by Stephan Packard
This update was originally planned for May. It would have chronicled a number of spring-time conferences and publications in the German-speaking worlds of comics studies; outlined further plans for this year’s annual ComFor conference; pointed out various courses and lectures on comics in university curricula throughout Germany, Austria and Switzerland; and announced a newly elected Executive Board for the German Society for Comics Studies.
And then, of course, a pandemic happened. The ComFor website turned into a chronicle of cancellations and deferments, listing these casualties on a new landing page (but accompanying this with a laconically titled but encouraging international list of comic projects that respond to the pandemic: Comics und Corona). Compromises abound. Leipzig’s Manga Comic Con and the Comiciade at Aachen were both cancelled altogether, as were too many conferences. The joint Bremen and Bydgoszcz conference on empirical studies into language and images in public communication, once planned for May, has been postponed for the fall; organized by Anna Kapuścińska and John Bateman, it is set to continue the first Sprache und Bild in der öffentlichen Kommunikation conference from April 2019. The NEXTCOMIC Festival in Austria originally had to close down most of its events, moving on to planning for 2021; but it did uphold the basic elements of its exhibition – and by now, several new and deferred events have begun to populate its 2020 programme. Stuttgart’s International Trick Film Festival on animation went virtual, as did the Erlangen Comic Salon, Germany’s largest comic convention and conference. It has moved completely online and has now begun a virtual salon on July 10th. Other special events have gone the same route; perhaps most notably, comic artist Ulli Lust presents a ‘coronavirus-safe’ version of her seminar on drawing comics on YouTube.