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SYFY WIRE Behind the Panel

One day soon, we will Comic-Con again — and it will be glorious

By Mike Avila
San Diego Comic Con

There will be no San Diego Comic-Con this summer.

This week's news that organizers decided to postpone the convention as an in-person event for a second consecutive year wasn't that big a surprise. And it is absolutely the right call. Despite the rapid expansion of the vaccination program across the country, does anyone really think it would be a good idea to pack 125,000 people into a convention center in July?

As much as we're all feeling the strain of a year in pandemic-induced isolation, it just didn't feel like it was the right time to return to sunny San Diego for the world's greatest pop culture gathering. That's not meant to throw shade at Comic Con Experience (CCXP) in Brazil, by the way, which I hear is an insane show with double the attendance of SDCC.

San Diego, though, is the OG of mega-cons. It's the place where movie franchises are born and buried, where iconic television series go to take a victory lap and soak up the adulation from its adoring fandom. It's the place where you can take pictures of as many Deadpool cosplayers as you could possibly want, as well as an equal number of Jokers. It's where all kinds of lasting memories can happen through sheer dumb luck and inspired timing. If legendary announcer Keith Jackson had ever moderated a panel at Hall H, he would have called SDCC "the granddaddy of them all."

San Diego Comic-Con 2019

In the same statement that announced the postponement, organizers revealed they will be hosting a vastly scaled-down convention in San Diego in the fall, provided, we assume, the vaccine rollout continues at its current levels. I hope that show does great business and everyone has a great time. Me? I'm going to hold out for summer of 2022.

When I make the return trip out west, I want it to be for a full and properly blinged-out Comic-Con. I want the Gaslamp Quarter to be drowning in a sea of costumed humanity and gigantic swag bags bearing the logos of whatever CW show gets that sweet placement. I want to drool over original comic art that I can't possibly afford. I want to try, in vain, to get that one damn Funko Exclusive I absolutely had to have. I want to walk by and marvel at the dedication of the fans who wait to get into Hall H every day. I want to be overwhelmed by absurd outdoor installations promoting some show, movie, or game. I want to sit down for an overpriced breakfast at one of the hotels and play "Spot the comic book superstar." I want to see and hug so many of my friends who I haven't seen in such a long time.

Deadpool cosplayer at San Diego Comic-Con 2019

Comic conventions are, by their nature, purely commercial ventures; a place to buy, sell, market, and promote. But what cons really do best is help nurture the passion of the devoted. We love what we love, for reasons that are deeply personal and often hard to put into words. At its best, SDCC has the vibe of a massive family reunion. It is that sense of community that makes conventions so important to the fan experience, and no event fosters that vibe better than San Diego.

 A while back, a friend and I discussed what the first Comic-Con after the pandemic would be like. We both immediately came to the conclusion that it would be a four-day bacchanalian bash that would leave Dionysus himself shook. Given that we will now have two years of pent-up geekery to unleash, that may have been underselling it.

The next San Diego Comic-Con will be off the chain, in all the very best ways. Roofs will be raised, tears and drinks will be spilled. Much joy will be had.

I'm insufferably optimistic, so I firmly believe that by 2022, the pandemic will (hopefully) be mostly in the rearview, and we'll be ready to return to the Gaslamp. Ready to celebrate the arts that fascinate and inspire us. Ready to revel in the atmosphere of joy and passion that those four days in San Diego embody.

We will Comic-Con again, my friends. And when we do, it will be glorious.

What do you miss most about Comic-Con? Find me on Twitter and Instagram and let me know.

Don't forget that Behind the Panel is a multi-platform experience. Our video series is loaded with my in-depth interviews with amazing comic book creators. The Behind the Panel podcast is an audio documentary series that provides unique insight into your favorite creators and stories. Check 'em out!

The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily reflect those of SYFY WIRE, SYFY, or NBCUniversal.