Comic-Con attendees walk the convention center floor during preview night at Comic-Con International on July 17, 2019, in San Diego, California. Image Credit: Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

It’s official: San Diego Comic-Con is going virtual once again.

Organisers announced Monday that due to safety concerns around the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, July’s Comic-Con 2021 will be a free online event again rather than the in-person pop-culture behemoth of the Before Times. The annual event, which usually draws more than 135,000 attendees in and around the San Diego Convention Center, was cancelled for the first time in its 50-year history last year and replaced by a virtual line-up of programming.

“While we are buoyed by the roll-out of the vaccine and the growing number of individuals being inoculated, it appears that July will still be too early to safely hold an in-person event of the magnitude of Comic-Con,” San Diego Comic Convention said in a statement posted on its website.

“For this reason, we have made the challenging decision to postpone Comic-Con 2021 as an in-person gathering until our 2022 dates, and once again hold this year’s celebration as the free online Comic-Con@Home.”

The organisers explained that due to financial challenges resulting from the pandemic, the virtual Comic-Con 2021 will be scaled down to a three-day event held July 23-25. However, they are planning a smaller, in-person convention in San Diego for November. Additional details such as the capacity, costs and dates for the November gathering, which will also be three days, will be announced later.

Those who had purchased Comic-Con 2020 badges and had them rolled over for the 2021 convention can expect an email from Comic-Con International with instructions on how to request a refund or transfer their admission to Comic-Con 2022.

Read more

Comic-Con joins other large-scale annual events such as Coachella and Stagecoach that have been forced to alter course yet again for safety reasons. Industries involving massive in-person gatherings — such as festivals, conventions and concerts — have been hit hard during the pandemic, which is heading into its second year in the US.

WonderCon, CCI’s other annual pop-culture convention that is usually held in Anaheim, is also being held virtually from March 26-27.