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Unconventional Thinking

by John Wroblewski

Mar 30, 2020

Wizard World is a multi-genre fan convention held in several cities every year. Hundreds of celebrities appear, thousands of creators have booths, and millions of people attend every year.

With the pandemic causing uncertainty, creative thinking is needed to overcome potential lost revenue for all involved, as well as bring as much normalcy back as possible. The Wizard World organizers and the artists, writers and other creators affected are doing their best.

Wizard World PR manager Jerry Milani told me, “We don’t have a live event scheduled until June, but we recently introduced Wizard World Virtual Experiences, with the first event scheduled for Tuesday, March 31, featuring the cast of Supernatural. We hope to have more virtual events to announce soon. Stay safe, everyone!”

This is a huge development in the comic con world. Fans will be able to have some interaction with their favorite celebrities while watching them autograph collectibles for purchase. It also allows the celebrity to get in front of fans worldwide, not just in the city of a convention. The Virtual Convention is a concept that will probably continue even when physical conventions are back. While they still have time before their next scheduled convention, the Wizard World organizers are proactive, and I expect other promoters to follow.

On the individual level, the creators are also staying active. While a lot of the work is done alone in a studio, conventions provide a significant part of their livelihood.

A regular on the convention circuit, illustrator and long-time caricaturist at Mad Magazine Tom Richmond said, “Few industries are unaffected, so the “trickle down” effect is cutting expenses on things that need illustration. I’m just reaching out to past clients to ask about potential projects while trying to think outside the box on ways to generate income.” Along those lines, Richmond has been posting a daily “Coronacature” on social media and recently did a live caricature on Instagram.

Similarly, Eisner and Ringo award-nominated artist and illustrator Sara Richard is trying to reach fans new and old. “I’m trying to take in more commissions than I normally have and trying to be more active on social media “stories” and livestreams showing my process and interacting with fans that way. I’m staying very busy, but it’s been a bit exhausting trying to make up for the lost revenue of conventions.” Richard, whose work appears in the April issues of Vogue and The World of Interiors, revealed a beautifully relevant piece entitled “We Will Weather This Storm.”

Best-selling author Michael West shared his thoughts. “As a writer, I work from my home. Not being able to go out to events has helped me to be able to devote more time to my work and finishing my current project, but at the same time, not being able to put myself out there, to get my name and my books in front of Horror and Dark Fantasy fans who don’t know my work and may never have known about me unless they met me at a con … it hurts. Also, writing is such a solitary profession. Having that interpersonal contact, to be able to hear from your faithful readers, to just be able to chat face-to-face about this genre we all love, it’s invigorating and inspirational, and it helps keep you sane. There’s a reason why Jack Torrance went crazy when he was cooped up too long! LOL. Conventions are the places where I truly feel alive, and I cannot wait until I can get back to them!”

The current situation is forcing all to think outside of the box. While it certainly is a challenging time, it is also a time for innovation on different levels. Ideas born because of this situation could become staples of our lives going forward.

— John Wroblewski, online writer


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