The Convention Center lobby was empty at the start, awaiting crowds going through vaccination or negative test check-in. Photos by Chris Stone

It was the non-Comic-Con Comic-Con. November instead of July. Cosplayers crowding the San Diego Convention Center instead of consuming the Gaslamp District.

No celebrity sightings. Or debut movie fanfare. Much less ambient noise and density.

And everyone wearing a mask of some sort — mandated by organizers — as Black Friday gift-hunting dominated the cavernous exhibit hall on Day 1 of the abbreviated popular arts fest.

Lines to hear the 2 p.m. opening panels were much shorter than traditional, but queues with thousands waited to enter — proof of a vaccination or negative COVID test.

Many of the masks were comical — big grins and the like.

Ending Sunday, the San Diego Comic Convention returned after a pandemic break, during which work ended on a Comic-Con Museum in Balboa Park, whose ribbon cutting drew dozens.

A sampling of the scene:

Day 1 of Comic-Con Special Edition. Photo by Chris Stone
Karina Mallett of San Diego walks by selfie photo area of San Diego Convention Center. Photo by Chris Stone
Itzel Lemus (left) and Chris Hill play a “Beetlejuice” couple. Photo by Chris Stone
Day 1 of Comic-Con Special Edition. Photo by Chris Stone
Day 1 of Comic-Con Special Edition, where end of the line was sometimes ignored. Photo by Chris Stone
Day 1 of Comic-Con Special Edition. Photo by Chris Stone

Day 1 of Comic-Con Special Edition. Photo by Chris Stone

Day 1 of Comic-Con Special Edition. Photo by Chris Stone
Day 1 of Comic-Con Special Edition. Photo by Chris Stone
On Fifth Avenue in the Gaslamp, Daniel Golden played Capt. Kirk as Paul Forest signed as Mr. Spock of “Star Trek.” Photo by Chris Stone
Attendee studies Gundam base figurines in Exhibit Hall at Comic-Con. Photo by Chris Stone
David Baxter wears mask of Red Miller from movie “Mandy.” He said the Nicolas Cage costume was one of only five in the world. Photo by Chris Stone
David Baxter holds mask of Red Miller from movie “Mandy.” Photo by Chris Stone
Day 1 of Comic-Con Special Edition. Photo by Chris Stone
Day 1 of Comic-Con Special Edition. Photo by Chris Stone
Day 1 of Comic-Con Special Edition. Photo by Chris Stone
Day 1 of Comic-Con Special Edition. Photo by Chris Stone
Day 1 of Comic-Con Special Edition. Photo by Chris Stone
Day 1 of Comic-Con Special Edition. Photo by Chris Stone
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