Bespoke limited edition pin from Yesterdays, on sale Thursday, 23 July.
Today San Diego Comic-Con launched its inaugural Comic-Con @ Home - sort of. According to the programming, Wednesday seems to be the official start. But when you put out a glorious Souvenir Book chock full of fan art and exclusives and a mesmerizing EC Comics gallery, I'm going to say that Comic-Con magic has begun.
And it sounds like some traditional frustrations are also in play, like tech difficulties, overcrowded sales and an inability to get the action figure of one's dreams. Plus ca change and all that. I'm not super attracted to the offerings in play this year, but I sympathize with those of you who had your heart set on something. With SDCC 2020 open to literally anyone in the world, competition may be especially stiff this year.
If you've been dismissive of a virtual SDCC, well, I understand. No, it's not going to be as good as the real thing. But it still offers a welcome diversion from the isolation, boredom, death, illness, unemployment and fear many of us are facing this year. And I think CCI has done a fantastic job of making the best of a bad situation. I can't imagine how hard their team worked in recent months to pull all this together.
So what does SDCC look like this year?
You won't be getting squiffy in a Gaslamp bar this week but you will be able to indulge in a few other joys like...
- The Souvenir Book. I really want a print version to hold in my greedy little hands and I bet you do too. The PDF is gorgeous, with some beautiful art and interesting articles. I know many attendees ignore the Souvenir Book year after year; if this is you, but you've saved yours anyhow, maybe go back and take a look at past issues. They really are great to curl up with when SDCC is over and you have the time for a deeper dive into certain fandoms or creator histories.
- The exclusives. Just like every other year, you'll need to be wily and a bit aggressive - but this year, it's more about understanding who's selling what and how to get it. CCI's Exhibitor Hall map (which can springboard you into certain sellers/companies) only offers part of the story. As always, divide and conquer with your team if possible.
- The programming. Okay, you're not going to be in Hall H while Marvel dazzles you with glimpses of the future. But there are some compelling panels available and you don't have to line up for them! Kevin Smith, Bill and Ted, The Walking Dead, Star Trek, Archer, NASA, Nathan Fillion, etc. If you're scoffing at the idea of a satisfying virtual panel, remember that your typical past YouTube footage of an SDCC panel was just recorded from the audience. These will be produced with viewers in mind and I'm sure they'll be worth watching.
- The events. The Masquerade will go virtual; 40+ games, tournaments, demos and interviews will be held across Twitch, Facebook Live, Discord and YouTube.
- The community. We may not be stepping on each other's toes in the Exhibit Hall this year but we're commingling online and sharing praise, advice and complaints just like always. If you've been hiding out from the world like a pandemic zombie in recent months - or consumed with hospitals, layoffs and funerals - take a break to celebrate SDCC with your fellow nerds. No survivor's guilt this week.
Now onto the real question: will this show be so successful that SDCC offers virtual badges in the future? I know many of us will yearn this week for even the worst SDCC experiences - the lines, the humidity, the shuttle bus rides, the barking of an Exhibit Hall security guard. But what about non-attendees who don't know any better? Will they offer up a lucrative new market for CCI? I would think so, but let's see how this week goes.
And let's give CCI some appreciation for their efforts. I'm sure they're taking quite the financial hit this year and having to pivot like this couldn't have been easy. Let's try to support them, exhibitors and creators in any way we can.
ETA: Several of you have asked how to buy a print Souvenir Book. CCI isn't printing a hard issue this year - unfortunately for those of us who've always dreamed of an issue dedicated to our favorite Rays. Sorry!