In-person conferences and conventions obviously aren’t happening this year, but San Diego Comic-Con International, which generally takes place in mid-July in San Diego, has taken its whole slate of events virtual—and you can attend from the comfort of your own home, for free.
Comic-Con@Home started on Wednesday and runs through Sunday, but one of the perks of a virtual event is that you can join when you have time and catch up later on (almost everything) you didn’t get to attend. In that regard, it’s even better in some ways than attending the real thing. During an average SDCC, so many things are happening at once that you have to choose carefully which panels and events you’ll attend—or, more likely, stand in line for severl hours to (hopefully) attend.
Here’s how to make the most of your virtual Comic-Con experience.
Turn your home into the San Diego Convention Center
Just because you’re not in a giant event space with tens of thousands of other attendees doesn’t mean you can’t experience those Con vibes. Organizers have put together a long list of print-at-home signs to help you recreate the look and feel of the San Diego Convention Center in your living room. Head over to the “Create Your Own” page to download signs for everything from badge pickup to the Art Show to the concession stands and restrooms.
There are also audio announcements for you to play on repeat, like this one: “If you are entering the room for the first time, please walk to your seats. No running. Please fill all seats. Do not hold seats for other people or place items on the seats next to you.”
And don’t forget to download and print attendee badges for yourself, your kids and your pets, as well as the full 260-page souvenir book.
If you go all-in on transforming your home, you can submit a video walk-thru on Instagram or Twitter using the hashtag #ComicConAtHomeExperience for a chance to be featured on Comic-Con’s official social accounts.
Build your Comic-Con schedule
There are tons of overlapping panels and events to choose from, so use the scheduling tool (you’ll have to create a free account) to select and set reminders for everything you want to watch. It’s pretty easy to filter by type and track—and once you’ve got your schedule built, you can share it with other attendees.
Panels and programs are hosted on the Comic-Con International YouTube channel—videos are posted at their scheduled time—so you can always head over there to browse what’s on offer, even if you’ve missed the scheduled start time.
Join a watch party
With the Scener extension for Chrome, you can sync up with other Con attendees to watch films and chat in real-time. View the schedule and RSVP to get a reminder—but keep in mind that you’ll have to have a subscription to the streaming service on which the film is available.
(If you’re set on joining a watch party, now might be a good time to sign up for that free trial.)
Attend a game demo or tournament
There’s a whole schedule of gaming demos, AMAs and challenges occurring throughout the convention. Games are hosted on Discord, Facebook Live, Twitch and YouTube. Join the Comic-Con Discord server for the most current info on gaming events.
Wander the virtual exhibit hall and Art Show
A virtual exhibit hall can’t replace the real thing, but you can click around the floor plan to “visit” vendors and explore their wares. Many haven’t uploaded anything to their booths, but a few have items to view and purchase.
Finally, the annual Eisner Awards show will premiere at 7 p.m. PT on Friday, July 24.
Submit your portfolio for review
There are four companies offering virtual portfolio reviews, so if you’re an aspiring artist, read the guidelines carefully and submit your work ahead of the individual deadlines to be considered.
Comic-Con@Home won’t be quite the same as Comic-Con IRL, but with everything available (and for free!), it’s about as close as you can get to a proper convention in these pandemic times.