Robot 6

World War Con: Big Apple 2010 scheduled for same weekend as NYCC 2010

Next year's dates announced in this weekend's Big Apple Comic Con program

Next year's dates announced in this weekend's Big Apple Comic Con program

Many things can be and have been said about Gareb Shamus, founder and CEO of Wizard Entertainment, but “he lacks chutzpah” isn’t one of them: As reported by Comic Book Resources, Shamus has pitted his recently purchased Big Apple Comic Con head-to-head against Reed Exhibitions’ New York Comic Con. Both shows will take place in Manhattan on Oct. 8-10, 2010, with Big Apple starting a day earlier on Oct. 7.

Shamus is no stranger to aggressive scheduling and positioning against rival comic conventions. Word surfaced in 2005 that he’d planned a potential Wizard World Atlanta against regional staple Heroes Con; though company spokespeople quickly backpedaled in the face of withering industry criticism and the Atlanta show never materialized, the increasingly crowded convention scene saw this year’s Heroes Con once again overlap with Shamus’ rebranded Wizard World Philadelphia Comic Con.

Shamus also responded to convention powerhouse Reed’s announcement of the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo, a rival show to his Chicago Comic Con (formerly Wizard World Chicago), by creating the Anaheim Comic Con and scheduling it directly against C2E2’s debut. He also waded into one of the most acrimonious con feuds in North America by purchasing the Paradise Toronto Comicon, which itself has a history of disputes with the larger, more pop culture-focused Fan Expo Canada. Shamus’ convention organization has also been quite aggressive in fending off a perceived challenge from the nascent Long Beach Comic-Con, created and staffed in large part by former Wizard employees, going so far as to ban LBCC’s Steve Hoveke from Wizard’s Philadelphia show despite having okayed him as an exhibitor.

New York Comic Con

New York Comic Con

However, scheduling a show not just on the same weekend or in the same city but both on the same weekend and in the same city is a whole new level of aggressiveness. It’s also a move that comes after a long string of public relations black eyes for Shamus and Wizard. A years-long string of layoffs and magazine closings has seen many former Wizard employees land at other industry outlets and given the impression that the publishing, convention and retail empire is less than healthy. The IFL, Shamus’s mixed martial arts venture, went under during this time, while 2008’s holiday season saw Wizard’s online retail component slammed with customer complaints. On the convention front, shows have been canceled or placed on indefinite hiatus (Atlanta, Boston, Texas, Los Angeles), attendance figures have been viewed as exaggerated, and announced guests have pulled out (including at least one who was never actually booked at all). Meanwhile, major publishers like Marvel, DC, Dark Horse and Image have ceased to have official exhibitor presences at Wizard shows, though their support for San Diego and Reed’s shows has simultaneously all but increased. This has led to an increased non-comics presence at Shamus’ shows: This weekend’s debut installment of the Shamus-owned Big Apple Comic Con is heavy on sports and wrestling stars, for example, although Marvel Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada and WildStorm Editorial Director Jim Lee are guests of honor.


Big Apple Comic Con

Moreover, Big Apple’s impending smackdown with NYCC comes as Shamus has slowly moved away from the Wizard brand by purchasing the Big Apple and Toronto shows in his own name rather than Wizard’s and dropping “Wizard World” from the names of all of his shows save Philly (where a Philadelphia Comic Con already exists). This latter move does make sense, given the well-publicized size and success of San Diego’s Comic-Con International and Reed’s New York Comic Con — the general public likely has a sense of what they’d get from a “comic con,” while a “Wizard World” is a largely unknown quantity. Meanwhile, just today Shamus officially launched an e-newsletter called Geek Chic Daily, which contains no Wizard branding whatsoever; back-doored in this announcement was the news that former FHM Editor-in-Chief Scott Gramling has been moved from heading up Wizard’s magazine line to EIC of GCD.

These moves have not been without controversy in the industry, either: Marvel Talent Coordinator C.B. Cebulski’s angrily tweeted thoughts and declarations of support for Reed’s shows are (so far) the most public manifestation of displeasure with Wizard by industry power players. But Shamus’ move against NYCC clearly indicates he’s playing to win.



This will end in disaster for the dwindling Wizard empire. Or it should.

It didn’t work out that well for Philly Wizard World.

I’m not really familiar with New York, but I looked up the addresses for NYCC and Big Apple on Google Maps. Apparently they’re literally down the street from each other, about a mile apart. That’s closer than my hotel was to the San Diego Convention Center this year, and I actually walked the 1.2 miles twice.

Who schedules an event within walking distance of a similar event?

As far as Wizard World Los Angeles is concerned, I think we can pretty much assume that Anaheim Comic Con takes its place.

Truly Shameless, isn’t he?

A pox on him.

Sean T. Collins

October 16, 2009 at 4:51 pm

Kelson–Yeah, Anaheim is Los Angeles, but Los Angeles disappeared for a while.

Shamus is a crook and a con artist… Even if he really has booked Jim Lee and William Shatner (two people I’d very much like to see), I wouldn’t go anywhere near his shows or give him my money. I don’t normally wish bad things on people, but I hope he loses his shirt on this and is forced to have to make an honest living working for someone else.

Carlos Martinez

October 16, 2009 at 5:05 pm

Hopefully the artist’s will let their attendance at nycc speak for itself.
The attendance of the artists will bring the crowds at least as far as COMICS are concerned.

