Earlier this week Denver Comic Con and co-founder Charlie La Greca found themselves in the middle of an online dispute over whether or not proceeds from the 2013 Denver Comic Con which attracted over 60,000 comic book fans have been used appropriately or not. The convention itself, which will hold its third convention on June 13-15, is hosted by Comic Book Classroom (CBC); a non-profit education program focused on teaching literacy for children in grades 5-8 to which the proceeds benefit. Last year’s convention propelled it to being the 5th largest comic book and pop culture convention in North America. This year the convention expects to grow further with an expected 75,000 fans.
The online battle began Wednesday morning when La Greca posted an online open letter through his webpage www.savedenvercomiccon.com in which he claimed that he was ousted by the organization’s board without any explanation and that no comic book classroom courses have been created or taught since last year’s convention.
“As of this writing, it seems not one CBC class has been taught since the Denver Comic Con in June of 2013 and there have been absolutely no new programs initiated. At this rate, that would mean no classes will have been taught come the 3rd Denver Comic Con, which means ticket buyers money did not go to teaching kids. With the amount of staff, funds, and hundreds of volunteers by our side, this is unacceptable.” La Greca stated.
Wednesday evening Denver Comic Con and Comic Book Classroom fired back with a rebuttal entitled “Denver Comic Con Does Not Need Saving” in which they announced that several Comic Book Classroom programs are in the pipeline following 2013’s convention.
“Every hour and every dollar spend by CBC goes towards securing the non-profit mission. There have been a number of developments on the classroom front since the 2013 convention:
• There is currently a CBC class in session at Sanchez Elementary in Lafayette, Colo.
• CBC is working with the City and County of Denver to integrate the curriculum to the Youth One Book One Denver Project, a program that involves approximately 2,500 kids.
• CBC is working with Platte Forum to teach high school students that are at-risk but showing promise the curriculum. They in turn will teach it to younger kids.
• CBC recently wrote a grant with The Conflict Center to execute programming at Sims-Fayola International Academy in the aim of authoring comic books to develop emotional intelligence and critical decision making as those relate to being an adolescent male.
• Additionally, CBC staff are currently planning dozens of hours and specific programs designed around children’s literacy at its largest annual program, Denver Comic Con.
As the curriculum and materials are rebranded to adhere to legal and education standards, classroom activities will see an uptick in the summer of 2014.
Additionally, it’s because of its fiscal responsibility that CBC is positioned for growth in 2014 and beyond. The future plans for the organization include multiple curricular sets being widely available to educators, a YouTube instructional channel, a scholarly conference to be held concurrent to DCC and eventually, its own physical classroom space.”
The letter by Denver Comic Con also states that La Greca was the only paid board member and that when his contract expired it was not renewed. The organization also released their 2013 preliminary financial graphic on Friday which can be viewed here.
After days of back and forth battling it seems that a step towards a peaceful resolution has been taken. A planned town hall meeting by La Greca this afternoon has been postponed as both sides have agreed to mediation according to a statement posted on Save Denver Comic Con’s and Denver Comic Con’s respective Facebook pages:
“Charlie La Greca and Comic Book Classroom have both come to an agreement to re-enter into a mediation process to address the current situation. Each party fully expects to communicate truthfully with the intention of supporting CBC’s mission and community.
The Town Hall scheduled for today February 23rd, 2014 @ 3pm has been postponed.
Thanks to everybody on all sides. This is an incredibly positive step for the community and we look forward to finding resolution.”
Despite the controversy, several guest announcements for this summer’s Denver Comic Con have since been released during the last few turbulent days. Newly announced guests such as Jeremy Bulloch (Boba Fett, Star Wars), Peter Davidson (the 5th Doctor, Doctor Who), and Chandler Riggs (Carl, The Walking Dead) will be joining the lineup along with Bruce Campbell (Evil Dead Trilogy, Burn Notice), Walter Konieg (Star Trek), Michael Rooker (Walking Dead) and several other TV, Film and Comic Book artists and writers.
More information on the convention, tickets, guest announcements and Comic Book Classroom can be found at www.denvercomiccon.com