As Predicted, SDCC 2021 Will Be Virtual (and we get a mini SDCC?)

As of today it’s official: SDCC 2021 will be a virtual event, just like SDCC 2020.  This isn’t a terribly big surprise.

San Diego Comic-Con is one of the biggest and most well known genre conventions in the world, so when it was cancelled last year it was a pretty big shock to the geek community.  Sadly, with how things have been progressing on the vaccine front (at a decent clip, but still potentially 8 months from herd immunity), the cancellation of SDCC 2021 isn’t that big of a surprise.  Most communities I’m in that discuss cons don’t expect to attend any decently large convention at all this year.  We expect, at most, to maybe attend a small local con in the fall, but even that feels overly optimistic at times.  So this news – especially after WonderCon was already announced to be virtual this year – is expected, but no less upsetting.

Part of Comic-Con International’s official statement reads as follows:

SDCC 2021It is the policy of the organization to continue to closely monitor information from local and national healthcare officials as it pertains to the COVID-19 pandemic. Never could we have imagined what the world experienced in 2020 and continues to experience today. While we are buoyed by the rollout of the vaccine and the growing number of individuals being inoculated, it appears that July will still be too early to safely hold an in-person event of the magnitude of Comic-Con. For this reason, we have made the challenging decision to postpone Comic-Con 2021 as an in-person gathering until our 2022 dates, and once again hold this year’s celebration as the free online Comic-Con@Home. Unfortunately, the challenges of this past year and the multiple postponements of our two largest events have left us with limited financial resources, so this year the online experience will be reduced to a three-day event, spanning July 23-25, 2021.

While we lament the postponement of the in-person Comic-Con, our commitment to this community of fans and our celebration of comics and the related popular arts endures as an important part of who we are. As the timing and scope of our larger event factored greatly into our decision to postpone, we believe that launching a smaller in-person event at a later time may be a safe alternative. For this reason, we are happy to announce that San Diego Comic Convention is planning to present a three-day in-person convention in San Diego in November. At this time, we are still working on specific details as to attendance capacity, badge cost, and related information, and those details will be forthcoming. Please continue to visit our website, comic-con.org, for official updated information as it becomes available.

At this time, individuals who have purchased badges that were rolled over to the 2021 show will have those badges automatically transferred to the 2022 event unless a refund is requested. To submit a badge refund request, visit www.comic-con.org/cci/comic-con-cancellationrefund-policy. All confirmed exhibitors with a rollover payment from Comic-Con 2020 will receive a separate email with instructions and deadlines for continuing to forward your payment on to Comic-Con 2022, or for requesting a refund. In addition, we are currently working on an option for those wishing to transfer their badge or exhibitor deposits/payments as full or partial payment towards our 2021 November event. Information will be forthcoming, so please watch your email inbox and the Comic-Con website for further details.

A smaller event in the fall generally tracks with my predictions for our convention season outlook.  I genuinely don’t expect any cons over 10,000 attendees to happen in the year 2021 at all.  How ‘small’ this event will be is still up in the air, it seems. So I’m not sure how under that figure it’ll be, or even if my prediction about the 2021 convention season outlook will be remotely accurate. Honestly, who knows anything at this point? We are living in an mysterious void of uncertainty. 

Will this mini SDCC be worth traveling across the country for most of us? Who knows.  At this point I’d just be happy to see my friends, so I might be up for it, even if it doesn’t attract all the big name celebs and vendors that the main convention has.  In fact, I’d be down just flying out to hang out and party with people with or without a big convention to accompany it. I miss my friends, guys!  Hell, once we reach herd immunity, let’s just go to Vegas or something! I miss your faces.

The main SDCC 2021 event will be online and reduced to three days, so if panels and vendors are your thing, you’ll get that in the summer from the comfort of your own home, albeit with a day’s less content than normal.  I watched some of the panels last year and they were great, but I definitely missed the vibe of the con more than the actual content itself.  But it’s better than nothing.  I was able to check out some smaller panels that I usually can’t get to because the con is so spread out and crowded, so it wasn’t all bad news.

The merchandise I ordered from the vendors that was themed to our weird SDCC 2020 experience was certainly memorable and one of the best parts of a virtual con last summer.  If anything, I look forward to casually shopping the SDCC 2021 merch more than anything else.  That was a lot more stress free than my usual exhibit hall experience, which requires a hell of a lot of walking and bobbing and weaving through crowds and long lines for sold out merch… yeah, no, that bit won’t be missed.  My con friends and the in-person panel vibe, though, can’t be replaced, and for that I’m still pretty bummed. 

Right now I’m going to set my sights on this mini November SDCC they briefly mentioned.  It seems it’s likely to give us the best of both worlds.  The virtual SDCC 2021 summer con gives us the big names and merch, and then the mini con gives us our friends and social events.  Will you consider going to the mini con? Or will you hold out for SDCC 2022?  And, like, generally, how you feeling, guys? Hangin’ in there?

Author: Angel Wilson

Angel is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. She earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. She’s contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. She’s written for Friends of Comic Con and is a 2019 Hugo Award winner for contributing fanfic on AO3. She identifies as queer.


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