The SDCC Souvenir Book cover is everything we want but can't have

23 JUNE 2020



Today CCI did something cruel and beautiful: it reminded us of the Comic-Con we'll never have this year, but it also depicted what might happen to nerds after we die - Ray Bradbury riding up on a dinosaur to welcome us to the afterlife.

I'm talking about the 2020 Souvenir Book cover. This is always a sizzler of a reveal - sometimes with less than enthralling art, but still signaling an important pre-SDCC milestone. It says, Comic-Con is almost here. But this year it's bittersweet. I think we can all agree that nothing satisfies like "a long section devoted to Ray Bradbury" - but there's also a special section for Ray Harryhausen, which is almost more than my deprived quarantined heart can take.

CCI also promises it will feature "amazing ads, featuring exclusive products that would have debuted at Comic-Con, that you can order directly from the exhibitors!" In other words, we can go on a spending joyride while reading. The SDCC 2020 Souvenir Book is truly the issue of my dreams.

So it's a bit upsetting to read that this will be a free PDF but not necessarily available in print. We all want a print Souvenir Book, right? It will make late July a little less melancholy to have at least one physical piece of SDCC in our hands. Hopefully CCI will spot an income stream and make print copies available for purchase. (Yes, these are covered in the cost of our badge but our 2020 badges now cover 2021, including the 2021 Souvenir Book, so I'd expect to pay for this one.)

We'll see. They may not want to bother, which would be a shame, but understandable. Stay tuned as we get closer to Comic-Con@home.

And on another topic - remember that 1 July is the deadline to request a badge refund. If you don't want your 2020 badge to transfer to 2021, request a refund now. But remember that the next SDCC you'll probably be able to go to will be in 2022 - and at our current global pace, a new pandemic/doomsday cult/leviathan may have swallowed us up by then.

Stay safe, stay nerdy, and stay tuned. We can still make (parts of) this year a good one.

SDCC updates: Refunds, badge sales & online Cons

10 MAY 2020




Happy Mother's Day! We're at a point where most of us have emotionally accepted the deletion of San Diego Comic-Con from our summers. Now that it's May, and we're entering the traditional season of watching for announcements and lusting for exclusives, that absence is beginning to feel painful. Maybe that's why there is still so much fervid talk about Comic-Con - buying groups, badges, hotels, fond memories of SDCCs past. As Marx (probably) says in the afterlife, Comic-Con is the opiate of the masses.

So let's talk about a few developments.



Refunds
I have been involved in 2 badge refunds so far (neither my own) and both were easy to request and quick to be paid out. As in, the quickest I've ever seen CCI act in regard to anything. However, you will need the Member ID of both the attendee and whoever bought their badge so prepare for that when you make your request.



Badge Sales for 2021
Some rumors and misinformation are circulating online, namely that Open Reg has been cancelled for 2021. Fact time: CCI has stated "There will be no Returning Registration for Comic-Con 2021." That's logical, since there will be no 2020 Con for anyone to return from. Anyone with a 2020 badge is already locked in for 2021 if they want to be.

But Open Registration? No official announcement has been made. CCI did say, "Depending on the number of refund requests received, there may be reduced inventory for sale in the fall of 2020." No kidding. But they did not officially cancel Open Reg yet. There's still 51 days to go for attendees to request refunds and many people could be driven to do so by financial despair - but probably, few refunds will be requested. SDCC attendees, even broke and unemployed ones, know to hang onto any existing badge for dear life. So maybe if there's not enough room for Open Reg, CCI will auction off packages (hotel and badge, as they've done before), hold contests or choose some other route. Regardless, let's wait for CCI to announce their plans when they're ready.

If you lost out for 2020 and had high hopes for 2021, the news that you may need to wait for SDCC 2022 is probably a bitter pill to swallow. But in a season where we're all swallowing many bitter pills, it helps to remember there will be other Cons you can go to over the next 2 years.


Comic-Con at Home
You may have seen CCI's pithy little video announcing no lines, comfortable chairs, free parking - i.e., an online version of SDCC 2020. We don't know what it will involve yet. It's a fair guess that some of the content (celebrity interviews, panels) will be interesting and some not so much, and the final sum won't be much like the real thing.

But I hope everyone still checks it out to see if there's some way they can support a favorite vendor/artist or connect with their fandom. As attendees, we're saving money by staying home - but the other side of fence is taking a financial hit. You won't be spending $$$ on hotels or restaurants, so consider getting yourself an expensive exclusive, back issue, print or other treasure. You can indulge yourself a bit with new toys while helping creators stay in a position where they can make more great stuff. Obviously this is if you can afford to do so.

CCI is also serving up Comic-Con Museum at Home, promising videos and downloadable content for all ages. If you haven't done much with the Museum so far, take a look.


