It’s the San Diego Comic-Con, not the San Diego Flea-Market

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Chuck Rozanski

Chuck Rozanski, owner of Mile High Comics, is at the San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC) and there’s something going on at the con that he doesn’t like: publishers and manufacturers creating convention exclusives and then selling them directly to fans. The problem is, it’s interfering with his ability to sell overpriced back issues to people at the convention. It turns out, people would rather spend their money on exclusives, comics and merchandise they can only get at SDCC, than his old, jacked-up back issues.

From his official Mile High Comics website:

Before I go any further, let me stress that the detrimental effects of exclusives at San Diego is not a new phenomena. Ever since I helped to create the Wednesday evening Preview Night over a decade ago, the bigger booths have had great freebies and exclusive toys available on that first evening of the show. What has now changed is both the breadth, and the scale, of those exclusive products. No longer are exclusives limited to just a few booths, or only to Wednesday evening. We are now seeing all of the major comics publishers, and every single toy and game company, creating limited edition products that they deny us. This aversion to helping comics retailers has become so agregious and pernicious that I heard from my fellow dealers that some publisher and manufacturer booths were refusing to even allow anyone wearing a dealer’s badge to stand in line. That is beyond ridiculous.

What’s ridiculous is someone with a dealer’s badge standing in line with attendees, buying exclusive items for the sole purpose of turning around and reselling them at a markup, to people at the convention. What’s ridiculous is that retailers like Rozanski are even still at SDCC setting up booths to sell old back issues. I would have thought SDCC moved past the flea market model a long time ago. People go to SDCC to see celebrities, learn about upcoming releases, meet other people, and to buy exclusives, not to pay too much money for a high-grade copy of Amazing Spider-Man #10.

The San Diego Comic-Con isn’t that type of show. At least not anymore.

Back in the olden days, some folks refer to them as the early 1990′s, people would go to comic book conventions for the sole purpose of buying old comics, the type of comics Rozanski and retailers like him, are still trying to sell today. Markets change, people change. Today, when someone wants to buy an old comic book for hundreds of dollars, they can easily do so on eBay or online. They don’t have to trudge to a comic book convention to do it, especially when that convention is the San Diego Comic-Con.

Some comic book conventions still look, smell, and operate very much like a flea market. The San Diego Comic-Con is not one of them.

Photo: Korene Gallegos/The Denver Post

What constitutes harassment at a comic book convention?

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Don’t touch her butt

The Los Angeles Times blog Hero Complex published an article about the San Diego Comic-Con and its lack of a policy on harassment. Although the event is attended by 130,000 people from all over the world, organizers haven’t seen fit to define what harassment is. Not really. This is the only thing posted on the official San Diego Comic-Con website about harassment:

Code of Conduct

Attendees must respect common sense rules for public behavior, personal interaction, common courtesy, and respect for private property. Harassing or offensive behavior will not be tolerated. Comic-Con reserves the right to revoke, without refund, the membership and badge of any attendee not in compliance with this policy. Persons finding themselves in a situation where they feel their safety is at risk or who become aware of an attendee not in compliance with this policy should immediately locate a member of security, or a staff member, so that the matter can be handled in an expeditious manner. 

Not once do they define what harassment is. How do you have a policy on something that you fail to define what it is? If you are coming up with code of conduct, and you find yourself using the phrase, “common sense”, you need to stop and start over. There’s no such thing as common sense. What may make sense to one person, may not make sense to others.

In fact, the word “common” should be stricken from any credible code of conduct. The San Diego Comic-Con uses the word twice in the first sentence.

For what seems like my entire adult working life, at every job I’ve had, I’ve had to take a yearly class on harassment. I find it boring and completely unnecessary, but I invariably realize some people are stupid and actually need an annual reminder on how to treat others in the workplace. Every workplace harassment class I’ve ever had has always began with defining harassment.

Every single one.

I’ll admit that defining harassment in the workplace is much easier than defining harassment at a comic book convention. A comic book convention is a social event. What’s considered unacceptable in the workplace may not apply in a social gathering. It’s why San Diego Comic-Con and other similar events need to define what harassment is.

You can’t have a policy on something if you never bother to define what that something is.

Photo: Kotaku

Ben Affleck as Batman

BVS-00754-Edit_53d03e04c5f306.62433326DC Comics premiered this photo of Ben Affleck as Batman at the 2014 San Diego Comic-Con. I really don’t understand how anyone could have a problem with Ben Affleck playing the Dark Knight. I think he will go down as the second best Batman of all time, second only to Adam West.

Ben Affleck is Batman.

2014 San Diego Comic-Con

20130116-084416The 2014 San Diego Comic-Con kicks off today. It’s, among other things, the largest comic book convention in North America. With each passing year, the show becomes less about comic books, and more about general nerdom and pop-culture. That’s a good thing considering that comic books are becoming less and less popular with each passing year.

The San Diego Comic-Con generates millions of dollars of profit. According to the IRS, they’re a non-profit, educational charity exempt from paying taxes. They’re dedicated to creating an awareness and appreciation for comics and the related popular art forms. For that, they don’t have to pay taxes on the profit they generate.

According to their 2012 IRS Form 990, the San Diego Comic-Con had $13.7 million in assets, up $3 million from the year before.

Tickets, or badges, are already sold out. If you didn’t already get your badge for the 2014 San Diego Comic-Con, you have no chance of going.

I’ve never been to the San Diego Comic-Con, and I doubt I’ll ever attend. I’m not sure it would be worth the money. Hotels in San Diego raise their prices during Comic-Con. Also, I don’t think I’d enjoy being around all the crowds.

Like past years, I’ll just have to experience San Diego Comic-Con online. I’m sure Twitter, YouTube, Tumblr, and comics centric blogs and websites will have a plethora of San Diego Comic-Con content this weekend.

San Diego police moving homeless people away from Comic-Con

hobo-with-a-shotgunThe San Diego Comic-Con kicks off this week and it seems the police are trying to clear the surrounding area of homeless people. Good for them.

From ABC 10 News:

“People on these streets are unsightly to the public, to the general public and certainly to visitors coming in from out of town,” said David Ross.

Ross, who is better known as “Waterman,” is a well-known outspoken advocate for the homeless. He is often seen downtown handing out water bottles and blankets to transients.

Ross says San Diego police are rounding up people to make way for the biggest city event in the city, Comic-Con.

Ross forgot to point out that the homeless are not only unsightly, they usually smell really bad too. He should know this if he spends time downtown handing out water bottles and blankets to homeless people, encouraging them to stay in the area, thus perpetuating the problem. Their putrid, rank smell wouldn’t be a problem if they kept to themselves, but too many of them engage in aggressive panhandling and other forms of intimidation in the attempt to get money they do not deserve, from people they do not know.

People should be able to walk down the street without fear that someone will aggressively ask for money. The reason they do it is because too many people give them money. If everyone stopped giving them money, they wouldn’t hang around and ask for more. They would move on somewhere else.