Comic-Con International has been teasing the return of an in-person event for November, and over the weekend they released details: Comic-Con Special Edition a three day event to be held over Thanksgiving weekend, Friday-Sunday, November 26-28, 2021 at the San Diego Convention Center.
Both this year’s WonderCon and SDCC have been announced as virtual @home events, but CCI (the nonprofit organization which throws the events) hopes that in-person gatherings will be possible by the end of the year.
Details on the badge cost, attendance capacity, and other logistics for Comic-Con Special Edition are sill being finalized, but in a release CCI noted that “The Fall event will allow the organization to highlight all the great elements that make Comic-Con such a popular event each year, as well as generate much needed revenue not only for the organization but also for local businesses and the community.”
“While we have been able to pivot from in-person gatherings to limited online events, the loss of revenue has had an acute impact on the organization as it has with many small businesses, necessitating reduced work schedules and reduction in pay for employees, among other issues,” said David Glanzer, in a statement. “Hopefully this event will shore up our financial reserves and mark a slow return to larger in-person gatherings in 2022.”
While many are champing at the bit to get back to in person cons — and in person con sales — the Thanksgiving timing was unpopular on social media. As this will be the first family holiday many people will be able to attend due to increased vaccination rates, the idea of giving that up for a con met up with grumbles:
“We’ve heard the fans loud and clear and they hate their families” https://t.co/vRwWUgzQSY
— Chip Zdarsky (@zdarsky) March 28, 2021
However, in a longer statement on their website, the con revealed that the Thanksgiving dates were the best available, since the San Diego Convention Center is booked solid with delayed events.
As conventions and events have had to cancel their in-person shows or have converted to virtual formats during the pandemic, some have been postponed to later years while others have been rescheduled to the later part of 2021, resulting in a very packed Convention Center calendar. When reviewing dates for an in-person event, it was clear that available meeting and exhibit space would limit our options. Of the dates presented with the fewest restrictions, Friday through Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend seemed to be the best balance of available space and our envisioned event. As longtime fans ourselves, we have attended many conventions over that holiday weekend, opting to spend Thanksgiving day with family and the rest of the weekend with friends and our families of choice. While this is not unusual in the convention trade, we understand this choice is not optimal for everyone.
Comic-Con Special Edition was never intended to be the large gathering reflective of the summer event. As a shorter event, it was our attempt to start slowly and cautiously while at the same time addressing the desire from fans to have an in-person show. There are still many factors that are unknown to us at this time, including space accommodations, travel restrictions, capacity restrictions, and required safety protocols. While open to all and with the hope that we will be able to accommodate fans from all over, we understand that due to potential travel-based restrictions and challenges, Comic-Con Special Edition may be an event attended mostly by fans more easily able to travel to San Diego.
If the event is held, no matter how many people are able to attend, it will signal a return to a packed convention schedule. Emerald City Comic Con in Seattle is scheduled for the following weekend, Dec. 2-5, and C2E2 in Chicago for the weekend after, Dec. 10-12.
Comic cons over the Thanksgiving weekend have a long history — the big, annual Creation Con was held Thanksgiving weekend in NYC in the ’70s, and Mid-Ohio Con was held over the same time frame. In any other year, people wouldn’t have been as upset — the first chance chance to celebrate with family being more important than even buying con exclusives even, it seems.
That said, Comic-Con Special Edition, if it is held, should have no problem finding local attendees or exhibitors as the pop culture economy hopes to find the new post-pandemic normal.