Good news, nerds: Comic-Con is free this year, and you can finally watch it whilst pooping without fear of getting arrested! The bad news is that this is only happening because there's a pandemic going on (seriously, go check CNN), and, like your family birthdays and Zumba classes, Comic-Con is going digital. Here's an adorably awkward video the Con's volunteers put together to make the experience more authentic for viewers at home:
Yeah, this is already shaping up to be the weirdest Comic-Con ever, and it might also end up being the one that changed everything, because ...
Although it may not feel that way when you're swimming through a dense sea of people dressed as Deadpool and Harley Quinn, not every single comic book fan in the world gets to attend Comic-Con every year. In fact, only a small minority do. For the rest of us, the way to keep up with all those panels and announcements from home has always been to hit F5 on a text feed hurriedly written by someone at the con and then trawl YouTube for shaky phone videos before they get deleted.
But, since "swimming through a dense sea of people" is not the brightest idea while there's a nasty virus going around, they're forgoing the physical events this year in favor of "online panels." So, yeah, Zoom calls. Prepare to see a whoooole lot of bookshelves.
Now, there's something to be said about the excitement of waiting in line for six hours for the chance to gawk at Scarlett Johansson from across a giant hall, only to realize that was Chris Hemsworth and question your sexuality. It's a thrill to be there, meet other fans, buy shitloads of comics, and see your favorite celebrity in the flesh ... but, again, that's not how the great majority of fans experience Comic-Con. Getting to see the events in real time will be a vast improvement for the average nerd -- and, if you think about it, for the companies, too.
If the idea is to generate hype around their properties, why limit the full impact of these panels to a bunch of people crammed inside a hall? The organizers have stated that Comic-Con@Home will be a one-time thing, but it'll be hard to put the genie back in the bottle after everyone knows they have the technology to turn Comic-Con panels into worldwide events, like E3 presentations. Everyone wins! Well, except the organizers of the official con, and not just because they'll make less money on overpriced hot dogs ...
Speaking of E3, it's more like E1 these days, since both Nintendo and Sony have ditched the official presentations to do their own thing. After all, if most of their audience is online, who cares where the presentation is happening or what logos appear on the badges? It took the major gaming companies decades to realize this, but it looks like DC and Marvel are already there. DC only has two panels on the digital con (unless you count the Constantine 15th anniversary reunion, and DC doesn't seem to) while Marvel has three. By contrast, in 2019 Marvel hosted over ten panels and DC over twenty, including individual events for 50 or so DC-related shows on The CW (this year, there are none).
And sure, part of that is that there's less stuff to promote now that half the entertainment industry is on standby mode, but an even bigger part is stuff like this:
DC will host a "virtual fan experience" a.k.a. totally-not-Comic-Con called FanDome in August, which will include announcements, trailers, panels, and interviews. You know, everything you'd expect to see at Comic-Con. Meanwhile, Marvel is already pretty well covered by Disney's D23 Expo, but we wouldn't be surprised if they got their own show too. If the mid-sized comics publishers follow that example, we could end up with multiple mini-Comic-Cons taking place at roughly the same time while the official event continues to shrink until there's nothing left but the Bronies panel (the heart and soul of Comic-Con).
But wouldn't those publishers miss the superior technical know-how and organizational skills of the actual Comic-Con company if they strike out on their own? Uh, about that ...
One of Comic-Con's main events is the Eisner Awards, which are like the Oscars but nerdier and without satanic orgies afterwards (there are orgies, but they're secular). This year, several comics pros logged into a new portal created to allow them to cast their Eisner Awards votes online, only to realize that they could also cast other people's votes. Somehow, the wires got crossed and logging into your account could take you to a random stranger's instead. No one saw this coming, because websites that use Comics Sans font in 2020 always inspire such confidence.
The worst part is that users could also access and change someone else's private information, which is disturbing in a community full of abusers at every level, from pros to fans to guys who used to be pros but have been reduced to scamming fans via crowdfunding sites. When the glitch was pointed out, Comic-Con announced they were restarting the vote from scratch, but they didn't bother to mention the "your private info may have been leaked" part. Weeks later, they released a statement claiming that only "one user" went through the account switcheroo and that no votes were affected ...
... but that's disputed by the members of the Discord community that discovered this glitch, since they themselves witnessed some votes getting changed. The all-digital Comic-Con hasn't even started and they already have their first big screw-up. Anyway, we're sure the rest of the con will go smoothly, and we'd like to preemptively congratulate Mr. Seymour Butts on his landslide Eisner Awards victory.
Top Image: Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons