The people who work at Comic-Con International, the non-profit organization that put on next week’s extravaganza, keep a pretty low public profile—SDCC president John Rogers (who now works full time for CCI) and executive director Fae Desmond hardly ever do interviews. (This 2010 chat with Rogers is the only one I ever remember seeing) but the NY Times tried to dig in a little, and spoke with David Glanzer while looking at some of the numbers of the organization:
The nonprofit that puts on Comic-Con has a longstanding reluctance to discuss its affairs or even, for the most part, to share more than rudimentary details about its leaders. “It has always been about the event, and not about the people who do the event,” said David Glanzer, the group’s director for marketing and public relations.
But during an interview at the organization’s headquarters in mid-June, Mr. Glanzer agreed to part with past practice to address questions about its structure, resources and prospects. In addition to Comic-Con, the organization runs the similar but significantly smaller WonderCon in Anaheim, Calif.
He described a vibrant, if deeply conservative operation — it has largely eschewed growth in favor of preservation — that behaves less like a business or conventional nonprofit than a collective of shadowy guardians. The group began almost by accident, with 300 friends and acquaintances meeting in 1970 to swap notes and artifacts under the aegis of the comic strip artist Sheldon Dorf in the basement of San Diego’s U.S. Grant Hotel.
Among the nuggets gleaned: according to tax documents, CCI has a warchest of some $16.4 million as insurance against a catastrophe canceling the show with money left over to pay employees and get the show running again.
Other tidbits: the con costs $12 million a year to run and the 180 degree video screens in Hall H that Warner Bros. is expected to use for their panel this year cost $600,000 to turn on.
While the CCI staff may be viewed as “shadowy” to some, Rogers does do the annual “talk back” panel at all the CCI shows, and if you’ve ever dealt with the con on a business level, you know the staff is incredibly professional and helpful in getting stuff done. Perhaps the launch of next year’s SVOD service with Lionsgate will blow the doors open a little more, but the way CCI does business seems to be working.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.