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It fits the new one Dune the trailer came out this week. Not because it’s summer, and huge trailers are always attached to huge ones movies playing in multiplexes – though that’s part of it – but because Comic-Con International is this weekend, and in a world where Covid-19 never happened, that trailer would pack more than 6,000 people in Hall H at the San Diego Convention Center. Easy. Fans would scream for director Denis Villeneuve and starring Timothée Chalamet and Zendaya. Surely someone would play in a home suit. Or like a sandworm. That would be funny.
It also never will be. Comic-Con is dead.
OK, not literally. For the second year in a row, the annual suitcase with a nerdy in San Diego stops a personal event and instead maintains a series of network panels. From a public health perspective, this is more than smart. Comic-Con was an addictive petri dish even before the world found itself in the midst of a global pandemic. But from a fandom perspective and a cultural impact perspective, a network event simply won’t have the same mojo. It won’t overwhelm Twitter or predict the opening of the box office numbers for the weekend for next year. There will be no IRL cosplay. There will be several nice conversations– A little Track, a The walking dead board, Zack Snyder talks about zombies – but a little more. The 130,000 people who normally make their way to San Diego will not be there; the blood of the event will disappear. (Perhaps then it is appropriate that many people will talk about the undead.)
Last year, in this very column, I asked “Can Comic-Con work at home?“The question was mostly rhetorical because of course he can’t. Comic-Con is an event, not a TV show. And, unlike the Olympics, which too started today i will not have a live audience, it’s the kind of event where some of the best moments don’t happen on the main stage. Comic-Con talks about the conversations you have in line for the panel, hanging out outside of business hours, seeing CW stars from the C list, traveling to the floor to look for collectibles. Of course, the Olympic Games have joys that happen outside the playground, but that is not the reason why people leave. Rarely, if at all, do sports fans attend the Summer Games dressed as a favorite swimmer.
The result is, in a word, sad. Comic-Con is mostly a frivolous event, and its transfer to the network hurts almost no one in reality. If you don’t keep it personal, you will undoubtedly save many lives. But there is an inherent sadness over the loss of cultural backbones. Nobody needs Comic-Con, or some other Marvel movie, or fireworks, or even the Olympics for that matter. But these events connect humanity. Losing them at a time when so much has already been lost – and, in the case of Comic-Con, at a time when the event was already losing money– is just another reminder of exactly how much needs to be renewed.
But maybe that hope is the bright side, if it exists. No details are known, but Comic-Con has promised a live event for the Thanksgiving weekend. It seems like a bad time to hold a comic book convention, but maybe it could be a dry start – a way to test what could be done if the event continues in person in 2022. Maybe it could even come back in better shape. Comic-Con pre-Covid has become awkward and expensive for fans. It was a lot of spraying and not so much substance. Perhaps a new, deceived foundation could bring back a greater focus on comics – include Star Wars movies and (theoretically) Duneis a sequel, but it also shouldn’t be so crowded that fans can’t start taking it all. It could be different; it could be as it once was. Comic-Con is dead. Long live Comic-Con.
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