LA Comic Con Announces December In-Person Convention As Global Coronavirus Deaths Pass One Million
LA Comic Con has announced a three day convention this December, and I’m here to ruin it for everyone.
(Now it may seem nasty of me to make my first post a criticism of Stan Lee’s beloved event, but if you look here at a guest piece I did a few years ago about FanX Salt Lake, you can see I have a history of writing mean articles about conventions. I may just be a nasty person.)
On Tuesday (Sept. 29th) ticket sales were open for the event that is anticipated to last from December 11th-13th, for some reason. General Manager Chris DeMoulin released a statement that begins with this buckwild paragraph:
“Over the past six months, we’ve been struggling with a very important question: “Should we even ATTEMPT to have L.A. Comic Con in 2020?” Since March, we’ve been living in some version of a “Lockdown/Safer at Home” world, trying hard to stay safe, hoping and praying for the health and safety…of our fellow human beings. We’re wearing masks, keeping socially distant, and remaining thankful for…everyone working hard to make a difference. And yet, we all yearn for just a little bit of normality, to reclaim some aspects of our lives pre-COVID.”
I get it, we all want to pretend that day to day living is mostly back to what it was back in January. Sometimes I forget that I have to wear a mask in public and for a moment, the world is a more beautiful place. But then I remember I do and sink back into a deep depression where I hide in bed, ignore all texts, calls, and emails, and watch vine compilations instead. It’s easier to pretend that life is back to normal and not whatever hellish dystopia we’ve been dealing with for the last six months.
But that’s just not the reality of the world we live in. Coronavirus in the US is averaging 40,000 new cases per day, and now the global death toll has surpassed one million. Holding a convention to gather thousands of people together in one big building is a really bad idea, and I can’t help but think that this idea is inspired more by the desire for money than anything else. To ruin a quote from The Princess Bride, life is pain and the LA Comic Con is selling us something.
To be fair to the LA Comic Con, they have stated they are taking several measures of precaution. They’ve rented a bigger space for the convention to take place in, limited the number of tickets available, are requiring masks and distancing, and are making digital screening available for fans to stay at home and watch.
The biggest point in their favor is that they say they will shut down the convention and fully refund tickets if the county deems that the show will be unsafe. The website says (with much emphasis), “SAFETY IS OUR #1 PRIORITY. If at any time LA County Health or the Mayor’s Office determine we can’t have a safe show, we’ll postpone and reschedule. And all tickets bought will have a 100% ROLL-OVER/REFUND GUARANTEE.”
It’s a nice plan in theory, but realistically completely insane. In the past, the convention has hosted around 100,000 fans from all over the US, and typically has people coming in from other countries as well. The potential for exposure to Coronavirus is huge, and the potential to then spread it and send it back home with fans is dangerous as well.
A goofy claim from the website says that, because of the density, “each person…will have a minimum of 28 square feet – the equivalent of standing in a circle with a 6 foot diameter”. Just because each person theoretically has that much space, doesn’t mean that they will get it. There is no 6 foot diameter bubble handed out with every ticket sold (although that would be fun, someone get working on that).
One of the funniest things that happened to me at FanX Salt Lake a few years back was at a panel I was interested in attending. I showed up ten minutes before it was scheduled to start, and was shockingly turned away. The room was already filled with probably a hundred people, with fans lining the walls and more people in the hallway hoping to fight their way in. The panel that everyone was excited to see? A guide to being a better dungeon master and getting the most out of your D&D sessions. It was the nerdiest things I’ve ever witnessed and a great example of how insane crowding is at conventions.
People will crowd, and of course, people will touch things. Artist Alleys and vendors are always lined with fans bumping into each other. People pick up posters, comic books, and Funko Pops; dig through bins of pins and stickers; and rummage through racks and stacks of cosplay accessories. It’ll be hard for merchants to limit customers and constantly sanitize their areas.
Another issue is trying to regulate the use of masks. Cosplays can be creative to the extreme, and can’t always be worn with a mask. Imagine how all the Spidermans (Spidermen?) will walk around without ears to hold on to their masks – and before you say that the Spidey Suit will work as a barrier across their mouths, that doesn’t count! If that were an acceptable form of PPE, I’d ditch the mask and wear my neon green morph suit everywhere.
(Here’s some fantastic cosplay from FanX, featuring me in the red robe :D)
Alright, so I may be splitting hairs here with silly examples, of course cosplay can be adjusted to accommodate masks. But besides cosplay being one of the most fun parts of any convention, it’s still not guaranteed that everyone will always wear a mask everywhere they go, same as any public space.
TL;DR after that massive wall of text- all the safety precautions in the world can’t guarantee a completely safe experience. Will it really be worth holding this event? I can’t imagine that it’ll make enough money back to justify going through with it, let alone the potential effect on human lives. Right now, the risks outweigh the benefits.
To end things on a more positive note…
There are other organizations out there working to change the Comic Con game in a safe and inclusive way. New York Comic Con and MCM Comic Con are putting together Metaverse, an online Comic Con experience from Oct. 8th-11th. The Metaverse will have free panels available on YouTube and other paid options.
“You’ll encounter FREE panels streamed to YouTube, experience one-of-a-kind interactions with your favorite celebs and creators, discover new releases, explore a rich exhibitor marketplace and our famous Artist Alley, get access to exclusive merchandise, and connect with other fans from across the globe to celebrate all things pop culture. This is everyone’s show; no matter where on the globe you are, the Metaverse is your home.”
The Metaverse will definitely be something to keep an eye on; if the event is a success, we could be looking at the new future of Comic Con experiences.https://www.firstcomicsnews.com/la-comic-con-announces-december-in-person-convention-while-coronavirus-global-deaths-pass-1m/https://www.firstcomicsnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/Conversations-with-the-Void-logo-600x257.pnghttps://www.firstcomicsnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/Conversations-with-the-Void-logo-150x64.pngConversations with the VoidNews