A bitter controversy is tearing the otherwise peace-loving city of Toronto apart, and it involves comic books. The enmity between Hobbystar, which puts on the Canadian National Expo, a large pop culture show, and Paradise Comics, which puts on the Toronto Comicon has been growing over the years, with the two shows locked in a turf war. Hobbystar is run by a promoter named Aman Gupta.
Now, normally we try not to take sides in such things. We can say that we were guests of the Toronto Comicon this April, and were treated exceptionally well by organizer Pete Dixon and company, so we have nothing but nice things to say about Paradise Comics. We can also say that Hobbystar’s actions — putting on a show the weekend before the Toronto Comicon this year, and planning one next year for the same weekend — has been pretty hardball, to say the least. Paradise Comics has retaliated by throwing a one day show
the week before two weeks before this year’s Canadian National Expo.
We’ve heard that the town is big enough for both show without all the nastiness, and most folks have put on a neutral face, in public, anyway. But now Daryl Collison, owner of 3rd Quadrant Comics, has been circulating a letter claiming that Gupta will not allow exhibitors at the Paradise show to exhibit at the Expo, and suggesting it’s time to take a stand one way or the other, so things may be heating up. You can read it all in the jump.
My name is Daryl Collison.
If you are familiar with the Toronto Comic Book scene, you know that I own and operate 3rd Quadrant Comics. If you are familiar with the comic scene at all, you may have actually seen me at a show or two. I am a relatively big guy with dreads and a huge McGuiness Superman tattoo on my right calf (think Samoan wrestler). I have run my store for almost 10 years now.
I am giving you a little background prior to giving you the juicy bits about why I am here to grind an axe. On Saturday July the 15th at approximately 4 pm I received a phone call from Aman Gupta, the owner and operator of Hobbystar Marketing they are the hosts of the Comic Book Expo held annually in Toronto Canada. I have been a supporter of Aman and HobbyStar for about 8 years now. I started of with 1 table and bolstered it to two tables about 4 years ago (I may be wrong on the dates, so do not quote me). I also have done a number of his smaller shows.
On Thursday July 13th Paradise Comics announced that they were doing a 1 day SUPER FAN COMIC BOOK SHOW in Toronto. (please note there is a LOT of history here and I am not going to go into it here. Suffice to say Paradise was doing the right thing in my opinion. BUT I will say this: Hobbystar has for the past two years put on a 1 day Fan Appreciation show ONE WEEK before the Paradise convention and saw no repercussions form Paradise. Paradise decides to put on a 1 day show 1 tenth the size of the Fan Appreciation show 2 WEEKS BEFORE the Expo and Aman has a Hissy fit)
The gist of Amanâ€™s call was to tell me, in no uncertain terms, if I did the Paradise show on the 20th, that he would refund my money that I have deposited for his Expo which is to be held September 1-3 and that I would NOT be able to do his show. He told me that he was doing up the contracts and wanted to know what I was going to do. I suspect that he asked that so that he can CHANGE all the contracts NOW to include some ridiculous clauses about NOT doing competing shows within a certain time frame (does the term restraint of trade ring any bells) to his show. He really is running scared, isn’t he? The fact that I cemented my tables by paying him hundreds of dollars almost a year ago apparently means nothing to him.
Where does he get off telling ME what I can and cannot do? In a free market place I can do whatever show I want and he tells me that? Needless to say I am not pleased. I asked him, so you are telling me that whoever is doing your show is being told that if they do the Paradise show that you are telling them they will get their funds returned and they cannot do your show? He said yes. THE REASON I asked him that was to see if he was targeting me or if all retailers and hobbyists were being told the same thing. I am sure if some of the â€˜bigger retailersâ€™ were told what he told me, they would tell him what he could do with his tables. I am furious.
I WILL do the Paradise show on the 20th of August as is my right. If Aman tells me that I cannot do the Hobbystar show, then you will know why I am not at the show.
I have been a little vocal over the last few years about the battle that exists between Paradise and Hobbystar. BUT I have always been civil in public and NEVER took a round out of anyone. But this is just unbelievable. I beseech all the small retailers out there that feel they do not have a voice to raise it now. Yes, I know this sounds trite and somewhat political, but I have been sitting on the fence long enough and not publicly voiced my disapproval of what is going on, I guess it is my own fault that I am doing this in the 11th, but ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. Please take the time to re-post this or forward it to whomever you think might like to get a little bit more insight into what Aman is about. If you have any questions or comments please do not hesitate to leave them here and I will do my best to address them
Daryl The little guy who has had enough. And I ain’t THAT little!