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El Paso Comic Con responds to celebrity controversy and plans for change

By: Genevieve Curtis
EL PASO, Texas -- The El Paso Comic Con is holding their "El Paso in Comics," or EPIC, event this weekend, but weeks and even years of controversy continue to cast a shadow on the event and organizer Julian Lawler wanted to clear the air.
We are the most scrutinized comic con in the country, said Lawler.
When asked why he thinks his comic convention continues to find itself embroiled in conflict, Lawler said, Probably because of the mistakes we made in the past."
Recently actress Shannon Elizabeth became the latest celebrity to claim the con wrongfully promoted she would be at their EPIC event this weekend. Elizabeth said the con had been promoting her for months before even contacting her to attend the event.
We are trying to move forward with our experiences and make sure it doesnt happen again, said Lawler. He  said they are working on their business relationship with Elizabeth and would hope to have her at future events.

"Things with Shannon Elizabeth are going to be OK, he said.
Actor Eddie Griffin made similar claims this year and several other actors have in the past.
Lawler said they did have a commitment from Griffin but there was a dispute with agents and he has other commitments.
When asked why El Paso Comic Con has had so many disputes with celebrities, Lawler said, A lot of it is due to agent break down communication.  Were always dealing with the middle person were changing our policies so we dont have to do that anymore."
But admittedly theyre still learning from some mistakes. Lawler, a comic con fan wanted El Paso to have its very own convention. He saw a growing need and desire for one and so he started El Paso Comic Con. He said theres been a learning curve.

"Another aspect of it is naivety, as it got bigger and bigger it got more political," said Lawler.

Lawler said they are still working to come back from 2012 disaster. They estimated an attendance of 20,000 people and in reality only 3,000 people came.
That left several actors and bills unpaid, but Lawler said theyve cleaned up most of their loose ends and are almost out of the woods.
I honestly believe after this weekend we shouldn't have any more problems, he said.
The negative press has cost the first-ever Comic Con in El Paso both vendors and actors.
But sometimes controversy can be good for business. Lawler said attendance continues to grow.
This weekend their bringing in celebrities like Grammy award winning singer Coolio and actor Charles Baker, who played Skinny Pete on "Breaking Bad."