After announcing over the weekend that Mile High Comics may not return to Comic-Con International because of the “detrimental effects” of publisher exclusives, CEO Chuck Rozanski has had a change of heart.
“… 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,” he writes in his latest newsletter. “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.”
In his two previous newsletters, Rozanski revealed he anticipated Mile High would finish Comic-Con $10,000 in the hole, a loss he blamed largely on the “seismic changes” in the number of convention-exclusive variants offered by publishers and toymakers that are unavailable to retailers.
In his latest newsletter, Rozanski clarifies he’s not opposed to publishers producing limited-edition variants, explaining, “My real disagreement is with publishers choosing publish highly desirable limited editions of their best works, and then to become the exclusive source for those variants.”
“What recourse do I have, for example when Dark Horse chooses to print an entire line of exclusive editions that can only be purchased through their booth,” he writes. “Do I tell them that I am not going to carry their monthly titles in protest? As much as I might want to do exactly that, I simply cannot. My retail store customers and online subscribers expect to be able to pick up a full line of Dark Horse products in our store, and most could not care one whit about how Dark Horse is otherwise treating us. So I am stuck actively promoting comics during 52 weeks a year from a publisher who then lures our customers away from us whenever they find it convenient. Are there any questions about why this discourages me?”
Noting he isn’t singling out Dark Horse, as “withholding exclusives from us at conventions” has become common practice for all publishers, he insists, “They [publishers] are forcing our customers to spend many hours standing in lines, and then profiting off the sales of comics products that they refuse to allow us to purchase. In all honesty, the gross unfairness of this new system makes me wish to the core of my being that I could just abandon the new comics business entirely, and return to my childhood roots of selling only back issues. To paraphrase Shakespeare, ‘May there be a pox on all their houses …'”