Emerald City Comic Con, which has taken place annually in Seattle since 2003, is the latest event to be disrupted by the COVID-19 outbreak. It was originally set to run from March 12-15, but convention organizer Reedpop announced Friday that it had decided to postpone the event until the summer, following the departure of multiple major publishers due to concerns over the health of staffers.
“We have been closely monitoring the situation around the COVID-19 virus in Seattle, and, after many hours of conversation internally and consultation with local government officials and the tourism bureau, we have decided to move next week’s Emerald City Comic Con to Summer 2020 with date and detail announcement forthcoming,” Reedpop said in a statement on the event’s website. “We did everything that we could to run the event as planned, but ultimately, we are following the guidance of the local public health officials indicating that conventions should now be postponed.”
Reedpop says it will be issuing refunds to all ticket holders in the next 30 days.
On Tuesday, DC Comics announced that it would cancel all appearances at comic book conventions for the rest of March, including at ECCC. DC is undoubtedly the biggest comics publisher to pull out of the convention; its Big Two counterpart, Marvel Comics, was not scheduled to attend this year.
Dark Horse Comics also made the decision to bow out of ECCC, with plans to return for the 2021 convention.
Important #ECCC2020 notice: Due to the severity of the COVID-19 virus, Dark Horse Comics has made the difficult decision to pull out of Emerald City Comic Con 2020. It is with the safety and well-being of our staff and creators in mind that we have come to this decision. 1/2— Dark Horse Comics (@DarkHorseComics) March 3, 2020
Star Wars publisher Del Rey joined in the decision, acknowledging the importance of conventions for the fans, but also citing the concerns of the situation.
Penguin Random House has come to the difficult decision to cancel its participation in ECCC due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus. While this show is an important way for our staff and authors to connect with readers, the health and safety of everyone take priority.— Del Rey Books (@DelReyBooks) March 3, 2020
On Friday, Vault Comics announced that it was cancelling its plans, though its news release made no mention of coronavirus concerns.
“For fans everywhere, including those who will miss them at ECCC,” Vault’s press release read, “Vault is working on a special virtual event that will include creators, limited edition merchandise, and special sales, and will give fans a chance to talk directly to the Vault team.” More information on those virtual events is expected to be announced in the coming days.
Emerald City staff initially released released a statement assuring fans that the plan was to move forward with caution, while “constantly reviewing our health protection activities, public health messaging, hygiene and medical control measures with the aim of strengthening our COVID-19 response further in line with up to date public health advice and guidance, including that of the CDC.”
Reedpop’s Friday statement underscored that the company “remains determined and committed to running Emerald City Comic Con in 2020 and we are working closely with Visit Seattle and the Washington State Convention Center to secure alternate dates this summer. As we explore options for new dates, please know that our priority is to bring you an equally amazing event.”
China first reported cases of the novel coronavirus disease to the World Health Organization in late December. According to Vox.com’s latest updates, there are more than 100,000 confirmed cases of the virus worldwide, with concentrations in mainland China, South Korea, Iran, and Italy. Since the recognition of the outbreak, there have also been nearly 180 cases reported in the United States. As of March 6, 75 cases of coronavirus and 13 deaths due to the outbreak have been reported in Washington state.
In late February, programmers postponed the sprawling 2020 Game Developers Conference after a number of high-profile withdrawals, including Sony, Microsoft, Epic, and Blizzard. The 2020 SXSW festival is also finding major companies canceling plans to attend the event, with Facebook and Amazon both pulling out with only weeks to go. As of this report, ECCC has not announced plans to cancel the event.