What happened at the Calgary Comic Expo?

Last weekend the Calgary Comic Expo, an annual Canadian four-day comic book and pop culture convention, created some controversy after one of the paid exhibitors, the Honey Badger Brigade, an all-women group associated with men’s rights, was ordered to leave. Not only were they expelled from the show without receiving a refund, but the police were also later called because members of the Honey Badger Brigade assembled at a nearby public park, away from the convention grounds.

The reason they were ordered to leave the convention is still a little murky.

Jill Pantozzi of The Mary Sue accused members of the Honey Badger Brigade of gaining attendance under false pretenses, whatever that means, and being in cahoots with GamerGate.

marvel_hydra__15756.1366879093.1280.1280It’s true that they had merchandise for sale at their booth associated with GamerGate, but I’m not sure what crime that makes them guilty of. Exhibitors at comic book conventions sell things, or at least they try to. It’s what they do. Just because an exhibitor sells something at their booth doesn’t necessarily mean they’re affiliated with the subject of the merchandise. For instance, if you buy a t-shirt at a comic book convention with the Hydra symbol on it, it doesn’t mean the exhibitor is affiliated with Hydra.

Or maybe it does.

pqLAxKmThe Honey Badger Brigade paid for a booth at the convention. The name of the group appears on the map of the convention floor. That is, it did before it was removed from the website on April 20th.

And then there’s the issue of the “Women Into Comics” panel that members of the Honey Badger Brigade supposedly derailed.  Around 15 minutes into the panel, one of the members of Honey Badger Brigade stood up from her seat in the audience and asked if she could answer a question posed by one of the panel members about feminism, comics, and men’s rights.

The panelist who posed the rhetorical question replied with, “Yeah. Sure! Go for it”.

The woman from the Honey Badger Brigade then proceeded with giving an a semi-lengthy statement on why she doesn’t like the word feminism and how she is a men’s rights activist. There’s audio of the exchange available on YouTube, but the quality is bad. It didn’t sound as though the panel was being derailed, but this took place in Canada. They may have a different definition for the word.

According to Calgary Comic Expo organizers, people began to complain about the Honey Badger Brigade and their booth, saying that they were a hate group. The convention has lengthy rules against harassment, and people argued the booth’s mere presence with its GamerGate paraphernalia constituted harassment.

Not only were the members of the Honey Badger Brigade asked to leave, but each member also received a lifetime ban from attending future events.

So what got them into the most trouble? Being associated with a men’s rights group? Interrupting a panel? Selling pro-GamerGate merchandise at their booth?

My guess was a combination of all these things.

Wizard World acquires Pittsburgh Comic Con

Wizard World has acquired Pittsburgh Comic Con, the annual comic book convention held in Monroeville, Pennsylvania. This means that if you attend the Pittsburgh Comic Con, you won’t be financially supporting a man who was (twice) convicted of murdering his wife.

Michael and Renée George, owners and operators of Comics World, a comic shop in Windber, Pennsylvania, started the Pittsburgh Comic Con in 1994. It wasn’t the first Comics World Michael George owned and operated with his wife, only before, it was a different wife. Michael and Barbara George owned and operated Comics World in Michigan.

In 1990, Barbara George was murdered, shot in the back of the head, by Michael George, in the comic book shop the two owned. For whatever reason, the police were not able to gather enough evidence against Michael to charge him with the murder.

In 1992, Michael married former Comics World employee Renee Kotula. The two had been having a personal relationship while Michael was married to Barbara. They then moved to Windber and opened a new comic book shop, again calling it Comics World.

Murderer Michael George
Michael George

Michael George later went on to open a third Comics World in nearby Scotland, Pennsylvania. I used to buy my comics there, back when I used to buy floppy comics. Although I live in Hagerstown, Maryland, I used to work in Scotland, Pennsylvania. The store is still there, although much larger, nicer, and now under new ownership.

The Barbera George murder case was reopened years later by a special cold case unit created by Prosecutor Eric Smith.

If this whole sad, twisted tale of murder sounds like a story from Dateline, that’s because it was.

So the Pittsburgh Comic Con finally doesn’t have any connection to Michael and Renée George. Good. As long as those two owned it, if you spent money on it, you were supporting a convicted murderer and his mistress. Considering that Michael George pocketed $120,000 in life insurance money from Barbera’s death, there’s a good chance that the Pittsburgh Comic Con, founded less than four years after her murder, was at least in part financed with actual blood money. I remember there was talk of people boycotting the Pittsburgh Comic Con until Michael George no longer owned it, but I don’t remember whatever happened with that.

Now it doesn’t matter. Michael George no longer owns the Pittsburgh Comic Con. Wizard World does. Say what you will about Wizard World, at least it never murdered a woman.

New York Comic Con is now bigger than San Diego Comic-Con

The New York Comic Con was held this past weekend, and thanks to Thursday now being a full-day, they were able to sell tickets to 151,000 unique individuals. This makes the New York Comic Con the largest, most attended comic convention in all of North America. The San Diego Comic-Con is now the second largest comic convention in all of North America with its attendance capped out at around 131,000 nerds.

The New York Comic Con is number one. The San Diego Comic-Con is number two.

The New York Comic Con is run by ReedPOP, a division of Reed Exhibitions, which in turn is a division of Reed Elsevier, a publicly traded company based in the UK. The San Diego Comic-Con is run by Comic-Con International, a non-profit “educational” corporation. Even though the two organizations, ReedPOP and Comic-Con International, do the same exact thing, one pays taxes on its profits, and the other does not. One pays its fair share for local fees, the other does not.

Pretending to be a charity and getting out of paying taxes allows them to save a lot of money, allowing them to have the economic resources to engage in frivolous lawsuits.

Comic-Con International is legally classified as a charity, even though it’s no more a charity than ReedPOP or Wizard World.