Scheduled for July 23-26, the 2020 San Diego Comic-Con has become the latest publishing event casualty of the pandemic, following California Governor Gavin Newsom’s April 14 statement that large scale public events were “not on the cards” for the foreseeable future. Newsom added, “when you suggest June, July, August, it is unlikely.”

The San Diego Comic Con is one of the most important global events in the comics calendar, although its claim to fame as the world’s largest comic event is nowhere near accurate, and with 130,00 visitors typical of attendance the New York Comic Con has a better claim to the title of the biggest US comics event.

But size aside, the reputation of the San Diego event is legendary, and the cancellation will be received with dismay at the long wait until July 2021, perhaps mixed with relief that comics stakeholders won’t have to make potential life or death decisions about attending this year.

In a statement, the San Diego Comic Con explained:

Recognising that countless attendees save and plan for its conventions each year, and how many exhibitors and stakeholders rely upon its events for a major portion of their livelihood, (organisers) had hoped to delay this decision in anticipation that COVID-19 concerns might lessen by summer.

Continuous monitoring of health advisories and recent statements by the Governor of California have made it clear that it would not be safe to move forward with plans for this year.

With the two big July events – the San Diego Comic Con and Book Expo America – now down and out, thoughts will be turning to the autumn and winter events calendar, with Digital Book World in the US, the Sharjah International Book Fair in the UAE and the Frankfurt Book Fair in Germany all now on at the at-risk list.

Of those three, DBW has announced plans for a smaller, potentially safer event to take place on schedule. More on that in a dedicated TNPS post shortly.

The Sharjah event, which regularly attracts over two million, is unlikely to go ahead in its usual fashion this year.

And the Frankfurt Book Fair, attracting crowds of over a quarter million, will also be looking at its options.

At this stage in the pandemic’s evolution there’s a big question mark over the rest of the 2020 publishing year, and potentially 2021 and beyond.