Robot 6

Driven by ‘emotional response,’ Mile High will return to SDCC

rozanksiAfter 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 …'”

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18 Comments

there’s nothing stopping him from selling only back issues.

Funny, after reading him throwing publishers under the bus, I will not be shopping at Mile High Comics due to an emotional response.

Boo-freakin’-hoo, Chuck.

I enjoy reading the retailer perspective of comic con and comic culture. Thanks Chuck.

So the drama queen FLIP-FLOPPED to keep his name in the media for another day. Don’t be surprised if he courts media attention next year to see how he does at San Diego. Oh, and notice in the newsletter he announced another of his “sales.”

The publisher’s suck. I can’t believe how people always side against these poor mom and pops. Yes Mile High is huge, Marvel is bigger.

There is no reason Mile High couldn’t get exclusives from those very same publishers to incentivise people to go to their booth AFTER they’ve purchased something at Dark Horse, or DC or anywhere else. People are going to go to the DH and DC and Marvel booths anyways. Leave the incentive covers to the stores and those businesses and booths can depend on the artists they bring and the other toy, dvd or merchandise exclusives.

It isn’t comics that suck, its the readership with its apathetic if not downright mean attitude towards comic stores and the print medium.

His decision is a bad business one, especially if you’re 10k in the hole, and maybe he should try to get some of those aritsts to show up at his booth to draw attention but the negative responses to his plight are . . . wow people. Wow.

First of all, I think Chucks data is flawed. It’s confirmation bias at best. We’re al taking his word that because Dark Horse (at first he complained about Marvel) and other publishers offer exclusives at their booth he’s not allowed to sell, that they took money away from his booth.

There are about 100 other factors that business was taken from his booth this year. Not to mention we have no idea how Chuck runs his business, how much he spends shipping, flying staff out, spending, etc.

Mile High is one of how many other booths selling comics, graphic novels and back issues on the San Diego con floor? Why are they not also responsible for cutting into his business. Is he mad at them too?

It’s ludicrous for Chuck to think that Marvel and the other publishers should risk their own profitability at San Diego Comicon to ensure that his business can be profitable at the same convention.

To lay the blame of his loss at the feet of the publisher is childish, unprofessional and more than likely inaccurate.

So the drama queen FLIP-FLOPPED to keep his name in the media for another day.

What a perfect summation! He’s like a child threatening to run away from home because his super-mean parents made him clean his room.

I posted my thoughts on this the other day; they’ll need to be updated with this “shocking” change of heart…

Once again, we see fans rally around the poor and defenseless publishing juggernaut and bash the retailer, all in the name of loyalty to their characters/feeding their habit. Writers, artists, retailers…it doesn’t matter who the publishers hurt or cheat or steamroll with litigators, it was their own fault for complaining, or not being experts in contract law, or going into business in the first place, and anyway it’s not that big a deal anyway, that’s life, suck it up, just DON’T MAKE THE COMIC BOOK PUBLISHERS ANGRY OR THEY’LL TAKE MY FAVORITE HEROES AWAY!!!

Appalling.

I’d feel sorry for him if he wasn’t acting like a child over it. Claiming that you won’t go back to SDCC and complaining about publishers offering exclusive variants is ridiculous.

Him screaming and stamping his feet about how it isn’t fair won’t change that, it will just put customers off.

The $5 convention exclusive that I bought from IDW isn’t the reason I didn’t make my customary purchase at the Mile High Comics booth. The fact that he wasn’t carrying any trades this convention. So, instead, my purchases went towards the small retailers who did have trades.

His claim that exclusives are responsible for his entire loss SIMPLY DOESN’T MAKE LOGICAL SENSE, that is why people aren’t supporting him.

He is a cherry picker and a price gouger. A disgrace to the business. Don’t buy off this man!!!!!

@Patrick

You will notice these Con exclusives on Chuck’s website at inflated prices.

@Patrick

It’s not about supporting the publisher over the retailer. It’s not about turning a blind eye to injustice to ensure our favorite comics keep getting printed.

It’s about people saying out loud that there is no injustice here. There is no bully. Publishers offering exclusives at a con is not dirty pool. Certainly this retailer had no problem performing very similar business practices in his own brick and mortar store.

Convention exclusives are not a new thing, every year they’ve had them. Mile High Comics have many times over the years have gotten their own exclusives/incentive covers that are not available any where else. I don’t hear him saying how that it unfair to other retailers. Not too mention that Diamond Comics will short other retailers orders to make sure that Mile High is taken care of. Maybe he shouldn’t take seven booth spaces at a major convention and he wouldn’t need to make $1,200 an hour to cover all the costs.

Aaron Hamilton

July 31, 2014 at 8:07 pm

Mile High is a standard at sdcc. It would be horrible to see him go.
It would be even worse to see the smaller retailers go. I buy a lot of back issues and key books when I go. But never from Mile High.
I think he would do well to maybe take Half or even a quarter of the space that he usually signs up for. A few other retailers could fit in those spots. Maybe more competition from other retailers would encourage more reasonable pricing on the part of Mile High.
Its sad when anyone suffers financially, but this isnt an all or nothing situation. He could continue to be a part of sdcc in a smaller capacity. I think there are a lot of options for him.
Even if it were just a table a few boxes and a digital inventory list. If he doesnt have the book on hand he could always ship it after the con. etc etc etc.

I dont think I have ever bought a book directly from the marvel or dc booth. Dark horse, image and boom have great stuff. But that never emptied my wallet.
The indie publishers, back issue retailers and art dealers are where my money goes. I know every one of the two hundred thousands attendees is different, but I think he has to make changes to survive.

@Scott Kurtz,

Is it wrong that the fact that we have the same opinion on this matter makes me a little giddy in some fanboyish kind of way?

If people want to spend money on exclusive variants of new issues at these booths, go for it. I don’t see that as competing with Mile High. I’ve always viewed Mile High, at least online and at conventions, as a Back Issue retailer. I don’t know anybody who is a comic fan who goes to a convention and buys NEW comics off the shelf unless they’re a curious bystander attending the con to see what all the fuss is about. Even then, that person ISN’T going to be buying exclusive variant covers, so that’s not cutting into your sales from that person.

Like Scott said, every other retailer at the convention, even other back-issue comic sellers, are cutting into his profit. The WeLoveFine T-Shirt booth is cutting into the available money on the floor. The Churro Stand and Food Trucks are cutting into the available money on the floor. The vending machines are cutting into the available money on the floor. To point the finger solely at the biggest guy in the room and say “It’s their fault.” is foolish looking.

Also, maybe this is just me, but… I’m not going to fight tooth and nail for tickets to SDCC to go back-issue hunting as opposed to attending panels and seeing celebrities and Hollywood hype announcements. Over the past decade that is what SDCC has become, maybe the cut in his sales over the years is because the terrain is changing, and the convention is more of a media circus?

I’m not going to go to E3 to check out the latest independent developer titles. That’s why other conventions like PAX exist. Same goes for SDCC, if you want to hunt for back-issues or talk to independent comic artists, that’s what other conventions are for, IMO.

Whew… So glad Chuck is going to be at SDCC. I don’t know where I would be able to find a $9 copy of NFL SuperPro #1 with the Joe Jusko cover… Why anybody shops at Mile High for any reason is beyond me and he whines more than my 3 year old when she hasn’t had her nap…

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