Should SDCC 2020 still happen?

2 APRIL 2020

Today the San Diego Convention Center transformed into a homeless shelter. The Exhibit Hall, which we associate with exclusives, crowds and Funko Pops, is lined up with green cots for 1500 of San Diego's most desperate residents. It's a measure of how dire the COVID-19 pandemic has become and how far city leaders are willing to go to stanch contagion; trying to put a positive spin on it, Mayor Kevin Faulconer said "If we can't fill the convention center with tourists, we'll fill it with hope."

But the mayor isn't the only one with hope. CCI tweeted yesterday, "No one is as hopeful as we are that we will be able to celebrate #SDCC2020 together come July."

That's a lot of hope. Is it reasonable? Not in my opinion, but the Yes/No question of will the show go on isn't simple. The Unites States is in a state of suspension. You can see the diversity of opinions - we need to soldier through and save the economy vs. we need to hunker down and save humanity - just by listening to different governors.

As SDCC attendees, we're intensely practical; we understand all the angles of a successful Comic-Con. Like the hotel sale looming ahead of us: How many people have the money to slap down $600 on a deposit right now? Then there are the studios and vendors and guests that bring the magic to SDCC. How many of them will come? With so many releases delayed and so much production on hold, what would they show us in Hall H? And then there are the many events and activities surrounding the Con that takes months of orchestration. Will those organizers get a solid green light in time to make arrangements?

Our pandemic rollercoaster is still inching up the highest slope - we have yet to fly down screaming into the phase where potentially hundred of thousands of people (or more) die a horrible death. We haven't yet watched NYC levels replicate in multiple cities and then roll out to rural areas where many Americans live hours from the nearest hospital. And even if COVID-19 magically shut off on 15 May, the wreckage would still take months to clean up: credit card debt, unemployment, PTSD, bereavement. Life changes that have been put off for months like family visits, elective surgeries, divorces or moving will demand attention over the summer.

I know this is ugly to read. But it will be reality for many of us. That said - it won't be reality for all of us. So is it possible that SDCC could go on? I think we're looking at 4 possibilities.

SDCC happens, but as a smaller, more local and more comics-based Con.
No doubt by late July there will be plenty of people who still want to go and feel secure in doing so - either because they've already had COVID-19 or because it's controlled. And even if studios pull out, we'll probably have many vendors eager to sell their stuff. Personally, I'd have no problem amputating the glitz and Hollywood from SDCC so this would be fine with me - but I know many of you would miss your photo ops and Hall H panels.

SDCC happens and it's business as usual.
Demand is high enough that even attendees and vendors who drop out might easily be replaced; and after being cooped up all spring, people are going to be ready to mingle. The need to eat, drink and make merry could burst into an amazingly fun Con, with people making an extra effort to befriend each other, get their nerd flirt on, and create a very social and hedonistic Con. Limited attendee finances might mean a less profitable Con for vendors, though; and god help us if COVID-19 invisibly floats down the Hall H line like an angel of death.

SDCC is cancelled.
This will be emotionally devastating for many attendees and financially destructive for San Diego and vendors. But it could also be the most cautious choice - and we will have future Cons in other summers. Well, that's assuming they let us transfer our badges to 2021. Regardless, SDCC itself will come roaring back to life unless the whole planet gets nuked by a space dragon. This pandemic isn't going to derail us permanently.

SDCC is postponed.
ECCC is doing it and so are other Cons; but SDCC is a juggernaut of an event with less agility. So I'm dubious if this would work or not. But if they were able to scoot it down the calendar a bit, that might make everyone feel safer and might coax more guests and studios to show. I would definitely give up NYCC to go to an autumn SDCC. 

I don't know CCI's inner workings, but I hope they've created a back-up plan that suspends the deadline for badge refunds and possibly holds a badge resale (remember those?) to compensate. And I hope they don't schedule the hotel sale until late April at the earliest when pandemic specialists can make a more accurate forecast. But CCI and I think very differently so they're probably planning something else.

I hope you're all staying safe, fed, healthy and entertained. Times are tough for all of us and soon to get much tougher for some. We don't know where we're headed over the coming months. But another Comic-Con is in our future - that much we know for sure.


  1. I think it will be the third option because this is a uniquely-evolved virus that creates many "silent carriers" (asymptomatic spreading) and has caught our country off guard. Personally, I would wait until next year until the effect of the media-induced trauma wears off enough for me to even consider attending a large event like SDCC again.

    1. I think cancelling is the smartest option.

      "Media-induced trauma" is all too accurate.