Tag Archives: Comic Con

Two Years Without a Con

Surprising no-one, WonderCon will be online-only again this year. Last year’s event was canceled just as we all started to realize that Covid-19 was spreading in California. And while the winter surge in cases is finally slowing down, the coronavirus is still more prevalent out there now than it was last March.

They’re still hoping to do San Diego in July, but even with multiple vaccines, there are still too many variables (vaccine distribution, mutation speed, mask and distancing practice, etc.) to know whether it’ll be possible to hold a convention by then. I guess we’ll see.

Well, other people will see. Much as I miss going to comic cons, SDCC feels unsafely crowded in normal years. Even in the best-case scenario, my anxiety would go through the roof.

Besides, I’ve already read The Last Stand of the California Browncoats.

No Fair(e)

Anyway, the local Renaissance Faire canceled this season again, too. On one hand, it’s all outdoors, which helps a lot — and you know the Faire folk would be serious about safety — but on the other hand, it’s still a big gathering, and April isn’t that far off.

I could maaaaybe see doing a smaller convention in fall, if things improve by then. Long Beach Comic-Con’s and LA Comic Con still show their September dates. For now. (I was worried about LBCC for a bit since their website was offline when I checked a few days ago, but it’s back now.) But again, way too many variables in the war between public health and the virus to predict whether it’ll even be possible for them to hold it. Though I’m pretty sure LBCC will be more responsible than LA Comic-Con.

Of course, even if someone can hold a convention safely by then…would it actually be fun? Or would it be a day of white-knuckled agoraphobia as we plunge into a crowd after a year and a half of semi-isolation?

Maybe we’re probably better off not trying to hit a convention until next spring anyway. We’ll need time first to re-acclimate to being around people!

Too Soon, Comic-Con

Earlier this week we were talking about cosplay ideas for when we can finally go back to comic conventions. Literally the next day, I read that LA Comic-Con is planning an in-person convention in December.

OH HELL NO!

I don’t care that they’re limiting attendance, requiring masks and distancing, and keeping it at the cavernous LA Convention Center. Knowing what we know now, December is going to be way too soon.

As much as we’ve learned about how this coronavirus spreads and attacks, and ways to mitigate both, the pandemic is not under control now. It’s not likely to be under control by December. Even if we were doing everything perfectly — and we aren’t, there are too many people in the US especially who think medical advice is for other people — there’d probably still be another wave this fall and winter.

“But what about a vaccine?” Heh. Sure. OK, a vaccine. Even if a Covid vaccine has passed through all the rushed trials by then, and actually works, it still takes time to ramp up production and distribution, and for actual doses to take effect, which means the general population is still going to be vulnerable in December, and this is a perfect super-spreader event. Assuming they don’t need to use the convention center as a field hospital again.

It’s kind of a Hail Mary anyway, since there’s no provision in the state’s reopening plan to re-allow that size of event even in the least-restricted tier based on case rates. They’re basically planning it in hopes that the rules will change by the time December rolls around.

But they’re selling tickets already. Without knowing whether they can hold the event. Which really rubs me the wrong way.

Honestly I’m not surprised that of the various LA-area cons it’s them that wants to jump the gun. They’ve always struck me as kinda snake-oily. The way they kept acting like other cons in the area didn’t exist. (What, Long Beach Comic Con? Please, they’re in Long Beach, not L.A.!) Paying Stan Lee to let them use his name back when it was Comikaze Expo. The worst was the reality show they had on SyFy back in 2013, which was at least a few years ago.

But selling tickets for a convention for winter during a pandemic when there’s no provision for actually holding a convention within public health recommendations? That might be a new low.

Update Oct. 14: The event is officially re-cancelled for the year, with some of the guests already scheduled for 2021. Tickets can optionally be refunded or saved for next year. The more I think about it, the more I think they were hoping to get at least some revenue in this year, even if it ends up being just a super-early pre-sale for next fall.

No Wonder

WonderCon has been our main fan convention for the past decade or so. We’ve been every year since it moved to Anaheim in 2012, and several years back when it was in San Francisco.

But this year it’s not happening.

By February we were already looking at what was going on with the new coronavirus and starting to think, do we really want to go somewhere with huge crowds and lots of travelers? This could easily turn into ground zero.

By early March it became clear that a convention in April wasn’t going to be ground zero — because the virus was already here and spreading. An outbreak would be pretty much guaranteed.

So we weren’t surprised when they officially canceled the event on March 12. California had only started ramping up restrictions on gatherings, but WonderCon is a lot bigger than 250 people (the cutoff at the time, which sounds like a huge crowd now after weeks of “safer at home”). They refunded the tickets, which I hear some conventions had problems with.

This weekend was going to be one of chaos, crowds, comics, cosplay, and crafts. Instead we’re sitting at home, like last weekend, and the weekend before, and the weekend before. Sure, there’s the online “WonderCon@Home”, but it’s more something to check in on once in a while, not an all-encompassing event.

Summer’s still up in the air. If they’ve made a decision about Comic-Con International, they haven’t announced it. On one hand, it would be a huge blow to fan culture for them to cancel San Diego. On the other…I’m not sure who’s going to want to be there. Even if the current wave of the pandemic subsides before then, and even if it fades during summer (which is just wishful thinking at this point), cramming 100,000 people into a convention center for five days (plus setup/tear-down) seems like asking for trouble. [Update: A few days later, they cancelled SDCC too.]

I haven’t even tried to get tickets to SDCC in five years. I suspect they may be easier to get next year. (Or not. People are good at forgetting risks, as long as they’re abstract enough.) But I’m not sure I’m even going to want to attend a smaller con until we come out the other side of the pandemic.

Comic-Con Economy: What a Difference a Decade Makes

SDCC Blog reports that Comic-Con International is expected to be the San Diego Convention Center’s top economic generator of 2018, “with 130,000 attendees and an estimated $147.1 million in regional impact.”

That’s a far cry from 2008, when the con was derided as “decidedly low-rent” and generated “only” $41.5 million, half the impact of the top biotech conference for the year. The rest of the top events are still medical conferences, but the #2 event, a conference by the Society for Neuroscience, is estimated to bring in $88 million.

That said, SDCC still brings in fewer dollars per person than those medical conferences (130K attendees for Comic-Con, 30K for the neuroscience event). Fans saving up all year to go somewhere for fun can’t compete against professionals with expense accounts, after all.

But it’s nice to see Comic-Con recognized as a vital contributor to San Diego’s economy instead of an embarrassing side note.