Hope you're all keeping your spirits up and staying connected with your nerd brethren. We're at a stage where our pandemic experiences are beginning to differ. Some of us are employed, some aren't, some are recovering from illness, some have a positive antibody test, and some are hiding out. Some are scared witless and some think this is all a conspiracy. (There's going to be a COVID-19 graphic novel anthology with all our different stories covered, right? Right?) Whatever you're thinking and however you're coping, I hope you're still finding ways to escape into the magic of your favorite nerd world. Be safe and one day we'll walk back into Comic-Con.










The Year Without a Comic-Con: SDCC is cancelled

17 APRIL 2020





We knew it was coming, but this morning's email still stung. San Diego Comic-Con is cancelled for the first time.

David Glanzer summed it up with a nice quote: "Extraordinary times require extraordinary measures and while we are saddened to take this action, we know it is the right decision."

It's easy to be blithe about the decision, which many of us have expected for a month now, but it really will have financial and emotional repercussions across all SDCC communities - the attendees, the vendors, the studios, the surrounding hotels and restaurants, everyone. I'm sure there's a sense of premature termination for cosplayers planning their outfits, gamers looking forward to tournaments, collectors anticipating specific items, etc. It may sound silly, but there's going to be a grieving process involved while everyone lets go of what is a profound annual pilgrimage for many of us.

A few notes:
  • You'll have the chance to transfer your badge to 2021 or request a refund. We don't know yet how the refunds will be made, but I would imagine it'll be the buyer who's refunded, not the attendee. So get in touch now with whoever bought your badge and let them know if you're requesting a refund. They'll need to transfer that money back to you.
  • If you got a partial badge and are transferring, would you still be eligible to try to upgrade to a full badge in Open Reg 2021? I hope so.
  • Any Early Bird deposits will be refunded.
  • However, any other deposits on hotel rooms that you booked on your own aren't impacted by this - so you'll need to negotiate with the hotel directly.
  • Remember that other Cons are still scheduled - as of now - for late summer and autumn. Will they still happen? Probably not. But it's something to keep in mind if you're desperate to get some kind of Con in this year.

Finally, don't turn your back on the Comic-Con world until next year. There are plenty of digital efforts to promote and sell work, foster online parties and keep everyone connected. No, it's not the same - but it's something.







CA likely to cancel all big events through summer

14 APRIL 2020




Quick update: Governor Newsom has unveiled his possible lockdown lift plan and it has implications for SDCC. The plan won't be a flip-the-switch move but will instead be a localized, measured approach "guided by science and data."

We knew that, right? But this is where it gets real: "Large public gatherings like Memorial Day or Independence Day parades and sporting events will likely remain forbidden through the summer."

Painful! But expected. We'll wait for CCI to get official about it, but there's no harm in making alternate summer plans now - and thinking about how refunds will work in terms of buying groups. If all buyers are refunded through the same payment methods, everyone who bought someone else's badge will owe them a refund. That will be fun to sort out.

If you nabbed an Early Bird room, I'm sure CCI will work out those arrangements as well. For now, let's wait and see what kind of announcement they make.




Should SDCC 2020 still happen?

2 APRIL 2020





Today the San Diego Convention Center transformed into a homeless shelter. The Exhibit Hall, which we associate with exclusives, crowds and Funko Pops, is lined up with green cots for 1500 of San Diego's most desperate residents. It's a measure of how dire the COVID-19 pandemic has become and how far city leaders are willing to go to stanch contagion; trying to put a positive spin on it, Mayor Kevin Faulconer said "If we can't fill the convention center with tourists, we'll fill it with hope."

But the mayor isn't the only one with hope. CCI tweeted yesterday, "No one is as hopeful as we are that we will be able to celebrate #SDCC2020 together come July."

That's a lot of hope. Is it reasonable? Not in my opinion, but the Yes/No question of will the show go on isn't simple. The Unites States is in a state of suspension. You can see the diversity of opinions - we need to soldier through and save the economy vs. we need to hunker down and save humanity - just by listening to different governors.




As SDCC attendees, we're intensely practical; we understand all the angles of a successful Comic-Con. Like the hotel sale looming ahead of us: How many people have the money to slap down $600 on a deposit right now? Then there are the studios and vendors and guests that bring the magic to SDCC. How many of them will come? With so many releases delayed and so much production on hold, what would they show us in Hall H? And then there are the many events and activities surrounding the Con that takes months of orchestration. Will those organizers get a solid green light in time to make arrangements?

Our pandemic rollercoaster is still inching up the highest slope - we have yet to fly down screaming into the phase where potentially hundred of thousands of people (or more) die a horrible death. We haven't yet watched NYC levels replicate in multiple cities and then roll out to rural areas where many Americans live hours from the nearest hospital. And even if COVID-19 magically shut off on 15 May, the wreckage would still take months to clean up: credit card debt, unemployment, PTSD, bereavement. Life changes that have been put off for months like family visits, elective surgeries, divorces or moving will demand attention over the summer.

