Many pop culture cons have been postponed or canceled because of COVID-19, leaving con-goers with little to look forward to for the next couple of months. There’s some good news, however — many organizations are filling the void by organizing online events.
Take Anaheim’s WonderCon, for example. This 66,000-person con was initially scheduled to take place last weekend and was indefinitely postponed due to pandemic concerns. Despite its de facto cancellation, however, the con held a few online events for would-be attendees, including a scavenger hunt, “screenings” of panels from 2019’s WonderCon, as well as dedicated webpages allowing artists, small press, and other exhibitors to promote their wares.
WonderCon has passed (though you can still check out the many vendors and buy some of their wares!), but there are several other online, genre-focused events fans of all kinds can enjoy in the weeks and months to come. Here, we bring just a taste of what con-goers can look forward to in the digital realm over the next few months!
Wizard World Virtual Experiences — April 16 and 18
Wizard Entertainment, the producer of several fan conventions across North America, is offering a series of online panels that people can sign up for individually.
On April 18, for example, there’s a panel with six cast members from SYFY’s The Magicians. Attendees will be able to submit questions in advance to the panel and have the option to pay extra for certain perks like getting a pre-recorded personalized video, or even a live online chat with one of the actors. This type of access isn’t cheap — the experience’s starting price is $65. And while there’s only one more virtual experience currently scheduled (a similar event with Ed Asner on April 16), it seems likely that Wizard Entertainment will summon additional events as the pandemic continues.
Alternative Free Comic Book Day — May 1 and May 2
Free Comic Book Day is an annual event where comic book stores across North America offer free, special edition comic books to those who visit their establishments. This year’s Free Comic Book Day, which typically takes place the first Saturday in May, has been understandably postponed.
The good news is that two creators — Russell Nohelty and Neo Edmund — have organized Alternative Free Comic Book Day as an online substitute. This two-day event will take place on May 1 and 2, and it will include panels, free digital comic books, and other surprises.
Virtual Fan Expo — May 2 and May 3
Virtual Fan Expo is a completely new online convention that was organized by the nerd-loving event producers Experience Level Entertainment, Kaleidoko, Legion M, and Collider.
The two-day experience is completely free for both attendees and vendors — just go to their website on May 2 to attend virtual panels, online happy hours, and interactive gaming rooms. If you miss shopping on the con floor, they’ll also have a virtual vendor marketplace where fans can buy a variety of geek-themed wares.
The SFWA Nebula Conference — May 29 through May 31
The Nebula Conference is an annual event organized by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association (SFWA) where, over the course of three days, attendees can delve into the world of science fiction and fantasy writing.
This year’s conference was set for the end of May in Woodland Hills, California. Due to COVID-19 concerns, however, the conference has moved to a completely virtual format. Even though it will be entirely online, the conference will be as interactive and immersive as possible, with attendees able to attend panels, get one-on-one mentorship, take part in online forum discussions, and even get social via virtual room parties replete with music and dancing.
The cost for the event is $150 (you can register here), though anyone can stream Saturday night’s Nebula Awards Ceremony, an evening that recognizes the best SFF writing of 2019.
iNet.Events’ Star Wars and Cosplay Conventions — April 26 and May 17
Nick Maley, an FX makeup and creature effects designer, has pulled together two virtual conventions to bring genre fans together during the COVID-19 pandemic. The first con is COSnet, a cosplay-focused, day-long event tentatively scheduled for April 26. This approximately 8-hour event has a $6 attendance fee and includes a cosplay competition as well as live interviews with experts who can help you learn how to make the best costumes, special effects, and props for your next cosplay creation.
Maley is also organizing StarNet 1.0 and 2.0, two separate full-day events with panelists related to all things Star Wars. The tentative date for the start of StarNet is May 17, though that is subject to change. The price for each event is also $6, so check out iNet.Events’ website to keep tabs on the details as these virtual cons develop.
Worldcon New Zealand — July 29 through August 2nd
Worldcon — the science fiction (and fantasy) convention that takes place in a different location each year — was set to take place this August in New Zealand. The organizers of the event, however, have decided to move it to a virtual event due to pandemic concerns. Prices for Worldcon membership are scheduled to be released on April 15 (becoming an attending member also makes you eligible to vote for the Hugos, awards given to the best science fiction and fantasy works published the previous year). Check out the website and/or use the newsletter sign-up option on the home page to stay up to date on virtual programming and prices.
These are just a handful of virtual fan-based events, with more and more coming online each week. But if these aren’t enough, or if you’re looking for more constant, day-to-day comic-con love, there’s also the 30,000-plus member Facebook group Concellation 2020, where other former con-goers are converging to share their love of fandom, and to keep the con vibe alive during these uncertain times.