Negan wants to play dressup, too
On April 17, Ellis Zeraus from Chula Vista woke up to “a bad” Facebook notification.
“We have made the sad decision to cancel Comic-Con for the first time in its 50-year history,” posted the non profit organization in part. “Since it is becoming apparent that COVID-19 restrictions will not be a short-term matter.”
“As if someone re-killed my mom,” Zeraus said. “It’s because the Comic-Con peeps were afraid they’d be shutdown or forced to pull the plug at anytime, even though it’s over 90 days away.”
“Were you guys in downtown San Diego, at or by the protests earlier today?” I asked him over the phone.
He paused for a bit, then responded “No comment.”
Zeraus and his partner were banking on selling at the San Diego Convention Center on July 22-25; the two made about $8,000 in sales slinging comic books, toys and videos inside last year’s Con, and then prepaid “a couple thousand” for the now-cancelled show.
“They (Comic-Con) said we can request a refund or transfer our payments from last year towards Comic-Con 2021. We’re keeping our tables for next year, but imagine all of our booth monies and the attendees [badge] monies being on hold for almost two years. That’s a lot of money floating around.”
During the statewide shutdown, Zeraus admits that he and his comic book and toy collector buds — all in their mid-life ages — broke stay-at-home orders and have been meeting at one another’s “mancaves” to buy, sell, and trade product. He wasn’t specific about the number of individuals meeting at their clandestine gatherings. “I only wear masks if they [other collectors] force me to.”
“And what about social distancing?” I asked.
“When a collector arrives, he gets two feet closer and we take turns laying down our comic books to inspect them [carefully],” he responded.
Some local collectors received their stimulus checks about the same time Comic-Con cancelled its show, which made a perfect storm for collectors with extra money to leverage on now-panicking Comic-Con vendors who didn’t receive a stimulus check and were hurting.
“I’m looking at a Hulk 181 [first appearance of Wolverine] on OfferUp,” Zeraus explained, “before Comic-Con’s announcement on Friday, it was $1750, and now its $1500. I’m super tempted to offer him 1000 bucks tonight.”
Comic collectors aren’t the only ones breaking stay-at-home protocol.
"I’ve seen a few cosplay gatherings that have been made by my friends,” said Kai C., “and my friend wanted to host a private gathering at his house which was just them having a BBQ and having a fun time. He said ‘COVID-19 isn’t something to worry much about,‘ after many of us telling him ‘you’re risking getting the virus by not staying inside and also exposing others to the virus.’”
Kai is a 16 year-old cosplayer who dressed as Maid Uraraka from the Boku No Hero Academia manga series at last year’s Convention. I communicated with Kai and her mother on April 20.
“Me and my boyfriend have both spent our stimulus checks on air-soft guns for cosplay,” Kai said, “and we’ve been wanting to cosplay together for awhile, but could not find anything we were both interested in, until we saw the Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege FPS game.”
“Our stimulus checks are going towards things like rent,” said Lydia Bringerud. “If anyone has leftover money to spend on cosplay supplies, I imagine it would be fabric, to work on a project in quarantine, or possibly wigs.”
Bringerud is a 32 year-old library assistant from City Heights. At last year’s Con, she dressed as Amethyst Empress, a character from George R. R. Martin’s World of Ice and Fire book. Since lockdown, she participates solely on online cosplay projects, and compares these days to a period of time in Martin’s book, which she refers to as a “Long Night, a years-long period of darkness and winter during which the Others [ice zombies] attack mankind. Many of the cosplayers I’m involved with have been using their sewing talents to make masks for others. I’ve used a lot of my excess cosplay fabric toward this end as well.”
The G-man is a 51 year-old toy collector and cosplayer from Carmel Valley. He’s noticed others in his community violating stay-at-home orders.
“Unfortunately we have so called collectors who are still on the daily hunt to find the so called harder to get figures, with the sole intent to post them on all the various reselling apps, including OfferUp, Craigslist and eBay,” he said. “While most of us collectors are adhering to the stay-at-home quarantine, the resellers, also known as scalpers, are hunting daily because there is currently less foot traffic in the retail toy aisles. Their motto is 'buy for $20 sell for $60'….it’s who they are and it’s what they do.”
As far as alternatives to Comic-Con 2020?
“There has only been a new possible date [August 2-3] for San Diego RocketCon," said G-man. “At this point, it’s also tentative.”
“I heard that a mini-convention called Rebel Con will pop up within two weeks to four weeks,” Zeraus speculated.
And if these alternatives don’t fly? Zeraus said he and his buddies will continue their clandestine mancave meets.