A few days back, Mile High Comics announced that it won’t be at San Diego Comic-Con. They’ve been there for 44 years and it’s going to be odd to have them missing. In the post on their website, they talked about their reasons for not returning, including poor foot traffic and poor management. Owner Chuck Rozanski stated in the article, “To answer the numerous questions that we have been receiving of late, for the first time in 44 years, we will not be exhibiting at this year's San Diego Comic-Con. I wish that this decision could have been otherwise, but circumstances beyond our control made our further participation impossible.”
Now, I don’t know any details beyond what he said, but after going to San Diego Comic-Con for more years than I care to count, I can definitely say that it’s changed. Rozanski explained his thoughts, saying, "To explain, San Diego has grown far beyond its original premise, morphing from what was originally a wonderful annual gathering of the comics world, into a world-renown pop culture and media festival. As such, it has seen rapidly escalating costs, and also a dramatic change in the demographics of its attendees. Neither of those changes worked to our advantage.”
Now, he’s not wrong. It may have been about comics once, but it’s gone far beyond that into a celebration of pop culture. I’m not saying this is a good or a bad thing. I mean, I love seeing panels and the skill that goes into the costumes of the cosplayers and meeting actors from "Doctor Who" and "Game of Thrones." I love that I can end up at the same party as Joss Whedon and that everything I love is in one place. I love buying shirts and action figures and far too many geeky posters. (I only have so many walls!) Still, the loss of a Comic-Con icon like Mile High Comics really makes you think about whether or not the con cares about the thing that started it all: comics.
There are definitely still artists and writers of comics in Artist Alley, though many of the ones I’ve spoken to have stopped going to San Diego’s con. There are so many around the country that don’t cost as much for a table (for those who have to pay) and where they can actually get a chance to talk to fans. I’ve heard friends who have tables there talk about how the foot traffic has died down. Personally, I only hit the floor on Wednesday’s Preview Night last year because it was too overwhelming. Everyone is heading to the big studio film and TV panels and skipping the floor.
In a way, the growth of geek culture into film and TV and cosplay is wonderful, but there is a part of me that is sad that the thing that all of this is based on is being pushed off the floor. I can’t, for the life of me, think of a solution.
Follow Jenna Busch on Twitter @jennabusch