New York Comic Con Pivots To Online Only For 2020

by Erik Amaya

It was inevitable, but New York Comic Con 2020 has be cancelled as a physical event.

“We are thoroughly disappointed that we can’t gather together, in-person for the New York Comic Con we love to build and our fans love to revel in,” ReedPop president Lance Fensterman said in a statement. “We look forward to this weekend all year long, just like you, and with this being our 15th edition, we were particularly excited. I will miss walking up and down artist alley and seeing friends that I’ve made since we were in the basement at the Javits Center.”

The New York convention center turned into a temporary hospital during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. And as the situation with the novel coronavirus continued to escalate, comic conventions across the year (and the world) cancelled as gatherings of any size were discouraged or banned outright. Many had hoped the pandemic would be contained by October, but such hopes continued to be dashed as ReedPop itself cancelled other fan conventions on its schedule. And, as it happens, NYCC never opened the portal to purchase passes, leaving many to assume an online convention was in the works.

And that turned out to be the case. NYCC will go on as an online event the weekend of October 8th. “While this year will definitely be a different experience, we are going to look to bring the best and most engaging event to our fans, exhibitors, and studios through our partnership with YouTube,” Fensterman said. Panels will appear on the NYCC YouTube channel, including a preview of the upcoming third season of American Gods and CBS All Access’ customary Star Trek: Discovery presentation. Additionally, DreamWorks Animation, Hulu and FX will also bring previews of new content to the virtual convention.

Some of the panels will be live and feature the Q&A experience missing from some earlier virtual conventions this year. YouTube will also offer more of its community tools to turn the presentations into watch parties and streamline the question process.

ReedPop also plans to make “meet & greets, live Q&As, personalized autographs, videos, and professional workshops” available to the virtual con-goers while also using its Metaverse webportal to create a virtual show floor.

Which all sounds exciting if it can be pulled off. As critics of Comic-Con@Home noted, Twitter engagement in the event was down over 90% from 2019. Although, by making panels available on YouTube, presentations generally had much larger attendances. Some were viewed by vastly more people than could fit into, say, Hall H, but seemingly at the cost of social media buzz. A live component was absolutely missing from Comic-Con International’s YouTube show and even if its plagued with technical glitches, a virtual NYCC may feel more alive just by attempting to offer the spontaneity of an actual convention.

In its virtual form, New York Comic Con is set to run October 8th through the 11th.

Erik Amaya

Host of Tread Perilously and a Film/TV Writer at Comicon.com and Rotten Tomatoes. A former staff writer at CBR and Bleeding Cool, and a contributing writer at Fanbase Press and Monkeys Fighting Robots. Voice of Puppet Tommy on The Room Responds. A seeker of the Seastone Chair and the owner of a Legion Flight Ring. Sorted into Gryffindor, which came as some surprise.

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