Dept. of Scandal II: Toronto Conventions

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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 I started of with 1 table and bolstered it to two tables about 4 years ago (I may be wrong on the dates, so do not quote me).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 Aman’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 ‘bigger retailers’ 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!

Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    Paradise is holding a one-day show two weeks before the expo, not one.

  2. It’s really quite sad that Toronto looks so terribly negative in all of this. It really is a nice place to visit, and we are generally nice, friendly people and there are a lot of great comics people here. In fact a big chunk of us are in prep to get on the troop carriers to invade San Diego and raise the niceness level up a notch. I hope that people don’t think we are all territorial and in-fighting and hold that against us. It’s just a downright shame that people have to do this kind of thing, and I don’t envy Daryl and the other vendors who are now stuck in this position – forced to take a side.

  3. Check out http://stophobbystar.blogspot.com to read more stories about this as they develop.

    Kevin: I totally agree with you. The really sucky thing is that the retailers in Toronto are for the most part buddies with each other. I like Peter, Chris, Bob, Daryl, and a host of other guys who run stores even though technically we’re all going after the same dollars. I’m happy for them when they do awesome things that get them attention, and I feel bad for them when they have to make difficult decisions.

    I don’t like it that one really bad egg seems to be tainting the whole bunch.

  4. Jason Borlinghaus says:

    Curious. As Aman Gupta is retroactively attempting to change a signed contract, assuming that there is no clause in the original signed contract allowing him to do such, the original contract could be considered breached by 3rd Quadrant. Under American law, 3rd Quadrant and other retailers might have an action under breach of contract and entitled to damages such as the interest lost on money committed at contract signing and reasonable expenses incurred in preparing for the show that they are now excluded from. Pretty petty and probably not worth the effort but just wanted to toss in my two cents. And yes, I’m a soulless lawyer…although, one that still keeps a desk drawer full of comics and a closet full of “little white boxes” as my girlfriend refers to them.

  5. Jason Borlinghaus says:

    Obviously, my opinion has no weight as Canadian law controls but Canada might have a similar provision.

  6. Why go with free market principles, when you can strong-arm and use restraint of trade to make profits with a higher degree of determinism?

    How this guy has been allowed to do all that he does, without any legal repercussions is really mind-boggling.

    But to some degree, I believe its because most of the retailers have been tolerating it, playing nice and dealing it all with kids gloves on.

    As much as it sounds like I’m stirring the pot by saying this, I’m really hoping the kids gloves come off, and Aman finally gets a taste of his own medicine.

    Boycott the Expo!

  7. Daryl Collison says:

    July 18th

    I am Daryl Collison

    First let me say that I am not surprised that no less than 4 threads relating to the issue that I brought up on the weekend have been closed. I am disappointed, but not surprised.

    PLEASE DO NOT THNK THAT I AM TRYING TO ALEINATE ANY OF THE SUPPORT THAT HAS BEEN GIVEN TO ME AND THE OTHER RETAILERS IN MY POSITION. And rest assured there are other retailers that got the same call that I did. But I should address some issues that were brought up in some of the threads.

    If you run your thread, you can make your rules. Fine. But I would hope that you would have taken into account the genesis of the issue this time. This is not Paradise VS Hobbystar – it is Hobbystar threatening to take away my RIGHT to do a show I paid for almost a year ago IF I decide to do a competing show.

    If Aman wants to institute new rules for exclusive retailers next year, that is his right. BUT he should not threaten to take away what I have already paid for.

    Capitalism. Yes, we all saw Wall Street and we know that Greed is Good. But again this is not about that.

    Hatfields vs. McCoy’s and re-visiting the same thing over again. NO, it is not. I was s never a part of that fight herein and now I am drawn into because I wish to do the things I am entitled to do – right here and now.

    Again I ask that you continue to get the original letter I sent out in the ether. I respectfully request that your refrain form inflammatory comments about Aman and Hobbystar and please do not try and introduce the letter onto boards that have taken the threads off. They have the right to do what they want with their boards and I respect that.

