Written by: Big Ross, CC2K Staff Writer
Maybe you have read the rant/letter Chuck Rozanski wrote about why he’s leaving SDCC after this year. His comic book store, Mile High Comics has been a staple of SDCC for 42 consecutive years. You can go read his rationale for leaving HERE and HERE. The long and short of it is that it’s not profitable. He estimates they lost $10,000 over the course of SDCC, because they could not make enough profits from comic book sales to overcome the costs exhibiting at SDCC. The reason? Rozanski claims it’s entirely due to the Comic Con exclusives and variants offered by the major publishers. In his words:
In a nutshell, the comics publishers with booths at the San Diego convention have so cleverly exploited the greed and avarice of comics fans through limited edition publications that are only available through their own booths, that there is no longer enough disposable income left in the room to sustain us.
Maybe you had a different reaction to reading this. Maybe you find him to be sympathetic. To me, his entire argument seems completely and utterly ridiculous. He comes off as either an old fart complaining about how Comic Con has changed for the worse, and/or a cry baby whining about how he’s just a little fish that can no longer compete with the bigger fish.
Give me a fucking break.
The first question I would like to ask Mr. Rozanski is, “Are you telling me that you’ve never, NEVER sold a variant comic at an inflated price?” I can tell you that he couldn’t answer in the affirmative. Just go to the Mile High Comics website, and you will find links on their homepage for EXCLUSIVE Mile High Variant Covers. The variant for All-New X-Men #1 is listed for as much as $35. Can you say HYPOCRISY, Mr. Rozanski? I don’t see how you can blame the major comic book publishers for playing the same game you and virtually EVERY comic book store plays with variants. It’s just that now you are on the losing side of the equation. BOO fucking HOO. Too bad for you.
The second question I’d like to ask Mr. Rozanski is, “What exactly is your problem?” He states in his complaint that with fewer square-footage at a smaller comic convention in Denver, his booths turned a profit. Again, in his words:
…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.
Wait. Hold on a sec. You’re telling me that you’re NOT going out of business. That you’re NOT going to have to shut down your store. That you’re NOT going to have to cease exhibiting at conventions altogether, but simply that instead of returning to one convention, you’ll instead go to other conventions, where you are confident that you will make a profit?
Oh cry me a fucking river.
If Mr. Rozanski was faced with this situation, and instead of leaving, chose instead to stubbornly return to SDCC, year after year, losing money again and again, out of some sense of tradition or insistence that things will turn around, well I disagree with the esteemed Dr. Einstein. Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results isn’t insanity; it’s stupidity.
Not to be presumptuous, but the third question I’d ask Mr. Rozanski is, “How do think the smaller comics exhibitors at these other conventions feel? Have you ever thought about them?” Consider his complaint:
In some regards this is not surprising, as we needed to have a steady $1,200 per hour passing through our cash registers during all 41 hours of the convention, simply for us to cover our costs of setting up our seven huge booths*.
Jesus fucking Christ. In another newsletter Mr. Rozanski points out that they premiered this 7-booth display at the Denver Comic-Con (where they turned a profit). Presumably, he will take this 7-booth display to other conventions where he expects to also turn a profit. What does that mean to other, smaller comic book store exhibitors? He may be just a little fish compared to the comic book publishers themselves, but I imagine he’s not so puny compared to some of his competitors. I quick search online reveals not one, not two, but THREE Mile High Comics stores around Denver, including a MEGA STORE boasting 45,000 square feet of retail space. You think other shop owners don’t look at them as the Wal-mart of comic book stores? By the sheer size of Mile High Comics’ presence at these other, smaller conventions and the sheer volume of their merchandise, won’t they out-compete these other exhibitors? And do you think Mile High Comics WON’T bring variant covers with them to sell at these conventions? Is he going to shut down his booths early once he’s made a respectable profit to give his competitors a share of the wealth? Seriously. Fuck this guy.
Finally, and I realize this is just one example, and a sample size of 1 does not a statistically significant data set make, but for the sake of argument, consider the following, from the message boards of io9:
Mile High Comics failed this year because it went to just old comic sales with no trade paperbacks or books of any kind, I usually bought all my trade paperbacks from them for the stuff I’ve been missing all year and they didn’t have anything and the stock they brought was more than 5 years old for a majority of it. For me personally they didn’t have what I wanted so I purchased elsewhere.
Could it be that the blame for Mile High Comics’ failure at SDCC shouldn’t be placed entirely upon the shoulders of the publishers, but partially on their own shoulders for failing to meet the demand with their own supply?
In closing, I would like to say that I wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Rozanski that the obsession with exclusives and variants is ridiculous and stupid. I just don’t understand it, and I think it is a complete waste of money. But that is the state of the comic book industry today, and Mile High Comics and other vendors who participate in this madness are partly responsible for the monster they helped create. I don’t think they get to complain in self-righteous indignation now that it is running amok and killing their livestock. As Mr. Rozanski himself states, he is not running a public service, but a business. Well, so are the comic book publishers. To quote Michael Corleone, “It’s not personal, Chuck. It’s strictly business.” Quit your bellyaching and get down to business.
Oh, and one more thing. Pro-tip Mr. Rozanski, maybe you should avoid calling out your customers for their “greed and avarice” in a newsletter THAT YOU SEND TO THEM.