Mile High Comics, one of the United States's largest comic book retailers, has decided to withdraw from attending Comic Con International: San Diego for the first time in 44 years.
Per a statement from Mile High President Chuck Rozanski, the decision to abandon the convention was driven by a conflict between Mile High and Comic Con last year, when a Comic Con contractor failed to deliver Mile High's comics on time and left them embarrassed and unable to assemble their booth. At no point during the convention did Comic Con management reach out to Rozanski to discuss the issue, he said in a newsletter to customers.
“After 44 years of my supporting them through good times and bad, that was just too much indifference to endure,” Rozanski wrote. “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.”
Rozanski also noted that shifting demographics and the increased size of the convention (and therefore demand for space) had created an environment where he was paying ever-larger sums for his 70 feet of floor space, but seeing diminished foot traffic.
Rozanski noted that when he first started attending in 1973, the show cost him just $40. While it was hardly an apples-to-apples comparison to the $18,000 Comic Con wanted for this year's booth (now, Mile High takes up a huge footprint in the exhibit hall rather than that first, one-table booth), the fact that his cost would have risen by about 10% this year (from $16,500 to $18,000) compared to last might give anyone pause.
“San Diego [Comic-Con] 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 told his readers. “As such, it has seen rapidly escalating costs, and also a dramatic change in the demographics of is attendees. Neither of those changes worked to our advantage.”
He noted that an increasing number of offsite events in San Diego's Gaslamp district were keeping fans out of the convention center and away from exhibitors.
"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."