I know this is ugly to read. But it will be reality for many of us. That said - it won't be reality for all of us. So is it possible that SDCC could go on? I think we're looking at 4 possibilities.




SDCC happens, but as a smaller, more local and more comics-based Con.
No doubt by late July there will be plenty of people who still want to go and feel secure in doing so - either because they've already had COVID-19 or because it's controlled. And even if studios pull out, we'll probably have many vendors eager to sell their stuff. Personally, I'd have no problem amputating the glitz and Hollywood from SDCC so this would be fine with me - but I know many of you would miss your photo ops and Hall H panels.

SDCC happens and it's business as usual.
Demand is high enough that even attendees and vendors who drop out might easily be replaced; and after being cooped up all spring, people are going to be ready to mingle. The need to eat, drink and make merry could burst into an amazingly fun Con, with people making an extra effort to befriend each other, get their nerd flirt on, and create a very social and hedonistic Con. Limited attendee finances might mean a less profitable Con for vendors, though; and god help us if COVID-19 invisibly floats down the Hall H line like an angel of death.

SDCC is cancelled.
This will be emotionally devastating for many attendees and financially destructive for San Diego and vendors. But it could also be the most cautious choice - and we will have future Cons in other summers. Well, that's assuming they let us transfer our badges to 2021. Regardless, SDCC itself will come roaring back to life unless the whole planet gets nuked by a space dragon. This pandemic isn't going to derail us permanently.

SDCC is postponed.
ECCC is doing it and so are other Cons; but SDCC is a juggernaut of an event with less agility. So I'm dubious if this would work or not. But if they were able to scoot it down the calendar a bit, that might make everyone feel safer and might coax more guests and studios to show. I would definitely give up NYCC to go to an autumn SDCC. 


I don't know CCI's inner workings, but I hope they've created a back-up plan that suspends the deadline for badge refunds and possibly holds a badge resale (remember those?) to compensate. And I hope they don't schedule the hotel sale until late April at the earliest when pandemic specialists can make a more accurate forecast. But CCI and I think very differently so they're probably planning something else.

I hope you're all staying safe, fed, healthy and entertained. Times are tough for all of us and soon to get much tougher for some. We don't know where we're headed over the coming months. But another Comic-Con is in our future - that much we know for sure.

Living your happiest, healthiest nerd life in isolation

16 MARCH 2020




Something monstrous is staring us in the face, and I don't mean COVID-19. Yes, getting sick is going to be awful, but an even greater number of us may end up sharing another experience: the silent deterioration of isolation.

As someone who really likes solitude, I can attest that the recluse life can be brutal even for introverts. I once lived in a remote swamp for 3 months with only a cell phone that I barely touched, and by the 3rd month, I craved media, strangers, civilization. I really thought I would last longer; and when I think of humanity at large living that way, it scares me. I think we're facing a profound mental health crisis that probably won't be noticed right away, due to more exigent fears over COVID-19 and finances. But I've already noticed an uptick in aggression among strangers, and anxiety, depression and self-sabotaging behaviors among friends. Have you?

There have been countless jokes online from introverts and nerds who say that nothing will change for them. But even people who consider their social life on the thin side probably have outlets they count on. It might be a weekly visit to a comic shop, weekend gaming tournaments, movie nights, or just talking to a favorite barista or coworker. If and when that all goes on hold - the absence will be palpable.

We may or may not wind up staying home in the coming months. I know many of you still believe this will blow over, but you only have to look overseas to understand why clinicians are predicting the worst. So if that comes to pass, here are a few ways we can all stay healthy and connected this spring and maybe summer:


  • Catch up on old TV shows and movies you missed. Younger nerds may have missed Battlestar Galactica, X-Files, Firefly; even not-so-young nerds may not have yet seen original Star Trek, classic horror movies or series like Outer Limits

  • Start (or complete) lengthy comic universes like X-Men or Love and Rockets or Strangers in Paradise.

  • Organize your collectibles, sort through old comics and DVDs, and figure out what you can toss, sell, swap or donate.

  • Launch home projects. YouTube is full of tutorials if you don't know how to operate an electric drill or put up drywall or stencil your fireplace surround or refinish your kitchen cupboards. And there's no better way to improve your kitchen skills.

  • Start creative projects. Now's the time for people to jump into the novel, comic book, game or art they've secretly wanted to create but were paralyzed by fear of failure.

  • Step into science. Get into astronomy, rocket building, electronics, quantum physics, botany. You can do a lot of these hobbies alone now and then join clubs later if you find you have a passion for them.

  • Take online courses. Some have a fee but there are a lot of free or reasonably priced options to enhance your marketability or just learn new skills for the fun of it. The market will recover at some point so if you want to get started investing later, do your homework now.

