Creators Drop Out As ECCC Drops Mask Mandate

The ReedPOP organisers of the upcoming ECCC, the Emerald City Comic Convention of Seattle, sent out the following message to exhibitors regarding their decision to drop mandatory mask-wearing at the show, They write;

Do Heroes Still Wear Masks At Comic Cons?

Hey ECCC Exhibitors,
Our goal is to continuously keep you updated as we approach re-openings and finding the "new normal" in the events industry.
We want to let you know that ECCC will be aligning with King County's current Health & Safety regulations this August. We will not be doing vaccination or test checking onsite and we strongly recommend the use of high quality masks while at the show, like a certified N95, KN95, or KN94 mask. Masks may be required in certain areas or panels. We will have some onsite, but recommend you bring your own.
We may change our policy again, but as of now we are aligning with Washington State.
This decision isn't one we take lightly or without quite a lot of discussion about what is best and safest for all of us. Everyone is approaching getting back to events differently, we all have our own circumstances and varying levels of comfort.
Thank you for continuing to support us — even when you're sending us frustrated emails! We're all in this together as we find our new normal, and we appreciate your continued trust in us to bring you the best pop culture event Seattle has to offer. We're looking forward to hosting our very first summer edition of ECCC and then it's back to the spring with us in 2023.
Thank you,
Kristina Rogers VP of Events
Ryan Will Sr. Director of Global Sales
Gabe Yocum Sales Manager
Neil Parrello Sales Executive
Eric Santiago Sales Executive

Reaction from some exhibitors was strong and swift, with some pulling out. ECCC appears to be issuing a refund to those who choose to do so. Here are a few of the social media responses.

Britt Siess: For everyone asking me why I'm not going to ECCC this year, this is why. I am playing it very safe and haven't been traveling to cons yet, and it's because I just don't feel safe with the policies and practices that many of them have in place.

Bob Quinn: In light of recent eccc news it's probably worth noting that I'm not doing cons anymore. For a number of personal reasons, I do not f-ck with covid, and con organizers don't care, so now one of my favorite parts of being a comic book artist is off the table for me. If you ever want a commission or a signed book or something shoot me an email or a dm. We can work something out. (Not right now, too busy, but I'll let you know)

Dani Colman: It was already looking unlikely I'd attend @emeraldcitycon for a host of reasons (COVID policy uncertainty being a big one), but good Lord, @Reed_POP . Do better… As of right now, @Comic_Con is holding admirably firm on sensible vax and mask policies for #SDCC. And there's always a robust con-adjacent social scene if crowds don't feel safe even with precautions.

Seanan McGuire: Please take a moment to reconsider.

Zac Thompson: As most of us attending the show are freelancers without health care or paid time off – I urge you to rethink this.

James Asmus: FOLX TABLING (like me): payment email does give until July 27th to cancel and get a REFUND. My tabling partner & I are waiting a bit to see if Reed HOPEFULLY reverses this decision.

Rose Besch: just sent my cancellation notice. please value the well being of your attendees, staff, guests, and exhibitors, as well as their loved ones and communities, during a pandemic

Claire Hummel: just got an email from ECCC saying they're walking back their mask/vax policies and I am just… so tired, y'all "rip to Anime Expo but im different" you are not, I promise you!! Stop treating exhibitors' and staff's safety as an acceptable sacrifice to appeal to your worst fans

Julie Dillon: I finally get accepted into the ECCC art show, and they decide to not require masks or vaccines. Half of my friends have gotten covid in the past 2-3 months because they briefly had to be in places where other people weren't masked. "we all have our own circumstances and varying levels of comfort" Oh, okay, let's just make it more unsafe for everyone, then. Everyone I know who's gotten it recently caught it while wearing a n95 mask around a bunch of unmasked people after the mask mandates dropped. People have to make their plans in advance, though (hotels, flights, time off, etc) and I think a lot will think twice about going now. I was thankfully able to get a refund, but I'll keep this in mind to pass on to other people who might need it this convention season. :)

Ian MacEwan: Every creator should cancel on shows that walk back these requirements that were *in place with no indication of changing during a pandemic* when registering and flight booking and paying for your table took place It's deception and it's reprehensible and it sucks. I love ECCC