It’s a shame that Shamus would do this.

Sean T. Collins

October 16, 2009 at 5:18 pm

Shaun–He definitely did book Jim Lee and William Shatner. They’re at the show this weekend.

I will never give Gareb Shamus a penny. This is why I’m I’m not attending Big Apple this weekend despite living in NYC. Instead, I think I may go ahead and vote with my wallet and order my NYCC passes for next year.

@ Sean T: Oh, so he told the truth about Lee and Shatner? Will wonders never cease?

I actually didn’t realize that Shameless is holding his Big Apple con this weekend, when I first posted, and that those were guests at this year’s con. I don’t live anywhere near NY, so that was off my radar. Thanks for the correction.

A shame… Big Apple fills a market underserved by other cons: the retailer show. I attend one day, just to scour the retailer booths and perhaps find something cool or unusual.

Baltimore CC does this, but limits the celebrities to comics.

How BACC will fill four days (and the space) remains to be seen. NYCC does it with an industry conference and a trade show.

Next year will be very interesting for Shamus…

Sean T. Collins

October 17, 2009 at 7:25 am

Shaun: No sweat. I figured that’s what was up.

Oh yeah, Johnny Zito: This year Philly had those dates first and Heroes Con was responsible for the counterscheduling due to constraints at their venue. From what I understand, Wizard con staffers subsequently reached out to Heroes Con to try to help avoid any kind of conflict on future dates, although those Wizard staffers are no longer with the company.

This would be funny if it wasn’t so sad. Wizard is trying to go head to head with Comicon and it will lose. Come on Marvel DC and Dark Horse were not at Wizard world, but they did have and no doubt will have huge booths at Comicon next year.

I was at Wizard World Big Apple yesterday and it was a dark dank bland con. It was considerably less than the Big Apple National convention that it bought out. Most of BIG names were the media and sports names. There were a bunch of empty tables and many vendors seemed very unhappy. Several who came in with me at opening were saying they were so unhappy they were not going next year- and the show had barely started. I was effectively through the entire convention in about two and a half hours. I bought a three day pass and left when I was done with NO intention of going back. There was no programing to speak of hence no reason to go more than one day- other than the catch people for over priced autographs because not everyone was going to be there everyday. Honestly the convention was basically a dealers room with a 25 or 45 dollar admission fee.

Its all management because say what you will the staff I talked to were very nice.All of the Celebrities I spoke with and all of the dealers were great.

Clearly the people at Wizard are delusional or worse. As everyone aid why not move to a point 6 months away from comicon and they’d have something (if they can sooth the pissed off dealers).

Honestly I will go next year-I’m going to buy a one day for Thursday just to see what is what- and then I’ll spend the next three days at Comicon where there are actually things to do.

This guy just seems like a bit of a scumbag to me. There’s even some brand confusion with his GeekChicDaily thing, compared to Geek Chic (a company that makes awesome gaming tables for tabletop gamers, among other gaming accessories… all really high-quality stuff, google them). I mean, they’re different spaces, but still. I just don’t like it.

Gareb Shamus is one of the most influencial people in the comics industy in the past 20 years- its sad but true. Its also why he’ll always have access to people like Joe Q and Jim Lee- they have a soft spot for him cause they feel obligated to him in one sense- since worthless Wizard was a huge force in shaping what the comics industry today- the era of the “superstar creator” and “top ten” “hot” blah blah blah… fans used to follow characters, today its superstars who can’t finish deadlines and variants out the a#s… Gareb Shamus has no tact, and has spent a lifetime showing the “worth” of everything, and the value of nothing.

In previous years if i recall the Big Apple Con didn’t charge or charged very little. I’ve never been to any of them. But by their billing It was understood it was a large dealers room and “celebrities” you meet and greet charged money for whatever they charged for.

While Shatner and Lee did show. On their website they claimed to had other people that were going to talk but that didn’t end up being true. They were there just to do the signature factory.

@Kelson – Its still about 45 minutes walking because you have to stop at multiple intersections or 5-30 minutes by cab depending on traffic and lights. Public transportation would be more like 25 minutes to 1 hour. Just so you have a reference.

This will hurt the retailers most of all. Instead of two big-sales weekends, they only get one… Why not schedule them exactly six months apart? That way the fans don’t have to choose, and both cons will get some money. Dumb, dumb, dumb decision on every level…

Not to mention the fact that Wizard took the Big Apple con, which used to be small, friendly, and cheap, and turned it into something big, agressive/crowded, and expensive. I’m happy to pay a $10 entry fee to buy cheap comics; I have no interest at all in paying a $30 entry fee to wait in line to get a picture signed by somebody who was on Stargate once.

John Holderried

March 4, 2010 at 12:38 pm

I work a booth at the New York Comic-Con, and that will not change – I think it’s a bigger and better show. However, what the article fails to mention is that the Big Apple Con has been around for years, and has usually been held in October or November.

New York Comic-Con, although bigger and better, hasn’t been around as long, and in its 4 year history, has been bouncing around the calendar – it was in February, the next year it was in May, then February again, and then October!

It’s quite possible that Big Apple Con had that weekend scheduled first – New York Comic-Con takes place at the Javits Center, and they have to take what dates are available, and work around the Toy Fair, Travel Expo, etc.

I’m not sold on the idea that Wizard World/Big Apple is practicing “aggressive scheduling” – it seems to me like it might be the other way around.

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