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Comic-Con covid protocols spark debate

"A few exhibitors pulled out but their spaces will be filled with new booths."

First-time attendee Teek Hall met one of his heroes at the Con: Kevin Smith.
First-time attendee Teek Hall met one of his heroes at the Con: Kevin Smith.

Over the weekend of July 21-24, Comic-Con International returned to the San Diego Convention Center for its first full-blown four-day show since 2019. But it did so without at least one long-time attendee and vendor: CJ Smith. “I’ve been attending since I was almost 12,” said Smith, who has missed only three Cons in the last 40 years. “This year, I sat out,” because “they forced us to wear masks, show proof of vaxes, and a [covid] test. It’s totally un-American! If the scenario became a comic book, we’d call it What If: Comic-Con Went Communist? I’m not getting vaxxed, period. And honestly, the test is not always accurate. I personally won’t go back until it’s the way it was before November of 2019 — meaning, no bullshit rules to get in.” Smith even said there was talk of a “Backup Con” at a local community center.

Smith is correct in saying that the Con requested proof of vaccination against covid, or, failing that, proof of a negative covid test taken within the past 72 hours. (If the person hadn’t a test, they could get tested in the Palm 1 and 2 spaces at the Con itself.) Either of the two would get attendees the orange-colored wristband needed to enter the Con. Well, that and the badge that marked them as one of the lucky few to snag a ticket to the pop culture extravaganza.

Like others who didn't want to adhere to the Con's covid protocol, Smith gave up his right to both attend and sell product at the event — likely losing rights to his booth and tickets for next year as well. Smith said four of his close buddies did not participate in the Con, and that conversations within his network had taught him that “about 70 dealers and acquaintances bowed out, too."   

David Glanzer, Chief Communication and Strategy Officer for the Con, said in a recent Forbes interview: "A few exhibitors pulled out but their spaces will be filled with new booths, and maybe some lounge space to give people a chance to sit down and rest." He added that "there are some entities that decided they don't want to do the show. [So] them losing their space is something they don't care about." 

And it’s not like there aren’t plenty of people eager to take their places. Some fans wait years to get tickets via a lottery system; many of them are surely pleased to see people give up their grandfathered spots for whatever reason. Teek Hall, a rapper and comic collector from Phoenix, was one of the attendees who garnered access to the San Diego Con for the first time this year; he hopes to bring more friends in the future. "I've always wanted to attend," he told me on July 21. "I've been an artist, and I drew smaller comics when I was younger; I also have tried my hand at script writing." Hall accessed the show as part of Geekscape, a group of writers and readers who adore geek culture — movies, video games, comics, and more — and talk about it on their social media pages and podcasts.

"They are strict here about the masking protocol," Hall continued. "In Arizona, most people don't wear facemasks. With all of these people, I understand and respect that. This convention is way bigger than ours back home in Phoenix." (The Con bounced back nicely this year, matching its pre-covid attendance numbers of 130,000.) Just then, security stopped Hall and asked if he had a mask, and he panicked when he couldn't find one in his bag. The Con personnel provided Hall with a new mask. “This is the best comic convention I've attended," he concluded. "I hope I can return." While attending, Hall met one of his heroes: film director and podcaster Kevin Smith.

The covid protocols sparked considerable discussions on social media, including the San Diego Comic-Con Unofficial Blog and Reddit.

After the Con, Weaselbrau1, another dealer at the show, posted on Reddit: "My wife and two other people and I run an exhibitor booth at SDCC — we've had that booth for over a decade. We were worried about covid at this Con but decided to go anyway. We were hyper-vigilant on care — masks, handwashing, bathing in Purell, etc. Two of us just tested positive this morning. [The] symptoms started between Saturday night and Sunday morning." Many commenters also admitted to testing positive for covid days after attending the Con. The thread was quickly closed down.

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First-time attendee Teek Hall met one of his heroes at the Con: Kevin Smith.
First-time attendee Teek Hall met one of his heroes at the Con: Kevin Smith.

Over the weekend of July 21-24, Comic-Con International returned to the San Diego Convention Center for its first full-blown four-day show since 2019. But it did so without at least one long-time attendee and vendor: CJ Smith. “I’ve been attending since I was almost 12,” said Smith, who has missed only three Cons in the last 40 years. “This year, I sat out,” because “they forced us to wear masks, show proof of vaxes, and a [covid] test. It’s totally un-American! If the scenario became a comic book, we’d call it What If: Comic-Con Went Communist? I’m not getting vaxxed, period. And honestly, the test is not always accurate. I personally won’t go back until it’s the way it was before November of 2019 — meaning, no bullshit rules to get in.” Smith even said there was talk of a “Backup Con” at a local community center.

Smith is correct in saying that the Con requested proof of vaccination against covid, or, failing that, proof of a negative covid test taken within the past 72 hours. (If the person hadn’t a test, they could get tested in the Palm 1 and 2 spaces at the Con itself.) Either of the two would get attendees the orange-colored wristband needed to enter the Con. Well, that and the badge that marked them as one of the lucky few to snag a ticket to the pop culture extravaganza.

Like others who didn't want to adhere to the Con's covid protocol, Smith gave up his right to both attend and sell product at the event — likely losing rights to his booth and tickets for next year as well. Smith said four of his close buddies did not participate in the Con, and that conversations within his network had taught him that “about 70 dealers and acquaintances bowed out, too."   

David Glanzer, Chief Communication and Strategy Officer for the Con, said in a recent Forbes interview: "A few exhibitors pulled out but their spaces will be filled with new booths, and maybe some lounge space to give people a chance to sit down and rest." He added that "there are some entities that decided they don't want to do the show. [So] them losing their space is something they don't care about." 

And it’s not like there aren’t plenty of people eager to take their places. Some fans wait years to get tickets via a lottery system; many of them are surely pleased to see people give up their grandfathered spots for whatever reason. Teek Hall, a rapper and comic collector from Phoenix, was one of the attendees who garnered access to the San Diego Con for the first time this year; he hopes to bring more friends in the future. "I've always wanted to attend," he told me on July 21. "I've been an artist, and I drew smaller comics when I was younger; I also have tried my hand at script writing." Hall accessed the show as part of Geekscape, a group of writers and readers who adore geek culture — movies, video games, comics, and more — and talk about it on their social media pages and podcasts.

"They are strict here about the masking protocol," Hall continued. "In Arizona, most people don't wear facemasks. With all of these people, I understand and respect that. This convention is way bigger than ours back home in Phoenix." (The Con bounced back nicely this year, matching its pre-covid attendance numbers of 130,000.) Just then, security stopped Hall and asked if he had a mask, and he panicked when he couldn't find one in his bag. The Con personnel provided Hall with a new mask. “This is the best comic convention I've attended," he concluded. "I hope I can return." While attending, Hall met one of his heroes: film director and podcaster Kevin Smith.

The covid protocols sparked considerable discussions on social media, including the San Diego Comic-Con Unofficial Blog and Reddit.

After the Con, Weaselbrau1, another dealer at the show, posted on Reddit: "My wife and two other people and I run an exhibitor booth at SDCC — we've had that booth for over a decade. We were worried about covid at this Con but decided to go anyway. We were hyper-vigilant on care — masks, handwashing, bathing in Purell, etc. Two of us just tested positive this morning. [The] symptoms started between Saturday night and Sunday morning." Many commenters also admitted to testing positive for covid days after attending the Con. The thread was quickly closed down.

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