ECCC and Coronavirus Updates

3 MARCH 2020

ECC is being postponed until this summer. The date is forthcoming. 
All attendees and exhibitors will get a refund.

Thank you, Reed Pop, for making the safest and most fan-friendly decision for everyone. We all want a fun, vibrant and robust Comic Con with all our favorite artists, guests and exhibitors. 

I'll share dates and ticket sale news when I have them. And that brings our scary little rollercoaster ride to an end!

As we grow closer to ECCC202, the Coronavirus news out of Seattle is growing worse. I don't have any insider knowledge. I'm just aggregating and reporting what I hear. So I'll post updates in this space as news breaks.

  • The current U.S. death toll is 14 in Washington, 1 in California.
  • In Washington, the number of confirmed cases has risen to 80. Two more eldercare facilities have presumptive positive patients, in addition to Life Care.
  • The declared state of emergency continues. Many companies are having employees work from home, people over 60 and with chronic conditions are told to stay home, and Seattle is setting up quarantine trailers.
  • Many people believe that the virus is more widely seeded in the U.S. than was originally estimated. Some are making comparisons to the 1918 pandemic.
  • ECCC will refund exhibitors and attendees. 
  • Cancellation still looms on the horizon as ECCC says they are "fully prepared" to adjust their plans and act upon changing guidance.
  • Multiple vendors, including Dark Horse, Oni Press, DC Comics, Tor/MacMillan and Penguin Random House, have pulled out of ECCC. Kate Leth, Terry Brooks, Jen Bartel, Dustin Nguyen, Steve Lieber, Mike Mignola, Jim Lee, Jim Butcher, Jim Zub, Max Brooks and other creators have cancelled. Warner Media (HBO, Warner Bros., Turner) isn't letting their employees go either. You can see the full list here.

Friday morning, 6 March

Nothing much new to report right now. I woke up to a Vault press release saying they weren't coming; at this point, ECCC really will be a ghost town. A petition is asking them to cancel, they're being bombarded by angry comments and threats, but at this point I think cancellation is a high-level discussion happening between Reed, city officials, Governor Inslee's team and the CDC. An announcement should be forthcoming soon.

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow has told people to avoid traveling to Seattle. At this point, I think people should not attend ECCC. There's really no legitimate reason to. You're a vendor and your income depends on it? You'll be selling to a fraction of the normal attendee base and you risk winding up quarantined and losing out on your day job/freelance income and people are trying to help you by holding virtual art shows to signal boost cancelling vendors - so is it worth it?

I know most of us are taking this day by day. My friends and I have been talking all morning about whether to still roadtrip to see Orville Peck in a few nights. No one wants to miss out on fun, especially something they've anticipated for months. But for ECCC, especially if you're travelling, making a decision now is probably the safest and fiscally sound choice. 

Thursday night, 5 March

Someone else has died in Washington. At this point, I believe ECCC will officially cancel tomorrow, on Friday. They need to end this now so people can hit their 72 hour cancellation window for hotels, recoup whatever deposits they can and make alternate plans to earn whatever income they're losing out on.

Today seems to have kicked off a certain frenzy in the business world, as if a corporate cabal got confirmation that this is all very real and then unleashed that knowledge across the country. Yet people I talked to at Trader Joe's and my salon were apathetic. "It's just the flu," my stylist said. Even when an actual ER nurse showed up for a haircut and confirmed that yes, his hospital is taking drastic measures to prepare, they were skeptical. It's a common attitude - the Coronavirus is the new Y2K -  which you could darkly translate into the likelihood that many people will not follow prevention guidelines. That's just one reason big events are not going to be safe.

If you're still going, please read the list of cancellations first.

We'll see what tomorrow brings.

Thursday afternoon, 5 March

Today for me has been a blizzard of emails from my clients cancelling trips, asking for my emergency contact information, and informing me of cancelled conferences. Yes, even as ECCC plods on in what's looking increasingly like a deathmarch, other organizations are calling off events and conferences at great expense.

One sidebar: many ECCC attendees have not yet received their badges, like me, yet are asked to send them back by a certain deadline to get the refund. Reed - why were you cutting it so close in the first place? I believe this is one area where CCI is better organized. I don't say that too often.

On that note, 2 attendees have contacted me in anger because they sold off their badges at a huge loss and now they can't get a refund. So that's been happening. Look, at the end of the day, all of us are going to lose something here - whether it's a deposit, an exclusive or a cherished meetup. There's just no way around it. At this point, we have to look ahead to a collective future and do what we can do today to prevent losses tomorrow. And think of the people who bought black market badges! They are truly screwed if ECCC is called off.

I believe cancellation is inevitable, especially with exhibitors and attendees dropping like flies today. I'm sure Reed is likely taking care of the legal this and that before making an announcement. 

