18 JULY 2022
It's so easy to get sick at Comic-Con. "Con Crud" is not an urban legend but something that plenty of people fall prey to, returning from the Con with a cough and general malaise. We are, after all, constantly touching things at SDCC: graphic novels, plushies, cosplayers' shoulders, escalator handrails, restroom doors, each other. Comic-Con was a superspreader event when COVID was just a twinkle in a plague god's eye.
But it's not just flu-type illnesses you need to watch out for. If you're not used to walking, you can easily strain or sprain something or aggravate your plantar fascia. A slowly deflating air mattress leaves you with a stiff back, four hours in the Next Day Line sunburns your scalp. Crowds and general Con frustration can exacerbate any mental challenges you're struggling with. If your fitness level deteriorated during lockdown, you might tire a lot faster than you did at your last SDCC.
And - let's just be honest here - instead of leaving SDCC with an illness this year, many of us will arrive with it. I appreciate CCI doing what they can with requiring a vaccination card or negative COVID test result, but I think it would be far safer if we all had to provide a negative test result there on the spot. Untenable, I know. But many vaccinated people are getting sick with BA.5 right now. I was in a mini-superspreader event last week involving people from the Bay Area and New York and a lot of alcohol and what do you know, people are waking up with sore throats and testing positive. Many of them are triple vaxxed.
I'm fully expecting this week to infect many people. How much control we each individually wield over that is debatable, but we're all making the choice to be in a space with thousands of people in it in a part of the country experiencing high infection rates. If I lose my COVID virginity to SDCC, I won't like it but I won't be angry. It's a choice I made. That said, there are some things we can do to protect our general health like...
Boost your immunity.
There are all kinds of immunity boost magic pills and shots out there. Even if you think they're snake oil, it doesn't hurt to bump up on some echinacea and vitamins. Get adequate sleep too and drink lots of water.
Wear masks, obviously.
I'm sure plenty of you out there think masks don't work. Experience has taught me they help, even cloth masks when filters are added. Even if you normally don't mask at home, you might want to consider masking full-time in San Diego - not just inside the convention center but everywhere else. I doubt many people will, though.
Bring chairs, drugs, supports.
Sunscreen to protect you in line, moleskin and bandages for blisters, ibuprofen when panels are a little loud for your delicate skull, muscle ointment - if you don't bring it with you, at least learn where the Gaslamp CVS is. And don't be ashamed to bring a portable chair with you if your feet/back just aren't built for long lines.
I realize indulgence is the entire point of SDCC for many of you. Just remember that you can get hammered back home and that people who are too high to remember the name of their hotel are a burden on their friends. Also consider eating wisely. If you live off fried bar food and a box of donuts in your room, your energy levels will hit rock bottom. Stay hydrated and follow the classic hiking rule: "If you're halfway through your water, you're halfway through your hike."
Take advantage of SDCC resources.
CCI offers a lot of on-site support, including medical professionals, free first aid, private areas for nursing mothers, ADA resources, wheelchairs, ASL interpreters, rest areas, and assistance for the disabled. All of this is there for attendees to use, so don't stoically ignore your pain. I've taken people to first aid - they're happy to help.
Arrange preemptive help for behavioral needs.
Plenty of nerds have mental health needs that can get exacerbated by SDCC crowds, noise, and disappointments. Telepsych visits can help; so can asking a close friend to be there for a video chat; if you're in recovery, find out where the meetings are and line up some sober activities.
Finally, take breaks when you need to. Comic-Con is a lot. I think this year is going to be incredible and rewarding in many ways after 3 years of SDCClessness, but it's also going to be risky. Let's look after ourselves and each other.