Hulu looks to capitalize, reach wider audience with virtual New York Comic Con amid COVID pandemic

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- This weekend in October traditionally marks the start of New York Comic Con, which like so many other events had to move online due to the coronavirus pandemic.

While that means there will be no fans in costumes filling the vast Javits Center to capacity this year, organizers hope the new approach will actually mean more people can attend.

There is no limit to how many folks can join virtually, and almost all of the events are free this year. That's good news to studios, networks, and streaming services, which depend on the event to promote their latest projects.

Related: New York Comic Con 2020 opens, goes virtual -- and free -- amid COVID pandemic

New York Comic Con got more and more crowded the past few years, meaning the booths of big brands like Marvel grew ever more elaborate to please all of the faithful fans making the pilgrimage. But not this year, as the festivities were forced to go virtual due to COVID-19.

"This might actually be an opportunity," said Craig Erwich, senior vice president of scripted originals for Hulu. "Comic Con is an event, right? A limited amount of people can go there. By doing it digitally, it might even be able to bring in more fans."

Erwich is showcasing series like "Monsterland" and a new one from Marvel called "M.O.D.O.K.," which stands for 'Mobile Organism Designed Only for Killing."

2019 Coverage: NY Comic Con unites superhero fans at Javits Center in Manhattan

Actor and comedian Patton Oswalt lends his voice to the supervillain, and also helped write the series while serving as an executive producer.

"Basically, he's just a giant head with a shrunken body," he said. "And he's just rage personified."

The character first appeared in Marvel Comics more than 50 years ago, and he's shown up regularly since then, even appearing in "Avengers" video games.

This new version features stop motion animation and a different take on the character.

"After years of trying to take down the Avengers, it's cost him billions and billions," writer and executive producer Jordan Blum said. "Aand he's run this evil organization, AIM, into the ground."

So now, he's been fired and must cope with a family he's neglected.

Related: Disney delays 'Black Widow,' Spielberg's 'West Side Story'

M.O.D.O.K's mid-life crisis will be front and center at a virtual panel at Comic Con, and fans will have a chance to ask questions.

"They're our greatest supporters," Erwich said. "So if we could take a negative and turn it into a positive and reach more people, I thought 'OK let's give it a shot.'"

Hulu is controlled by Disney, the parent company of WABC-TV.

There are a few paid "experiences" at this year's New York Comic Con, but most of the events -- which can be found at FindTheMetaverse.com -- will not cost you anything.

New York Comic Con opened Thursday and runs through October 11.

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