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A day in the life of a Comic Con vendor, who runs a booth with his wife, completes up to 15 commissioned caricatures in a day, and avoids drinking water because he has no time for bathroom trips

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  • New York Comic Con is a massive pop culture event, drawing thousands of people from all over the world.
  • We talked to a vendor about what it’s like to work a booth at the event.
  • He described a hectic 12-hour work day with no lunch break and barely any bathroom breaks — but he said it’s all worth it.

One of New York City’s largest pop culture events, Comic Con, is underway this week at Javits Center in Manhattan.

Hundreds of vendors and exhibitors pay to set up booths at the convention each year, selling comics, artwork, costumes, collectible action figures, and much more.

We talked to two vendors, Mervyn and Nicole McKoy, partners in both business and marriage, who run their commercial art and multimedia design studio, Paper Lab Studios, from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. They travel to conventions throughout the year, including Dallas Comic Con, Indiana Comic Con, MegaCon in Orlando, Florida Super Con, Raleigh Super Con, and Katsucon in Maryland, and others.

Mervyn said New York Comic Con is definitely one of his favorites because of the diverse group of people who attend.

In between conventions, the McKoys do commercial art, custom commissions, and design. Some of their past clients include Burger King and Filthy Food, which makes high-end drink garnishes. They also produce their own comic books in collaboration with various writers, which Mervyn illustrates and Nicole edits.

Here’s what their day looked like on the first day of New York Comic Con.

Mervyn and Nicole woke up at 7 a.m. on Thursday, the first day of the convention, and took an Uber from the DUMBO neighborhood of Brooklyn where they were staying with a friend.


Mervyn and Nicole woke up at 7 a.m. on Thursday, the first day of the convention, and took an Uber from the DUMBO neighborhood of Brooklyn where they were staying with a friend.play

Mervyn and Nicole woke up at 7 a.m. on Thursday, the first day of the convention, and took an Uber from the DUMBO neighborhood of Brooklyn where they were staying with a friend.

(MikeDotta/Shutterstock)

They got to the Javits Center at about 8:30 to beat the security checkpoint rush and do some light setup.


They got to the Javits Center at about 8:30 to beat the security checkpoint rush and do some light setup.play

They got to the Javits Center at about 8:30 to beat the security checkpoint rush and do some light setup.

(Mervyn McKoy)

They had already come in for a couple hours the day before the convention started, on Wednesday, to do some preliminary setup.


They had already come in for a couple hours the day before the convention started, on Wednesday, to do some preliminary setup.play

They had already come in for a couple hours the day before the convention started, on Wednesday, to do some preliminary setup.

(Mervyn McKoy)

The McKoys, who’ve been coming to New York Comic Con for about five years —which is also how long they’ve been married — said they paid about $1,400 for their booth this year.

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At 10:00 a.m., Comic Con attendees are let in, kicking off one of the most hectic parts of the day for vendors.


At 10:00 a.m., Comic Con attendees are let in, kicking off one of the most hectic parts of the day for vendors.play

At 10:00 a.m., Comic Con attendees are let in, kicking off one of the most hectic parts of the day for vendors.

(Katie Warren/Business Insider)

The busiest parts of the day are the morning rush and midday between noon and 1:00 p.m., Mervyn said. Then there’s usually another rush between about 3:00 and 4:00 p.m.


The busiest parts of the day are the morning rush and midday between noon and 1:00 p.m., Mervyn said. Then there's usually another rush between about 3:00 and 4:00 p.m.play

The busiest parts of the day are the morning rush and midday between noon and 1:00 p.m., Mervyn said. Then there’s usually another rush between about 3:00 and 4:00 p.m.

(Katie Warren/Business Insider)

They can finish between 15 and 30 pieces per day between the two of them, with varying styles and due dates. On Thursday, they took 15 commissions.


They can finish between 15 and 30 pieces per day between the two of them, with varying styles and due dates. On Thursday, they took 15 commissions.play

They can finish between 15 and 30 pieces per day between the two of them, with varying styles and due dates. On Thursday, they took 15 commissions.

(Katie Warren/Business Insider)

Some pieces they give to their customers soon after they’re ordered and some are shipped later. It takes between 10 and 45 minutes to draw a piece, depending on the request. Mervyn said Nicole is much faster than he is.


