CoronaCon 2020: Alternatives to Comic Conventions During a Pandemic

With social distancing and limitations on crowd sizes a necessity to help slow the spread of COVID-19, the 2020 comic convention season has all but evaporated. My personal regional comic book Mecca—Heroes Convention in Charlotte, NC—recently called it off for this year, and other local shows on my agenda as a tabling creative have cancelled or proactively skipped to 2021. And of course, the industry’s trade show—San Diego’s Comic-Con International—was a no-go. To help avoid withdrawal symptoms, here are some ways to fill the void left by suddenly absent comic conventions.

Find an Online Comic Community

A comic convention’s main draw is the sense of fandom and community, the conversations and interactions with others who share your passion for the art form and creators. While it’s not the same as an in-person interaction, your fellow comic fans are all over the internet.

  • Find an online community—such as a Facebook group or the ShoutFyre forums—where you can meet comic book creators and readers, discuss your favorite books and artists, and discover new titles and work. 
  • If you’re an artist looking to keep in touch with your local comic creators, set up a virtual drink-and-draw. Over Zoom or Google Hangouts, you can catch up on each others’ work, solicit feedback on your latest projects, and draw together while staying apart.  
  • Listen to and support comic book podcasts. Several creators and fans have taken to the internet to discuss a range of topics, from their creative process and early comic book fandom to interviews with other creators and professionals. And these podcasts often have their own fandom and community of listeners, giving you easy access to a variety of conversations, not unlike the panel discussions you’d attend at a con. 

Support Creators Directly

A highlight of a comic convention is Artist Alley, where you can meet and support your favorite creators face-to-face. Of course, in this day of facial coverings and staying 6’ apart, such interactions aren’t recommended. But those creators can obviously still use your support, just as you can scratch that itch to show your appreciation for their work. 

  • Follow your favorite creators on social media, and “like” and “share” their work. Comment on their posts to give them that bit of encouragement, and you might even end up with some of the back-and-forth conversation you were hoping for at the convention.
  • If they have an online store, now’s your chance to spend that money you’d saved for the con. Pick up their latest book, or shop their merch for that t-shirt or print to display their work with pride. When you buy directly from the creator, they often get a lion’s share (if not all) of the profit, and don’t be surprised if they throw in some extra doodles and goodies with your purchase.

Show Your Retailers Some Love

The stay-at-home orders and closing of “non-essential” businesses, not to mention the month-long shutdown of new comic distribution, has left a lot of comic book retailers hurting. We’ve discussed previously ways to support your local comic shop during this time, and that still stands. As some stores begin to reopen, even on a limited basis, now’s a good chance to go (taking precautions to help stop the spread of COVID) and support them in person. Or, if you don’t have an open store nearby or are unable to safely venture out, shop online. From your local shop’s website or the numerous online retailers to auctions on Ebay, there are plenty of deals to be found and opportunities to spend your con budget (if you’re able) as you’d intended—by filling the gaps in your collection or buying new or recent discoveries (maybe even some from conversations in your new online communities!).

 

How are you filling the void left by the 2020 con season? Share your experience in the ShoutFyre forum!

Steve Stegelin

Editor, Artist, Letterer, Colorist Steve is the long-running cartoonist at the Charleston, SC alt-weekly Charleston City Paper, where he skewers politicians and criminals (and criminal politicians) alike with editorial cartoons and police blotter illustrations every issue. Steve was best known his indie comic book (and subsequent webcomic)  BOONDOGGLE