Who’s Up for Packing a Year’s Worth of Conventions into Three Months?

Tom Hiddleston from TV's "Loki"!

That time Anne and I met TV’s Loki at Ace Comic Con Midwest 2018 remains among our all-time favorite extravagances and we will never, ever stop finding reasons to share it.

Hey, you guys remember that time when we used to attend comic-cons and entertainment conventions and they were fun, and then we posted photos and those were fun too? Heh. Yeah, that, uh, that was awesome.

Then came the pandemic. The body counts rose worldwide, long-term illnesses wrecked many a survivor, everyone stayed home and all event calendars were wiped clean, tossed into File 13 and set afire. Our last show was GalaxyCon Louisville in November 2019. We skipped C2E2 the following February because the guest list didn’t wow us and, frankly, who loves a con in Chicago wintertime? After that, every con we know either scrapped their 2020 plans or kept postponing and postponing and postponing, biding their time until either vaccines or alien saviors cleared a path back to geek normalcy.

Are we there yet? Depends on who you ask. Governments at every level are begging and bribing their citizens to get vaccinated (with mixed results, because bribery is so 1972), President Biden is one launch code away from arming old broadcast satellites to Gatling-gun the entire country with loaded Pfizer needles from space, but meanwhile the media has taken a break from vaccine encouragement in favor of repetitive debates over today’s much hotter topic, “COVID Delta: Threat or Menace?” Will it slaughter the vaccinated and unvaccinated alike in equal numbers? Were all these shots a waste of time? Is it time to have our faces surgically removed and replaced with permanent masks? Are we all doomed to die at the hands of Pestilence the Horseman before we’ve even had our first real nuclear war? And how can Dr. Fauci stand to keep answering the same five questions over and over and over and over and over and over and over again, just like celebrities at comic-cons?

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover, I already covered our stance on all this:

The core announcement in 36-point boldface across the saner channels is generally “Get vaccinated if you want to live!” We’re absolutely on board with that, but that encouragement keeps getting drowned out by skittish commentators who trust science and yet don’t trust science. It’s hard to maintain enthusiasm when we’re also being told, “Stay in hiding in case the vaccines are useless against…all-new all-different SUPER-COVIDS!” and “Keep on keeping away from other humans in case the entire point of vaccines halting transmissibility turns out to be a worldwide lie!” and “Don’t forget, it’s only 96% effective, so pretend you’re not actually vaccinated in case you’re secretly in the 4%!” And so on. Anchorpeople nationwide won’t stop assuring us with straight faces, “Failure is totally an option.”

If we’re really, truly meant to trust science, and if we’ve every reason to believe — based on the side effects so far and our own medical histories — that our immune system responses will be average and successful, then sooner or later these tiny new residents squatting in our bloodstreams will need some field testing. Sooner or later someone will need to demonstrate the vaccines were worth it and encourage the skeptics from their hidey-holes.

Our entire household has been fully vaccinated since mid-May, two Pfizer shots each. Since that time I’ve attended three family gatherings, seen four films in theaters (one of which is overdue for its entry), eaten in numerous restaurants, returned to a church that’s largely forgotten me, and took a ten-day road trip from Indy to Yellowstone and back again (pics still coming soon). It’s been more than fourteen days since the end of our vacation. So far, we’re all physiologically fine. Mentally and emotionally I could use some maintenance, but that’s off-topic. From our anecdotal evidence, the vaccines are doing their job or we’re extraordinarily luckier than Gladstone Gander.

With science apparently prevailing in our favor so far, our minds are turning toward the convention scene once more. Admittedly our household budget benefited from a skip year. As adults we confess we needed to work on debt reduction anyway after doing Star Wars Celebration Chicago and our first Dragon Con in 2019, unquestionably the two most expensive cons we’ve ever done after factoring in travel expenses, to say nothing of other occurrences here and there throughout 2020. That’s all been handled, so maybe now we can go crazy Broadway-style again…if we can commit to any upcoming shows.

Over the past year it’s been a hassle charting all our favorite cons and their dates and then updating the chart every ten minutes for postponements and cancellations. As of today, though, they’ve all planted their feet in the dirt and trumpeted, “We’ve retreated this far back yet a line must be drawn here.” One slight problem: 2021 is running out of months to contain them all.

