It’s no surprise that the hugely annual Comic-Con convention had to be cancelled this year. The convention is one of the most popular pop culture events of the year and it was just one of the many social events that fell victim to the COVID-19 outbreak. News of the cancellation broke in April and by May an announcement was made confirming that an online version of the convention- Comic-Con@ Home- would be available for free in July. Unfortunately, things haven’t exactly gone to plan.
Comic-Con@ Home has gained only a tiny percentage of the traction that the regular event gets. Variety reported on social media analytics from ListenFirst that were pretty damning in terms of online engagement for the event: “tweets that mentioned Comic-Con@Home were down 95% from 2019’s live convention — just 93,681 tweets over the five-day event, against 1,719,000 tweets in 2019.”
Yikes. Even the YouTube videos for various panels were only averaging around 15,000 views. Keep in mind that panels for the convention often get high in the hundred thousand.
So what could have caused such a lack of enthusiasm for Comic-Con@ Home?
Admittedly, the online convention was a little thin in terms of content this year. The biggest panels came from Twentieth Century Fox for The New Mutants, AMC for The Walking Dead, and CBS for the Star Trek series. The New Mutants panel did well but still only received a fraction of the attention that panels from previous years garnered. Not even two Keanu Reeves panels- one for Bill and Ted Face the Music and one for Constantine- could pull in more views and clicks. If the internet’s favourite person can’t even garner enough interest, what hope is there?
Another factor in Comic-Con@ Home’s failure to excite could also lie in its entirely online format. Despite the huge crowds, hot temperatures, and disturbing plethora of smells, there is something to be said for the ambiance and excitement of the live convention experience. Even if it’s impossible to attend the convention, the Internet becomes a haven of Comic-Con content. From the YouTube videos of cosplayers awkwardly maneuvering through the large crowds in amazing detailed but painfully bulky costumes to Twitter feeds full of attendees depicting their experiences waiting five hours in line just to get a glimpse of Tom Hiddleston’s middle toe. It all adds to the experience and unfortunately, Comic-Con@ Home was never going to provide it.
This all being said, some respect and due credit should be given to the organizers of Comic-Con@ Home. Since the 2019 convention, the world has been turned upside down. They only had a few months to prepare this entirely online experience and they did a fantastic job all things considered. Hopefully one day we will be able to return to a world where huge conventions like Comic-Con are once again possible. Until then, we had better get used to getting all of our content via an online format. It’s probably gonna be a while.