With many 2020 concerts and events canceled or postponed, this year’s San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC) festival was held online for the first time in 50 years. The five-day event kicked off on Wednesday, 22nd July, with SDCC’s website launching their Online Exhibit Hall to showcase what they had to offer.
Unlike the 2019 San Diego Comic-Con, there was no artist alley, no swank elite parties, no cosplay, or endless convention exhibit space packed with swag. However, the SDCC still managed to bring the magical experience of a comic con, even without all the trappings. Nonetheless, this was the first event in the convention’s history that didn’t go according to the original plan.
The SDCC’s Online Experience
Though the SDCC didn’t feature its in-person spectacle and events this year, an online version of Comic-Con was better than nothing to some fans. The virtual event focused on offering a free live-stream panel to the guests, with everything being available to view later on the Comic-Con’s YouTube Channel.
As usual, the Comic-Con ran for five days straight, starting from 22nd June to 26th July. However, even this salvageable aspect of the event was scrawnier than ever before, with few participants and panels populating the schedule. Even worse, none featured the star-studded Marvel panel, which is normally the most popular panel room in Hall H.
If you missed the event, it’s easy to think that these changes might have contributed to a less exciting convention than the previous years. However, that would be underestimating Comic-Con’s power.
Recreating Comic Con’s Most Important Elements
Every year, exhibitors from all over the country welcome millions of people at the exhibitor’s booth where they can watch customers checking out and pushing their inventory. However, Comic-Con at home was a little different, though the organizers tried to recreate the experience.
In a bid to stimulate the artist and exhibitor’s alley experience from home, the convention launched an interactive version of their normal floor plan map. The virtual exhibit hall, which remained online after the event, allowed you to browse studio exhibits, vendor booths, and fan organizations. That allowed the visitors to have an easy time shopping at the favorite booths online.
The Online Component Made Comic-Con’s Programming Odd
Comic-Con was poised to see a lull in event programming in 2020, no matter what. That’s because both Star Wars and Marvel both wrapped their major franchises last year, and they’re currently trying to regroup. As such, Marvel chose to stay out of this year’s SDCC, while Star Wars only panel was on audiobooks.
DC movies also scaled back, saving their main programming for their upcoming concert. Instead, both DC and Marvel’s main panel was focusing on comic books and not TV series or movies. All that created a very different experience, especially to people who have been attending Comic-Con for years.
The Benefits Outweighed The Gloom
Despite the glaring differences compared to the previous years, the virtual approach was still satisfactory to many fans. The biggest benefit of the event being held online is that it was accessible to everyone without the hefty expenses of pay for travel, paying costly hotels, or queuing in notoriously long lines.