Comics Disassembled: Ten Things of Note from the Past Week in Comics, Led by Flu Season, On Steroids

It’s been a week of turbulence in the comic industry, as Coronavirus fears have led to some tough decisions being made related to one of the biggest conventions from early in the year. Let’s get to that and more in Comics Disassembled, my look at ten things I liked or didn’t like from the week of comics.

1. Emerald City Comic Con vs. Coronavirus

Last week, I wrote about how Coronavirus fears were going to start being an important part of convention season, and since then, the whole thing has escalated dramatically (both the virus and the fears). Since I wrote about that, Emerald City Comic Con in Seattle – arguably the epicenter of the virus’s impact in the United States – has seen mass defections, as publishers like DC, Dark Horse and Oni have backed out as well as creators like Jen Bartel, Mike Mignola and Skottie Young. These decisions were not made lightly, of course. Emerald City is a light in the lives of creators and publishers even relative to other conventions, and it’s one that can be hugely profitable for those who go. Backing out comes at a cost for everyone, almost certainly, which is also likely why so many have chosen not to back out of the event: it’s too important to them not to.

It’s an incredibly tough spot for everyone. ReedPop (the company who puts on the convention). Creators. Publishers. Everyone. But so far, everyone is making the choices they need to make, as ReedPop has decided to refund both attendees who decide not to go as well as Artist Alley creators (TBD on vendors, as no word is out on that front yet). It’s led to a dramatic downturn in attendance, with ReedPop themselves saying on the ECCC Cancelations page (they added that yesterday and it is a useful resource) that even they knew this could look “a little unnerving.” To see all those names and panels in one place is pretty crazy.

It’ll be interesting to hear how it plays out if the event itself isn’t canceled. The hubbub has suggested that ReedPop has been waiting for the city or state of Washington itself to force their hand, allowing them an out from an insurance standpoint. I’m unsure if that’s the case – it makes sense, but it’s hardly confirmed – but it has led to a weird position where creators feel the need to risk their own health to fund their livelihood. I know creators who are still going, and I for one hope that everyone that goes a) is healthy after the weekend and b) still sees plenty of con goers who are there to spend aplenty. From what I’ve heard from friends in the area, Seattle has largely been business as usual besides runs on toilet paper and hand sanitizer. There’s an ominous feeling, but as they say, life, uh, finds a way.

2. SKTCHD, Taking It Off

As for yours truly, I had fully intended to go to the con, come hell or high water. But after being sick for eight consecutive days with something similar to pneumonia but more likely bronchitis, it didn’t seem like the right move to make. Pair that with the majority of my interviews canceling their attendance and the fact I was able to sort some things out with my flights, I made the decision to cancel myself.

I really wanted to go, though. There’s something deeply interesting about this – I don’t mean that in a creepy way – that would make for a good story, talking to creators about their decisions to go and what the experience was like going to a convention with those circumstances. I still can do that, I suppose. But it’s not the same, as Emerald City Comic Con is my hometown convention, in a way. I go to it almost every year, and it’s like going to Cheers! for me. It’s the place where I say hello to favorite people, I get to meet creators I’d never bet before or had yet to discover, and I get to just have a blast chatting with folks. I had my entire meal itinerary planned out in my head – Skillet for breakfast burritos, Etta’s for Eggs Benedict, Lola for that insane octopus scramble thing, 8 Oz. Burger and Co. for a burger and a shake, etc. etc. – and I was looking forward to dunking on Off Panel listeners (literally, as Jupiter Bar has an NBA Jam arcade).

But it wasn’t meant to be.

There’s a part of me that immediately regretted canceling, but it felt like the right choice. I’ll miss the con this year, but I will be back. I love you Emerald City! Get better!

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