Last night, the comics community revolted against New York Comic Con and its organizer, ReedPOP, when a variety of notable comics professionals including the legendary Peter Milligan learned that their applications for pro badges to this year’s show had been rejected. However, this morning, according to ReedPOP event direct Mike Armstrong, all of this controversy was caused by a glitch:

According to Armstrong in a statement to the Beat, the rejection of creators including Tom Orzechowksi, Chris Eliopoulos, and Jamal Igle– who has been accepted as a pro to every New York Comic Con since its inception prior to this year– tipped him off to an issue in their approval system.

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Armstrong continued by saying that the pro badge approval process is a “super manual” one where ReedPOP employees work “out of a shared Excel spreadsheet and at some point towards the end [of the process], something got sorted incorrectly and things turned from approved to denied. It’s embarrassing that something as trivial as that gave the creator community the impression that they weren’t as valued as they are.”

While New York Comic Con has historically been friendly to the comics community, sporting an enormous artist alley as a defining feature that separates itself from San Diego Comic Con, last night’s rejections sparked fear that NYCC’s cultural dynamics were shifting away from comics in a way that SDCC’s did long ago. Last year, Reed was forced to compact Artist Alley after the annex it was traditionally hosted in was shut down for expansive construction. Now, this year, a Twitter search shows that many who claim to have received pro badges largely come from emerging markets outside of or adjacent to comics such as education and cosplay. However, addressing those fears, Armstrong said that “We have a half dozen different categories that we use for professional registration. Creators are one part of that (and the only category that we’re having tech issues with at the time). We have always offered professional registration to Librarians/Educators, Publishing Pros, Licensing Pros, Movie/TV/Agency execs and Retailers.”

In regards to the issue at hand, Armstrong to the Beat that he “would expect that creators have responses by the end of today.” According to him, the system that ReedPOP uses to approve Pro badges is the same one Reed had been using since he joined the company 8 years ago. In that time since 2010, New York Comic Con has doubled in size from an estimated 96,000 attendees in 2010 to over 200,000 last year. It’s clear from this debacle that this manually managed system is no longer able to keep pace with the volume of applications received.

“To be clear,” Armstrong said, “this was not a Showclix issue. What we gave them was incorrect. I assume we’ll start working on a better way to [approve pro badges] over the course of the summer.”

The Beat will continue to look into this issue and post developments as they come to light.

3 COMMENTS

  1. what a load of **BLEEEEP** more like they saw the heat they got and then decided they screwed up…they have been rejecting professional comic people for the last five years just the people they have been pushing out haven’t been as vocal (or high profile) as Jamel, Chris and Tom…but these pros have over 20-30 years in the business (and not 20 years in the past). NYCC hasn’t been very comic friendly for the past few years…and their 200k attendance numbers aren’t accurate…we all know that’s how many tickets they sold not the number of people who actually attended.

  2. “shocking”…seriously?

    This faux sense of Outrage that now must accompany anything that happens is dreary beyond words. Stuff happens, and don’t let anyone pretend that it doesn’t…

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