Comic Cons Are Back, But How Safe Are They?

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One of my single most favorite ways to spend a weekend is at a comic con. It doesn’t matter what city it’s in, or which brand, I just love to be there. To be amongst a community where everyone shares the same amount of diverse passions and fandoms, without fear of judgment or ridicule. Comic cons are an excellent method to indulge in your favorite comic and movie franchises, through exposure to the actual creators that bring them to life.

Cons have long been a haven for casual and hardcore pop culture fans alike. There is no better feeling than jamming into a convention center with thousands of other attendees and celebrating nerdom for a whole three days. Before COVID, the fact that you’d be within centimeters of several hundred sweaty, tired, comic con attendees was no big deal. In fact, it was considered the norm. Now that we’re living through a pandemic, comic con presents a whole new challenge in terms of safety within large events.

COVID vaccines provided a glimmer of hope but as more breakthrough infections occur, there doesn’t seem to be a specifically “safe” way to reintegrate. So as comic cons return, we have to ponder the question, how safe are they?

Anyone who has ever attended a con knows that they aren’t particularly a haven for cleanliness and sterility. In fact, these sorts of events, I would imagine, present a logistical nightmare for even the most seasoned sanitation crew. Typically, there is almost ZERO possibility for social distancing, as the sheer amount of people crammed into one space can be at timess, overwhelming. With the possibility of thousands of people in attendance at any given time, can venues be trusted to enforce mask policies?

Maybe safe isn’t exactly the right word to use… These types of events can be done safely, but there’ll also still be a certain amount of risk involved. Some of the larger cons have begun to announce plans to require proof of vaccination for those planning to attend. Others will allow attendees to provide vaccination proof or a recent negative covid test.

There is evidence that despite nationwide division surrounding masking and vaccination status, ticket sales and attendance at comic cons have gone largely unaffected despite many of them requiring both. Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, ReedPop president Lance Fensterman said that their comic cons, which includes the massively popular New York Comic Con, have “experienced a nice spike in sales.”

During the onset of COVID-19, many comic cons tried to placate fans by holding shortened, “virtual cons.” While these virtual cons served their purpose, the truth is, they lacked ALL the excitement and spontaneity of in-person events. Pre-taped panels were largely skipped and vendors saw overall sales drop due to the lack of face-to-face interaction. Some things just need to be experienced in person, and comic con is one of those things.

Are we starting to get back to in-person comic cons too soon? Only time will tell. Thankfully the convention owners are trying to make these events happen with as little risk as possible. In the end, while not completely bulletproof, could lead to a safer experience for everyone, and that’s all we can really hope for.

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