COMICS PORTAL: Reality Intrudes on Comics Celebration

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To anyone putting together a comics convention, it’s what you hope will never happen. The real world took out the Boston Comic Con over the weekend due to a fluid situation regarding chasing down a suspect in the bombing that took place during the Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15.

Believe me, the whole situation reminded me of a plot in a true crime comic! In fact, what seemed to be an invisible enemy using everyday items to injure, maim or kill innocents may have already appeared in a comic (although I’ve never read that story myself). I was half expecting Dick Tracy or Batman to show up to solve the case!

As the Boston Comic Con was expected to get underway on Friday, basically the entire city was shut down after the last of the persons law enforcement sought had not yet been found. In order to protect everyone, the convention organizers shut down the weekend’s convention.

Here’s their official announcement: “Due to the unfortunate events that have transpired here in Boston, a lock down has been put into effect until further notice causing the Hynes Convention Center to suspend all events. As such, The Boston Comic Con will be rescheduled to a date in the not too distant future. All people who purchased advanced tickets on line will have their tickets honored at the rescheduled show. If for some reason, you can not come to the show on that date, we will refund your ticket. Please, we ask for your patience, understanding, and cooperation. We appreciate your loyalty, and continued support for the Boston Comic Con. Unfortunately, this situation is beyond our control.”

I’m sure this was a very difficult decision. However, when the safety of fans and talent is involved, you have to err on the side of caution.

If one is organizing a Comic Con, a sci-fi convention or anything else along these lines, it can take a whole year to put it together. Often before the current event is done, you’re going around asking people to participate next time!

I once served on a planning committee for a sci-fi convention that runs in February in the greater Washington, D.C., area, and the thing we feared most was a blizzard hitting just before the “con” would begin, shutting everyone out. (If it happened AFTER everyone arrived, well, they could stay a couple of nights longer in the hotel if they needed to.)

Each year, we would scan the weather reports starting a couple of weeks prior to the event, hoping for good weather. So far, so good except for one year when a blizzard hit about a week before the con. That turned out to be good news, though, because everyone was suffering from cabin fever and couldn’t wait to get out of the house and attend the con!

A little good news that came from the Boston Comic Con organizers was that an artist signing was organized the following day for artists unable to catch a flight home after the event was cancelled. Also, I saw numerous artists communicating with fans who wanted artwork they commissioned, working out how to make sure they received the works they wanted. Facebook and other social media really was helpful in this instance.

Sadly, the final suspect was arrested on Friday evening, as anyone who turned on a television that night could see. The next day, sports games and the like returned to normal. But it was too late to rescind the convention’s decision. Organizers of other comics events, take notice!

I’m sure it’s small consolation, and hindsight is always 20/20, but I’m sure many of those who were planning to attend Boston Comic Con felt that looking out for the safety of everyone who wanted to attend was the right decision to make. Boston Comic Con will be back later this year, and will be bigger than ever in 2014 as well! Given all that’s happened, support for the event will be tremendous, I bet! And they certainly deserve it!