Some pieces they give to their customers soon after they're ordered and some are shipped later. It takes between 10 and 45 minutes to draw a piece, depending on the request. Mervyn said Nicole is much faster than he is.play

Some pieces they give to their customers soon after they’re ordered and some are shipped later. It takes between 10 and 45 minutes to draw a piece, depending on the request. Mervyn said Nicole is much faster than he is.

(Katie Warren/Business Insider)

On average, they charge between $20 and $80 depending on the type of work, but add-ons such as special characters, backgrounds, and other details can increase the price, according to Mervyn.


On average, they charge between $20 and $80 depending on the type of work, but add-ons such as special characters, backgrounds, and other details can increase the price, according to Mervyn.play

On average, they charge between $20 and $80 depending on the type of work, but add-ons such as special characters, backgrounds, and other details can increase the price, according to Mervyn.

(Katie Warren/Business Insider)

One of Mervyn’s most memorable convention commissions was for a couple who asked him to draw them cosplaying as Ursula and Ariel from “The Little Mermaid” and riding their pet cat.


One of Mervyn's most memorable convention commissions was for a couple who asked him to draw them cosplaying as Ursula and Ariel from "The Little Mermaid" and riding their pet cat.play

One of Mervyn’s most memorable convention commissions was for a couple who asked him to draw them cosplaying as Ursula and Ariel from “The Little Mermaid” and riding their pet cat.

(Katie Warren/Business Insider)

In the afternoon, Mervyn found time to create a portrayal of me, which I found delightful.


In the afternoon, Mervyn found time to create a portrayal of me, which I found delightful.play

In the afternoon, Mervyn found time to create a portrayal of me, which I found delightful.

(Katie Warren/Business Insider)

Staying hydrated is crucial, but bathroom breaks at Comic Con are few and far between for the McKoys. “The bathroom trip is probably the most stressful thing, especially on Saturdays and even more so for Nicole,” Mervyn said.


Staying hydrated is crucial, but bathroom breaks at Comic Con are few and far between for the McKoys. "The bathroom trip is probably the most stressful thing, especially on Saturdays and even more so for Nicole," Mervyn said.play

Staying hydrated is crucial, but bathroom breaks at Comic Con are few and far between for the McKoys. “The bathroom trip is probably the most stressful thing, especially on Saturdays and even more so for Nicole,” Mervyn said.

(Mervyn McKoy)

“The other side of the hall has super small bathrooms, and the side near the entrance, while larger, is too far and can take at least 45 minutes to get to on Saturdays,” he said.

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Mervyn said they try to time their trips to parts of the day when the booth isn’t too busy. “Nicole is more strategic and I just avoid drinking water,” he said.


Mervyn said they try to time their trips to parts of the day when the booth isn't too busy. "Nicole is more strategic and I just avoid drinking water," he said.play

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Mervyn said they try to time their trips to parts of the day when the booth isn’t too busy. “Nicole is more strategic and I just avoid drinking water,” he said.

(Katie Warren/Business Insider)

Mervyn said they see some wild things at conventions.


Mervyn said they see some wild things at conventions.play

Mervyn said they see some wild things at conventions.

(Katie Warren/Business Insider)

At one convention, Mervyn said he saw a woman dressed as Daenerys Targaryen from “Game of Thrones” get thrown out because “she literally only had on dragon tassels.”


At one convention, Mervyn said he saw a woman dressed as Daenerys Targaryen from "Game of Thrones" get thrown out because "she literally only had on dragon tassels."play

At one convention, Mervyn said he saw a woman dressed as Daenerys Targaryen from “Game of Thrones” get thrown out because “she literally only had on dragon tassels.”

(Katie Warren/Business Insider)

At MegaCon, he once saw a brawl break out when somebody bumped into a vendor’s collection of collectible statues.


At MegaCon, he once saw a brawl break out when somebody bumped into a vendor's collection of collectible statues.play

At MegaCon, he once saw a brawl break out when somebody bumped into a vendor’s collection of collectible statues.

(Katie Warren/Business Insider)

But most of their day is spent chatting with Comic Con attendees and taking their varying requests.


But most of their day is spent chatting with Comic Con attendees and taking their varying requests.play

But most of their day is spent chatting with Comic Con attendees and taking their varying requests.

