A Review – Pandemicon 2020 and an update on the state of things in Ohio

Akron Comicon has been around since 2012. I was an attendee for a couple years, before I set-up there as a vendor from 2016 – 2019. This year, I was going to set-up with my Fan Group – The Fandom Collective – to promote ourselves at the show. However, back in August they let their vendors and artists know that they were cancelling the show this year. In it’s place, they and Altered Realm Productions came up with “PANDEMICON: The Show You Thought You’d Never Live to See.” It was created in response to several vendors who wanted Akron Comicon to be held, and who were in need of some kind of show to help them financially.

There were no “celebrity guests” at the show, but they did have several local artists and vendors set-up there. To encourage social distancing, everyone was given a 10×10 space. Admission to the show was $5.00, and the show ran from 10 -7 on Saturday, November 7th. They needed at least 24 vendors and artists to participate. They ended up with around 50 vendors and artists who set-up at the show.

They have always been a comic book show. Their motto is – “FANS FIRST — FANS ALWAYS AT AKRON COMICON! We are committed to keep the “comic” in “comicon”—a show about comics for fans of comics!” So, if you were looking for a great place to find some comics, this would have been a great event for you!

I arrived at the convention around 10:30a. The show opened at 10a. I wasn’t sure what the line to get in would be like if I arrived there at 10a. I was also thankful they posted their rules and procedures for the convention beforehand on their social media.

Pandemicon

When I arrived, there was no line to get in. As soon as I walked through the door, they had someone waiting to take my temperature. Once I passed that checkpoint, someone checked me for weapons and waved a wand to be sure I didn’t have any metal on me. Then, I paid my $5 to go in.

The vendors and artists were nicely spaced on the floor. They had signs marking which direction you should go down the aisles. However, if they are on the floor, it makes it hard for people to see it. I went down aisles the wrong way a few times. But, it wasn’t too crowded to cause a concern.

All vendors and artists had masks on, and had hand sanitizer on their tables or in their booth, depending on how they were set-up. The former owner of Akron Comicon and I joked at one point that if we didn’t “see you”, don’t take offense, because we didn’t recognize you with your mask on, which is true! Some people you just don’t recognize with their mask on. However, I was lucky to recognize my vendor and artists friends that were there.

A few observations:

  • They had one entrance and one exit out of the event center.
  • Their rules stated you had to be 6 feet away from people. That is kinda hard when there is so much to see at a convention. Even if you were talking to an artist. you have maybe 2 feet between you, because of the table. And, people crowd around booths looking to see what a vendor or artist has available. I don’t know how that can be adhered to. (For comparison, I went to another local show last month, and they had no signs on the floor, and their entrance and exit doors were switched eventually.)
  • The concession stand needs more lighting, and condiments that are not over a year old. (Yes, I believe packets of mustard and ketchup can go bad if they just sit there. And, a friend mentioned that the mustard I got for his hot dog tasted a year old.)
  • It was nice to see people cosplay at the event.
  • I heard a few people comment that they were glad the event happened, because they needed something “normal” in their lives, even if it was just for a few hours or, in the case of the vendors and artists, a day. I know I, for one, was glad to have gotten out and seen friends, even if I was on the other side of the table.

Akron Comicon will be back in November 2021. I congratlulate them on putting a show together with such a narrow window of opportunity. Depending on where you are in Ohio, different counties have different levels of the pandemic they are dealing with. I know many shows that I go to as a vendor and an attendee that were cancelled this year. Akron Comicon already had the event center reserved for their event, but getting people to commit to doing it – vendor, artists, the event center itself…and hoping people will come! – had to be difficult. I believe I read in one of my vendor groups that they got about 500 in the door that day. (I was only there for 3 hours.)

I know I will be back to support them and other local shows in 2021.

Today, Wednesday, November 11, 2020, Gov. Mike Dewine updated the mask and social distancing mandate in Ohio during a press conference. With the continued increase in covid cases in Ohio, he had to do this, and this will impact many upcoming events in the area, and a comic con I know that was planned for next month. If things don’t improve, he will start shutting things down, starting next Thursday. So, I am definitely glad I was able to enjoy Pandemicon this past weekend, because who knows when we’ll be able to enjoy something like that again, for now.

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