The day I received my first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, an artist pal of mine gave me a call. Like me, he had a received his first jab hours before, and that immediately changed the shape of what the near future might look like for him. He wanted to see where I stood, post-vaccine.
“Are you planning on going to Rose City (Comic Con) or Emerald City (Comic Con) this year?” he asked.
At that point, he was leaning towards yes, having already accepted an invite from a local convention. As they say, in for a penny, in for a pound. That was not the case for me. While I don’t remember what my precise response was, I believe it was a mix of incredulity and revulsion, although it’s entirely possible this didn’t come out in the form of coherent words as much as random grunts and utterances.
That’s because the idea of attending a comic convention, swimming through swarms of people in the process, seemed utterly insane after spending over a year doing nearly everything I could to avoid crowds. When a particularly robust PetSmart line can be too much to handle for me, 1 the hordes scurrying across con floors and the close confines of the Sheraton bar in Seattle could not be less appealing.
To be honest, it amazed me that this topic was already on the table even with vaccines rolling out. Conventions? Now? How can this be possible? With the legitimacy of my shock reinforced mentally, I labeled this call an outlier and moved on with my day.
And then roughly the same question was asked of me twice in the next 24 hours by different people in comics, albeit with more of a “how are you feeling about conventions?” angle rather than one with any specificity. Being asked once could be an anomaly, but three times in a day? That’s when I knew something was up.
It makes sense, though. With Rose City Comic Con coming in September, November filling up with the always popular Thought Bubble and the makeshift Comic-Con Special Edition in San Diego, 2 and December looking increasingly heavy thanks to the trio of ECCC, C2E2, and L.A. Comic Con, 3 the close to the year is wall-to-wall with in-person conventions. With a bevy of events on the horizon, demand has to be high for attending creators and vendors. I mean, these conventions presumably want someone as a draw for congoers.
That’s certain. But with the synchronicity of those questions from friends last month and all the shuffling to convention schedules, I started to wonder about that supply side, if you will. Showrunners are ready, but are potential guests? How are comic creators feeling about getting back to convention life, especially with the pandemic still raging?
In a word?