  • Set up virtual parties, reading groups and hobby clubs. I know it's easy to do this with your friends, but you're going to want to see fresh faces at some point so consider creating or joining a more public online event. 

  • Get in shape. Many of us stuck at home will hear the siren's song of eating ice cream on the sofa every night; take up yoga, pilates or strength training and burn off the chub. Look into online therapy apps too to stay mentally in shape. 

  • Go outside. Assuming we never reach the point of being literally confined to our homes, I think hiking, biking, climbing and swimming are going to be crucial to feeling vibrant and hopeful. Of course, there's a danger to doing activities alone in desolate areas and it can be challenging to find places away from filthy humanity. I hiked way off trail the other evening into what felt like pristine wilderness and still found a wrapped edible on the ground.

  • Finally, create a timetable. Anyone who works from home will tell you how helpful boundaries and demarcations are - where you physically work in your house, the importance of getting dressed and not working in your pajamas, observing consistent start and finish times. As we spend days and nights at home, structured time will be a good way to restore discipline and vitality to life - maybe you get up by 9 am, get online till 10 am, then learn a skill/do work until noon, where you go for a walk, etc. Any kind of structure will help kill the aimlessness that can turn into depression.

Just a few ideas. The future isn't set in stone so we'll all have to roll with any oncoming changes and make the best of wherever we find ourselves. Do your best to stay connected and maybe be more proactive about reaching out than you normally would. We're going to need each other.


ECCC has been rescheduled for 21-23 August - will you go?

13 MARCH 2020



Happy Friday the 13th! Between fighting your way through supermarkets for bottled water and pondering life on a respirator, you may have noticed an email from ECCC. They have jubilantly announced that ECCC has been rescheduled for 21-23 August - and it's all going to be fine!

I'm going to be pragmatic about this announcement in a minute, but first let's talk facts:
  • If you had a badge for this year, you can transfer it to the August Con. Just let them know by 27 March. So you've got 2 weeks to see if signs point to a long-term hellscape by then.
  • If you don't transfer your badge, you'll get a refund. I know - you thought you were already getting one. You will and it will happen automatically. Just sit tight.
  • Because August ECCC is only 3 days, unlike March ECCC, which was to be 4 days, you'll get a refund of $15 to compensate should you transfer.

What Summer ECCC Might Look Like
Should this Con actually occur, I think it will be smaller and more local than usual. Which actually sounds kind of nice and will probably appeal to many people. I won't be there - this falls right between SDCC and NYCC and within days of my birthday, which I want to celebrate with a trip through my ancestral Scandinavian homelands. It's also within a whisker of Dragon Con, which I believe will prevent some people from attending as well. But none of that is necessarily bad, it just means the sense of local community will be that much stronger.

Here's the thing, though, and I'm sorry to be negative - but the U.S. is still skidding all over the Coronavirus road, and we don't know if this road is leading to "peaking by late May and we'll cautiously move into vaccines and herd immunity" or "our economy itself is on a respirator and we're shooting pigeons for food." Probably it will be the former. But I think Reed Pop should have waited just a few more weeks before announcing this. Right now the media blizzard is focusing on COVID-19's medical trajectory and that's definitely important - but the economic fallout is going to be intense.

And maybe (well, almost definitely) that's the reason for this quick rescheduling: to keep spirits high and offer a solid opportunity to pump cash and tourism dollars back into Seattle and the creator community. Nerds who've had to isolate at home (I will not make a joke here) will be relieved to  have a big fun social event to go to. Those who've lost elder loved ones will probably benefit as well. If we do wind up "social distancing" as a nation for a month or more, the psychological impact will be very real. People are already devastated over the loss of NCAA games, the delay of Mulan and No Time to Die, their cancelled Disney trips. Staying socially connected and mentally healthy is going to be a priority for all of us, infected or not.

So - fingers crossed that it all works out. I won't be there, but I hope those of you transferring your badges (or just waiting for the ticket sale) have a magnificent time. Stay healthy, stay optimistic and you'll be floating through a land of magical cosplay and excellent comics before you know it.

Will the Coronavirus cancel SDCC?

11 MARCH 2020




So you're not going to Coachella. You're not going to see the Final Four. Maybe you're not going to see anyone at all for the short-term future, if you're working from home and told to stay there. But still the big question lingers: will you be going to San Diego Comic-Con?

Everyone's asking that. What if SDCC is cancelled? What if our annual orgiastic fandom rites don't take place and life loses all meaning? People keep coming to me with that question like it's some kind of worst case scenario; for them, it obviously is.

But it shouldn't be. Look, San Diego Comic-Con may be cancelled or we may get ahead of the virus and assert enough control that CCI feels comfortable going ahead. But yes or no, I think everyone should be thinking bigger picture right now.

