PAWmicon — Cosplay for a Cause — goes virtual

San Diego pups come out in PAWSplay apparel for last year’s PAWmicon Convention.

For the last seven years, Helen Woodward Animal Center orphan pets have celebrated the spectacular feats of superhero adopters by throwing a pop culture-themed event titled PAWmicon. Last year, the event hit epic heights by soaring into its new venue at the Comic-Con Museum in Balboa Park. Now, with the COVID-19 pandemic putting the kibosh on public events around the world, PAWmicon is gearing up to go virtual. Comic-Con-enthusiasts and animal-lovers are invited to partake in “Cosplay for a Cause” by logging onto PAWmicon – online, in collaboration with the Comic-Con Museum, presented by Blue Buffalo and supported by Petco, Tuesday, July 7 through Wednesday, July 8.

Helen Woodward Animal Center initiated PAWmicon in 2012 based on an observed parallel between orphan pets and Comic-Con attendees. While comic book enthusiasts wait all year for Comic-Con International, hoping to catch a glimpse of their favorite action-adventure stars, orphan dogs and cats at Helen Woodward Animal Center will wait a lifetime to meet their superheroes – individuals with one sole mission: to rescue an orphaned pet. Planned as a cute adoption gimmick, the promotion drew the attention of fans and animal-lovers across the city, eventually blossoming into an annual event that has grown in “pup-ularity” and gained global attention with each passing year.

San Diego pups come out in PAWSplay apparel for last year’s PAWmicon Convention.

Last year’s event surpassed all expectations set in its new location at the Comic-Con Museum. Officially preparing to open doors in 2021, the Comic-Con Museum began hosting a wide variety of Comic-Con-themed events in 2019. In addition to providing San Diego with the excitement of Comic-Con year-round, the museum is dedicated to giving back to the community that has supported Comic-Con from its beginnings and turned it into the world-wide phenomena it is today. The 2019 collaboration between Helen Woodward Animal Center and the Comic-Con Museum provided 100% of its proceeds to the Center’s pets and programs.

Planning for the 2020 PAWmicon was well underway when the pandemic hit. In addition to the annually anticipated themed photo experiences, music, games and activities for kids, trivia, opportunity drawings, food vendors and all-important PAWSplay Contest for superheroes and their heroic dogs, new exciting features were set to be announced – including panel discussions, an artists’ alley, and a virtual superhero scavenger hunt created by technology sponsor Omniscape.

“We love this event and its message,” stated Helen Woodward Animal Center Special Event Manager Phoebe Luff. “We all have seen the way orphan pets have saved their forever families and we see the joy this event brings to so many people. It was just too special to cancel. We also know that that this audience tends to be comfortable hopping onto their computers and are even more primed for virtual experiences.”

This year PAWmicon goes virtual with a schedule of online family-friendly events celebrating canine and feline sidekicks. Purchase of a registration ticket includes access to online panel discussions and interviews; access to the online PAWmicon vendor village; online book readings for kids with Center critters; online networking opportunities with other pet and comic/PUP-culture loving attendees; access to augmented and web virtual reality experiences through Omniscape; access to the online PAWmicon pop-up shop; and the ability to register for online trivia rounds for an additional $10.

Registration also includes an entry into the online PAWSplay Photo Contest, separated into four fun categories including Superheroes, Super Villains, Pop Culture Pups, and Dynamic Duos – for those who want to dress up alongside their fuzzy family member or have multiple dogs in costume. The top winning contestants will receive incredible prizes. Then be sure to enter your “purr-fect photo” into the 2021 Superhero Sidekicks Calendar Contest and see if you can soar to the top fundraiser to get your own calendar page.

Tickets to PAWmicon can be purchased for $25 per person. Limited-edition PAWmicon t-shirts are also available online. Get tickets at Proceeds support Helen Woodward Animal Center pets and programs.

For more information about PAWmicon, visit or For more information about the Comic-Con Museum, visit