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Arts & Culture

Comic-Con Cancels, No Pilgrimage To Geek Mecca This Summer

Artists like Rebecca Hicks of "Little Vampires" will not have the opportunity to meet with fans and sell their products at Comic-Con this year.
Beth Accomando
Artists like Rebecca Hicks of "Little Vampires" will not have the opportunity to meet with fans and sell their products at Comic-Con this year.

Non-profit looking to 2021 for next WonderCon and Comic-Con

No gathering of the pop culture faithful this summer in San Diego as Comic-Con is canceled. July, 2017
Beth Accomando
No gathering of the pop culture faithful this summer in San Diego as Comic-Con is canceled. July, 2017

Comic-Con Press Release
Press release from Comic-Con announcing cancelation of this summer's pop culture convention.
To view PDF files, download Acrobat Reader.

Although people were expecting news that Comic-Con would be canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic, official word only came down at 10 a.m. Friday.

COVID-19 Forces Comic-Con To Cancel

To San Diego, canceling Comic-Con is a huge financial blow. To some attendees, it's about not seeing big Hollywood panels and celebrities. But for those of us who have been attending for more than four decades, it's about not making that pilgrimage to Mecca to worship at the pop culture temple with other like-minded souls.

Even Comic-Con International spokesperson David Glanzer, who attended the convention first as a fan and then volunteered to work at the nonprofit before becoming an employee, had a hard time choking back tears when asked about having to announce the pop culture event would be canceled.

"It's the first time in 50 years we're not going to have a convention and as a fan it's very sad," Glanzer said. "You come to the show, a lot of people in San Diego come to the show. A lot of members of the press come to the show when they're not reporting. It's a great community and it's very sad."

Comic-Con attracts more than 135,000 attendees every summer and uses not only every inch of San Diego Convention Center space but also many meeting rooms in nearby hotels. So it was not easy for Comic-Con International to decide to cancel its summer behemoth event because of restrictions on public gatherings in response to COVID-19.

"It was a very long, methodical and gut-wrenching process to be honest with you," Glanzer explained. "Our hope was that things would calm down enough that we would be able to have the event in July or the possibility of maybe even a pared-down event. But it became apparent that that just was not possible. So we had to announce that there would be no Comic-Con for 2020."

Cosplayers will not be descending on the San Diego Convention Center this summer for Comic-Con. The pop culture convention has been canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Beth Accomando
Cosplayers will not be descending on the San Diego Convention Center this summer for Comic-Con. The pop culture convention has been canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

No Comic-Con this summer. That's a lot for a geeky fan like myself to take in. Comic-Con was that beacon we could look to hoping that by then things would be returning to normal. But seeing the coronavirus case numbers and deaths continue to rise in the U.S. made those hopes seem unrealistic. The organization also had to cancel its smaller WonderCon Convention that was scheduled for earlier this month in Anaheim, which makes the financial impact even greater for it.

"It will not be easily weathered," Glanzer said. "We're a nonprofit organization and I think that while we have a very big footprint, a global footprint, we're kind of a lean machine to a certain degree. A lot of the funds that we have are in preparation for something like this, should something like this happen. We'll be able to move forward to plan for next year but what that means is we may not be able to replenish our funds. And that's a challenging thing but we all know that and are committed to having Comic-Con in 2021."

Comic-Con International has no hopes of just rescheduling either WonderCon or Comic-Con. Those events are just too big with too many moving parts to try and postpone along with many other canceled events throughout the city and the state. But while canceling Comic-Con will have a huge and obvious financial impact on the organization and the city, there's another group that will be hard hit.

"I think one of the most gut-wrenching things about this are the stakeholders in our show," Glanzer said. "There are individuals who make their livelihood or a good portion of their livelihood at Comic-Con. And yet it's a horrible thing to not have a show this year."

Many artists and small press publishers make their income traveling to conventions and Comic-Con is one of the biggest. Some may be able to sell their work on Etsy or Instagram but it's not the same. Comic-Con is about artists and creators who often have established relationships with people who come visit their tables or booths every year looking to see what's new or to commission work. It's hard to have that personal connection on Etsy. Plus many people will have less money to spend on things like comics and art.

Not having Comic-Con means not seeing people who are like family and not having an opportunity to be immersed in a place where so many others share your obsessions, and where the things that make you weird to the outside world are embraced by the people you stand next to in line for hours or meet at panels. So while the economic impact will be felt by many for a longtime attendee like me it's more of about missing out on a unique sense of camaraderie and community that will be dearly missed.

The fallout from the coronavirus may also impact the Comic-Con Museum, which is still not officially open and which was scheduled to begin major remodeling this year. The renovation schedule may change but plans are still in the works for the museum to open next year.

Comic-Con is looking into options for some kind of virtual or online version of the convention. If you purchased badges for this year you will have an option to request a refund or transfer badges to next year.

Comic-Con Cancels, No Pilgrimage To Geek Mecca This Summer
Listen to this story by Beth Accomando.