Like the reality that some of our parents and grandparents will probably die; mass layoffs could occur while pensions and 401k funds might shrink like a puddle in the sun; overburdened healthcare systems could shortchange all patients, not just those with COVID-19. And the economic freefall could impact Hollywood, collectibles, your neighborhood comic shop, all the little joys that flow through your nerdy life. We don't know the scale of the changes yet, but some are definitely coming down the pike.

The NBA just suspended their season. Tom Hanks and Rita Wison have the virus. This is just the beginning of the stunning announcements, bad news, sacrifices and losses we're going to endure, even in a best case scenario. I'm not trying to be the Paul Revere of Pestilence here, but it's obvious that many SDCC attendees are not grasping the full magnitude of this pandemic. Maybe it's because I've written about infectious disease and pandemics and all the horrific changes they bring (collapse of raw material prices, geopolitical unrest, food and drug shortages, hindered response to natural disasters) in my non-blogger life, but I've already expelled SDCC 2020 from my mind in terms of concerns. I encourage you to do the same. If Comic-Con happens, that's great but I just don't think it's anything to get upset about now. We've all got bigger emotional and financial concerns.

Here's what I think attendees should do:

  • Wait and see what CCI says first about WonderCon (which I wouldn't be surprised to see cancelled.) Even if you're not going to WonderCon, their statements may include hints about San Diego. I know CCI is not the world's most transparent communicator, but I'm hoping in this case, they'll be clear, prompt and responsive to attendee concerns.
  • Don't worry about the hotel lottery for SDCC. Last year it was in April. I imagine CCI is in no hurry to hold it while the virus situation is evolving so quickly.
  • If you've made a deposit on an Early Bird hotel room, and you're freaking out about losing it - just wait and see what happens with SDCC. CCI should make it right for you.
  • International attendees worried about continuing travel bans should create a Plan B. If you've already booked your airfare, maybe see if you can get a refund now rather than wait months when airlines' revenue situation may be much more dire. Your call. 
  • Talk to your friends and be candid about who has a chronic condition, respiratory weakness or other issue that could make a large gathering unwise for them. And be prepared for some of your friends to have financial setbacks between now and July.
  • Remember that there will be future Comic-Cons and if we miss this one, it's okay. Disappointing, but small potatoes compared to what will be happening in the world.
  • Save your money. If the world descends into an economic sewer, nerd toys, event tickets and Comic-Con festivities may get a little pricier.
  • And finally, practice good pandemic etiquette to help make the world as healthy and contagion-free as possible.

I don't mean to trivialize the importance of SDCC in your life. But Fortune 100 companies and top governments are still figuring out their response to COVID-19 right now. I don't think we can expect a definite answer on SDCC. Let's all stay safe, be patient and keep a healthy perspective. We're a resilient community and we'll find ways to stay connected no matter what.


ETA Thursday, 12 March: 
CCI has cancelled WonderCon (as most of us expected) and has shuttered the Museum events as well, noting they are following the CA DOH recommendation to avoid gatherings of more than 250 people.

As for SDCC: "We continue to work closely with officials in San Diego and at this time no decision has been made regarding the rescheduling of Comic-Con slated to take place this summer; July 23-26, 2020."

In other words - sit tight. And try to come up with an appealing alternate plan that will work in a post-plague world.

What the "postponed" ECCC means for us

6 MARCH 2020






So it's official: none of us are going to Emerald City Comic Con next week. It has been "postponed" and you can read the official statement here.

Rumors have run around our world like rats this week, so let's clarify what this means.

  • It's more accurate to say that ECCC has been cancelled - the one we were promised anyway. Another one will be held under the same name in the same calendar year, but it's impossible to replicate this one with all the same guests and exhibitors and events. I'm sure Reed Pop will try their hardest, but Comic Con season reaches a fever pitch in summer and I'm sure many of the people we were excited to see next week will be engaged elsewhere - or just have summer plans like the rest of us. 

  • But that doesn't mean the new ECCC2020 won't be great. I'm sure it will. That said, those of us with SDCC plans pencilled in - and maybe Dragon Con or Boston or Denver or just saving our $$ for NYCC in October - may be too tuckered out for another summer Con. This could shift the attendee demographics to a more local population.

  • Refunds will go out to all attendees. They don't need to do anything. This gets a bit muddled for the people who went through Lyte, but I'm sure that can be figured out easily; what can't are the people who bought badges off StubHub, Reddit, Craigslist, etc. I believe they're just out that amount of cash.

  • ECCC has promised to highlight creators' work over the coming days and weeks to help them financially, though it's not clear how they'll do so. At any rate, don't write off the digital Emerald City community for now - keep checking back and see how you can help support your faves.

