With the continued uncertainty about the pandemic and the fate of the show itself, the Small Press Expo announced on Friday that its 2021 event will be going completely virtual again this year. Physical events will eventually return, though, and SPX says they hope to eventually resume the beloved Bethesda, Maryland event that has been in existence since 1994. Albeit a financially stretched one.

In a press release, executive director Warren Bernard stated:

“First, a sincere thank you from all of us. So many of you reached out to us over the last few weeks with words of encouragement and well-wishes as we attempted to navigate the treacherous waters surrounding the fate of an in-person SPX 2021. Many of you did even more than that. You offered to come to our aid, to help us organize, to raise funds, to kick ass (ok, maybe that part was implied) — whatever would be necessary to keep the show alive. We are so grateful for your support. And today…we have news.

Today we can officially announce that SPX 2021 will be held virtually. Although we would have loved to gather talented creators, fantastic comics, and enthusiastic fans under one roof, we’ve decided that a virtual show is the best choice for the health and safety of our community. SPX 2021 will feature a full slate of programming along with a livestream of the Ignatz Awards ceremony. We will also be announcing special guests who will take part in the virtual panels and workshops. Stay tuned this summer for all the details.

Along with this announcement, we are relieved to share that we have come to manageable terms with the Marriott, regarding the cancellation penalty for our in-person event. Under the terms of the agreement, we will incur higher costs for our shows in 2022 and 2023, in lieu of what would have been a catastrophic cancellation penalty.”

Of course, with the effects of Everything 2020/2021 coupled with the increased financial burden on this year’s virtual event and the immediate-future in-person shows at the Marriott home, SPX has had to make a sacrifice and that comes in the form of its charitable initiatives:

“To address these additional expenses, SPX will pause funding for our charitable initiatives until 2024, at the earliest. It is painful to temporarily suspend our Graphic Novel Gift Program and our creator support of the National Book Festival but we are grateful to have come to an arrangement that gives us confidence SPX will continue for many years to come.”

So SPX survives, and should be coming to our computer screens for a second virtual festival this September.