My very first Comic-Con experience was in May 2019. It was MCM London and I only went for the one-day option and I of course was in cosplay. I was sure I would love it but I was cautious at first, and also mostly broke because I had spent way too much money on the photo-ops already. This is where I first had a chance to meet with Nolan and Troy and if it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t have considered going to Comic Cons as a vendor with my artwork. I went to the London Film and Comic-Con for the second round in July 2019, and by that point, I already knew that I would show up as an artist at the October MCM Comic Cons in less than 4 months and that became the biggest part of my life.
Me and my business partner both worked 3 jobs to make sure that we could actually get to the Cons as vendors, have the prints ready, buy everything we needed for displays and whatnot, and even with that we felt ridiculously underprepared. However, seeing how much joy my artwork brought to people seriously boosted my confidence. We literally booked every single London Comic Con and even the Birmingham one as well for 2020. It meant that we had six Comic Cons waiting for us and out of that six, only one went down as planned. The Spring Film and Comic-Con in February. We had people from the October MCM coming to the Con just to get more artwork and I felt good. I felt like I had finally found my path in life. Then they postponed Birmingham, London May, London LFCC, they then canceled Birmingham, canceled London May, and canceled London LFCC and Comic Cons were done for 2020.
They already announced that the LFCC Spring Comic-Con won’t even come back in 2021 but instead in 2022. The way things are looking at the moment in England with their third official lockdown I am becoming more and more skeptical. I talked with other artists that I was lucky enough to get to know through these amazing conventions and some of them completely gave up on the possibility of these great events coming back this year. One of them, who wished to stay anonymous, says:
“If they would start again from the summer, I simply would not be able to afford the tables and I do not think it would be a worthy investment anyway. Just think about it; people are already struggling as it is so even if it would be safe to get back to do the Comic Cons, I think every visitor would hold onto their money even more tightly. The big names they invite would still come out on top, but people like us (the artists – the author) would go down to the bottom. We would lose even more money.”
I would even question if the regular photo-ops and meet and greets would even be possible from the very beginning. I am almost 100% sure that we would start off with some serious restrictions. Maybe the guest would only appear through Zoom calls for an on-stage interview or even if they do show up, photo-ops would not exist and we could only get autographs through a plastic glass. At least these are my predictions. So far MCM and LFCC, the two big Cons from London, have not given any official statements regarding the future of their Conventions.
There were, of course, online Comic Cons but to be fair they can’t even come close to the real experiences. Sure, most of these things got big names to show up and you could buy autographs from them and 5-10-minute zoom calls, but… that is simply not the same as actually walking on the Comic-Con floors, looking around and seeing so many people freely showing their love and passion for the things that they admire. Discovering new artists, writers, and comic illustrators, buying POP figures, meeting your favorite people, and getting to know new friends is the experience that is missing from the online version. We so desperately would need them back but at the same time, our safety comes first. I wish we could just waltz back in and enjoy it like nothing ever happened, but this (just like everything else) will take a long time to get back to normal. I hope for the best but we might have to accept the possibility that even in 2021 we have to forget about the Cons or we have to adapt to a new, a bit more restricted version of it.
What are your predictions for Comic Cons going forward? What are you most excited to see come back?