  • Obviously there will need to be another ticket sale. While that's never fun, it's also not that horrendous for Emerald City. It's not like nabbing a Preview Night badge for SDCC and then being told it's void and you have to try again. And since we had Thursday, Friday and Sunday badges still available for ECCC, it seems open to anyone who wants to go.

  • I know there's a high level of frustration with Reed for not doing this sooner, but let's be reasonable: they have contractual and legal obligations with the facility, the city, exhibitors, staff, entertainers, guests and other parties that were probably a nightmare to navigate. Let's assume positive intent.

  • As for whether the cancellation was necessary - is there really any doubt? Look at the Egyptian Nile cruise ships or the Biogen conference in Boston. Gatherings are deadly. ECCC would have lit a match to a viral conflagration. This was the right call, it can't be disputed.

And finally, unpleasantly, it's entirely possible COVID-19 will spread through the land like a hex and ruin our summer nerd dreams. In a few months it could just be a bad memory or we could be facing societal changes that make a missed Comic Con seem comparatively minor. But for now, let's assume we'll have ourselves a lovely time in Seattle this summer.

ECCC and Coronavirus Updates

3 MARCH 2020



ECC is being postponed until this summer. The date is forthcoming. 
All attendees and exhibitors will get a refund.

Thank you, Reed Pop, for making the safest and most fan-friendly decision for everyone. We all want a fun, vibrant and robust Comic Con with all our favorite artists, guests and exhibitors. 

I'll share dates and ticket sale news when I have them. And that brings our scary little rollercoaster ride to an end!



As we grow closer to ECCC202, the Coronavirus news out of Seattle is growing worse. I don't have any insider knowledge. I'm just aggregating and reporting what I hear. So I'll post updates in this space as news breaks.


  • The current U.S. death toll is 14 in Washington, 1 in California.
  • In Washington, the number of confirmed cases has risen to 80. Two more eldercare facilities have presumptive positive patients, in addition to Life Care.
  • The declared state of emergency continues. Many companies are having employees work from home, people over 60 and with chronic conditions are told to stay home, and Seattle is setting up quarantine trailers.
  • Many people believe that the virus is more widely seeded in the U.S. than was originally estimated. Some are making comparisons to the 1918 pandemic.
  • ECCC will refund exhibitors and attendees. 
  • Cancellation still looms on the horizon as ECCC says they are "fully prepared" to adjust their plans and act upon changing guidance.
  • Multiple vendors, including Dark Horse, Oni Press, DC Comics, Tor/MacMillan and Penguin Random House, have pulled out of ECCC. Kate Leth, Terry Brooks, Jen Bartel, Dustin Nguyen, Steve Lieber, Mike Mignola, Jim Lee, Jim Butcher, Jim Zub, Max Brooks and other creators have cancelled. Warner Media (HBO, Warner Bros., Turner) isn't letting their employees go either. You can see the full list here.

Friday morning, 6 March

Nothing much new to report right now. I woke up to a Vault press release saying they weren't coming; at this point, ECCC really will be a ghost town. A petition is asking them to cancel, they're being bombarded by angry comments and threats, but at this point I think cancellation is a high-level discussion happening between Reed, city officials, Governor Inslee's team and the CDC. An announcement should be forthcoming soon.

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow has told people to avoid traveling to Seattle. At this point, I think people should not attend ECCC. There's really no legitimate reason to. You're a vendor and your income depends on it? You'll be selling to a fraction of the normal attendee base and you risk winding up quarantined and losing out on your day job/freelance income and people are trying to help you by holding virtual art shows to signal boost cancelling vendors - so is it worth it?

I know most of us are taking this day by day. My friends and I have been talking all morning about whether to still roadtrip to see Orville Peck in a few nights. No one wants to miss out on fun, especially something they've anticipated for months. But for ECCC, especially if you're travelling, making a decision now is probably the safest and fiscally sound choice. 






Thursday night, 5 March

Someone else has died in Washington. At this point, I believe ECCC will officially cancel tomorrow, on Friday. They need to end this now so people can hit their 72 hour cancellation window for hotels, recoup whatever deposits they can and make alternate plans to earn whatever income they're losing out on.

Today seems to have kicked off a certain frenzy in the business world, as if a corporate cabal got confirmation that this is all very real and then unleashed that knowledge across the country. Yet people I talked to at Trader Joe's and my salon were apathetic. "It's just the flu," my stylist said. Even when an actual ER nurse showed up for a haircut and confirmed that yes, his hospital is taking drastic measures to prepare, they were skeptical. It's a common attitude - the Coronavirus is the new Y2K -  which you could darkly translate into the likelihood that many people will not follow prevention guidelines. That's just one reason big events are not going to be safe.

If you're still going, please read the list of cancellations first.

We'll see what tomorrow brings.



