Over the weekend, Comic-Con International — the folks behind San Diego Comic-Con — made a more-than-surprising announcement that they’d be holding an in-person convention from November 26-28 of this year. Now, if you don’t have a calendar in front of you, that’s Thanksgiving weekend, one of the busiest travel weekends of the year.
The news — originally released at 9:00 p.m. EST on Saturday night, a totally normal time to release such news — was met with largely negative responses. Attending Comic-Con is already a huge hassle. But attending it on a busy holiday weekend, after almost two years of a pandemic, when many people should hypothetically actually be able to spend time with their families and friends? “Not great, Bob!” Well today, Comic-Con offered an updated response to the “Comic-Con Special Edition” reveal, and while it explained a bit more of why they chose that specific weekend, they also made it clear there’s no guarantee it’ll happen. You know. Because of the global pandemic.
“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,” the statement — which you can, and should, read on the official website — says.
The statement also reveals Comic-Con chose Thanksgiving weekend because many conventions (fan-related or otherwise) have rescheduled in hopes things would be better at the end of year. So the calendar is crowded and “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,” the statement said.
Second, Comic-Con Special Edition is not intended to be the full event SDCC typically is in July. As such, and because of the difficulty of travel at this time, “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.” So they aren’t expecting people to travel from far and wide from it. Though they are, of course, welcome. Finally: “Currently we do not know whether having this event in November is even feasible” but “it was our desire to have something in place for our fans who have longed for an in-person event.” Basically, this could all be for naught, they just wanted to get ahead of the game in case it’s possible. Which is understandable.
The statement did at least include the idea of starting “slowly and cautiously” in this new era. Noticeably absent in this new posting however is the language from the initial statement about this event being needed for economic reasons. Which is also understandable. But is it “Our primary hope was to be able to gather in-person as a community” or “generate much needed revenue?” It’s likely a combination of the two but it still makes for slightly mixed messages. Also, while Comic-Con@Home was free last year, there’s nothing stopping the organisers from setting up a virtual ticket system for a pay-per-view type of thing.
Look, some of us would love to attend an in-person comic convention and no one does it better than the team behind San Diego Comic-Con (which is still happening virtually in July). And yes, if it’s safe to hold this convention, people will go. That’s a weekend many people have off from work or could attend with family or friends. That’s only one part of such an event though — think about the people who run security, work at hotels, restaurants, and the people who will need to exhibit at such an event to help their own businesses. Some of them may have already had to work the weekend regardless but you know a convention requires all hands on deck. At least fans (and some reporters, like us at Gizmodo) have a choice.
It’s a very complex situation and though this latest statement from Comic-Con isn’t great, at least the conversation has already shifted a bit. We’ll keep you updated.