Tagged: Phoenix Comic Con

Martha Thomases: Shooting at the Comic-Con?

This past week saw an uncomfortable convergence of political issues and Geek Culture. A man tried to enter the Phoenix Comic-Con in order to shoot someone, using cosplay as a disguise. Instead of artfully crafted fake weapons, this man had real weapons that would have caused real injury to real people.

The man appeared to be insane. He thought he was The Punisher and it was his mission to kill the Green Power Ranger.

In response, the convention banned prop weapons http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/arts/phoenix-comicon-2017-props-ban-weapons-what-you-can-bring-convention-center-9363701, at least for the duration of this show.

Needless to say, this completely wrecked the plans of any cosplayers whose outfits included prop weapons. A lot of them were disappointed that they couldn’t share the fruits of their hard work and financial investment with their friends.

I don’t think any of the cosplayers would say that their costumes were more important than the lives and safety of the other convention attendees. Still, I imagine they were disappointed at best, and perhaps felt it was unfair that they were under suspicion just because a crazy person represented himself as one of them.

It was unfair.

Cosplayers were not the only ones to suffer over the weekend. Dealers who sell to cosplayers lost money, not only because they couldn’t sell at the show, but could not quickly arrange to sell at another show. To their credit, the Phoenix Comic-Con seems to have tried to make things right, as best they could.

Unfortunately, this is the best we can hope for in our current political climate. As long as we refuse to invest the time and money on treating mental illness, we will continue to live with the untreated mentally ill. And as long as we refuse to implement even the slightest limits on access to firearms, the mentally ill will be able to buy all the guns (and bullets, and knives and swords) as they might wish to own. Or use.

But we won’t pass any laws that limit guns to people who can pass simple competency tests, much as we limit cars to people who can drive. We won’t say that, maybe, someone who thinks he has a relationship with the Green Power Ranger shouldn’t walk around armed in public, especially after he makes threats against police officers, too. As a country, we have decided that we’re more comfortable telling women what to do with their bodies than we are with protecting those same bodies from random bullets.

The cosplay community is not going to be able to solve this problem. I’m willing to bet the solution is beyond the greater geek community. People who want to dress up like their favorite fantasy characters, whether they be Ghostbusters or Jon Snow or Lobo are going to have to find ways to do so that don’t look realistic enough to be perceived as threats.

There might be a possible solution, and it might offer an opportunity for profit that is attractive enough for it to happen. If Nerf could up their game enough so that their toys look realistic, but can still be easily squished, they might be able to pass inspection. At least, as long as no 11-year old black kids in Cleveland don’t play with them.

Molly Jackson: Treat Comic Con Volunteers Right!

It’s a New Year, a new me, and another 361 days of geekdom to look forward to! I started off this New Year by cruising the Internet and catching up on some geek updates and what caught my eye was the convention news. Usually, December/January is slow for cons, so I was shocked to find multiple stories that really caught my attention.

Some were positive, like diversity and inclusive Universal Fan Con getting fully funded. It looks awesome and needed and you should check it out. I’m a backer and I’ll see you there in April 2018. Others were sad, like the complete collapse of con company Geek Expos after they unsold their Marvelous New Year’s Eve Con with Stan Lee. It was a cool concept, but ultimately poorly promoted in a city that just couldn’t support it. And then I saw this next piece of news, which just pissed me off.

Phoenix Comic Con announced a new way for fans to apply for the volunteer army that works their convention each year. They want them to pay a yearly fee of $20 for the chance to apply. Amongst other things, I am not really sure that they understand the meaning of the word “volunteer.” It’s not a refundable fee either. This is going straight into the con’s pockets. PCC stated that they are doing this to ensure that volunteers do not just take the badge and not complete their volunteer shifts.

Here are the flaws with that plan. People bailing on their volunteer hours is still going to happen, even with paying. A $20 weekend pass isn’t as good as a free one, but it’s still cheaper than the full $55 price. But wait, they say. They will ban volunteers who do exactly that! But what was stopping you from doing that before??? If you want more reliable staff at your con, then hire people like ReedPop does. Or overbook your volunteer staffers so you have plenty of people. See who shows up for volunteer training and who doesn’t and keep records. Use the new popular tap system so many conventions are using so that you can deactivate badges from wayward volunteers, or only give them a badge for the day they are working. Do anything but forcing them to pay for the ability to apply to volunteer with no guarantee of getting the spot.

A good chunk of volunteers are people who don’t have the disposable income for tickets or for fees. I know this first-hand, as at one point I was one of them. I volunteered and I had a great time, meeting people and hanging out. So much so that I kept volunteering at that con, just for the experience. Volunteering is great and I highly recommend that everyone try volunteering at least once for the experience.

The thing that keeps making the story worse is that the convention is now getting into public fights. The con director and a former volunteer/vendor have been duking it out in comments. It’s a petty he said/she said fight. It became such a big comment war that Bleeding Cool even published an article about what happened in their comment section. What happened to the unwritten rule to not read the comments?

Volunteers are usually a convention’s biggest and most dedicated fans. Treating your fans with respect shouldn’t be a stretch for a business. It’s true, some people wrongly try to game the system. Those people should be banned, with no question. But don’t use the few bad apples as an excuse to abuse the rest. Cherish your fans or they will eventually abandon you.