(Katie Warren/Business Insider)

Mervyn and Nicole don’t exactly get to take a lunch break. At some conventions, they have people helping them so they can leave the booth, but at this one it was just the two of them.


Mervyn and Nicole don't exactly get to take a lunch break. At some conventions, they have people helping them so they can leave the booth, but at this one it was just the two of them.play

Mervyn and Nicole don’t exactly get to take a lunch break. At some conventions, they have people helping them so they can leave the booth, but at this one it was just the two of them.

(Nicole McKoy)

They ate at their booth, munching on sandwiches from the same bagel spot in DUMBO where they had grabbed breakfast that morning.


They ate at their booth, munching on sandwiches from the same bagel spot in DUMBO where they had grabbed breakfast that morning.play

They ate at their booth, munching on sandwiches from the same bagel spot in DUMBO where they had grabbed breakfast that morning.

(Mervyn McKoy)

The McKoys make around $800 to $1,000 a day in commissions at New York Comic Con, Mervyn said.

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Comic Con’s show floor, where the McKoy’s booth is, closes to guests at 7:00 p.m. On Thursday, they had a commission run a little past closing time. After that was finished, they started shutting down their booth for the day.


Comic Con's show floor, where the McKoy's booth is, closes to guests at 7:00 p.m. On Thursday, they had a commission run a little past closing time. After that was finished, they started shutting down their booth for the day.play

Comic Con’s show floor, where the McKoy’s booth is, closes to guests at 7:00 p.m. On Thursday, they had a commission run a little past closing time. After that was finished, they started shutting down their booth for the day.

(Mervyn McKoy)

“Most vendors were gone, so it was Nicole shutting down the booth and me dilly dallying,” Mervyn said. They covered their wares with a large tarp.


"Most vendors were gone, so it was Nicole shutting down the booth and me dilly dallying," Mervyn said. They covered their wares with a large tarp.play

“Most vendors were gone, so it was Nicole shutting down the booth and me dilly dallying,” Mervyn said. They covered their wares with a large tarp.

(Mervyn McKoy)

Despite the long days and lack of breaks, Mervyn said it’s worth it because of the freedom they have, the opportunity to travel …


Despite the long days and lack of breaks, Mervyn said it's worth it because of the freedom they have, the opportunity to travel ...play

Despite the long days and lack of breaks, Mervyn said it’s worth it because of the freedom they have, the opportunity to travel …

(Mervyn McKoy)

… and seeing the excitement of people picking up their art. “We’ve had skeptics surprised, kids freak out, parents cry, and couples connect,” Mervyn said.


... and seeing the excitement of people picking up their art. "We've had skeptics surprised, kids freak out, parents cry, and couples connect," Mervyn said.play

… and seeing the excitement of people picking up their art. “We’ve had skeptics surprised, kids freak out, parents cry, and couples connect,” Mervyn said.

(Mervyn McKoy)

Mervyn and Nicole left the Javits Center at about 8:30 on Thursday to head back to DUMBO and meet some colleagues for dinner …


Mervyn and Nicole left the Javits Center at about 8:30 on Thursday to head back to DUMBO and meet some colleagues for dinner ...play

Mervyn and Nicole left the Javits Center at about 8:30 on Thursday to head back to DUMBO and meet some colleagues for dinner …

(Mervyn McKoy)

… and get ready to do it all again the next day.


... and get ready to do it all again the next day.play

… and get ready to do it all again the next day.

(Mervyn McKoy)



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Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard

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Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.

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However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
SEE ALSO: Thinking inside the cardboard box for post-lockdown work stations
Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
SEE ALSO: Working from home could be blessing in disguise for persons with disabilities
Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.

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Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard

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President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
SEE ALSO: Sakaja resigns from Covid-19 Senate committee, in court tomorrow

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Drastic life changes affecting mental health

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Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.

KBC Radio_KICD Timetable

Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.

Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.

The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.

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With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.

In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020.  It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.

A study by Dr. Habil Otanga,  a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says  that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.

The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.

KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.

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Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.

As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.

“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”

Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.

“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.

Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.

“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”

Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.

“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.

Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.

Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.

She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.

Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.

“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added

Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.

“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and  also engage in   reading that would  help expand their knowledge.

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