The topic of the coronavirus was brought up in conversation at a Tucson Comic-Con planning meeting as early as January.
At the time, the disease that has so far killed more than 140,000 people in the United States, was spreading like wildfire through China but had not yet made it to U.S. shores.
The team discussed the possibility of COVID-19 disrupting the event, but November was a long way off, convention creator Mike Olivares said.
“I didn’t see the convention not happening,” Olivares said. “If coronavirus happened here, I thought things would probably be under control by November.”
As the months passed, and COVID-19 continued to spread, the idea of holding an event like Tucson Comic-Con, which brings in up to 400 vendors and exhibitors and more than 10,000 guests from across Arizona, became less and less plausible.
On July 8, a post on the Tucson Comic-Con Facebook page declared the event would be canceled this year. It referred to Arizona’s spike in cases, making it one of the hottest spots in the country for COVID-19, as one of the reasons.
“People really look forward to it, but we want to make sure the people who go are safe,” Olivares said. “We were taking the health of the community into consideration.”
Oliveras said they also looked at San Diego Comic-Con, the largest convention of its kind in the country, and its cancellation as a sign not to move forward.
“When a show like San Diego closes, that is saying something,” he said.
Locally, many large-scale Tucson events that take place in the fall have also canceled or scaled back. The All Souls Procession, which happens the same weekend in November as Tucson Comic-Con each year, announced the cancellation of all of its in-person activities earlier this month, opting for online workshops and a streaming burning of the urn.
Some of the other Tucson events that have announced their cancellations include Film Fest Tucson, the Tucson Celtic Festival and Scottish Highland Games, and the Dusk Music Festival.
Olivares said while it is unfortunate that Tucson Comic-Con will not be taking place this year, the extra time will allow his team to come back bigger and better in 2021.
“Our hope is that the public is comfortable coming back to events like these by then,” he said.
2019 Tucson Comic-Con:
Contact reporter Gerald M. Gay at firstname.lastname@example.org or 573-4679.