Comic-Con Special Edition kicks off Friday
Speaker 1: (00:00)
Comic-Con returns to an in-person event this Friday, with what it is calling Comicon special edition. It will be a smaller show, but still at the San Diego convention center. As of today, the website still shows badges available for the three-day event. KPBS arts reporter, Beth Armando previews. This special edition with Comicon spokesperson. David Glanzer,
Speaker 2: (00:24)
David Comic-Con has been on hiatus for two years because of the pandemic we've had. No, in-person Comic-Con, we've had two home additions, but Thanksgiving weekend, we are actually going to have a version of Comicon in-person the special edition. So what can people expect from,
Speaker 3: (00:42)
Yes, it's remarkable that we've had basically two years without being able to produce an in-person event. People, you know, around the country around the world have all experienced the effects of this global pandemic. Uh, some have been effected more harshly than others for us not being able to produce it in person event was really a daunting experience and a really an emotional experience. We did our online versions or a Comicon at home, but you're right, this is our first opportunity to have an in-person event, but we want to be cautious about it. So it'll be a much smaller event, more focused on community, a lot of fan engagement, a nice exhibit floor. I have a feeling that those people who remember Comicon from some years ago may see some similarities to that. So in all honesty, it's an opportunity to dip our toe into the water, to make sure that we can still do this and effectively, but more importantly, safely.
Speaker 2: (01:37)
So what kind of COVID restrictions or requirements are there going to be? Do people have to be vaccinated? Do they have to wear masks? What can they expose
Speaker 3: (01:45)
St. Fuse really a primary concern of ours. There are COVID FAQ's on our website, but in a nutshell, uh, everyone will, will need to be wearing a mask and have been vaccinated or proof of a vaccination or negative, uh, COVID test. And again, the details of that are on the website.
Speaker 2: (02:02)
And what can people expect in terms of size, both in terms of the attendance level you're expecting and how big the exhibit hall is or the panel,
Speaker 3: (02:13)
Right? Comicon is an excess of 135,000 attendees. And there are, you know, tens of thousands outside. I think this, this show will be much smaller. Uh, probably half the size may be a little bit smaller. Still. We are hoping for a, a, a wonderfully attended show, but one that is safe, cause that really is key. Uh, one that everybody can have a good time at, but one that isn't, you know, shoulder to shoulder and the size of, uh, of what San Diego typically is. And so the, we have the entire facility, which is great, um, that allows us to do a lot of staging within the building that we haven't been able to do for many years. So as an example, hall H will be a, a staging area for registration. We'll have, um, some exhibits on the exhibit floor, obviously to great exhibitors panels and programs, uh, upstairs, like we would normally have, uh, I believe we're having some panels also in the Marriott, which is right next door to the convention center. It'll be a blending, I think of probably the older and the new,
Speaker 2: (03:15)
No, there's a lot of outside activations that Comic-Con has no control over that you guys are not actually sponsoring, but do you have any sense of whether or not studios or companies are planning to kind of take over that outside space and do anything,
Speaker 3: (03:30)
Maybe a couple of activations, but I don't expect a lot more because a lot of companies are still being operated under the mandate of no personal appearances or very limited activations in 2021, but it should be fun. And the ones that, that I've seen so far should be a lot of fun actually.
Speaker 2: (03:47)
And Comicon is a nonprofit organization and having to at home additions where you offered the show for free, essentially, how has that impacted you? And are you suffering any financial issues based on the pandemic? Yes,
Speaker 3: (04:06)
I, one of the things that a Comicon has been able to do is be very fiscally conservative. The reality is B we'd always had reserves. We look like a very rich company, I think on paper because we always had reserves to be able to meet any catastrophe should have happened. Something with the facility to be able to, to meet our obligations or our payroll and all that kind of stuff. I don't think he ever did anybody ever anticipated that it would be a two year long thing. So, and when I say, you know, we, we look like a very healthy company on paper. I think, you know, some people think, you know, we have, you know, a tremendous amount of money. I think our, our, our, our budget at the time was, you know, in the 20 or, or 2020 $5 million ranges, this is what we've been doing.
Speaker 3: (04:52)
But a lot of that money is also used to produce our shows. We have this, we have, um, wonder con that would be utilized. And then the revenue from the shows would, would increase the budget. Again, not having shows for two years really was a challenge for us. It really did, uh, have an impact on our coffers. We're very grateful. A lot of the at home events were sponsored. So we did get some revenue from that. Uh, we have some sponsorships for this show, so this is really an opportunity to also try and replenish the coffers a bit. But yes, it's, it's, it's had a, uh, an impact, but hopefully, you know, as the world starts to open up again and we have these events, hopefully we'll be back on a very firm footing in a matter of, you know, no time at all.
Speaker 2: (05:40)
One thing that's happening in conjunction with the special edition is the Comicon museum, which like so many places has been closed during the pandemic and was planned to go undergo remodeling is going to be open at least in some way or form. So what can people expect from the Comicon museum during this special?
