San Diego Comic-Con International 2004

My esteemed editor asked me to be sure and mention this year's upcoming San Diego Comic-Con International in my column for this issue. Gack! That's a topic I've really been trying to avoid. It's not that I don't love the SDCC, but rather that I just don't know if I'm going to have the physical capability to handle the stress of that wonderful show this year. You see, right after last's year's convention I had the misfortune to be bit by the wrong mosquito. After taking enormous precautions to avoid contact with mosquitos outdoors on my farm, I was bitten (just once) while I was sleeping at night in my own bed. That single bite led to my contracting a severe case of West Nile Fever.

This new illness has turned out to be much more severe than the national health authorities (The Centers For Disease Control) were first representing. We now know that this new strain of West Nile Fever can cause long term brain and nerve damage. Initial studies seem to indicate that the effects are especially severe in those people who are "Type A" personalities, who regularly overtax their brains and nervous system. I certainly fall into that category, and as a result I have had continuing problems for the past ten months with chronic fatigue, muscle weakness, short term memory loss, vision difficulties, and (worst of all...) loss of cognitive reasoning ability. After much prodding, I have finally managed to get my physicians to admit that, in effect, I now have an incurable virus that is eating my brain. Since this illness is so new, however, they have no idea when (if ever) this process might end. For the time being the symptoms appear to be progressive in some people, with the ultimate outcome being unknown.

All that having been said, I've made a real point of not attending conventions (or engaging in any other stressful activities) for the past ten months. I went to one of Michael Carbonarro's Big Apple Conventions last September because I had promised the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund that I would be the auctioneer for a benefit auction at that show. I made it through that experience, but only with great difficulty. In retrospect, I really should never have gone to New York. I also attended Roger Price's wonderful Mid-Ohio-Con after Thanksgiving, but was only able to participate in the show as the auctioneer for the CBLDF. After that experience set my health back for a week, I decided to not attend any further shows.

Now it's time to contemplate how I'm going to get my health together enough to return to San Diego. You must understand that I love being a part of the SDCC. I have been making the annual trek across the desert from Colorado to San Diego since 1974. I have watched the convention grow from a show that had fewer than 1,000 attendees in 1974, to just under 100,000 participants last year. During those 30 years that I have been a part of the SDCC community, I have been sometimes critical of a particular direction in which the con committee has taken the show, but that dissent on my part has always been within the context of still considering the SDCC to be the single best show for comics fans that is held anywhere in the world. Quite frankly, if you really love comics, you absolutely must come to San Diego in July. It is the penultimate gathering of the various comics clans into a single spot for five magical days of interaction. You will find more information about comics, more creators, and more comics at San Diego than at any other convention. If you can only afford to attend one comics show in any given year, I believe your best investment (by far) would be to make the trip to San Diego.

What gives me the greatest trepidation about attending this year's show is that I simply don't know if I'll have the strength to make it through. We have 7 booths at the convention, which means we need an operating staff of about 15 people. In addition, I'm taking six family members. That's a lot of airfares, hotel rooms, rental cars, and meals that I have to coordinate. Then there's five days of meeting and greeting all of my friends and patrons. I have always left San Diego euphoric, but drained of energy. I have no idea what will transpire this year, as I may well have an energy collapse mid-way through the convention. I'll still stick it out, however, as I would demand to go to this great convention even if my staff had to carry me in on a stretcher. With a little luck, I'll be able to keep it together enough to still be the auctioneer for this year's CBLDF benefit auction. We raised over $17,000 for the fund during last year's SDCC auction, so I'll darn well be saving my strength to try and meet (or exceed) that total. Raising funds to defend the rights of free speech and expression is just too important a cause to let mere physical ailments get in the way.

I hope I haven't bored you too much with my highly personal view of attending this year's San Diego Comic-Con International. Telling you my about my own dedication to this great show simply seemed to me like the easiest way to convey just how important I think it is that you attend this wonderful show if you at all possibly can. I promise you that if you make the decision to fly to San Diego in July that it will be a wonderful experience that you will never, ever forget. Please forgive me, however, if you see me snoozing in a chair behind my booth in the middle of the show. If that were to happen, it would certainly not be because I'm in any way unhappy with the convention. I'll just be gathering my strength in order to be able to plunge back into the fray yet once again!

Please send your e-mails to chuck@milehighcomics.com, and your letters to:

Mile High Comics, Inc.
Attn: Chuck Rozanski
2151 W. 56th Ave.
Denver, CO 80221



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