As of the beginning of July, this is what our list of con opportunities looked like in our vicinity, along with their previous announced/withdrawn dates or their pandemic-era alt-forms:

  • 7/9-7/11: Indy Pop Con (online-only in 2020)
  • 7/30-8/1: Superman Celebration in Metropolis (rescheduled from 6/10-6/13/20)
  • 9/2-9/6: Dragon Con (online-only in 2020)
  • 9/4-9/5: Hall of Heroes Comic Con (rescheduled from 9/5-9/6/20 AND 3/5-3/7/21)
  • 9/10-9/12: HorrorHound Cincinnati (rescheduled from 3/20-3/22/20 AND 5/22-5/24/20 AND 3/19-3/21/21)
  • 9/10-9/12: Fanboy Expo Destination Sci Fi Indianapolis, the inaugural edition, if you can believe the confidence in launching a new show in this of all years
  • 9/17-9/19: Cincinnati Comic Expo (rescheduled from 9/11-9/13/20)
  • 9/30-10/3: Cartoon Crossroads Columbus (online-only in 2020)
  • 10/16-10/17: Motor City Comic Con (canceled in 2020)
  • 10/15-10/17: Indiana Comic Con (rescheduled from 4/10-4/12/20 AND 6/26-6/28/20 AND 5/7/21-5/9/21)
  • 10/15-10/17: Wizard World Chicago (rescheduled from 8/20-8/23/20 AND 6/24-6/27/21 AND 8/27-8/29/21)
  • 11/26-11/28: Starbase Indy (canceled in 2020)
  • 12/10-12/12: C2E2 (rescheduled from 3/26-3/28/2021)

Obviously we can’t do them all and they’re now competing for our affection.

Three cons that thrilled us in years past are MIA from the list. HorrorHound Indianapolis has been hurled clear back to September 2022. Stephen Shamus’ Ace Comic Con seems content to exist as a purely non-corporeal, virtual entity for the time being, which translates into mail-away autographs and talk shows personalized at a remove. And alas, the aforementioned GalaxyCon Louisville has been scrapped indefinitely not by COVID but due to disputes between the showrunners and the city.

You’ll notice Indy Pop Con has already come and gone. We opted out not because of COVID anxiety, but because the guest list fell a bit short of our weirdly specific wants. The complete lack of any announced comics-related guests was a disappointing departure from their previous shows. We kept deferring judgment week after week until the very week-of, when the two potentially coolest guests from one of our favorite TV series canceled right before showtime — early enough for us to catch the news but not nearly soon enough for local media to delete those actors’ names from their generous coverage. Better luck next year.

Hopefully guest-list deficiencies don’t hamper all our bottled-up enthusiasm to leave the house and fraternize with others vaguely like us. Some shows have yet to announce any real headliners. Some are stockpiling voice actors in bulk from from anime or games outside our fields of vision. Some have signed folks we’ve already met or stars of shows we don’t watch. To an extent I’ll confess it’s not them, it’s us. Even before the horrors of 2020 gave us near-unlimited free time, we were watching fewer new shows and our beloved-actors wish list was stagnating, not growing. We used a fair amount of 2020 to binge some slightly older series and added to our repertoires, but we’re not interested in paying to meet every actor ever just for the sake of gratuitous additions to our jazz-hands photo-op collection. Sometimes I’m tempted to ask just any actor in my path to do jazz hands, but that seems wrong and costly.

In between weekends, we may also need to make time for the upcoming Indiana State Fair (7/30-8/22, closed Mondays and Tuesdays, which is new and saddening for us fans of $2 Tuesdays), one or two family reunions, and maybe a little something for Anne’s birthday besides a con. It’s physically impossible for us to do everything, but we’d like to do something, maybe even a few somethings. We just need time and great excuses.

As of tonight exactly one (1) con is indelibly inked on our 2021 calendar: the Goldens will return to Dragon Con in September. Unless you’re one of my coworkers, this is exclusive news that You, The Viewers At Home, just heard here first. Not that this means much to anyone but us. Beyond simply wanting to see Atlanta again, they have casts we dig from two shows, one for Anne and one for me. I expect there’ll be more as actors, artists, and other performers emerge from their encampments and hop aboard. Our first D*C felt like three or four cons rolled into one. If it ends up being our only 2021 con, we’ll find peace with that.

So, yeah, all those other cons right now? We’re still waiting and seeing. Feel free to change our minds. We’re ready if you are.

(Well, unless this is the year we’ll all have to go hide underground from Supreme Ultimate Omicron Persei COVID coming at us with microscopic laser chainsaws. But that’s why we held on to our mask collections. Anne has one with Baby Yoda on it!)

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