Movies & TV / Columns

Comics 411: Does San Diego Comic-Con Do More Harm Than Good?

July 19, 2017 | Posted by Steve Gustafson

I’m Steve Gustafson and thanks for stopping by. Don’t forget to check out 411mania’s Comic Book Review Roundtable, every Thursday! Read up on the best reviews and let us know what you’re reading as well. Click to read the latest Comic Book Review Roundtable! Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe Again #1, Calexit #1, and more!

Now, on with the show!

Last week we discussed Biggest Comic Book Imitators!! Here’s what some of you had to say:

Carl Rood: “1. When he debuted, Aquaman WAS NOT Atlantean or royalty. He was the son of a scientist who experimented on his kid, which was completely OK in the 40’s. He even visited the ruins of the sunken Atlantis. Also, while it’s varied, Namor doesn’t usually have the ability to control sea life without some sort of device.

2. While both are based on Robin Hood more than anything, I’ll say the trick arrow thing tilts Hawkeye to being a bit of a ripoff. Of course, Green Arrow started out as a Batman ripoff and then ripped off being team loudmouth from Hawkeye. Then Hawkeye ripped off having a bird themed blonde significant other.

3. Flash and Quicksilver I’ll give a pass because, as you said, runs really really fast is a pretty obvious power to come up with. In most other ways the characters are really different.

4. Deadshot and Bullseye I don’t see at all. Deadshot was a very obscure Batman villain prior to the late 1980’s. I doubt anyone would have thought to copy him when coming up with a “hitman who aims really well.””

Jeyh: “I think when it comes to characters and similarities, many are going to be pretty much rip offs but its how they end up being written that really separates them and doesn’t make people think of them as such rips offs. With Deadpool/Deathstroke the similarities stop after powers and wearing a mask because at this point DP is written as the funniest guy in comics and DS isn’t a fun loving guy from what I know. Namor has turned into a real douchebag that is interesting in getting with that ladies and a hothead, Aquaman has had to step his game up in recent years and be a cooler head and leader I think.

There has been a discussion about Marvel pretty much imitating its self with Avengers and GOTG as far as characters go in the MCU.
Sexy female assassin ashamed of her past
Force of nature that has its own special dialogue, but can be a gentle giant

Outsider brute who tells everybody they are the funny ones and doesn’t realize there own social miscues

Pretty much a normal guy out of space/time with a bunch of people they are adjusting to all the time and trying to lead them
Genius smartass that wants to play it their way most of the time.”

Captain Mcgloo: “Deathstroke is pretty much a rip off of his co-creators other co-creation, Taskmaster. Is it a rip-off if you rip-off yourself?”

armchair theologian: “RE: Superman – he’s already an ‘inspired-by’ character, so any character inspired-by him doesn’t get the lame imitator status I might otherwise apply. Its the funny thing with comics, which were originally inspired by pulp heroes, which were probably inspired by something else before them in turn, so on and so forth.”

Gold Any Ranger: “Similar to the Legion/Shi’ar Imperial Guard situation is the Justice League and the Squadron Supreme. Every member of the Squadron is an imitation of a Justice League Member, Hyperion = Superman, Nighthawk = Batman, Princess Power = Wonder Woman, Dr Spectrum = Green Lantern, etc.”

To read ALL the comments from last week’s column, CLICK HERE! As always, thanks for the input!

This week we discuss…

Does Comic-Con Do More Harm Than Good?

Recently Mile High Comics president Chuck Rozanski announced that the retailer will not be attending San Diego Comic Con, ending a relationship that has lasted nearly half a century.

“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. 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.”

Rozanski went on to explain that, while the Mile High booth in 1973 cost just $40 for the entire weekend, the most recent booth renewal fee $18,000. Also, Rozanski said, foot traffic to the booth was down.

“To summarize, we experienced rising costs, while at the same time foot traffic in our booth plummeted. That is never a good combination. That having been said, I truly loved the experience of exhibiting at San Diego Con, so I can assure you that I would have ignored those two major obstacles, and still renewed my booth. 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…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.”

The San Diego Comic-Con has been going on since 1970 and it brought together comic book fans from all over. Over the years it went through its growing pains and has mutated into something much different these days. For over a decade Hollywood has taken hold of the convention and where once comic book artists and writers would hold court with readers, now it’s used to showcase the latest blockbuster, after people stand in line for a number of hours.

I attended the Con back in the mid 90s and it was right before the great influx of studio execs and Hollywood marketing would taint the fun. They had lines but they were no where near what they are today. I remember getting to have some real conversations with my favorite artists and writers and took advantage of some great deals on books. The yearly attendance is estimated at over 130,000 people so you can imagine the mess you have to navigate to get around.

We read stories every year of fans waiting for hours to get into a Hall for a seminar or a 2-hour wait to use the restroom. Hall H has taken on an aura of being the ultimate for fans as it’s the biggest room at the convention hall and hosts the most popular franchises and projects. How many people does it hold? 6,130.

Even outside the convention has been taken over by anyone and everyone looking to take advantage of the crowds. The cost of everything goes out-of-control; from parking to food, because they know they have a captive audience.

While all that is frustrating, the real point of the convention is lost and has been said for over a decade:

It’s not about comics any more.

The Los Angeles Times once call it “North America’s biggest pop culture expo,” and that’s a fair title, although I’d change out expo with circus.

One only has to go on their favorite comic book creators social media to see how they are treated at the Convention or how many people are gushing over heading to Artist Alley to get a book signed. It’s not well and no many. Mile High Comics’ departure is very telling on the culture over in San Diego.

While the latest comic book inspired movie is getting a seminar and teaser released in one of the Halls, the source of that project, the comic book, is being shifted to the back, out of the way.

Instead of teaming up comics and movies, TV, or what have you, comic books are looked down upon a convention that has Comic in its title. And as long as big money is involved, that’s never going to change.

I’ve found much more success and fun at smaller comic book conventions. The Baltimore Comic-Con has been great and I’m excited about Galactic Con 2017 that’s coming up in Columbia, MD.

While fans have a special place in their heart for comic books, Comic Con has moved far away from its origins and is now a bloated reminder of what happens when you open the doors to Hollywood and give them the keys to the kingdom.

What are your thoughts on Comic Con? Feel free to show some love to any local conventions you’ve been to!

That’s all the time I have. Check out our Comic Book Reviews tomorrow and see you next week!