Thursday morning, 5 March

Today we've woken up to find ourselves still between Scylla and Charybdis. I think most of us were hoping for a definitive decision by now but instead we're facing information that doesn't entirely add up. ECCC is refunding exhibitors and attendees, which is decent of them, but also suggests a sluggish Con. In the meantime, Seattle has asked high-risk people to stay home; Amazon and Facebook employees are also asked to work from home. Is the city safe or not? At this point, I believe the Con will be cancelled and that Reed is waiting for an official mandate. But we've only gotten recommendations, not requirements, from officials. It's tedious.

But I get it. For every artist and exhibitor and attendee who's saying, "Sorry, not worth the risk," there's someone saying "My financial survival depends on this Con." So I can see why ECCC isn't just blithely shutting down. They're going to upset people (and maybe spark litigation) no matter how they proceed.

I've decided to opt out. I'm more afraid of quarantine than illness, but I also suspect that both the floor shopping and the general atmosphere going out at night won't really be so fun - that essentially I'll fly into a petri dish that's all risk, no reward. But if the show does happen, I hope those of you who go stay safe and enjoy yourselves. There could be an upside; maybe the smaller crowd will help people make friends easily and live out the experience of going to a small Con circa 1998.

Mike Pence will be touching down in Seattle today so perhaps a decree will emerge from his visit. I'll share what I hear, though I'll be offline for about 4 hours in afternoon/evening.

Wednesday morning, 4 March

Someone on Twitter posted a message from ECCC saying they "do not see any scenario where the event gets cancelled" unless they're shut down by the state or CDC. I think a lot can change over the next week. I appreciate ECCC may be concerned about financial losses but a lackluster Con with empty booths and a diminished crowd isn't good for anyone. And if it does accelerate the infection rate or lead to quarantine for attendees, they will take a massive reputational hit.

Interestingly, Reed HAS cancelled their London Book Fair, featuring 25,000 people. Note that London doesn't have the same death toll as WA. So why cancel? Essentially publishers and agents were pulling out en masse and forced their hand. Now many are annoyed the cancellation was left to the last minute. Reed's response:

“We have been following UK government guidelines and working with the rolling advice from the public health authorities and other organisations, and so it is with reluctance that we have taken the decision not to go ahead with this year’s event." 

That would be the same reluctance to cancel ECCC, no doubt. A "senior publishing figure" quoted in the same article said, "I understand that if they cancelled last week they would have taken a financial hit, but that would have been the responsible thing to do. They’ve been citing government advice but it’s really irresponsible in the current climate to have a mass gathering of international publishers. It’s a very ugly cat and mouse game they’re playing. It’s purely financial and makes them look money-grabbing."

Right now it seems that Reed will only cancel ECCC if cancellations hit critical mass OR they're state-ordered to. Basically, we're living through the death of a thousand cuts here and it's leaving everyone in limbo as to whether we should cancel hotels, flights, etc. Really just a mess.

Tuesday night, 3 March

Washington Governor Jay Inslee said today, "We are not making a request formally right now for events to be cancelled - but people should be prepared for that possibility."

I believe Wednesday will bring more vendors pulling out as they do a cost analysis on losing the show income vs. sick/quarantined employees and low sales - not to mention the possibility that the outbreak could explode by next week and it's all been for naught anyhow.

I think cancellation is likely at this point & that Reed could be waiting for an official health department order or some other documentation to facilitate an insurance claim. Just a theory. I'm sure many variables are in play. But their silence and lack of reassurance today speaks volumes. Like most of us, they're likely waiting for the right information to make the right decision.

Tuesday morning, 3 March

Personally, I don't feel it's looking good.

A few things to keep in mind. I know it's tempting to bluster about how some virus won't keep you home. But remember this isn't just about you. It's not even just about getting sick. It's about maybe getting suck in quarantine, far from home. Or being able to cancel flights and hotels in time to get refunds. And possibly becoming a carrier who infects someone who does become seriously ill, even though you soldiered through your illness just fine. I'm not saying these things will happen - just that it's not as simple as confidence in your own immune system.


  1. Earlier tonight, Amazon confirm an employee at their corporate office has the virus. If I'm not mistaken ECCC and PAX are top events for WSCC. That's a lot of people. Plus take in account all the restaurants, coffee shops and hotels...lots of potential for something. Just wish ECCC and ReedPop would offer a refund, especially to people considered high me.

    1. I heard the Amazon news. Hopefully that employee didn't infect a bunch of others.

      I don't know if we'll actually get ticket refunds or they'll just offer one for next year. It's definitely not a choice for people at risk, like you.

  2. I think it's best. So I'm not surprised at their decision. With Washington State as the epicentre, it wouldn't be prudent to expose thousands and thousands of people to the virus.

    Next month is Wondercon in Anaheim. And in July Comicon here in San Diego. I wonder what their decision will be. I guess it all depends on the virus and how fast it spreads (or slows) and how many will be infected.

    1. Yes, everyone's eyes have turned to WonderCon for sure. CCI has some tough decisions to make. They can't wait until the last second like this.