2020’s Alabama Comic Con, originally scheduled for June, was one of the many conventions this year to be postponed until 2021 due to Covid-19. With events still uncertain, many regular attendees will be anxiously wondering if next year’s event will go ahead, and if it does, what it will look like. Event organizers are still working hard to secure guests to make it as memorable as possible, but one thing’s for sure: it’s certain to be a little different to events of the past. Predicting what future conventions will look like is merely hypothesizing at this stage, but there are a few clues we can draw from the way some organizers have handled running events during the pandemic so far.
L.A. Comic Con’s Proposed Measures
In September, the organizers of L.A. Comic Con announced that their December convention would go ahead despite the pandemic, but fans were disappointed this month when the event was canceled. Organizers had planned to run the event with extra space to enable social distancing, and aimed to have fewer guests in attendance. They had maintained that safety was their priority, and insisted that face masks be worn at all times. However, with the lack of guidance, it was finally decided that it was unclear whether the precautions would be enough, and the event was postponed until safer times.
These are the kinds of measures we might expect to see at future conventions, however. Businesses of all kinds are working tirelessly to ensure they can thrive in the post-pandemic world, with experts advising strong financial strategies and a reconfiguration of teams. For comic conventions, this may mean more people working remotely to organize the events, carefully budgeting for guest speakers and creators, and alternative ways of selling merchandise.
There is also likely to be a greater virtual element. When the L.A. convention was originally expected to go ahead, plans were in place for a whole-day digital pass. This would have allowed guests to watch a live streamed panel at the same time as doing another activity, minimizing the need for movement between spaces. This could be a strategy adopted by conventions in the future, and also allows guests who are unable to attend the event to see the panels.
The Comic-Con event normally held at the San Diego Convention Center managed to hold an event this year, but it did so entirely digitally. Panels were broadcast on Comic-Con’s YouTube channel throughout the summer, and included several discussions relating to the pandemic. While the pandemic is unlikely to be the focus of future events, the model is likely to be used, at least in part, in the first conventions to be held as the world returns to normal. Whether conventions choose to remain completely online next year or use a hybrid model similar to the one planned by the L.A. organizers, a digital element is likely. This will allow for events to be smaller and enforce social distancing, while still allowing the convention to reach a wide audience.
It’s too early to say for sure what next year’s Alabama Comic Con will look like, but we can draw clues from other conventions that were planned for this year. It’s likely that we can expect more virtual elements, and if a physical event is to take place, it is highly likely that fewer tickets will be on sale and strict safety measures will be in place.