A Week After Wristbandgate At New York Comic Con

by Ray Flook

Wristband

By now, most of you who read Bleeding Cool and were following its New York Comic Con coverage are familiar with what became known as "Wristbandgate." Now, I'm not looking to rehash what went down because that's not my purpose in writing this; so if you're interested in some background on it, you can find the original article here.

I wanted to take a moment to give my final thoughts on the situation and the way in which it was handled; as well as some of the reactions to it that I've read online and received personally from others. While the feedback overall has been very positive, I'm also aware that there's a decent percentage who see this as some kind of "Robin Hood/'Stickin'-It-To-The-Man'"-type situation and I feel the need to address that specifically.

I want to begin by thanking and commending ReedPOP's Lance Fensterman and his team for the immediacy and professionalism with which they handled the situation after being notified. I believe that it sends out two very strong messages: (1) that attendees can be assured that Fensterman is willing to back-up his assertion that conduct like this "would never be tolerated for a second" with action; and (2) that ReedPOP holds their NYCC Staff and Crew to a code of conduct that they will enforce. Do I think he was the only one? Personally, no…but it got the point across to everyone of what will happen if you're dumb enough to continue.

As for the NYCC Crew, I'll be the first to admit that I haven't been their biggest fan over the past few years…and even wrote about some of those issues in past posts for Bleeding Cool. With that said, I was really impressed with the improvements that I saw this year as compared to the past: always present and readily available in the locations they needed to be; showed initiative in handling on-the-spot situations instead of having to waste time seeking approval; strong "product knowledge" of the event; and very positive overall attitudes throughout what was obviously a rough weekend. Was it perfect? No…but what is? Coordination and communication are key issues that teams are always trying to improve and perfect, but the improvements were evident.

And that's what righteously pisses me off about this entire thing, and the attitude that some have taken about it.

Here are some of the posted comments from the original article, which pretty much exemplify some personal conversations I've had on the issue:

I'm not excusing the scalper, I'm just pointing out that 'joe nobody' ripped off folks for a couple of bucks and gets the righteous indignation of BC. A comics creator rips off a lot more money from a lot more folks and BC looks the other way.

So basically you've grassed some enterprising fellow up well done Rich is this news? I don't think so

You are a snitch! Congrats.

Good job Rich. Some Joe Schlub is ripping off a convention corporation for fivers and you run it with an update that thanks to you the guy will be fired.

Again, the vast majority of feedback on this has been very positive…particularly from the NYCC Crew, who understand that it's much easier for the public to think of them as cheats based on the actions of a few then it is for them to appreciate the fact that 99% of the Crew are doing what they're supposed to be doing and doing it well. It's about having some pride in your work and respect for the team, and I was glad to read comments posted by several Crew members emphasizing those basic principles.

But let's be clear: there's nothing "tragic" about this situation. This is nothing more than the story of a guy who used his position to steal some wristbands and then tried to make a couple bucks by selling them to fans while he was on the clock. He was a geek trying to rip-off his own. And then he tried to sell it to someone with a "PRESS" pass hanging from his neck. In plain sight. Wow. There's nothing "Robin Hood" about that…unless Robin Hood stole from the rich and then sold it to the poor at a 8% mark-up. And this has nothing to do with scalping: if you go through the normal process that everyone else has to go through for tickets to something and then you want to sell them, all power to 'ya for what you can get. You're running on as even a playing field as everyone else. This wasn't that type of situation, not by any stretch of the imagination. If you still feel different about this, then I'm pretty sure I'll never convince you otherwise.

On a final note, I'd like to thank Hannah Means-Shannon, Editor-in-Chief; Rich Johnston, Founder & Head Writer; and Dan Wickline from Bleeding Cool for not just running the story but staying with it until it reached a satisfactory end. No one likes being the cause of someone losing their job, which is why they were very thorough in securing the specific details before going to Fensterman for a response and posting the story. It's their commitment to making sure"The Fan" is always in-the-know that drew me to Bleeding Cool in the first place, and makes me proud and honored to have the opportunity to report for them.

Okay…going back to my post-con season depression. Wake me when it's Free Comic Book Day…

Ray Flook has been a contributing writer to Bleeding Cool since October 2013. Follow him on Twitter: @oldmangeek88; "like" his Facebook page: Old Man Geek; and check-out his website: www.oldmangeek88.com

[Rich adds: I also talked to a couple of legal experts at the show, who both pointed out that the showings of Daredevil and The Walking Dead were technically free, even if shown to people who attended the show. But if it could be shown that entrance was extra, then there were a number of legal matters to consider, including how much the studio, production, acting unions would demand in payment…]

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About Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
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