Mile High Comics will return to San Diego Comic-Con

Chuck Rozanski, President of Mile High Comics, reportedly lost $10,000 at the 2014 San Diego Comic-Con because of low sales. The reason for the low sales wasn’t because people at San Diego Comic-Con weren’t in the market for old comics at 50 percent off. The real reason? San Diego Comic-Con exclusives.

Rozanski has accused comic publishers of cleverly exploiting the “greed and avarice” of comics fans by selling exclusive comics at their own booths. These greedy fans buy exclusive comics directly from the publishers, then have no more disposable income left to spend at his booths.

Rozanski threatened not to return to San Diego Comic-Con next year. Form his July 26 newsletter:

So where does this leave us? As much as I hate to admit this, it now seems obvious to me now that we finally have to end a lifetime of exhibiting at San Diego, and instead seek out relatively popular comics conventions in other cities. Especially conventions where our publisher friends choose to not exhibit. Doesn’t that thought just drip with irony? Comics publishers have evolved to become toxic to their own retailers. Who would ever have thought that would happen? Even with all my many years of experience, I simply cannot believe that our world has now been so perverted by the mania for exclusive variants, that comics retailers can now only survive in the absence of the very publishers we support. No matter how you look at it, this is a profoundly sad day.

Not so fast! It would seem that Rozanski has had a change of heart. From his July 29 newsletter:

If you are wondering why we did not succeed in meeting our convention goals this year, I would urge you to read my last two newsletters. Before you read my two previous essays, however, I want you to know that I ultimately did heed the outpouring of requests that I received from fans and professionals at the show, and renewed our booth for next year. In all honesty, however, I have to admit that my decision to renew at SDCC for one more year was driven more by an emotional response to all the kind words of support that we received, rather than any kind of good business sense. Simply put, I do not have any faith or belief that the circumstances that devastated our sales at this year’s convention will be in any way mitigated at next year’s show. Our comics publishers will all express sympathy with the plight of participating retailers at conventions, but will then continue engaging in behaviors that solely benefit them. Such is life.

Looking at the Mile High Comics booth at San Diego Comic-Con, I can honestly saw that if I were there, I’d walk right by. It looks too flea markety, too swap meetish to me. I’d figure that anyone slashing prices by 50 percent was probably charging too much to begin with. Traditionally, when merchandise is 50 percent off, it’s because there’s either something wrong with it or that people just don’t want it.

If I went to the San Diego Comic-Con, I wouldn’t be there to buy cheap stuff that nobody else wanted.

The San Diego Comic-Con is not a flea market

Chuck Rozanski, the 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 is harassment at a comic book convention?

The Los Angeles Times blog Hero Complex published an article about the San Diego Comic-Con and its lack of policy on harassment. Although the 130,000 people attend the event 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 explain what it is? If you’re coming up with a 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 course on harassment. I find it boring and completely unnecessary, but I invariably realize some people are stupid and need an annual reminder on how to treat others in the workplace. Every workplace harassment class I’ve had has always begun 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 to a social gathering. It’s why San Diego Comic-Con and other similar conventions 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

San Diego police moving homeless people away from Comic-Con

The 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 awful 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 √  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.

If you have a problem with 'How I Met Your Mother' being at San Diego Comic-Con, blame the IRS

The San Diego Comic-Con is going on this weekend. It’s the country’s largest, annual comic book convention. At least it’s supposed to be. Contrary to what the name implies, every year the event is a little less about comic books and a little more about stuff that doesn’t have to do with comic books, mainly TV shows and movies.

Sometimes the TV shows and movies promoted at San Diego Comic-Con make sense. They’re either related to the medium of comic books in some discernible way, such as the newest X-Men movie, or they feature a genre popular with the same type of nerds that dig comic books, for example, the upcoming Godzilla movie. Other times, the TV shows and movies promoted at San Diego Comic-Con don’t have anything at all to do with comic books or geek culture, such as the TV show How I Met Your Mother.

I’ve watched one or two episodes of How I Met Your Mother, and I can confidently say that the show has nothing to do with comics or comics culture. So what’s it doing at San Diego Comic-Con?

Remember when the story about the IRS and the Tea Party started making the rounds online and on Fox News? Basically, various Tea Party groups were applying to the IRS for tax-exempt status based on the criteria that they were social welfare organizations. Who knew having members protest with signage showing Barack Obama with a Hitler mustache made your group a social welfare organization?

Agents at the IRS began giving extra scrutiny to these applications because the Tea Party is a political group, not a social welfare organization. They did this either on their own prerogative or under the personal direction of Barack Obama, it depends one who you believe. I only bring this issue up because San Diego Comic-Con is a non-profit organization exempt from all taxes. They claim to be a non-profit educational corporation dedicated to creating awareness of, and appreciation for, comics and the related popular art forms.

If a TV show like How I Met Your Mother is related to comic books, the San Diego Comic-Con desperately needs to do some more educating, because I’m not seeing it.

The real controversy involving the IRS and the Tea Party isn’t that Tea Party groups were given extra scrutiny by IRS agents. No, it’s that most groups requestion tax exempt status aren’t given enough scrutiny. Extra scrutiny should be the default level of scrutiny when asking to be exempt from paying taxes, whether it’s a political group claiming to be a social welfare organization or an entertainment convention claiming to be an educational corporation.

When you get out of paying your fair share of taxes by lying about what you are and what you do, it’s cheating. If you cheat on your taxes, you can go to jail. Just ask Wesley Snipes.

If Hollywood ever gets around to answering the pubic’s demand and makes a sequel to White Men Can’t Jump, I guess Snipes can go to the San Diego Comic-Con to promote it.

San Diego Comic-Con exclusive Admiral Motti bust

Gentle Giant Ltd. had a number of exclusive items for sale at the 2012 San Diego Comic-Con, a mega comic book pop-culture event wrapping things up later today. Of all the exclusives being offered, my favorite is the Admiral Motti bust. Darth Vader choked the Imperial Naval officer with The Force until Grand Moff Tarkin made him stop. It’s from the first Star Wars movie, not the forth in the series, but the actual first one that started it all.

It’s stuff like this bust that makes me want to someday go to the San Diego Comic-Con.

I checked out eBay and one person has it listed for a Buy it Now of $174.99, but it comes with free shipping. How nice of them. Other people are selling them for less money, but not by much. Evidently they only produced 1,200 of them and they come with an autograph of the actor that played Admiral Motti.

I don’t know what Gentle Giant was charging for the busts.