On Tuesday 11th Aug, just after 1pm ET, Lance Festerman (President of ReedPOP), Mike Armstrong (Vice President) and Kristina Rogers (NYCC Event Director) took to the New York Comic Con Facebook page to officially announce the cancellation of the October event and to formally move the whole affair to an online experience, under an umbrella which will also hold MCM London Comic Con, Emerald City Comic Con, C2E2 and more.
“So what’s next? What do we do now?” After talking about the importance that New York Comic Con has on the landscape not only of the convention landscape but also the city as a whole (proclaiming that NYCC is the largest event that takes place in the city, after the New York Marathon), Fensterman, Armstrong and Rogers laid out their plans for something comic con have known about for some time – indeed, the first fruits of this virtual con kick off this weekend with what’s been called METAVERSE, a combination of streamed content, one-on-one video conference calls with fans and mailed out signature and merch which launched back in July.
Streamed to the New York Comic Con YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/nycc) over the weekend of Thursday 13th to Sunday 16th August, this first Metaverse salvo will be the chance for fans to get a grip on the ‘new normal’ for ReedPOP as they are forced to adapt in the face of the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic which is still raging across the globe.
Metaverse will be incorporating all the various aspects of ReedPOP’s shows, from film to TV to comics and animation: legendary director George Miller hosts a retrospective on MAD MAX: FURY ROAD, members of the cast of SUPERNATURAL talk about the end of the road for the series, DOCTOR WHO stars Matt Smith, Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill reunite for an Eleventh Doctor panel, STAR TREK: LOWER DECKS gets a spotlight panel as does New York Times bestseller R.A. Salvatore and also Eisner Award-winning manga artist Junti Ito with a live drawing session, STRANGER THINGS star Joe Keery talks to MTV’s Josh Horowitz and SUPERNATURAL‘s Misha Collins gets his own live Q&A session.
Comic fans will also get their fix with the likes of Tom King, Marguerite Bennett, Peter Milligan, Mike Deodato, Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, Khary Randolph, Alex Segura and Dan Parent participating in panels, talking about the work they’ve done previously and also exciting upcoming projects.
A lot of the talent are also participating in virtual ‘meet and greet’ sessions in which fans can buy time to talk directly with their idols, with video chats being set up with the likes of Greg Capullo, Tini Howard, Karen Gillen, Arthur Darvill, Michelle Hurd, Evan Evagora (STAR TREK: PICARD) and Misha Collins (although you may want to sit down when you find out how much he is charging for a two-minute chin-wag!!)
It’s not the amount of New York Comic Con or MCM London Comic Con content that fans may be expecting, for sure… but that kind of quantity is a high bar to reach for straight out of the gate. This initial effort is a start, setting the stage for what ReedPOP has in store for what would have been taking place over the 8th-11th October weekend, giving the organisation a sense of what works, what doesn’t and what to improve upon in time for the virtual NYCC.
New York Comic Con fans had their mind wrapped around the idea that the physical event wasn’t going ahead as planned for a while, what with hotel bookings not being made available, tickets not being sold and indeed the continuing numbers of infected people for COVID-19 making a mass gathering such as would have been seen at the Javitz Center in the city an impossibility.
It will be interesting to see what a commercial enterprise such as ReedPOP will bring to the virtual comic con scene, bolstered by a bigger operating budget and team in place than what was behind San Diego Comic-Con and their SDCC@HOME efforts. The Facebook video alone demonstrated a more canny and slicker sense of design and editorial so it bodes well that the team are preparing something special with Metaverse – we’ll be assessing and reviewing the output on our first episode back of Talkin’ Con: A Cup O’ Tea with An Englishman In San Diego, this Sunday.