Comic-Con organizers defend holding in-person convention over Thanksgiving weekend
Organizers of the pop culture convention came under fire for scheduling an in-person event over Thanksgiving.
It turns out prospective Comic-Con attendees have a problem with being forced to choose between finally going to San Diego for the convention and spending what, for many, will be their first Thanksgiving holiday with family since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Who knew?
The organizers of San Diego Comic-Con have come out to explain their decision to hold a shorter in-person convention over Thanksgiving weekend in November, an announcement made on Saturday over their official website that ruffled a lot of feathers.
Comic-Con usually takes place during the summer at the San Diego Convention Center in California with a four-day slate of panels, booths, activations, and other pop culture-y events. This year, what is billed as a "Comic-Con Special Edition" will take place over three days from Friday, Nov. 26 to Sunday, Nov. 28.
The decision to hold the convention on Thanksgiving weekend was "driven by a number of factors," according to a new statement from organizers. One of them was determining "how best to effectively and safely produce events in light of current health concerns with the least negative impact on attendees."
The statement notes organizers don't even know yet if it's actually feasible to host an in-person event this year, as we're all still dealing with the pandemic. Last year's convention was canceled due to COVID-19, as was the bigger planned convention for this July.
"As conventions and events have had to cancel their in-person shows or have converted to virtual formats during the pandemic, some have been postponed to later years while others have been rescheduled to the later part of 2021, resulting in a very packed Convention Center calendar," organizers noted.
"When reviewing dates for an in-person event, it was clear that available meeting and exhibit space would limit our options," they continued. "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. As longtime fans ourselves, we have attended many conventions over that holiday weekend, opting to spend Thanksgiving day with family and the rest of the weekend with friends and our families of choice. While this is not unusual in the convention trade, we understand this choice is not optimal for everyone."
"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. See you in 2022!" Star Wars: Light of the Jedi author Charles Soule tweeted of the initial news.
With the prospect of increased vaccinations allowing for families to safely gather this holiday season, the criticism posed to Comic-Con organizers didn't stop there. Many in the industry took issue with this current planning.
Roswell, New Mexico creator and former showrunner Carina Adly MacKenzie tweeted, "So many people go to Comic-Con for fun, but so many people also go for work. We all missed Thanksgiving with our families in 2020. Could we… not?"
Linda Ge, a writer on the CW's Kung Fu, wrote, "Does Comic-Con realize that most people didn't get to spend last Thanksgiving with their families because of the pandemic?"
"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," author Tara Bennett tweeted.
"My family missed Thanksgiving last year because of the pandemic," tweeted comic book writer Dan Slott. "This year, we'll all be vaccinated. There's no way I'd be attending any event instead of spending that time with them. Even if everything were magically back to normal... I can't imagine fans and pros who celebrate Thanksgiving in the U.S. feeling differently."
Further in their statement, organizers said that Comic-Con Special Edition was "never intended to be the large gathering reflective of the summer event," but rather "a shorter event" to start "slowly and cautiously" meeting fan desires for an in-person show.
"We understand that due to potential travel-based restrictions and challenges, Comic-Con Special Edition may be an event attended mostly by fans more easily able to travel to San Diego," they also said.