Comic-Con International, San Diego’s homegrown pop culture extravaganza, arrives this week with questions, speculation and a touch of mystery that surpass even the comic books and movies it celebrates.
The event will take place July 20-23 from its usual home at the San Diego Convention Center. Again, it is expected to attract a large crowd of fans, entertainment industry representatives and global media.
But the cloud of uncertainty over Comic-Con this year stems from a confluence of circumstances, including the Hollywood writers’ strike, which is expected to keep the creators of popular television shows and movies away. Also, a cast strike announced just before the Con opens is expected to keep away many of the big celebrity cast members attending the show.
Additionally, several major entertainment companies, including Disney, Marvel and Netflix, are not scheduled to make keynote presentations at the event.
But, as they say in the business, the show must go on.
More than 135,000 people are expected to attend the event, headquartered at the convention center, but has expanded to include activities throughout the downtown Gaslamp Quarter.
While maintaining optimism, Comic-Con chief spokesman David Glanzer said earlier this month that organizers are refraining from speculating or predicting the event.
“We continue to work diligently in hopes of making our summer programs as fun, educational and celebratory as in years past,” he said.
There will be plenty more to keep fans engaged.
Regular animation and film screenings, art shows, special guests including authors and cartoonists, the popular masquerade costume contest, and the exhibit hall will be filled with all kinds of vendors and organizations.
However, strikes and other circumstances began to affect Comic-Con’s schedule. As of Saturday, several panels have reportedly been canceled. Among them are panels for the popular television shows “Abbott Elementary” and “That 70’s Show,” according to the San Diego Comic-Con Unofficial Blog. Several autograph signing sessions were also cancelled.
Not everyone is lamenting the fact that Comic-Con will lack celebrities and big panels.
William Nericchio, an English professor at San Diego State University’s Center for Comics Studies, said this year’s con will give fans a chance to explore the wider world of pop culture.
“If you go to Comic-Con to quench your thirst for Hollywood stars strutting around in spandex against a loud, fuzzy, exploding CGI backdrop, Comic-Con 2023 is going to be a sad day for you,” said Nericio, who has attended nearly 10 Comic-Cons.
“However, if your love stems from your love for the various indie and corporate engines of comics and the amazing artists who lead these various universes, you’ll be more than happy for the absence of film and streaming media lovers. Comic-Con Comic-Con — the time and place to make comics!” he said.