Thursday afternoon, 5 March

Today for me has been a blizzard of emails from my clients cancelling trips, asking for my emergency contact information, and informing me of cancelled conferences. Yes, even as ECCC plods on in what's looking increasingly like a deathmarch, other organizations are calling off events and conferences at great expense.

One sidebar: many ECCC attendees have not yet received their badges, like me, yet are asked to send them back by a certain deadline to get the refund. Reed - why were you cutting it so close in the first place? I believe this is one area where CCI is better organized. I don't say that too often.

On that note, 2 attendees have contacted me in anger because they sold off their badges at a huge loss and now they can't get a refund. So that's been happening. Look, at the end of the day, all of us are going to lose something here - whether it's a deposit, an exclusive or a cherished meetup. There's just no way around it. At this point, we have to look ahead to a collective future and do what we can do today to prevent losses tomorrow. And think of the people who bought black market badges! They are truly screwed if ECCC is called off.

I believe cancellation is inevitable, especially with exhibitors and attendees dropping like flies today. I'm sure Reed is likely taking care of the legal this and that before making an announcement. 




Thursday morning, 5 March

Today we've woken up to find ourselves still between Scylla and Charybdis. I think most of us were hoping for a definitive decision by now but instead we're facing information that doesn't entirely add up. ECCC is refunding exhibitors and attendees, which is decent of them, but also suggests a sluggish Con. In the meantime, Seattle has asked high-risk people to stay home; Amazon and Facebook employees are also asked to work from home. Is the city safe or not? At this point, I believe the Con will be cancelled and that Reed is waiting for an official mandate. But we've only gotten recommendations, not requirements, from officials. It's tedious.

But I get it. For every artist and exhibitor and attendee who's saying, "Sorry, not worth the risk," there's someone saying "My financial survival depends on this Con." So I can see why ECCC isn't just blithely shutting down. They're going to upset people (and maybe spark litigation) no matter how they proceed.

I've decided to opt out. I'm more afraid of quarantine than illness, but I also suspect that both the floor shopping and the general atmosphere going out at night won't really be so fun - that essentially I'll fly into a petri dish that's all risk, no reward. But if the show does happen, I hope those of you who go stay safe and enjoy yourselves. There could be an upside; maybe the smaller crowd will help people make friends easily and live out the experience of going to a small Con circa 1998.

Mike Pence will be touching down in Seattle today so perhaps a decree will emerge from his visit. I'll share what I hear, though I'll be offline for about 4 hours in afternoon/evening.


Wednesday morning, 4 March

Someone on Twitter posted a message from ECCC saying they "do not see any scenario where the event gets cancelled" unless they're shut down by the state or CDC. I think a lot can change over the next week. I appreciate ECCC may be concerned about financial losses but a lackluster Con with empty booths and a diminished crowd isn't good for anyone. And if it does accelerate the infection rate or lead to quarantine for attendees, they will take a massive reputational hit.

Interestingly, Reed HAS cancelled their London Book Fair, featuring 25,000 people. Note that London doesn't have the same death toll as WA. So why cancel? Essentially publishers and agents were pulling out en masse and forced their hand. Now many are annoyed the cancellation was left to the last minute. Reed's response:

“We have been following UK government guidelines and working with the rolling advice from the public health authorities and other organisations, and so it is with reluctance that we have taken the decision not to go ahead with this year’s event." 

That would be the same reluctance to cancel ECCC, no doubt. A "senior publishing figure" quoted in the same article said, "I understand that if they cancelled last week they would have taken a financial hit, but that would have been the responsible thing to do. They’ve been citing government advice but it’s really irresponsible in the current climate to have a mass gathering of international publishers. It’s a very ugly cat and mouse game they’re playing. It’s purely financial and makes them look money-grabbing."


Right now it seems that Reed will only cancel ECCC if cancellations hit critical mass OR they're state-ordered to. Basically, we're living through the death of a thousand cuts here and it's leaving everyone in limbo as to whether we should cancel hotels, flights, etc. Really just a mess.


Tuesday night, 3 March

Washington Governor Jay Inslee said today, "We are not making a request formally right now for events to be cancelled - but people should be prepared for that possibility."

I believe Wednesday will bring more vendors pulling out as they do a cost analysis on losing the show income vs. sick/quarantined employees and low sales - not to mention the possibility that the outbreak could explode by next week and it's all been for naught anyhow.

I think cancellation is likely at this point & that Reed could be waiting for an official health department order or some other documentation to facilitate an insurance claim. Just a theory. I'm sure many variables are in play. But their silence and lack of reassurance today speaks volumes. Like most of us, they're likely waiting for the right information to make the right decision.

Tuesday morning, 3 March

Personally, I don't feel it's looking good.

