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Chris Gunn, of Canada, dressed as Batman, walks through the San Diego Convention Center.
But the compelling question raised by Comic-con's seeming dual personality (which is, let's face it, a classic comic book character device) -- is one that is usually seen more clearly and dramatically on the Internet: whether the folks who put on the fest are missing out on making themselves a heck of a lot more money were they to just drop their not-for-profit status?

The Web, of course, is dotted with examples of really popular endeavors whose purpose is to use the Web for the greater good while essentially competing head-on with big, established businesses. Craiglist, for example, is a tax-paying business, though admittedly one (according to its web site) with an "uncommercial nature." Mountain View, CA-based Mozilla, which created the Firefox open-source browser, has both a profit-seeking and not-for-profit branches. According to Doug White, a philanthropy consultant and adjunct professor in ethics and fundraising at New York University, "The whole point of having a non-profit status is doing that which government and business won't - particularly where there is no long-term potential for profit."

Last updated July 25 2008: 2:31 PM ET
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