Conflicts over the decision to move the Small Press Expo, the premier trade show for U.S. independent comics producers, from a hotel in Bethesda, Md., to a larger venue as part of the Baltimore Comicon has led to a shakeup of the Expo's steering committee. Eric Reynolds, marketing manager for Fantagraphics Books, and Tom Devlin, publisher of Highwater Books, have resigned from the committee.

Although SPX originally planned to shift operations to Baltimore this year, the move has been put on hold and will now take place in 2004. SPX, as the Small Press Expo is generally known, is held in September. It is known for its grassroots atmosphere, but, paradoxically, the success of the show is forcing many adjustments, and there is concern that that atmosphere may change.

The resignations took place about a month ago and were due to communications issues among the steering committee. Currently, the show has a steering committee of about a dozen members, while a three-person board handles most of the daily operations.

"The way the move was handled caused us a bit of dismay," said Devlin, who said he heard about the move "by reading a press release online." Devlin also expressed concern about the unique character of SPX being lost in the move to a more traditional comics convention. Reynolds said he resigned for much the same reasons.

SPX board member Greg McElhatton explained that the move is necessary because the present facilities are too small. "With the rate of growth SPX has seen over the past couple of years, staying in Bethesda is a temporary solution at best," McElhatton said. "Having the city of Baltimore and nearby institutions already eager to work with us still make it an attractive option without having to sacrifice the show's individuality."