    I am not a rabble rouser. I simply need people to know that what is happening to me and other small retailer’s is not fair. Some people think that we all have short attention spans and this will become an old newspaper soon. PLEASE keep this going.

    Respectfully yours
    Daryl Collison
    3rd Quadrant

    I have copied the original letter herein – you may send it or append this e-mail appropriately.

  8. Clark Wayne says:

    I sent this to Mr. Gupta and others to let them know that what Hobby Star is trying to do is indeed illegal. Haven’t received a response, probably because he’s too scared to do anything right now. Spread the news to all the exhibitors that they cannot, under ANY circumstances, even by way of a contract stipulation, be forced to choose one show over another. The laws of Canada include the right for everyone to make all the money they care to try for in a free marketplace.

    Mr. Aman Gupta,

    The list of people you have offended within the local comic book industry is long, and you know that fact all too well. I’m sending this letter to you to make you aware, in case you are not, that your tactics are highly illegal and contravene Canadian competition laws, specifically, the Competition Act. When the owners of Paradise Comics, one of your old exhibitors and customers, decided to start up their own small, fan-friendly convention for those interested in the art of the comic book medium, you decided to punish them by refusing to allow them to exhibit at your convention. Then, when Paradise Comics began to grow their convention and present at least some small amount of competition against your monopoly, you decided to break another law by scheduling and rescheduling a free show one week before theirs, confusing consumers about what show is being held when, and pricing the admission far below market-price (free). Now you’ve sunk to a new low.
    Paradise Comics decided they can give as well as take, so they organized a reasonably-priced one-day show scheduled for 2 weeks before your large annual comic convention. Nothing wrong with that. The more conventions that are held, the more sales exhibitors and creators stand to make, the more competition and consumerism thrives, and the healthier and more robust the Canadian economy is made by it. But you have decided to come to the exhibitors with a dastardly ultimatum. I’ve heard you’ve started contacting exhibitors and telling them that if they dare attend the single day Paradise Comics’ show, you will ban them from your large 3 day show in September, which many people also rely on to make a good deal of revenue. And for those exhibitors who have already booked their tables at your show, you threaten them by saying you will refund their money and refuse them any attempt to attend your show. This is also an illegal tactic that contravenes laws within the Competition Act. Penalties for anti-competitive behaviour are serious and may include several years in jail and millions of dollars in penalties, as well as any orders the Competition Tribunal decides may be given to make you play nice.
    You cannot obliterate competition by strong-arming it with illegal tactics. The Canadian government frowns upon anyone who would try to prevent the Canadian economy from growing and flourishing. You cannot dump free shows ahead of your competition. You cannot use, in the words of the Competition Act, “an abuse of dominance” to bend competitors and your own exhibitors to your will. You cannot compel anyone to an exclusive deal, forcing them to forego revenue that they are entitled to make in our free and fair market. You cannot maliciously refuse someone’s business because they refuse to conspire in your illegal exclusivity deals. (and if you’re thinking of taking punitive actions against those who are speaking out against you now, that is also looked upon harshly by the Tribunal as a consequence to be dealt with in accordance with any original complaint)
    To put it bluntly, we (and I’m sure I speak for a large number in the community) don’t have to put up with your bullshit anymore. If you’re so afraid of competition, there’s only one thing you can do, and that is start treating exhibitors, creators and fans nicely. Be a man and put on the best show you can. The better you treat everyone, the more prosperous they will be. The more prosperous your customers, the more tables they will buy from you and the more prosperous you will be. Then your show will grow and grow. Competition is good for everyone. Especially in the comic book industry, which is experiencing such very hard times these days, your behaviour has been very damaging to retailers, fans and creators. Stop acting like a scared little girl who’s afraid of seeing his monopoly go down the tubes and own up to the fact that it’s time to stop acting like an asshole and start kissing up to the people who are putting food on your table. If you don’t, there are going to be better shows around town that will be hosted by people who actually care about our community.