Christian Ward: The ECCC news of walking back vaccinations/masks I imagine will eventually apply to NYCC. Would it put creators off attending NYCC? I had been considering about flying over. It's a balancing act of wanting to capitalise on new books & reconnect with US fans & being sensible. I really miss doing US shows and I don't think I've had so many big books around NYCC. Lots to celebrate but the fear of risking of long Covid is strong

Diana Greenhalgh: If you ever feel you have to choose between sales and your life, always choose your life. That's the thing, I wouldn't be going to table /to make money ( I'd probably have some panels to do a few signing sessions ) more for the experience of it. So in a way it is thinking about what I want from my life that's making weigh it up

Kelly McKernan: I'm reconsidering my AA table. I haven't paid for it yet, but between the table, hotel, and travel costs AND guaranteed COVID exposure? Idk if it's worth it. Feels irresponsible.

Christian Ward:  Yeah , I hear you and knowing multiple folk who are now dealing with Long Covid certainly doesn't encourage me to take too much of a risk but my god i miss travelling other there for that experience.

Brian Schirmer:  If NYCC has AT LEAST a mask mandate, we'll likely go. If they pull this kinda sh-t, we're out. SDCC requires masks AND proof of vax or negative test. Hell, if the largest show in the land can do this, no other con has an excuse.

Jen Vaughn: ECCC, dropping vax + mask requirements sucks big time especially after so many are testing positive for covid after Vidcon this last weekend where masks were also not required. Don't follow the state standards – be the example of higher standards

Aidan Rae Vitti: We signed up for exhibiting at 2022 bc ECCC 2021 was so mindful of COVID protocols. It's disingenuous to totally change your protocol AFTER everyone has already paid you. SDCC is 3 weeks before you and still requiring masks despite "local regulations" – you should do the same.

Chris Piers: Before I decide to attend ECCC, I'm gonna see how many folks coming out of HeroesCon stayed healthy. Will pay attention as this weeks ends.

Kory Bing: In the wake of the news that ECCC is getting rid of masking rules, I'm currently in line at Anthrocon where everybody has to go through a mask and vaccination check before coming in the building and it is friendly, efficient, and chill.

Ramon Villalobos: Seeing creators talk about catching covid while at heroescon which had basically no mask/vax policy and then eccc announcing theyll basically be doing the same thing the same day is so crazy. Amazing timing.

Zack Davisson: As an ECCC guest, I am not happy with this. Cons CAN be run safely during the Covid pandemic, but ONLY if they are run safely. Vaccine mandates should be a minimum. And probably for years to come.

Friday Afternoon Tea: In light of ECCC's announcement yesterday, we won't be slingin tea there this season. We've kept in-store masking requirements despite local mask mandate changes out of care for our immune-compromised communitea members and will not be bringing superspreader germs into our store.

Kelly McKernan: I was super grateful to be invited as a guest, but between the cost of travel and now this… it's not worth long covid and exposing others for me. I'm hoping this won't happen for @c2e2 and @NY_Comic_Con or I may need to back out of those too. This is so disappointing guys

Lauren Walsh: Here, once again, to say that some artists' entire income is dependent on conventions. Giving people sh-t because they weighed the risk and decided to go to a con to sell their product is like telling a waiter they are a pos for doing their job.

Kim O'Connor: I agree that creators and attendees should strike/boycott of ECCC and just want to add that your personal feelings about the content of the policy don't matter. Changing health policy at the last moment shows flagrant disregard for the people who signed up under false pretenses

Tony Parker: Please change your mind on this. I felt far safer at your last show, knowing you had health and safety policies in effect.

Lindsay Ishihiro: I'm aghast that you're justifying removing protections with the phrase 'we all have varying levels of comfort' – so why default to the LOWEST safety, then? Why not have an expansive safety policy to create an environment where MORE people feel safe rather than less?

Chris Roberson: ECCC is my absolute favorite convention and I've been looking forward to going back for the first time since 2019, but lifting vax and mask requirements for a crowded indoor event has me seriously questioning whether I'll attend. @emeraldcitycon, please reconsider!

David Avallone: Ooof. I guess now I'm glad I'm not going…

Kiriska: Canceled my table for ECCC because they walked back on their COVID policies, but I added free shipping to my online store for orders over $50. http://store.kiriska.com Shop safely from home~

Missy Peña: You saw what happened when @AnimeExpo tried to do this right? You don't have to align with the state – you can and SHOULD do better to protect attendees. I'm really surprised to see this coming from ReedPOP since you're usually a good example of safety and decency in the convention space. Please check vax cards and tests.

