The British comics community was shocked by the surprise cancelation of the International Comics Expo this past weekend, just weeks before this year’s show was meant to take place.
International Comics Expo had been running in Birmingham since 2014, under the auspices of Shane Chebsey, who had previously worked on the one-day Comics Launch Pad conference, and is currently festival director for Comics Salopia in Shrewsbury. This year’s show, which was intended to take place September 10, would have featured guests including comic book artist Michael Golden, Glenn Fairy, and David Roach, as well as Babylon 5 star Claudia Christian.
The first official notification of the show’s cancelation came last Thursday, when the convention’s Twitter account posted a message reading, “Hi Folks. Yes the news is true. ICE Birmingham is cancelled and I will be retiring from conventions. This account will now be only for [Chebsey’s podcast] THE ICE-CAST LIVE. Please see the full statement published on our Facebook page due this Saturday. Thank you to everyone for their support x”
Two days later, the promised Facebook statement appeared. Beyond confirming the event’s cancelation — and, indeed, the cancelation of all “large conventions in the future” — the statement read, in part, “This decision was not made lightly and was taken over a long period considering every possible option. Of course we are sorry to everyone who was coming to the show… We are facing tough times here in the UK and it was obvious that the sudden decline in ticket sales after months of great ticket sales was due to the economy.”
The statement went on to thank “all of the guests, all of the extra volunteers and staff all of the exhibitors, all of the press who helped us promote, all of the Cosplayers who brightened up the venues and made the events fun for everyone and of course all of the fans.”
More information had been privately released in emails sent early last week to exhibitors, in which Chebsey revealed that sales had slowed to the point where the show would lose money, and that the stress was prompting health issues for him. Those emails have since been shared publicly online.
Chebsey’s Facebook statement promised that he will try to refocus his attention on virtual events, primarily his Ice-Cast Live podcast. “The comic industry is full of amazing people and we have been lucky enough to host many of you at ICE over the years and we've had lots of fun together,” he wrote. “ICE may be gone, but our spirit will remain.”
At press time, the International Comics Expo's website hasn't been updated with news of the cancelation.
If you’re preparing to attend a convention of your own in the near future, why not check out this list of convention essentials to ensure the best show possible?