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Comic Con receives almost $10,000 of HOT funding from Victoria film fest, city council

By Melissa Crowe
Aug. 19, 2014 at 6 p.m.
Updated Aug. 19, 2014 at 11:06 p.m.

Dressed as the DC Comics superhero Green Arrow, Sterling Lynch, of Victoria, gestures to the crowd as he walks across the stage in January  during the men's costume contest at Comic Con at the Victoria Community Center. Lynch was awarded first place for his costume.

With their powers combined, superheroes and comic book fanatics won over the support of Victoria City Council on Tuesday.

Nearly two dozen friends of Victoria Comic Con piled into the City Council chambers hoping to secure financial backing for the city's only card, comic, toy and art show.

Bryan Hans, the 25-year-old mastermind behind the event, said he went in expecting the worst.

"I had no idea how it was going to go," Hans said. "I was under the impression they were all going to say no."

After the seven-person committee responsible for doling out hotel occupancy tax dollars recommended zilch to the convention, Anthony Pedone, executive director of Victoria TX Indie Film Fest, offered up $10,000 of his own $45,000 grant.

The City Council voted 6-1 to give $9,726 to the convention and to take a portion from all recipients to give $10,000 to Warrior's Weekend, which had also been turned down for funding.

The money, known as HOT funds - short for hotel occupancy tax - comes from a tax hotel and motel guests pay on rented rooms. The state collects 6 percent, and the city collects 7 percent, which can only be used to promote tourism and the convention and hotel industry.

Of the nearly $1.8 million the city expects to collect, it spends $100,000 on Bootfest, $870,000 for the convention and visitors bureau and $480,000 on the community center.

Councilman Emett Alvarez wanted to fill the two requests - Comic Con and Warrior's Weekend - from the fund's balance rather than subtract from the other organizations' grants.

Hans said he would willingly give a piece back.

The City Council set aside $400,000 to cover about $874,000 in requests.

No organization received 100 percent of what it asked for, but everyone received something.

"I think we attempted to do the best we could with what we have," Polasek said.

Megan Booth, a Comic Con organizer, addressed the council Tuesday, saying the event is "one of the best things" going on in the city.

"This is clean, family fun," she said.

The convention is a no-alcohol and no-mean-people event.

"There are lines, but it's fun," Booth said.

She said the crowd will be capped at 5,000 for the two-day January 2015 convention to be at Victoria Community Center.

The comic book convention had been denied funding because organizers did not submit an itemized budget.

Hans said he was not attempting to hide any information. The funding will help cover rental costs, travel and lodging for celebrity guests.

He plans to submit a budget to the city attorney's office for review.

Chris Compton, 37, of Victoria, said the event is "one of the most amazing shows" he had ever seen in Victoria.

With his "Star Wars"-loving son in tow, the pair attended the 2014 convention and enjoyed meeting people who shared the same enthusiasm for comics and pop culture.

"It breaks the mold and opens Victoria up to a more modern, young view of what art is," Compton said.

Compton said he wanted to see the City Council give everybody a chance rather than "picking winners and losers."

"Just going to the convention made me think that this thing was going to be huge," he said. "I can't wait for next year."



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