**Updated 8-15-14: Additions at the bottom of post**
Now that Comic-Con is over, I feel it is time for me to share my perspective about the San Diego Comic-Con Unofficial Blog site (@SD_Comic_Con). When Sarah of the ConShark.com announced on Sunday morning of Comic-Con that she resigned from the team for ‘ethical reasons’ involving dishonesty and breaking Hall H line policy, I realized that was the final confirmation I needed. Many of you may have made the assumption that those that blog about Comic-Con are one big happy family, unfortunately that is not the case. Those of you that have been paying attention may have noticed tension and negativity from them towards me and my site over this past year. They have made snide remarks and accusations towards me over Twitter but I have chosen to stay quiet on it. In Sarah’s case, I think it’s safe to assume this wasn’t an isolated incident for her but a straw that broke the camel’s back. Well it’s time to tell my story.
About 18 months ago, the newly appointed Editor-in-Chief, Jeremy Rutz, asked me to join the newly formed blog team. Over a few months, we brainstormed, collaborated, and dreamed of the future. Then in the dead of winter, Jeremy chose to post a an article about Comic-Con International’s financial information. I felt the article made assumptions and insinuated questionable practices just because of the big numbers involved. More importantly, it felt like the blog site was trying to pick a fight with CCI for no reason. We were doing it to just get attention. Since I was privy to way more information than him, I asked him to consider pulling or at least temper it- which he refused. I thought it was in poor taste but fine- it was just a difference of opinion. Then we made a move into advertising and plastering ads all over the site with the focus becoming about generating traffic. So again, I talked Jeremy about this and he made it very clear that we are going to monetize this site and the focus was going to be on gaining numbers. I didn’t like it because it took our focus off of the fans but I stuck with it. I have nothing against advertising, but the focus to me changed at that point from fans to click bait. Then came the criticism from Jeremy about my own site, that I was spending too much time on it and wasn’t giving the SDCC Blog site enough of my attention- which also led to monitoring my tweets and my updates. Our agreement was I would operate my site as normal and post when I could to their site. After some more troubling conversation with Jeremy, it was clear his intention was for my site (and others) to go away leaving the giant conglomeration of the SDCC Blog site dominating the space. I was not down for that. In my core, I want as many people to launch their own site and write about their love for Comic-Con and I want to inspire them to do so. I had no interest in becoming an empire and stomping out the ‘little guys’. So because of taking a negative posture with CCI, a focus on traffic over fans, and a desire to build an empire, I knew it was time to leave just after a few months. Our departure was amicable and I thought that would be the end of the drama and I started to focus on covering Comic-Con 2013 on my own.
Since that time, it’s been very clear they have no love for me. They have attempted to sour my relationship with CCI and have regularly fired Twitter negativity about me for no reason like this:
As well as take aggressive actions against me like starting my own fake Facebook and Google+ accounts- with the purpose of sitting on my Crazy4ComicCon brand while driving traffic to their own site (screencaps below). Go ahead and visit the pages and see where all the links go to.
In the midst of all this, I have not said one negative thing publicly about the SDCC blog. Even in the midst of being under fire, I just politely asked to keep it respectful. I even made sure to plug and promote them as you can see from a tweet this past May:
Some of you have noticed the negativity aimed at me and have asked me why all the hate? I kept reasons confidential not wanting to start a war and detract from the show. I believed in taking the high road and continued to the best I could. However, even yesterday, when I reported the ConShark’s newly posted article, this is what Jeremy fired off (he deleted after this post):
It was a VERY interesting article about their site’s Hall H unethical practices- no question there but clearly a very defensive Jeremy has not recognized my support of their site. Truth is, because I walked away from them and have a little following, they see me as a threat. I don’t feel the same way and I think the service they provide is good (or at least was). After all this, I was still willing to put all this pettiness aside. As I stated numerous times, this behavior doesn’t serve the fans nor inspire future Comic-Con writers and I was willing to let it all go because I’m not in this like it’s something to win. Well that all changed with the ConShark’s announcement of her leaving the team.
