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How to make Comic-Con@Home feel more like the real thing

Cosplayers at Comic-Con International on Friday, July 19, 2019.
More photos of cosplayers at Comic-Con International on Friday, July 19, 2019.
(Jared Gase/ )

It’s easy to make fun of Comic-Con.

For us locals who don’t care about the mega convention, it’s practically our duty to complain about it — the same San Diego rite of passage as complaining when the weather veers five degrees on either side of 75.

However, when COVID-19 forced Comic-Con to cancel this year, even the most cynical had to admit that it was a huge blow to San Diego. The convention is pretty much ingrained into our civic DNA, and it brings more value to our city than just a massive influx of tourist money — for one long weekend, San Diego becomes a hub of artistic inspiration and innovation.

But not all is lost.

This year, Comic-Con is launching Comic-Con@Home, a virtual series of panels and other exclusives. To die-hards, this may feel like a watered-down attempt, but it’s better than nothing.

And there are certainly ways to make the experience more authentic, including these tips to make Comic-Con@Home feel a little more like the real thing, warts and all.

A scene from The Walking Dead _ Season 10, Episode 2
Ryan Hurst as Beta, Juliet Brett as Frances in “The Walking Dead.”
(Jace Downs/AMC/Jace Downs/AMC)

Walk around your house without lifting your feet off the ground: There’s a reason that “The Walking Dead” and all its iterations (including “Fear the Walking Dead” and the new “The Walking Dead: World Beyond”) do so well at Comic-Con — walking around the convention center is just like being part of a zombie horde. After a while, you barely even realize you’re shoulder-to-shoulder with your fellow mouth-breathers, slowly making your way toward some feeling of satiation that will never happen.

To replicate this experience, all you need to do is move around the house without lifting your feet off the ground. That constant contact will slow you down to the appropriate zombie pace. Bonus points if you live with others who can awkwardly walk alongside you with their elbows touching yours for extended periods of time without either of you acknowledging it.

Photos of cosplayers at Comic-Con International on Friday, July 19, 2019.
(Jared Gase/ )

Don’t overthink your cosplay: People dressing up as their favorite pop-culture characters is unequivocally the best part about Comic-Con. The creativity, work and disregard for practicality that some people put into their costumes never fails to astound (I’ll never forget a lumbering 10-foot tall Apocalypse I saw one year).

Even though the exhibitionist factor is taken out of Comic-Con, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t dress up. Plus, we still have Instagram, which is the only point of doing anything anyway, right?

Also, the bar is so low that you can be practically anything! For example, change out of your sweatpants, put on a real shirt — maybe even iron it — and voila, you’re cosplaying as Pre-Pandemic You. Pre-Pandemic You’s super powers are feeling hope for the future, and a cool nonchalance upon entering grocery stores.

Desmound Russel (l), Jimmy Wilson (m) and Carter Russel (r) at Comic-Con
Desmound Russel (l), Jimmy Wilson (m) and Carter Russel (r) from Los Angeles watched a short video on their cell phone while at Comic-Con.
(Nelvin C. Cepeda / San Diego Union-Tribune)

Sabotage your Internet for the weekend: Trying to use your phone at the convention center is an act of self-flagellation. With so many people eating up the bandwidth, it practically takes days for a Tweet to post. If you get separated from your group, there’s no use texting them for their location and you might as well accept that you’ll probably never see them again.

To replicate this, call up your Internet provider and see if there’s a way they can hobble your connection speed. They’ll probably be happy to fulfill your request, and they most definitely have the ability to do so, since every time you threaten to cancel services they have the magical ability to immediately give you a faster connection speed. I assume it’s just a knob they can turn up or down.

Actor Halle Berry takes a drink at a Comic-Con panel.
Actor Halle Berry (L) takes a drink onstage while actor Pedro Pascal looks on at the 20th Century FOX panel during Comic-Con International 2017.
(Kevin Winter / Getty Images)

Get your anecdotes ready: I’m not sure what kind of interactivity Comic-Con@Home will have, but there’s usually a Q&A at the end of each panel where audience members can glean information from their idols. However, there’s always some inconsiderate person who asks “a two-part question, I mean, kind of a comment, actually” and then everyone has to listen to their esoteric, personal anecdote.

If there are Q&As this year, make sure you have your most benign and uninteresting stories ready just in case you have the opportunity to share them. I don’t exactly condone this, but we’re trying to make Comic-Con@Home feel as authentic as usual, right?

A plate of bad nachos

Stock up on bottom-shelf food: Nobody has ever had a decent meal at Comic-Con. This is a fact. But paying exorbitant prices for barely-digestible “food” is one of the Con’s many charms. I think I’m still digesting some nachos I got back in 2014. That sporadic flare in my gut is just a sentimental reminder of those happier times.

This year, I suggest stocking up on food like discount hot-dogs, tubs of fake, plastic cheese and pre-wrapped gas station sandwiches. Maybe try hitting up a Little Caesar’s at the end of the night before they throw out all their leftover Hot-N-Ready pizzas. Then, once you’ve acquired your junk food, remove a $100 bill from your wallet — the amount you’d normally pay to eat for one day at the Con — and just throw it in the trash.

There you have it.

Follow those tips and your Comic-Con@Home should be just a little more true to the actual experience. And if all else fails, you can just spend the entire weekend sitting on your floor with the computer turned off. You’ll miss everything, but at least it’ll be accurate to the experience of waiting in line to get into Hall H.


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