Britain’s International Comic Expo (ICE) closes after a sudden drop in ticket sales

In the UK, there was a shock announcement last weekend that the International Comic Expo (known as ICE) was not only to cancel this year’s event, but will close its doors permanently and its director Shane Chebsey withdraws from the co-organizing circuit.

The decision to permanently cancel ICE came due to bleak forecasts for the UK economy and a major drop in ticket sales, rendering the show unsustainable.

The canceled ICE Birmingham 2022 event would have taken place on September 10 and guests would have included: Claudia Christian, Reilly Brown, Michael Dore, Glenn Fabry, Geoff Senior, Simon Fourman and David Roach.

ICE has been around since 2014 and takes place annually in the UK city of Birmingham on a Saturday in September, often with a side event Comics Launchpad taking place on Sundays and focusing on seminars and portfolio reviews.

Chebsey ran ICE, Comics Launchpad, the British International Comics Show (BICS) and the biannual Comics Salopia – which took place in June this year. He reportedly intends to refocus on his art and publishing projects.

Chebsey originally announced ICE was set to cancel and close earlier last week via private emails to guests and exhibitors. A planned public message went out on social media on Saturday.

ICE cancel

Saturday’s official public social media post that ICE was to cancel and shut down was as follows:

“This is the official public announcement to confirm that ICE Birmingham 2022 is indeed canceled and we are not organizing any major congresses in the future.

The reasons for this are detailed in emails sent to those who have pre-booked, exhibited or are involved in some way.

Refunds will be issued to everyone who pre-booked.

This decision was not taken lightly and was made over a long period of time considering all possible options.

Of course, we are sorry for everyone who came to the show.

To the 89 exhibitors and the hundreds who pre-booked and supported us and the guests who took the time to be with us

To those who haven’t booked… We understand.

We are going through difficult times here in the UK and it was obvious that the sudden drop in ticket sales after months of strong ticket sales was due to the economy.

Hateful comments in this thread will simply result in blocking.

So with all of that out of the way, the ICE team would like to express our huge thanks to the many people who have made ICE one of the top comic book conventions in the country over the past 8 years.

All the guests, all the extra volunteers and staff, all the exhibitors, all the press who helped us promote, all the Cosplayers who brightened up the venues and made the events fun for everyone and of course for all the fans .

Friendships and legends were created.

We can’t list you all here, but you know who you are.

We also lost some dear friends along the way… And we all felt those losses together.

The comics industry is full of amazing people and we’ve been lucky enough to have many of you at ICE over the years and we’ve had a lot of fun together.

ICE may be gone, but our spirit will remain.

We will continue to promote new books, celebrate talent and talk about industry issues on weekly ICE CAST LIVE shows.

This page will be transformed into the ICE CAST LIVE page and you can expect great online virtual events from us in the future.

So it’s not a goodbye, but it’s the end of an era.

Love to all of you.

Shane and the ICE team.

The email to exhibitors in question, which leaked last week ahead of the public announcement, further details the difficulties and responsibilities of running ICE, and Chebsey’s decision to cancel and withdraw the exhibit. event, and himself as director and coordinator of the festival.

“Dear ICE participants

“It is with a very heavy heart that I must announce that I am unfortunately canceling ICE and withdrawing from conventions.

” There are several reasons. Some are related to health, but they are mainly financial.

“Explain:

“After running shows for 17 years, I’ve managed to collect a lot of ticket sales data and based on how tickets are selling at any given time, I’m now able to predict quite accurately how the show will unfold on the day.

“Until about a month ago, we were heading towards breakeven.

“And we even had to expand the space on the site due to the tables being out of stock.

“However, in recent weeks, ticket sales based on the average of previous years have fallen by more than 200%.

“Within two weeks the projection went from breaking even to a loss of £5,000, such was the drop in sales

“I was prepared to absorb this loss for the good of the show and for the good of you and the exhibitors.

“However, over the past two weeks ticket sales have come to a standstill and the expected loss has increased to over £9,000.

“Unfortunately this means I have to cancel as I cannot cover this loss.

“Also, the stress of trying to move forward without working capital would probably kill me because my health isn’t what it used to be.

“So it is with a very heavy heart that I am canceling the show and stepping back from conventions to focus on editing and the artwork.

“I understand that some people may think this is due to the lack of advertising etc., and although I have increased the advertising budget considerably this year, I recognize that the lack of awareness has been a contributing factor.

“Unfortunately, the reach of targeted advertising, which once served us so well, has diminished and social media is no longer a viable option for publicity events.

“However, I suspect the main reason there has been a sudden and dramatic drop in ticket sales is the cost of living crisis and impending recession, as ticket sales have been healthy until recently, we actually seemed to be reaching enough people despite the outreach challenges we were facing.

“Add to that two featured guests who recently canceled at the last minute and a few exhibitors who canceled and the decision was unfortunately made for me.”

In that same email, he adds,

“I appreciate your disappointment, I can promise your disappointment is ten times mine as I have invested thousands of pounds and hours building the ICE brand since 2014 and I will lose again a small fortune by canceling this one event.

“I personally sacrificed a large part of my life and my bank account for others to enjoy my shows and I never earned a penny from my efforts. (But it was never done for money).

“Ending all of this is not something I do lightly and it leaves a hole in my being that words can’t quite express.

“I hope you can understand my decision and I appreciate your support and business over the years.”

ICE cancel

The UK (like much of the world) is experiencing great economic uncertainty and extremely high inflation which has not been seen for decades. The cost of food, fuel and energy is rising with the rate of inflation in Britain last month being 10.1% and a forecast that it could go up to 18% Next year. Considered by the media as the “Cost of Living Crisis”, many people are already cutting household expenses ahead of winter so they can afford to keep the heat on and food on the table. The cause is a mix of Brexit, ongoing supply chain issues due to the pandemic and the wider impact of the war in Ukraine on food and fuel markets.

The news that ICE is to cancel and end abruptly may not be a one-off and next year for cons – who are still vulnerable as they recover from their pandemic-induced shutdowns – could be difficult.

Daniel K. Denny