Remember when San Diego Comic Con was about comics? Pepperidge Farms remembers, and so does Chuck Rozanski, president of Mile High Comics. In spite of the shift in the last 15 years, from an event still largely based in the comic book medium, to a multimedia event that’s more a trade show for Hollywood studios, TV and cable networks, Rozanski and his crew from Denver, CO, have stayed the course and helped put the “comic” in “Comic Con”, but no more. Rozanski has announced that after 44 years, he and his shop are going to skip San Diego and its vaunted con.
“San Diego has grown far beyond its original premise, morphing from what was originally a wonderful annual gathering of the comics world, into a world-renown pop culture and media festival,” Rozanski said on the Mile High website. “As such, it has seen rapidly escalating costs, and also a dramatic change in the demographics of its attendees. Neither of those changes worked to our advantage.”
Rozanski then outlined his concerns, which started with the rising price point, and ended with the supposed indifference of Comic Con staff to logistical concerns. Money though was not the primary reason that Rozanski was pulling out. Instead, Rozanski said that it was an issue setting up his expansive 70-foot long booth last year that was the straw that broke the camel’s back. When he and his team arrived on Tuesday to set up their booth they were left holding they hats as Comic Con’s freight staff delayed delivering their comics and booth materials for hours.
“Making matters much worse, at no time during this ordeal (or during the show) did anyone from the convention management stop by with an apology, an explanation, or even just to commiserate,” he said. “After 44 years of my supporting them through good times and bad, that was just too much indifference to endure. When you are in a relationship out of love and passion, but the other party could care less whether you live or die, you have to realize that it is time to move on. I will very much miss San Diego, but I doubt if the convention management will even notice that I am gone. Such is life.”
Rozanski also noted that foot traffic on the actual con floor isn’t what it once was. New restrictions from the San Diego Fire Marshall limiting the number of people allowed into the building at one time, plus more off-site events beyond the convention centre, means less people making the journey past the Mile High booth. “When you can see Game of Thrones, Pokemon, and hundreds of other exhibits across from the convention hall for free, why bother going in to the hall?” Rozanski wrote. “Many fans did not.”
So it’s the end of an era. A sad, but not unsurprising end of an era. Rozanski pointedly said that when he first rolled up to Comic Con it was $40 for a booth. In 2017, that cost would have been $18,000, albeit for the much larger stretch that Mile High, until this year, occupied. The times, they are a changing, but you can still get your Mile High Comics online, and you might have seen them if you were at Denver Comic Con this past weekend. Sadly, it’s a big change that a lot of people probably won’t notice when Comic Con kicks off in a couple of weeks…