Just one year after celebrating its landmark 50th anniversary, Comic-Con kicks off Wednesday with a convention unlike any other in its history.

The Coronavirus pandemic that has affected daily life in every part of the world has forced Comic-Con to go completely online for the first time.

That means no massive crowds inside the San Diego Convention Center. No fans in costume wandering the Gaslamp area. And for San Diego, no desperately needed economic boost from a convention that brings about 135,000 visitors to San Diego for one week each year and generates more than $147 million in economic activity.

For fans, it’s a win-lose situation.

Fans will not have to wait in long lines under a hot sun, walk thousands of steps each day and shell out hundreds of dollars for hotels, parking, food and merchandise.

But fans also will not enjoy the opportunity of meeting favorite celebrities, catching up with old friends and getting that buzz of being one of a lucky few in the Convention Center’s Hall H when studios announce major new projects.

One distinct advantage for fans, however, is that they will not have to agonize over which panel or event on Comic-Con’s usually crowded schedule they have to miss because of a competing panel.

Since all the programming will be online and is free, fans can fill the rest of the month of July and perhaps August watching panels they might have missed. The panels will be broadcast on Comic-Con’s YouTube channel and although many of them are scheduled by day, the videos can be watched anytime.

For more the schedule and more information, visit ComicCon.org.

So, with all that to consider, here’s a preview of some of the key Comic-Con@Home doings this week.

The Con in the Time of Coronavirus

Comic-Con has survived many ups and downs over it’s half-century history. But it only seems fitting that its biggest challenge has been a global pandemic like the kind that you’d find in the movies, television shows and comic books that the Con celebrates.

But rather than going to Comic-Con@Home to escape the news of the world, the convention will feature several discussions designed to help people cope with the pandemic.

Panels include starting your own pop culture company during a pandemic, mental health during a pandemic, how fan groups are adjusting and meeting virtually, how cartoonists deal with writer’s block during a global lockdown and “This is Not the Apocalypse You’re Looking For: Real Life Disasters, Fictional Recovery,” a discussion on how disasters are handled in pop fiction, as opposed to the real world.

The Show Must Go On

Although fewer than in years past because of the pandemic, studios and entertainment companies will still heavily promote their current and new projects.

Among the big promotions this year are season two of Amazon’s “The Boys,” an irreverent, cynical and dark show about at a group of popular superheroes who are run by corporate America and are less heroic than perceived.

There will be panels on AMC’s mega-hit “The Walking Dead” and two of its spin-offs shows. “Star Trek” and its new franchise shows will be celebrated on Thursday.

For animation fans, the shows “Bob’s Burgers” and “Archer” will be spotlighted and there will be an 80th anniversary tribute to Bugs Bunny.

Comic-Con is San Diego

The uniquely San Diego event will as usual make several nods to its hometown.

Local comic book publisher IDW will preview its new offerings at one panel Saturday. Area librarians will discuss how they use pop culture to engage youth. San Diego’s Little Fish Comic Book Studio, a nonprofit comic studio and advocacy group, will talk about its work.

Meanwhile, local Holocaust artist/author Sandra Scheller will be featured in a discussion on “Art and the Holocaust.” Scheller, who grew up in the South Bay, is the daughter of Holocaust survivors who has worked to keep their stories alive.

Luis Monteagudo Jr. is a freelance writer and pop culture enthusiast. He has written for The San Diego Union-Tribune, USA Today and numerous other publications.

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