San Diego Comic-Con Sparks Backlash for Planning In-Person Event on Thanksgiving Weekend

A "Special Edition" event is currently scheduled for November 26th-28th

san deigo comic con 2021 thanksgiving weekend special event
San Deigo Comic-Con, photo via Sarah Mertan/Shutterstock
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Just about every industry figured out ways to approximate their typical experiences online over the last year. Anaheim’s annual comic convention WonderCon just wrapped up its virtual event over the weekend, and the iconic San Diego Comic-Con has plans for a second online edition this summer. But just as many businesses are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel, SDCC is already planning its big comeback extravaganza. The convention organizers have announced their first in-person event since 2019, Comic-Con Special Edition, and they’re holding it on… Thanksgiving weekend?

CCSE is currently set for November 26th-28th this year, and responses to the dates has been largely negative for pretty obvious reasons. The pandemic prevented many people from spending the holidays with their families, and Thanksgiving 2021 may be the first familial gathering of the post-COVID era. That weekend is also notorious for being the busiest travel period of the year, driving up the cost of flights and limiting availability. Even if fans could get away with avoiding their family’s first in-person holiday in over a year, it’d cost them a considerable sum just to get to San Diego — and surely folks have other plans for their stimulus checks.

Even those who would typically be guest at Comic-Con have taken issue with the Thanksgiving dates. “So they scheduled #SDCC on the same weekend as the first chance most families will (hopefully) be fully able to celebrate Thanksgiving in two years,” tweeted Daredevil and She-Hulk writer Charles Soule. “See you in 2022!”

Noted author Tara Bennett (Marvel Studios: The First Ten Years, Lost Encyclopedia), “Sure. Make it during the one non-denominational fall holiday weekend in U.S., w/ always peak airfare prices. And I’m sure A-list celebs will LOVE doing this. Black Friday, indeed.”

For their part, the Comic-Con organizers are painting the Thanksgiving weekend Special Event as a much-needed financial boon. A spokesperson for the nonprofit organization behind San Diego Comic-Con, David Glanzer, noted that the company’s shift to an online format led to a “loss of revenue” that impacted employees, something many businesses experienced in 2020. “Hopefully this event will shore up our financial reserves and mark a slow return to larger in-person gatherings in 2022,” Glanzer said (via The Hollywood Reporter).

Following the backlash from the initial announcement, SDCC has issued a new statement attempting to explain why they chose a holiday weekend for their return. Admitting that they still “do no know whether having this event in November is even feasible,” organizers explained that they viewed Thanksgiving as presenting “the fewest restrictions.”

“When reviewing dates for an in-person event, it was clear that available meeting and exhibit space would limit our options,” the statement read, noting that many other in-person events are already booking up space in hopes of a fall return. “Of the dates presented with the fewest restrictions, Friday through Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend seemed to be the best balance of available space and our envisioned event.”

The statement went on to argue that “as longtime fans ourselves, we have attended many conventions over that holiday weekend,” adding that CCSE “was never intended to be the large gathering reflective of the summer event.” By putting the event on a holiday weekend, the organizers understand it “may be an event attended mostly by fans more easily able to travel to San Diego” — which may be part of their scheme to keep attendance low.

All this said, no one really knows if a large scale in-person convention will even make sense by fall. Organizers are “optimistic about Q4,” but only time will tell. Until then, comic and genre fans will have the second Comic-Con @Home event to safely look forward to on July 23rd-25th.

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