You see, when the Comic-Con fans suffer, then I can no longer can stand aside and let it go unchecked. The NUMBER ONE complaint and overwhelming concern from 2013 and 2014 was the challenge of the Hall H line. THE NUMBER ONE COMPLAINT. More than Exclusives, autographs, hotels- it was how to fix Hall H. Well Comic-Con provided an opportunity to make real progress with their new Wristband/Line system they announced just prior to the show. There were some initial grumbling and complaining which is why I wrote a post stating that the only way this will work is if we ALL FOLLOW THE RULES. It’s the only way CCI can accurately assess and make adjustments for next year. Jeremy and company’s disregard of that has now sabotaged the very thing we all needed to be fixed. I get that we all make mistakes- a rage tweet or an impulsive decision, I get it. However, when you conspire to form an unofficial line, reward others with swag for doing the same, pressure staff to change rules, and ask your team to lie about it- that is different. They are recognized press by Comic-Con for the sole purpose of reporting truthful Comic-Con news. Jeremy’s premeditated and systematized deviant behavior negatively impacted fans and our future Hall H experience. They had an obligation to report the truth and instead withheld information and asked their team to do the same. For an average attendee, maybe it’s no big deal- but for the industry leader, they should have done otherwise. There are now 150+ less of you that did not get into Hall H because of him. I walked the line of Hall H that same night and other attendees noticed this unofficial line forming and naturally blamed Comic-Con for it. Here is an excerpt from a longer podcast I posted in my Podcast section:
If CCI had granted the SDCC Blog special access into Hall H for coverage, I would have been fine with that. Then it’s accounted for and I would trust CCI’s judgement call on it. People get special access all the time- no big deal. But instead, the SDCC Blog took the initiative and exploited a vulnerable part of an experimental system. Because of the ConShark’s courageous act, they got caught. As you can see from the comment section of the post, Jeremy takes no responsibility, blames her for not communicating, blames security for being wrong, and chalks it up to a big misunderstanding. Even though he is arguably the single most influential source for Comic-Con news, his last comment on the post included this:
“Next time we’ll just tweet out every unsanctioned line that forms, screw over folks who started them and invested their time, cause a situation for security to deal with and get CCI to hate us. I guess then everyone will be happy.”
Sounds pretty remorseful right? The reason I am now choosing to be vocal about this is three reasons; First, where there is smoke there is usually fire. When two ex-team members come out to say there are unethical practices and mean spirited behavior at the core of their site then you all need to know. Secondly, I don’t want any aspiring creators or writers to follow their example. Doing good and being good matters in this world- especially if you have a large platform. So the last thing I would want is for any young and impressionable con writer to think that this sort of behavior is excused by the rest of us bloggers. I also don’t want anyone to think CCI is at fault. Third, I’ve felt bullied by them and I don’t want anyone else to feel the same.
No doubt this post will have Jeremy deflecting towards circumstantial and environmental reasons as he has already attempted to in the ConShark post. He’ll blame everyone except for himself. He will then turn his efforts to discredit me with petty stories of a rogue autograph, crediting photos, and being all in this for the fame. But nothing will change the fact that he lied, he conspired to lie, asked team members to lie, and lied to you all. Is this blowing it out of proportion over a line? If you saved up a lot of money, traveled long distances, and camped out over night in Hall H- then it does matter. I am going to believe in the best in the rest of his team like Shawn and Kerry and believe that they are probably innocent in all this. The question will be what will they do in the future and will they be next to write a post like this or like the ConShark’s?
The biggest victim in all this is you all. I am sorry to include you in all this drama. We should be one big happy family- I would love that. I have a great relationship with other fellow con writers and I believe together we are better. It’s unfortunate you have to hear any negativity come from anyone about anybody. I hope this is short lived so you can get the very best content for the next upcoming convention.
Jeremy wants me and Crazy4ComicCon out of the picture because of my position in the blog-o-sphere is taking dollars away from their site and for me breaking up with him over a year ago. He has made that clear to me and others. I have even more information that I will spare unless deemed necessary. Despite all this, I’ve never had more resolve to stay in this space and I look forward to serving you the best I can with truth and honesty. Ironically, the SDCC Unofficial Blog Twitter bio says they are ‘not filtered and not biased’, well in this incident with Hall H, we can conclude that they were anything but that.
Comment, like, follow, unfollow, it’s totally your decision- no judgement here. I just want you to know the truth of what’s going on. The person to follow is Sarah at @ConSharkNews of the ConShark. It’s bravery like hers that inspire change and calls out wrong doing.
SDCC U Blog 2nd in command, James, tweeted this at me later in the day (and he deleted after this post). Clearly still avoiding responsibility. Also note his accusatory remarks in the comment section below:
This comment for the ConShark site confirms the claims:
Updated at 4:34p:
Now the SDCC Blog Facebook page is trying to blame me for the WB Swag Bag shortage at the show! (they deleted after this post)
For the record, I receive the bags directly from WB that are designated for promotion purposes, so it doesn’t impact inventory at the show. Fortunately, no one on the post thought this was a reasonable perspective and his bias against me is very clear.
Update 7.31.14 7:39a:
What saddens me is that as the San Diego Comic-Con Unofficial Blog, their first love doesn’t seem to be the San Diego Comic-Con. Here’s an excerpt from their 7.17 podcast about Nerd HQ:
Update 7.31.14 9:32a:
You can follow the thread discussion on this topic in the FriendsofCCI Forum
Update 7.31.14 10:58a:
Awesome friends and fans of the site started the #BlameTony hashtag blaming me for everything that went wrong with Comic-Con. It was a little ray of sunshine in this unfortunate mess. Thank you all for your fun tweets.
Update 8.15.14 5:00p:
Jeremy resigned as Editor-in-Chief and is no longer writing for the blog. His statement says it is for personal reasons.