Monroe Pop Fest Goes Virtual in 2020

By: Michael Fossbakk | September 16, 2020

Comic book artist Bill Morrison will be in attendance at Virtual Monroe Pop Fest. Photo courtesy of Monroe Pop Fest.

When met with continued hardship and adversity, many people will look to someone or something for the inspiration that tells them to keep going. Some look to family members or friends, others to their favorite works of art.

But, in a world where comic books superheroes are synonymous with pop culture, many look to these icons in tights and capes to provide the reassurance that everything is going to be okay. 

However, this year has seen the postponement or cancellation of many comic book-related events, such as movie premieres and comic conventions. One such convention is the Monroe Pop Fest (MPF), which made the difficult decision to cancel its September celebration of pop culture out of concern for the safety of its staff, guests, vendors and fans due to COVID-19.

“I’ve waited, hoped and prayed for as long as I could but there is no way logistically to safely and successfully have a show right now,” a statement from Monroe Pop Fest organizers Gary and Dawn Pillette read.

Prior to the cancellation of their own show, MPF organizers saw other conventions and artist opportunities getting cancelled due to coronavirus, so they held a pop-up, virtual convention in the first two weeks of April this year. It featured Ann Mahoney (The Walking Dead), Tracy Lynn Cruz (Power Rangers), Ming Chen (Comic Book Men) and WWE wrestler Rhyno. It also gave artists and vendors an opportunity to sell their merchandise (for many of whom, conventions are a large source of income).

When MPF’s organizers realized the coronavirus pandemic was not going to improve enough for them to safely hold their annual convention in a physical space, they made the cancellation announcement and started to plan a new, virtual celebration.

David Howard Thornton

Actor David Howard Thornton (Terrifier) will be in attendance at Virtual Monroe Pop Fest. Photo courtesy of Monroe Pop Fest.

“This show is different from our Spring one,” Gary Pillette says, referring to the virtual show that was held in April. “This one is an all day livestream where, each hour, a few different artists, vendors and panelists will be on live, selling their products, talking to fans and interacting with one another.”

Those that tune in can expect to hear from guests such as comic book artists Bill Morrison (Bongo Comics, MAD Magazine) and Stuart Sayger (Shiver in the Dark, Bionicle), actor David Howard Thornton (Terrifier, Nightwing: Escalation) and writer Dirk Manning (Tales of Mr. Rhee, Nightmare World, Love Stories (to Die For)). Viewers will also be able to purchase merchandise from vendors and artists.

Despite factors out of their control forcing them to change plans this year, the organizers of MPF remain optimistic for the future of their grassroots pop culture festival.

“Hopefully 2021 will be without [COVID-19] and it will, for sure, be the biggest [Monroe Pop Fest] yet,” Pillette says. “Most of our 2020 guests have showed interest in returning for 2021 and we plan to add even more. However, we will take precautions where necessary for everyone’s safety.”

Virtual Monroe Pop Fest will take place Saturday, September 19th from 10 a.m. till 8 p.m. via a livestream on the Monroe Pop Fest Facebook page.