The greatest loyalty we owe is to truth.
You can read your Bible; you can read your Immanuel Kant. Recite your Boy Scout oath or your West Point honor code. Think about what we tell our kids all the time: “Tell the truth.”
Alas, we live in a day and age in which the goalposts of truth have been moved and seem to be in constant motion. Our politically charged atmosphere and carefully crafted marketing messages from megalith corporations have denigrated truth to the point where it can seem difficult to find. But it’s still there. And here’s a small truth:
It’s okay to cancel, postpone, hiatus-ize, or whatever-you-want-to-call-it your comic convention now. In fact, it’s appreciated. Just please, do so truthfully.
Look, the NBA is on hiatus (and in the time it took me to print a copy of this and redline it, the NHL followed suit). South by Southwest and Coachella are canceled. Large public gatherings, in the wake of coronavirus, are just not a good idea right now. Officials at the Center for Disease Control are warning us, “This is going to get worse before it gets better.”
The NBA and the CDC, I promise you, are getting better and more complete information than Planet Comic Con and the folks who run Fan Expo. It is insane to put the burden on whether or not to attempt a large public gathering at this point on their shoulders. And that’s the other half of the equation:
We—as any stakeholders in these events, be it talent, an exhibitor, a vendor, a convention center, a publisher, a third-party security provider or whatever—have to allow these events the space and the leeway to make the right decision. I honestly believe a vast majority of people are willing to do just that. I’ll say again: It’s appreciated. Just please, do so truthfully.
We ALL owe that loyalty to truth. Please don’t insult our intelligence. Please don’t hang on as long as you can, just to get to the inevitable anyway. Please don’t drip, drip, drip and tell your stakeholders, “Hey, these people are canceling but it’s gonna be great! Hey, you can get a refund, but we’re sooooo looking forward to seeing you! Hey, we have extra hand sanitizer dispensers, and it’ll be cool!”
Does ANYONE actually believe that an event where people are canceling is going to be “great?” That the employees of Convention Company X are looking forward to getting on a plane and going to a hot zone? That anyone other than a PR practitioner who’s trying his best to spin, spin, spin can say those words with a straight face?
Just tell the truth, folks. Please. It’s okay. People are FORGIVING. In fact, in a world of denigration of truth, you might find that those stakeholders will find your approach refreshing. Honest. Trustworthy. You will prosper by it.
I was at Reed’s c2e2 event in Chicago on Feb. 28-29. My Esteemed Editor at Newsarama.com asked me to get the pulse, get the feeling, of the people on the floor as coronavirus was starting to become an ugly reality in the USA. “Great!” I said. “We’ll title the article ‘The Last Con Before the Apocalypse!’”
The mood was…okay. People were wary, but upbeat. Some creators were signing books while wearing latex gloves, and many folks had instituted respectful “no touching” policies. “Nothing to see here,” I told by Esteemed Editor. “Business as usual, but future TBD.”
“TBD” is today, and we all have the power to choose the “determined” of it. I’m a glass-half-full guy. I honestly believe “it will get worse before it gets better.” I also believe it WILL get better. The next few months will be rocky, but dawn is on the horizon. Coronavirus is a legit, broad public health concern, in which large gatherings are just not a good idea. It’s okay to cancel, postpone, or hiatus-ize your comic convention.
Just please, do so truthfully.