by Michaela Schober
This is the first time that I have the honour of penning the Intermittent ComFor Update for the Comics Forum, having only joined the website editorial team last autumn. Stephan wrote a year ago, “[a]nd then, of course, a pandemic happened”: it is still ongoing and I would not presume to offer any projections as to the developments of the near or even intermediate future, given the world at large. Overall, as Natalie said last October, not too much has changed. However, as the vaccination efforts are progressing, the hope for at least a respite over the summer and, dare I say it, perchance even in-person conferences or courses in autumn, is alive. Personally, I must confess that while I do miss seeing colleagues in person, I have come to appreciate the ease, speed and spontaneity with which it is possible to attend talks and conferences halfway across the world. Admittedly, the sight-seeing is limited to various virtual backgrounds and the availability of ‘local’ culinary delights is dependent on one’s own culinary skills (or availability of restaurants offering delivery or click and collect services), but optimism is allegedly all about considering the (cocktail) glass (at the virtual social event with a virtual bar in the virtual background) half-full.
As I was reading through previous updates, Lukas’ from January this year, Natalie’s from October last year, and then, even further back in the year that was and, somehow, wasn’t, Stephan’s from last July and Robin’s from January 2020, I was struck again, possibly even more so in hindsight, by how drastic many of the changes over the last 18 months really have been. At the time they happened, it often felt as if there was too much going on to actually fully process what was going on, in all its implications and ramifications. The lockdowns between countries differed in timing and intensity, something that hasn’t changed, but I still remember the chaos of switching from working completely in situ to completely online in a matter of days, when there was barely any actual infrastructure, neither in terms of suitable software and technology nor in terms of teaching plans and course materials, to do so in the first place. I am honestly amazed by how much things have improved, and both amazed and disturbed by how quickly these things have become normal. I wonder how we will fare going back to the ‘new old normal’—personally, I feel as if FFP2 masks on cramped public transport will stay with me for a long time—and if we will manage to hold on to the good things that have come out of this, including but not limited to streamed and hybrid conferences. In any case, it was heartening to see how many activities and events carried on, and how the pace picked up again as we all grew used to—or at least, as much as it is possible to grow used to—the current status quo.
Read the rest of this entry »