Week of March 22nd, 2021

You miss writing a blog entry for a few days, and your brain goes to mush. Let me try my best to recollect what happened last week.

In the first entry I wrote how Capcom was reviewing Resident Evil pin designs. I think after a little more than a month they were approved. But now we realized we don't have packaging ready for it. Aw man, well, onto that.

However, we got 3 heroes, Jill Valentine, Chris Redfield, and Leon Kennedy, as our first three pins, and I think we need to submit some villains/monsters to coincide with those three.

I'll make a call on that soon.

I finally got Sonic the Hedgehog's 30th anniversary preproduction pins ordered to aim for those to release around June. Jeremy, our senior designer, worked on postcard designs for people who order directly through us, some original concept art for some unique Cthulhu pins, and I worked on packaging, supplying more product to Amazon, and a lot of boring administrative work.

We have now gotten to the point that our sales of March 2021 versus March 2020 is more than recovered. As the whole planet knows, March 2020 was not fun.

Friday I didn't work. I qualified for a vaccine shot earlier than other people my age, and because my wife is pregnant, she helped me find an appointment, so that we can protect our home as much as we can to make sure our lil' one continues to grow as safe as possible. By the time I got home that afternoon, I went to bed to relax, bringing the laptop with me in case anyone else needed me to do something, and then the side effects began to kick in.

I recovered for the most part by Saturday night.

What bummed me this weekend, however, was San Diego Comic Con's decision to have a mini-convention on Thanksgiving weekend. So, Zen Monkey Studios turns nine years old this July, and for the first four or five years we tried to get into SDCC. We were told you have a better shot getting into SDCC if you also attend Wondercon.

And we did twice! Wondercon was not bad when it was in Los Angeles, but then they moved back to Anaheim, and that made it so difficult for us to commute, with such a drop in sales, that we lost a ton of money, and a ton of time away from our family.

That sort of made us realize it might be too hard to get into SDCC. We're too small of a company, from the east coast, to handle San Diego, even if we get in.

Which kind of brings me back to this weekend. A convention is hard enough to be a vendor at. We have to ship our product around the country, with the fear that it either arrives late, or never at all, due to things we can't control. The costs are high to fly or drive about 4 employees to (we can get it down to 3, but 2 people is unfair with lack of bathroom breaks and food breaks). Set up is my second least favorite thing to do, and dismantling is my least favorite thing to do. It's like running a marathon, but it's running around to build or destroy an entire pop up shop within a few hours.

I think everyone reading this understands how hard it's been for many vendors and artists since March 2020, but it just feels very bizarre to announce an event on Thanksgiving weekend, starting on Black Friday, where setup is on Thanksgiving (or before). Many convention employees will have to be working that day, then all vendors will be setting up on or around Thanksgiving, and then at the end of a worldwide pandemic, hope there's enough attendees to make everything be worthwhile, when so many are already planning to be with family. Yes, local people will be able to attend as a fun family thing to do for the day after Thanksgiving, and yes, many people simply don't like or want to be around their family... But, I don't know what to say, a lot of us want to see family for the first time in about two years, not on zoom.

While this exact timeline doesn't affect us, because we haven't sold at SDCC in the 9 years we've been around (I sold twice in the past, 2004 and 2005--but whatever), I am concerned it shows a bit of the mentality of how conventions will be reopening in the future. 

I don't know how to explain it, but it made me feel a bit sad. We want to sell nerdy products to fellow nerdy people, but it feels like those in charge are dismissing the concerns of both attendees, but now also vendors, guests, and sponsors. My wife is a teacher, and she feels similar things with parents around the country demanding the schools reopen. But then they completely dismiss the health and safety of both the teachers, as well as the families of the school's staff.

No matter what, we're fortunately closer to the end of this pandemic than not, so I think we can all agree we're all feeling exhaustion, and being burnt out.

Ultimately, I think conventions will be changing how they work, and how they appear in the future. I think 2022 will be a lot better for in person events than anything now, no matter who is vaccinated or not. But my gut just says a lot of us want change. Both vendors, guests, and attendees, are tired of feeling rushed, crowded, and getting con crud. 

Let's collectively continue to be nerdy, with interesting hobbies, and not getting forced around like sardines. Let us aim for a healthier and more enjoyable future of events!