Speaker 3: (06:02)
What are the great things about Comicon is that we are a non-profit and we are really governed by a mission statement. You know, I've sat on panels with other for-profit, uh, fan conventions. And oftentimes, you know, they really are concerned about the bottom line because whether it's a board of trustees or investors or whatever it happens to be, it's just different. How we operate. We really are into promote comics related, popular art. We've done that for 50 years. One of the great things we've been able to do is to look into having a museum that will do pretty much what Comicon does throughout the year, which is focused attention on areas of popular art. That a lot of people may not even realize is art because of the pandemic we're opening up later than we had really originally hoped our grand opening will actually be in 2022, but we're having a soft opening the same weekend as a comic con special edition.
Speaker 3: (06:52)
Yes, there's been some construction that the roof has been repaired. The outside has been painted. The inside has been also renovated they're they're, uh, putting in a merge star right now are getting ready for the very first activations. And, um, we're going to be announcing what those, uh, those exhibits are soon. So it'll be a great time to, to visit the museum. The tickets I think are on sale. Now, if you go to the, our website and it's a, it's a great kind of labor of love to let people know that I'm a big fan of movies, as I'd said. And I've learned a lot about comics and I love comics, but there are so many forms of art that, that people just think of as entertainment, not art. The comma com museum will allow us to be able to shine a light on a lot of those things for longer than just the four days during Comicon or other events. There'll be able to do this throughout the year. And we're very excited about that.
Speaker 2: (07:46)
Well, thank you very much for talking about comic con special
Speaker 3: (07:48)
Edition Beth. It's always a pleasure
Speaker 1: (07:51)
That was Beth haka. Mondo speaking with Comicons David Glanzer. The in-person special edition runs this Friday through Sunday at the San Diego convention center. Comicon expects to sell badges onsite as well.
After two virtual conventions Comic-Con is back at San Diego Convention Center with a scaled down in-person show.
Comic-Con International returns to an in person event this Friday with what it is calling Comic-Con Special Edition. It will be a smaller show but still at the San Diego Convention Center. As of Tuesday, the website still shows badges available for the three-day event.
Returning to live events
For half a century, Comic-Con has been hosting a pop culture convention that draws fans from around the globe with recent attendance topping 135,000.
But COVID-19 put Comic-Con on hiatus for two years. In place of the in-person summer event, the nonprofit organization hosted two virtual home editions.
But Thanksgiving weekend, Comic-Con returns to an in-person show that is expected to draw about 60,000 attendees, have fewer outside activations, and that will not use Hall H for big studio panels. In fact, Hollywood will not have a presence nor will most of the major comic book publishers such as DC and Marvel.
No one knows exactly what this Special Edition show will be like not, even the event organizers.
"We just don't know because it's all new and different," said David Glanzer, Comic-Con International spokesperson. "But it'll be a much smaller event, more focused on community, a lot of fan engagement, a nice exhibit floor. I have a feeling that those people who remember Comic-Con from years ago may see some similarities to that. So in all honesty, it's an opportunity to dip our toe into the water to make sure that we can still do this effectively but more importantly, safely."
Special Edition has strict COVID-19 safety guidelines that include proof of vaccination or recent negative test results and face coverings will be required for all attendees. Masks for cosplay and costumes are still optional. Attendees should note that this year you need to wait in two lines for your badge: first, to prove vaccination status or negative COVID test and get wristbanded, and then go to Hall H to pick up badge.
Challenges for the non-profit
Not being to generate income for almost two years has been a challenge for the nonprofit.
"Comic-Con has been very fiscally conservative," Glanzer said. "So the reality is we've always had reserves. We look like a very rich company on paper because we always had reserves to be able to meet any catastrophe should it happen, to make sure we'd be able to meet our obligations, our payroll and all that kind of stuff. I think some people think we have a tremendous amount of money. I think our budget at the time was in the $25 million range is what we've been doing. But a lot of that money is also used to produce our shows. I don't think anybody ever anticipated that it would be a two-year long thing. Again, not having shows for two years really was a challenge for us."
There has been some sponsorship for the at home events to offset costs but the organization is happy to be back with an opportunity to replenish its coffers a bit.
In conjunction with the Special Edition, Comic-Con will be having a soft opening of its museum in Balboa Park.
"Comic-Con has a mission to promote comics related popular art. We've done that for 50 years," Glanzer stated. "One of the great things we've been able to do is to look into having a museum that will do pretty much what Comic-Con does throughout the year, which is to focus attention on areas of popular art that a lot of people may not even realize as art. We're opening up (the museum) later than we had really originally hoped, our grand opening will actually be in 2022, but we're having a soft opening the same weekend as Comic-Con Special Edition. There's been some construction, the roof has been repaired, the outside has been painted, the inside has been also renovated. They're putting in a merch store right now, getting ready for the very first activation, and we're going to be announcing what those exhibits very soon."
Tickets to the Comic-Con Museum can be purchased separately from attending Special Edition.
The program schedule and list of exhibitors is already up. There are a lot of familiar and recognizable artists attending the show such as Scott Shaw!, Kevin Eastman and William Stout. But there will be a distinct lack of Hollywood celebritie, which has left an opening for independent filmmakers like Patricio Ginelsa who will be screening his crowdfunded indie film "Lumpia with a Vengeance" on Friday.
I will be adding some panel recommendations later this week.