A few things to keep in mind. I know it's tempting to bluster about how some virus won't keep you home. But remember this isn't just about you. It's not even just about getting sick. It's about maybe getting suck in quarantine, far from home. Or being able to cancel flights and hotels in time to get refunds. And possibly becoming a carrier who infects someone who does become seriously ill, even though you soldiered through your illness just fine. I'm not saying these things will happen - just that it's not as simple as confidence in your own immune system.


The Coronovirus & why we should stop touching each other at Comic Cons

2 MARCH 2020



So we have a new global pandemic, just in time for the 2020 Comic Con season! At this very moment, MSNBC is telling me the Coronavirus death toll has risen to 5 in Washington, where I and thousands of others are headed for Emerald City Comic Con next week. King County has declared an emergency. Yesterday the Louvre in Paris closed; all over the world, exposed people are quarantined; it's all very frightening and yet so redolent of Outbreak / Contagion/ World War Z / 28 Days Later that it seems a bit surreal. Are we really in danger of dying from a new virus on the show floor?

Probably not. But it is something to consider and I encourage everyone headed to ECCC and other large gatherings to do their research on both the virus and their own risk level. If you're elderly, sick, immunocompromised or some other category of medically fragile - now is obviously the time to be cautious. There is always another Comic Con. At the same time, there are many factors in play:

  • Both airports and ECCC have instituted cleansing and preventive methodologies to limit contagion. ECCC has released an official statement.


  • Vendors and exhibitors have asked that attendees not touch them - no handshakes, fistbumps, hugs, etc. I think that's a good idea for all of us. That said, Comic Cons are touchy experiences - I pick up a comic book and look at it, put it down, you pick it up, I touch an escalator rail after someone sneezed on it, you get the (revolting) idea. It's kind of impossible to be totally safe.

  • ECCC still has - interestingly - Thursday, Friday and Sunday tickets available. I was actually going to post on this and speculate whether the Emerald City star is fading, but right now I'm just thinking: will people turning in their tickets find takers? Once it would have been a sure thing, asking Lyte to find you a buyer. Now I don't know.

  • All over the country, "officials" - of all stripes - are asking people not to cancel events like voting and that presumably includes nerd festivals.


This situation is developing rapidly; it's hard to say where we'll be in three days and if ECCC guests will cancel and if maybe we'll all be living in an apocalyptic medical nightmare next week. For now, do your research and take whatever precautions you feel are necessary. And keep an eye on this situation as it evolves so you can make the best choices for you.

4 Hotel Day reminders

23 FEBRUARY 2020




Just a quick warning: Hotel Day hasn't been announced yet, but we can almost certainly expect it in March or April - and if you haven't yet, you should get ready. That means:
  1.  Make sure you have enough room on your (or someone's) credit card for a 2-night deposit. This isn't something you can put off; when you lock down your room, that deposit is required. 
  2. Get clear with prospective roommates on who's bunking with who, how much you're all willing to pay and who's willing to sleep on an air mattress, sofa, etc.
  3. Decide which downtown and non-downtown hotels you prefer and which ones you can accept. If you're new to CCI's hotel sale, you'll get to select your top 6 downtown and non-downtown hotels - but you can easily wind up assigned a hotel you didn't pick.
  4. If you're willing to take an Early Bird room, grab it now. That option goes away before the hotel lottery goes live and the good rooms disappear before that - so don't wait any longer and commit.

I'll post more details on successfully navigating the sale as we get closer. Those of you who are joining me at Emerald City, you're probably hoping the hotel lottery doesn't happen until we get back. Hotel Day 2019 didn't happen until April so we might get our wish - but play it safe anyhow.



It's time to be practical and pick an Early Bird room

22 JANUARY 2020




The Early Bird sale is live! Most of you already know what that is and how you feel about it; this blog post is for the rest of you.

Tender young first-timers have no idea of how grim the SDCC hotel lottery really is. All of the special luck and positive karma you normally have will fail you during that lottery, even if you lead a charmed life otherwise. A very few people wind up with downtown cream of the crop rooms; most get a distant room or nothing at all. There's the waitlist, there's the wrangling and trading and dealing of rooms that go on between attendees, but by and large it's just a horrendous and devastating process.





But then there's Early Bird. This opportunity - unsung, unloved but immensely useful - lets you book a room now. You need to pay up front and it's nonrefundable. The room won't be downtown but it will be on the shuttle route. You can book it and settle back, serene and secure from now until July, while the rest of us crawl over broken glass through hell. Just be aware: the Early Bird option will only stay live for a few weeks and then shut down before the lottery. So you can't wait and see how you do, then grab a room. You have to choose now. It's a quintessential Comic-Con dilemma, isn't it?

My hotel pick for Early Bird is once again Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina. It's a very quick shuttle ride up Harbor (just 3 miles so any Ubering isn't going to kill your wallet either) and you'll still feel reasonably close to the action. This hotel is better than what many of you will get in the lottery - so please consider it.

You can book your Early Bird room here.