    For your reference, here’s some snippets from the Competition Bureau’s website, and some information for you to read. Please check the website to learn more about things like abuse of dominance, exclusive deals, refusal to deal, market restrictions, market pricing, etc. For any of those who are feeling threatened by Mr. Gupta’s tactics, I suggest you contact him first and see if he has come to his senses. If you continue to feel or are indeed threatened by him, getting an investigation started does not involve any money or lawyers, only a filing of an on-line complaint form at the following web page.

    https://www.competitionbureau.gc.ca/internet/index.cfm?itemID=1260

    Courtesy of your friendly, local Anti-Asshole-Man

    reading material…..

    http://www.competitionbureau.gc.ca

    ————-snippets—————
    The Competition Act (7)

    Part VIII
    Matters Reviewable by Tribunal

    Restrictive Trade Practices

    Refusal to Deal

    Jurisdiction of Tribunal where refusal to deal

    75. (1) Where, on application by the Commissioner or a person granted leave under section 103.1, the Tribunal finds that

    (a) a person is substantially affected in his business or is precluded from carrying on business due to his inability to obtain adequate supplies of a product anywhere in a market on usual trade terms,

    (b) the person referred to in paragraph (a) is unable to obtain adequate supplies of the product because of insufficient competition among suppliers of the product in the market,

    (c) the person referred to in paragraph (a) is willing and able to meet the usual trade terms of the supplier or suppliers of the product,

    (d) the product is in ample supply, and

    (e) the refusal to deal is having or is likely to have an adverse effect on competition in a market,

    the Tribunal may order that one or more suppliers of the product in the market accept the person as a customer within a specified time on usual trade terms unless, within the specified time, in the case of an article, any customs duties on the article are removed, reduced or remitted and the effect of the removal, reduction or remission is to place the person on an equal footing with other persons who are able to obtain adequate supplies of the article in Canada.

    and

    Exclusive Dealing, Tied Selling and Market Restriction

    Definitions

    77. (1) For the purposes of this section,

    “exclusive dealing” «exclusivité»

    “exclusive dealing” means

    (a) any practice whereby a supplier of a product, as a condition of supplying the product to a customer, requires that customer to

    (i) deal only or primarily in products supplied by or designated by the supplier or the supplier’s nominee, or

    (ii) refrain from dealing in a specified class or kind of product except as supplied by the supplier or the nominee, and

    (b) any practice whereby a supplier of a product induces a customer to meet a condition set out in subparagraph (a)(i) or (ii) by offering to supply the product to the customer on more favourable terms or conditions if the customer agrees to meet the condition set out in either of those subparagraphs;

    “market restriction” «limitation du marché»

    “market restriction” means any practice whereby a supplier of a product, as a condition of supplying the product to a customer, requires that customer to supply any product only in a defined market, or exacts a penalty of any kind from the customer if he supplies any product outside a defined market;

    ——— end snippets———–

  9. Susan says:

    Garside and Boyd are both lackeys of Dixons Paradise comics. Garside helps to run All new comics whose other owner hates Aman. what a tangled web we weave eh? darryls comics in a damp basement are sooo water damaged my boyfriend tried to return a $5 book for refund or exchange and the owner and his worker a thin african american boy named jerry lee or something like that would have none of it. sheesh people who live in glass houses….

  10. Daryl Collison says:

    I Am Daryl Collison

    Susan:

    Oh forget it, I am not even going to get into it.

    The original issue has not changed.

    Thanks for keeping the drive alive.

  11. Annon says:

    It’s funny to note that the “Susan” who posted once ran a fake blogger site making false statements about people who spoke against hobbystar’s tactics.

    Since the time of her (actually it was a him, named George) post, the police got involved and told him to knock it off and stfu. Something to do with filing a false report of death threats or something. Yeah George/Susan got LAWLOLown3d.

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