Alicia Chen: "varying levels of comfort" sorry if LUNG DAMAGE isn't my level of comfort way to write it off as "aligning with King County's current Health & Safety regulations" instead of stepping up and taking responsibility that you're going to be directly responsible for more infections… I received a response to my angry ECCC email, and let me tell you, these are some horrible excuses. You're worried about "putting folks at jeopardy" over a contentious topic, but you know what also puts folks at jeopardy?? that weird little pandemic we've been having

That reply, from ECCC, read as follows:

Complete understand how you feel about the policy announcement. Without a citywide mask mandate as we had previously, it has become impossible for us to enforce onsite, even with considerable investment into staffing. We cannot make a promise to our fans and everyone else that we're not confident we can keep, particularly when it starts to become a highly contentious topic onsite, putting folks at jeopardy. What we are confident in is the high rate of vaccination across Washington and voluntary mask adoption. High quality masks protect the wearer, which is why we are strongly recommending them.
Folks are absolutely supported to ask others to wear masks at their table, we state very clearly that masks may be required in specific areas and people are more than able to set their own boundaries onsite with a "masks up, please!" or similar sign.
Completely understand if this is an issue with you attending ECCC; if they are no longer able to attend as a result of the policy, please let us know and we'll be happy to get you a table refund immediately.

San Diego Comic-Con in three weeks time has the following mask requirements. For now.

Everyone attending Comic-Con will be required to wear an approved face covering regardless of vaccination status. In addition to wearing an approved face covering, you will be required to provide verification of full COVID-19 vaccination status or proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours.

ReedPOP's show in the UK, MCM London Comic Con, did not have mask-wearing or vaccination as requirements, and as a result few people wore face masks. The same will be expected from Showmaster's London Film And Comic Con next weekend. However, the UK is a highly vaccinated country, and while some attendees report catching COVID there, there were no reported spikes associated with the event. This might not be the case in shows in America.

Here is the creator guest list who are still, it seems, attending.

  • ALEX SINCLAIR
  • AMY CHU
  • ARIEL DIAZ
  • ARIELA KRISTANTINA
  • ARIELLE JOVELLANOS
  • ASHLEY WOODS
  • BEN TEMPLESMITH
  • BLUE DELLIQUANTI
  • BRIANNA GARCIA
  • CARLATIONS
  • CHRIS ROBERSON
  • CHRIS CLAREMONT
  • CHRISSIE ZULLO
  • DANIEL KHANNA
  • DANIELA SANCHEZ REYES
  • DAVID CLARKE
  • FAITH ERIN HICKS
  • FRANCINE DELGADO
  • FRANCO
  • HANNAH HILLAM
  • JACOB ANDREWS
  • JAMES ASMUS
  • JANET K LEE
  • JANET SUNG
  • JIM MAHFOOD
  • JIM ZUB
  • JODY LEHEUP
  • JOE QUINONES
  • JOHN TIMMS
  • JONATHAN HICKMAN
  • JULIA LEPETIT
  • KAMI GARCIA
  • KARINA FAREK
  • KAT LEYH
  • KEEZY YOUNG
  • KEVIN MAGUIRE
  • KLAUS JANSON
  • LADY SARA RICHARD
  • LEVI HASTINGS
  • LIANA KANGAS
  • LIVIO RAMONDELLI
  • MATTEO SCALERA
  • MELISSA CAPRIGLIONE
  • MIKE DEL MUNDO
  • MIKE HUDDLESTON
  • MINDY LEE
  • MIRKA ANDOLFO
  • MOLLY KNOX OSERTAG
  • ND STEVENSON
  • NICK SPENCER
  • RANDY EMBERLIN
  • ROBERT WILSON IV
  • ROD REISRYAN BENJAMIN
  • SAMANTHA DODGE
  • SARAH WILKINSON
  • SHAWN CRYSTAL
  • SOZOMAIKA
  • TERRY DODSON
  • TOCHI ONYEBUCHI
  • TOMMY LEE EDWARDS
  • TONY PARKER
  • ZACK KAPLAN
  • ZACK DAVISSON

The one noted as cancelling on the show website so far is ROSE BESCH.

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About Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
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