Three months ahead of the 50th annual San Diego Comic Convention (SDCC), organizers have officially cancelled the 2020 event due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. However, a date is already set for next year, when San Diego Comic-Con will return from July 22-25. 

San Diego Comic-Con, 2012.
San Diego Comic-Con in 2012, just a few years before it was recognized as the largest comic book convention in the world © Kevin Dooley / CC BY 2.0

“Extraordinary times require extraordinary measures and while we are saddened to take this action, we know it is the right decision,” said David Glanzer, a SDCC spokesperson, in a statement on the Comic-Con website. “We eagerly look forward to the time when we can all meet again and share in the community we all love and enjoy.”

The decision isn't entirely surprising, as California Governor Newsom recently indicated that bans on crowded events of a hundred attendees or more, first enacted a month ago, will likely continue into the summer.  “The prospect of mass gatherings,” Newsom said, “is negligible at best.”

San Diego's Comic-Con isn't the only such convention to be cancelled this year, either. WonderCon in Anaheim, slated for early April of this year, was also cancelled until 2021. Meanwhile, Emerald City Comic Con in Seattle was postponed from March until August of 2020, and Anime Weekend Atlanta – which has historically taken place every year on Labor Day Weekend – was bumped back to Halloween Weekend in an unprecedented move.

A group of breakdancers performs in Spiderman costumes at ComiCon in San Diego
Cosplay is a huge part of the Comic-Con experience © Daniel Knighton / Getty Images

This year has proved chaotic for convention organizers. The Association of Writers & Writing Programs came under fire for choosing not to cancel or postpone their early March conference in San Antonio, while South by Southwest in Austin made a last-minute decision to cancel their 2020 festival after numerous tech organizations and speakers decided not to attend.

SXSW since managed to take some of their offerings (including the Film Festival that the event was originally known for) online in partnership with Amazon Prime. But that's not possible for comic conventions like San Diego's famous gathering, which started in 1970 as a one-day event and has since ballooned into the largest convention of comic book fans in the world – an achievement recognized by Guinness World Records after the 2015 SDCC clocked 167,000 attendees. 

woman dressed as a black red Darth Maul Sith with her light saber under the Gas Lamp sign
San Diego Comic-Con might not be taking place this year, but it is already scheduled for 2021 © Daniel Knighton / Getty Images

Part of the fun and magic of San Diego Comic-Con is the chance for fans to meet one another in person, as well as their heroes – the artists, writers, and animators who have worked on classics like X-Men, Iron Man, Black Panther, Archie Comics, and Disney's Lady and the Tramp. Cosplay – performance art in which fans dress like characters from their favorite franchises – is one of the most famous aspects of San Diego Comic-Con. It's one weekend a year when the streets of San Diego are filled with Darth Mauls, Batmans, Deadpools, Sailor Moons, and Dark Phoenixes, often to international curiosity and acclaim.

While San Diego will be a little less colorful in this summer of social distancing, there is at least the promise that the pandemic won't last forever. After fifty years of fantasy and fun, Comic-Con will be back next year, no doubt even weirder and more jubilant than ever after this year's historic cancellation.

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