[SDCC’17] After 44 years, Mile High Comics calls it quits with the San Diego Comic-Con
For years now, Chuck Rozanski has been complaining and expressing his concerns on how Mile High Comics was losing money at the San Diego Comic Con. His main complaint was that SDCC had moved away from being a comic book convention to a convention celebrating movies and television programs. If you are looking for the big Mile High Comics booth at the 2017 San Diego Comic-Con, you’re outta luck, as Rozanski has finally called it quits.
In an email sent out this morning, Rozanski went into further detail on his decision to pull out of the convention.
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. 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.
To explain a bit more, my first little one-table booth in 1973 cost $40 to rent for the weekend. When we received our booth renewal for last year, our costs for our 70′ of space had been raised to over $18,000. While quite costly, that one factor alone would not have precluded us from returning, as we had paid $16,500 in rent the previous year.
What made the situation nearly impossible, however, was that foot traffic in the exhibit hall declined dramatically last year. Even at its peak on Saturday afternoon, our end of the building (which was primarily comics) was uncrowded. The San Diego Fire Marshals were partially to blame, as they put much stricter controls on the number of badge holders allowed in the building at any given time. That might not have been such a bad idea, except that it amplified the harm already being caused by the incredible proliferation of off-site events that are now being set up for upwards of eight blocks all around the convention center. 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? Many fans did not.
To summarize, we experienced rising costs, while at the same time foot traffic in our booth plummeted. That is never a good combination. That having been said, I truly loved the experience of exhibiting at San Diego Con, so I can assure you that I would have ignored those two major obstacles, and still renewed my booth. The final straw, however, was the utter indifference of the San Diego Comic-Con management to the fiasco that we endured at the beginning of last year’s show, when the freight handlers that they hired failed to deliver our comics to our booth.
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.
So there you go, Dear Reader, a long-time cornerstone of the San Diego Comic-Con is gone. What isn’t clear is if this is a decision made just 14 days before the convention, or if this decision was made last year, when exhibitors bid on floor space for the 2017 show. While this isn’t the first time Mile High Comics has not been at the show, if the company has finally called it quits with no plans to ever return again, it is a sad day for the comic industry.