like me (apart from the orc bit) then this is your year! The show will go on despite the current COVID crisis. The event is online for all to see on YouTube for a concise 5 days, from July 22nd-26th.

Despite its name, Comic-Con has always been about more than mere funny books. It started life as the Golden State Comic Book Convention exactly 50 years ago. In 1970, the big draws were writer/artist Jack Kirby and authors Ray Bradbury and A. E. van Vogt. These days the massive convention covers anything that studios and publishers want to sell, and fans want to celebrate. Anything pop culture goes.

With over 350 panels, an exhibit hall, an Eisner Awards Ceremony, game demos… the event can be overwhelming. The panels alone cover Hot Wheels, History’s Vikings show, Star Wars audiobooks, The Walking Dead TV spin-offs, Ray Harryhausen, Bob’s Burgers and American Dad, to name just a few prominent topics. The best way to get a handle on them all is to go to Comic-Con’s “My Sched” tab (whether you use the app or not). You’ll see all the panels listed here, then you can pick and choose from there. As in past years, schedules are subject to change.

Cleverly, the exhibit hall is displayed like a floor plan. Click on an exhibitor and you’ll see their merchandise. Need that Mandalorian Chia Child? Visit the Star Wars booth. On the mezzanine, click on a Fan Club table and you get more info or a link to their corresponding website.

Like all conventions, the San Diego mob thrives on its camaraderie. Not everyone dresses up, not everyone wants to socialise, but this year’s event will show a whole new crowd of fans that their interests are shared by people from all kinds of backgrounds. Comic-Con has always strived to be accessible but now fans who can’t leave their homes can attend. As the organisers joke, since you’re watching from home you can sit in a comfy seat, eat your favourite snacks and bring your pet… sort of. Orcs do not count as pets BTW.

Comic-Con International is a non-profit and the organisers are asking for donations. If enough site visitors support the Con, at least by purchasing merchandise, then this could be a format we’ll be seeing more of in the future.

How are you getting involved with Comic-Con? Let me know in the comments below.

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