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Another Day, Another Cancel

Rose City, this time, which is the biggest event I’ve seen nixed in the September timeframe (anybody that thinks DragonCon, Baltimore, or any of the PAXes is happening, I have a bridge to sell you).

At this point, it’s probably safer to assume that even if a comics event does happen, that attendance will be way down barring extensive measures for disease control. By that I mean widespread vaccination (that ain’t gonna be the case for multiple months after the availability of a proven, effective vaccine), or absolute cultural acceptance of infection prevention measures.

What kind of measures? Societal agreement that not only should masks be worn, but agreement that people refusing masks or refusing to wear them correctly should be shunned. Despite the media attention given to the very noisy agitators for FREEEEDOM¹, pretty much everybody is on board with masks.

But it doesn’t stop there. There has to be widespread, trusted contact tracing and isolation (with people willing to obey isolation guidelines after probable exposure — we’re onto dicier ground here) and point-of-contact confidence measures like no-contact temperature checks & handwashing prior to entering a space. Americans might put up with these obstacles to get into a facility, but how many are going to be willing to step away and abandon their plans if they’re 0.4°ree; over the published limit? That would absolutely require extremely liberalized refund/transfer rules for tickets or entrance fees.

Which show runners may not want to (or, given economic realities, be able to) agree to, because you’re finally going to have to limit attendance to fractions of previous capacities. Want to hold SDCC in a no-vaccine 2021? You’re going to have to keep the number of warm bodies inside the cavernous San Diego Convention Center to about 10-20% of normal. Can Comic-Con afford to rent the space with that few paying attendees? If they do, can they afford to give back money to somebody that fails the door check? And will somebody who made it to the front of the (now much slower) line be willing to shrug and go away for not meeting entrance screening criteria, having paid for flights and hotel?

Here’s another idea: Panels will have to be aggressively capped, from the lineups to the seating inside; the Hall H experience and its equivalents might be dead for good, which in turn might reduce the presence of big media studios at what’s supposed to be a comics event. Either that, or a big media con might have to turn big-ass launch panels into simulcasts on the the event channels of con hotel TVs. Anything other than cramming 6000 people in a room, or having twice that number camping out cheek by jowl for 72 hours.

The only comics events that I’d expect to see in the next calendar year are small ones, with attendance measured in the single digit thousands, and even then likely with capacity controls or time-limited access. Got a red wristband? You can be on the floor from 10:00am to 1:00pm and then you have to vacate². Imagine SPX or MoCCA with 30-40% fewer exhibitors, half as many tickets, and assigned to early half/late half access; the sparsely attended NCSFest on the boardwalk in Huntington Beach this time last year might be the model — outdoors, spread over a large area, no crowded points of contact. Not so many places in the country where you can do something like that and rely on the weather, though.

The wildcard in all of this is how much we can act like members of a godsdamned civilzation in the meantime, show that we can act for the common good instead of pitching hissy fits about getting haircuts or buying toasters. Act like responsible grownups, the odds of events go up; act like entitled babies, and I hope you didn’t want to gawk at cosplay ever again, ’cause it’ll be years before it’ll be safe to, and event longer before people are willing to risk their lives or health on that actually being true.

Spam of the day:

Trøjan V¡rus g¡ves me full access and cøntrøl øver a cømputer ør øther dev¡ce. Th¡s means that ¡ can see everyth¡ng øn yøur screen, turn øn the camera and m¡crøphøne, but yøu dø nøt knøw abøut ¡t.

That would be the camera and microphone that I don’t have on this computer? Or maybe the one on my laptop, which is behind a plastic shield because fuck you and your attempt to extort US$1200 in bitcoin (always bitcoin with these CHUDs) based on your fevered imagination. Now go tell your mom that you’re a failure.

¹ Covidiots, or if they have a religious justification for their stance, Branch Covidians.

² Which, if nothing else, might finally put a stake in the heart of the worst habit of big cons: the limited edition convention exclusive. The howler monkeys will be out in force if they can’t get in until after the exclusives are definitely sold out.

This joins my own thoughts, even those from after ; NCSFest in particular can be the limited model given the increasingly clear picture we get of SARS-Cov-2 propagation taking place mostly over enclosed spaces. Limited as, for all the inspiration they took from Euro festivals, those take place in enclosed spaces. Even those that are spread all over town (Lyon BD and Angoulême, in particular; Quai des Bulles to a lesser extent) have little if any open air activities, relying on tents enclosed from all sides for anything that is not taking place in a building. Which is unsurpising, considering that it has rained at least once respectively for my last visits to Angoulême, Quai des Bulles, and Lyon BD…

I will try to keep an eye for anything happening in South of France this summer, where weather is best accomodating, but obviously, no promise.

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