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As the comic con schedule has been gradually getting back to speed, no event has been the subject of more curiosity than next week’s San Diego Comic-Con Special Edition. There was not a single conversation that I had with an industry professionals at last month’s New York Comic Con that did not include the question of whether I was going to SDCC:SE or not. (Spoiler: I am.)

The event will be held November 26-28 at the San Diego Convention Center, and while information about the event has been coming out sslloowwllyy, no one seems to know exactly what to expect aside from the list of Special Guests and the Programming Schedule which includes by my rough count more than 100 panels. Many of them are treasured SDCC classics  – the Comic Arts Conference, Klingon lifestyles and the Buffy Sing-a-long! – and most have a very specific fandom focus. A quick look revealed NO big Hollywood panels, as expected, so this is truly your chance to go to an old timey fandom centered event at the beautiful San Diego Convention Center.

More about the show is revealed in an interview with CCI’s David Glanzer, conducted by Rob Salkowitz over at ICv2: To Go or Not to Go? An Industry Pro’s Guide to SDCC FOMO.

This is definitely going to be “SDCC Lite” with 40-50,000 expected to attend, about a third of the Before Times SDCC:

David Glanzer, Comic-Con International:  We’re still in the midst of the pandemic and a lot of companies still have travel restrictions in effect, so I don’t expect to have the level of official presence we’d usually see.  I’ve heard a lot of [pros and industry folks] are coming to town, but they’re coming in jeans and t-shirts, not button-down shirts, to enjoy the show as fans rather than engage in the non-stop networking and business that you’d see over the summer.  A lot of these people work in the industry because they’re fans first, and this show gives them an opportunity they wouldn’t get ordinarily.

What kind of attendance are you expecting?
I don’t know, to be honest.  We’re hoping for 40-50,000 unique attendees over the two and a half days.  We haven’t done a lot of promotion.  Badges are still available, and we might even have walk-ups.  This is new for us.  We haven’t done a fall show since APE, many years ago, and we’ve never done one over Thanksgiving.  We certainly don’t know what to expect with all the travel restrictions.

There’s more in the interview of interest, and a second part coming on Monday at Forbes, so just go read it.

From talking to people in the industry, I get the sense that a lot of West Coast folks might decide to go at the last minute – although getting a Pro badge is no longer possible, for the first time in decades, you can just WALK UP AND BUY A TICKET. FOMO is just going to grow over the next few days. Also, in Southern California, the Thanksgiving holiday weekend features nice weather, so why not get out of the house?

And you should get your money’s worth. Comic-Con Special Edition will actually have a lot of the features of a regular Comic-Con – a masquerade, lots of hotels, Harbor Drive will be closed, Hall H will be open as a queueing hall – in fact, it sounds kind of idyllic.

Comic-Con Special Edition would not be controversial at all except for the timing over the Thanksgiving weekend, which will further inhibit attendance, as if COVID wasn’t enough. Since I decided to go at the last moment (honestly, I wanted to see how NYCC went) my plane ticket was stupid expensive and my travel times are grueling. I doubt many folks from the East Coast will be there, but we just had our big cotillions.

But despite all this, I felt drawn to attending like a moth to a Batman-shaped flame. The tribe is gathering. And there will be some excellent comics-related programming to attend. At the very least I’ll be able to get photos of all my favorite San Diego spots without huge crowds impeding my shots!

More to come.



  1. 50,000 is what the attendance should have been capped at long ago. 120,000 is insane and I’ve never understood why the fire marshal allowed it because if there was ever an emergency in the convention center, there is no way it could be evacuated safely without a lot of people getting trampled. I attended the Star Wars convention in Anaheim a few years ago which had about 50,000 people over several days and it was easy to walk around and experience, unlike Comicon for more than a decade.

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