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Category Archives: ComFor Updates

The Intermittent ComFor Update, as of August 2021

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.

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Posted by on 2021/08/31 in ComFor Updates

 

The Intermittent ComFor Update for January 2021

By Lukas R. A. Wilde

Whereas Natalie Veith remarked that nothing much had happened or changed during the months before her last ComFor update in early October, unfortunately that statement does certainly no longer hold. The German COVID-19 stats were still exceptionally good around that time, but it has become painfully clear now that we have squandered the relative advantage we had. An early “light lockdown” turned into a stricter one in December and the infection numbers were rising dramatically around New Year’s; they are now only gradually falling after all public life has been shut down. A general (legal) work-from-home order remains a mere recommendation from all our discordant state governments, however. Universities, of course, have long settled for online activities entirely, just like in most other countries around the world. The screens and interfaces of our online platforms and tools feel all too familiar by now, for better or worse. As one of the organizers of October’s (8th–10th) annual Comfor Conference on “Comics & Agency” (together with Vanessa Ossa and Jan-Noël Thon), conducted entirely via Zoom with around 140 registered participants and 45 presenters, I was certainly not only excited about the high quality of papers and discussions despite all circumstances, but also surprised by the lack of technical problems, even in comparison with earlier live events where there’s always a missing Mac adapter, an unreadable USB device, or a PowerPoint presentation that just won’t open right. The same is probably true for classes, at least it has been for mine. There’s again a great amount of teaching on comic books going on in German Universities (as well as in Austria and Switzerland). As usual, ComFor has published a list of comic-related classes on offer during our winter term on its website.

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Posted by on 2021/01/29 in ComFor Updates

 

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The Intermittent ComFor Update, as of October 2020

by Natalie Veith

Generally speaking, not too much has changed since Stephan’s update in July. Obviously. Most of us are still working from home and we feel the walls slowly closing in on us. Many comic-related events that had been planned for the summer were cancelled or rescheduled. Under different circumstances, the teaching period of the winter semester would start right about now, but most German universities have postponed it for another few weeks to accommodate for the delayed beginning of classes during the summer semester and the difficulties related to scheduling exams. During countless hours on Zoom and other video conference tools over the past months, we have all had ample opportunity to satisfy our voyeuristic drives and take a peek at the interior of our colleagues’ and students’ homes; say hello to various pets, parents and friends interrupting the calls; and realise that there are some students whose name we only know but whose face we have never seen because they do not own a webcam (as opposed to remembering their faces, but not having a clue what their names are, as is usually the case). Maybe it is the knowledge that we are all in this together – though spatially apart – or it is because, given enough time, people get used to anything, but in one way or another, we are all settling into this crazy situation and accepting it as the new normal.

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Posted by on 2020/10/10 in ComFor Updates

 

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The Intermittent ComFor Update, as of July 2020

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.

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Posted by on 2020/07/24 in ComFor Updates

 

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The Trimonthly ComFor Update for January 2020

by Robin-M. Aust

There is an old, often used Lovecraftian saying: “That is not dead which can eternal lie, and with strange aeons even death may die”. Well, the ComFor Update is certainly neither dead nor has the ComFor been caught up in eternal slumber. Instead, the past few months have been busy and eventful, both for the Gesellschaft für Comicforschung as well as for German comics scholarship in general: the fall semester has started at German universities and the summer break has been filled to the brim with conferences and workshops, proceedings are to be written and read, research groups have been founded, announcements are to be made. That’s why a little bit more time than usual has passed since Lukas’s last update and why we decided to switch things up a bit: instead of a bi-monthly rhythm, we will adopt a trimonthly schedule from now on—which also gives us the opportunity to present you with an even more information-packed column.

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Posted by on 2020/01/04 in ComFor Updates

 

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