SDCC ’17: Shocker! Mile High Comics pulls out of San Diego Comic Con 2017

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By Gabriel Neeb

In a stunning reversal, after attending the San Diego Comic Con as a vendor for 44 years, Chuck Rozanski announced that his Denver based store will not have a presence at this year’s SDCC. Mile HIgh has traditionally occupied a huge row of tables along the wall in the “Old town”/Comics section of the floor (Hall C).

In his latest newsletter, Rozanski detailed the situation. Citing numerous factors ranging from reduced foot traffic in the convention hall to the difficulties in transporting and unloading the stock and equipment for his sizeable retail presence in the convention hall, Rozanski has chosen to focus on Mile High’s retail activities in Denver and the recently concluded Denver Comic Con. This is in addition to the already high cost of maintaining a booth at the convention which was said to be $16,500 in 2016.

Rozanski writes:

The final straw, however, was the utter indifference of the San Diego Comic-Con management to the fiasco that we endured at the beginning of last year’s show, when the freight handlers that they hired failed to deliver our comics to our booth.

So how could this awful thing happen? It beats the heck out of me. Our trucker was in line at the convention marshaling yard at 6:30 AM on Tuesday morning. At 9 PM that evening, with almost all the other vendors around us unpacked and completely set up, we still did not have our 40,000 lbs of freight. I had twelve workers scheduled to help us set up that day (included WillLynne, and Norrie who flew in from Denver that morning…), but all we could do was to sit around all day in our totally empty booth.

Making matters much worse, at no time during this ordeal (or during the show) did anyone from the convention management stop by with an apology, an explanation, or even just to commiserate. After 44 years of my supporting them through good times and bad, that was just too much indifference to endure. 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. I will very much miss San Diego, but I doubt if the convention management will even notice that I am gone. Such is life.

Rozanski threatened to pull out of SDCC in 2014 as well, but showed up at the last minute. Their exit follows the loss of Comic Relief, several years ago, another anchor of the comics section of the show. It’s another sign of how older comics businesses are struggling with the economics of SDCC as it exists now.

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Rozanski’s photo of an admittedly not-packed booth on Saturday of last year’s show.

For decades, Mile High Comics has been an almost permanent presence at every San Diego Comic Convention selling back issues and trade paperbacks. Mile High has always had a prime location inside the convention, usually by the Hall C entrance and has been known for 70 feet of shelves or, in recent years, bins full of back issues.

A review of the Exhibitor list provided by Comic-Con International showed that this space, often by the Gold and Silver Pavillion, has been subdivided into spaces for other comics vendors. As the waiting list of vendors is said to have a five year backlog, it is not known if they would return should the opportunity arose.

Mile High Comics has been contacted for further comment but had not responded at time of this writing.

[Additional reporting by Heidi MacDonald]

6 COMMENTS

  1. But what did Mile High bring to SDCC that was interesting? Really, 100% of their stock is available at other booths, and, more importantly, at regular books stores, comic book stores, and Amazon. I only remember seeing any action there on Sundays, when people are scavenging up the “We don’t want to take these home” sale.

    Sure, 20 years ago, when comic books were hard to find, I could seen appeal, but nowadays, I’d rather see the space go to vendors that are offering up some sort of interesting product, not just “These are the Marvel trades that they were discounting last year, But 2, get 1 free.”

  2. I see your point, Steve, but I feel that Chuck always brought great comics at good prices presented in a manner that was convenient and fun too look through. Last year I found two bargains at his booth on Wednesday night, in fact. Beyond that – he always had a great story or two to share about the industry. I’m bummed out if you really does not attend this year.

  3. Most of my purchasing at cons is either at Artist Alley (buying a signed copy) or at dealers (searching for older graphic novels, guilty pleasures, and comics to get signed at Artist Alley).

    While I haven’t shopped at Mile High’s convention booth, I suspect they are the rare dealer who brings in items not found at the dime-a-dozen vendors. (Dollar bin comics of recent issues, probably remnants of variant incentives; $5 trades from the last five years; slabbed comics and/or variants.)

    I want to be surprised, so that I’ll spend $5 for a comic that has a good hook on the cover!
    I want to find graphic novels without a barcode, or old Graphitti editions.
    I want impulse buys. Yeah, I could go on eBay, but really? I’ve got enough stuff to read already… I don’t need to buy it online (plus there’s the shipping).

    I am a bit surprised that there isn’t a parallel collectors show at Comic-Con. Rent out space at the Hyatt in a few meeting rooms, set your own hours, open it up to EVERYONE (no ticket required). Kinda like a flea market, but indoors. Same kind of vibe as the old “dealer room” shows of yore, like a bazaar of pop culture.

    I’ve read his older columns, and Comic-Con isn’t a great show for dealers… there are too many distractions, plus there’s the competition with the publishers themselves pushing con exclusives.

    Hmm… Given the major discounts that CCI gets from the convention center, how has that affected exhibitor costs?

  4. “While I haven’t shopped at Mile High’s convention booth, I suspect they are the rare dealer who brings in items not found at the dime-a-dozen vendors. (Dollar bin comics of recent issues, probably remnants of variant incentives; $5 trades from the last five years; slabbed comics and/or variants.)”

    That’s exactly what they bring.

  5. Nice story. Sad news. No respect for loyalty.
    As a former Comic-Con Director from 1975 to 1986, then employee of Bud Plant, then Diamond Comic Distribution with Ken Krueger, I have had only fine experiences with C T and Mile High. I wish them all the best.

    To Heidi Mc… Congratulations on your reporting!

  6. ‘celebs like me’

    lmao, not even in your dreams. “Wrestling Superstar Vergil” is more prominent than your mouth breathing corpulent mass. swallow a knife

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