Robot 6

Tensions resurface as Wizard World arrives in Minneapolis

springconAs the ever-growing Wizard World tour pulls into Minneapolis, Minnesota, this weekend, KARE TV shines a spotlight on the friction between the inaugural show and organizers of SpringCon, a 26-year-old annual event that’s being held two weeks later.

“We don’t have William Shatner at $199 an autograph, we don’t have the stars and that kind of thing,” Nick Postiglione of the Midwest Comic Book Association, which organizes SpringCon, tells the TV station. “We have comic book creators, writers and artists.”

The nonprofit group’s displeasure with the timing of Wizard World Minneapolis Comic Con is no secret: When the convention was announced last year as part of an expansion that included shows in Sacramento, San Antonio and Atlanta, an email circulated accusing the company of “specifically and strategically” selecting a date so close to Spring Con, contrary to assurances by chairman John Macaluso that the established event “was not on our radar.” The email also quoted Postiglione as saying Wizard had previously approached the Midwest Comic Book Association regarding the possibility of purchasing or absorbing SpringCon, an offer organizers declined.

Wizard of course has a bit of a history of conflicts with established local conventions, which have occurred with enough frequency to earn the label of “con wars.” Most famously, the company — or, rather, its predecessor, overseen by Gareb Shamus — in 2010 pitted its newly purchased Big Apple Comic Con against New York Comic Con, and, five years earlier, announced an Atlanta convention for the same 2006 dates as HeroesCon. In the latter instance, Wizard backed down in the face of industry outcry — numerous top-tier creators threw their support behind HeroesCon — and announced it would reschedule its Atlanta show for 2007.

Fast-forward to 2014, and a new Wizard World with a new top executive has a whopping 18 conventions that dot the map from Philadelphia to Chicago to New Orleans to Portland, Oregon, meaning the odds that one of them will plop down in close proximity to an established local show is only likely to increase.

There’s little that organizers of those competing events can do about it, beyond ramp up their promotional efforts and, as Postiglione suggests, focus on what they have to offer. In the case of SpringCon, it’s a grass-roots event that showcases creators (this year’s lineup includes a lot of local talent, as well as more nationally recognizable names like Zander Cannon, Ale Garza,  Brian Hurtt, Adam Hughes, Christopher Jones, Dan Jurgens, Ryan Kelly, Peter Krause, Steve Lieber, Doug Mahnke, Tom Nguyen, Jeff Parker, Amy Reeder and Bill Willingham).



I’d love to see Lou Ferrigno, but it is much cooler to get an Incredible Hulk sketch. I can get a sketch that won’t break the bank at SpringCon. I really don’t want to take out a fifth mortgage to get a photo or an autograph.

I was tempted to head to Columbus, Ohio when Wizard World gets there but my gosh you can spend a lot and get very little in return.

Eventually, they’re going to have to start scheduling these things like political conventions — calendar-based non-compete agreements — and it’s all gonna go down the toilet from there.

Since I am interested in Comics and not celebrities (an untimely heart attack forstalled me saying rasslers) I will go to Springcon not WW… Also much cheaper

WW tried to “buy” anime world Chicago…. meaning agree verbally to the purchase to stall them long enough to force them to cancel the con for the year.
I suspect that was their plan for SpringCon.
It was wise not to accept the deal.
The more cons for the fans the better.
WW hasn’t been about the fans for a long time.

Wizard World is not interested in the fans at all. This year, they changed their policy of giving fan tables to local fan and costuming groups unless they pay $600 for a small press booth… we are talking non-profit and for-charity organizations. It’s not for a hand out, the fan groups provide entertainment, promotion, and free advertising for the con, and we’ve basically been told we’re not welcome anymore. They also price-gouge on autographs, and I have proof they charged almost double for Nathan Fillion’s autograph vs. another convention. Basically, it’s an overpriced flea market and anyone would be crazy to waste their money with Wizard World. We don’t have big conventions in my town, so I sorely wanted to go, but they’ve made it unwelcoming and unaffordable to go. Dragon*Con and C2E2 are FAR better!

David Imgrund

May 1, 2014 at 4:43 pm

I am a loyal minion of SpringCon.. When I heard WW was coming I was going to be one of their loyal minions as minions do get some interesting scraps. I am still disheartened at some of the SpringCon regulars who would sell their souls to pay too much just to be herded like cattle to get a two minute autograph for too muc money. WW is going to be a giant financial bomb. I predict that they will lose $100k or more. I know what celebs charge for these events and with 35 celebs, or used to be celebs plus 65 so-called comic industry people, there is just no way the Minneapolis market can afford them. I could do the math for you but at this point let me say I know what many of these celebs are getting in autograph guarantees and with 35 of them some m might make it but most won’t. At least half will have a $10k-$15k guarantee. That means that if they do not sell that amount of money in autographs then the event has to pay them the difference. For every Matt Smith $100 autograph (plus expensive picture together as well) and every $50 Fillion / Shatner autograph, how many Jason David Franks and Lou Ferignos will not get paying fans. Plus, the big names get first class air fare and expensive suites, not to me tion $150+ per diems. The lower talent still gets flown in and hotel rooms so that is an east $100k in base costs, not including venue fees, bribes, licenses, and staff pay. Yup, I am gonna laugh as they fail.

Please. You can’t throw a geek around the twin cities metro anytime throughout the year without hitting a convention. (Sans Winter because no one is stupid enough to run a con with the chance of a blizzard.)
In April you had Anime Detour a 5,500 person convention.,
May 16th you have CONsole Room that is a first year Dr Who con here.
June you have Pride which is huge here.
July 4th you have CONvergence a close to 7,000 person Sci Fi con.

Instead of complaining pimp your convention harder at other cons. Form partnerships with other conventions. Throw epic room parties at other cons. Get yourself out there.

I go to springcon. They are also stepping on our show. that is always the first weekend in May.

The point here is not that there’s another convention in town. You’re right…there are cons popping up all over the calendar and they aren’t just competing in this market. They’re competing nationally. Which is just fine.
The point is that WIZARD has a policy of trying to absorb or destroy other, local, fan run shows. They have a history of this. And maybe it’s not the same people, but it’s the same tactics.
We are spoiled with our local shows. Our shows are GOOD. Our shows are based in a community. Our shows try to provide the best possible experience for the fans they are catering to. Our shows give unprecedented access to their attendees to the guests they bring in.
But I say GO to Wizard World. Go there and make the comparison.
If what you want is an autograph from your favorite star, then you’ll probably like it.
But unlike ConVergence or SpringCon you won’t be hobnobbing casually with those guests. You’ll be in line. You’ll pay the price. You’ll get maybe a minute or two and you’ll be ushered off to make room for the next paying customer.


May 1, 2014 at 9:10 pm

Tensions shouldn’t resurface. In fact, there shouldn’t be tension!

If you’ve ever talked to the folks who run WW these days, they actually try really hard to avoid other local shows. Their Louisville show was a good… what, 4 months off from Fandom Fest? Last year, Emerald City got worried that WW was trying to encroach, even though they were across the year from Rose City. And this year, WW Portland was in January, I think… while Emerald City was in March.

I agree with Kellic. There are only 52 weekends in a year, and in places like the Twin Cities, there are a lot of cons. With a show as inexpensive as Springcon, they should do fine right after WW Minneapolis. If anything, they can get more fans from the increased press around the WW show. I’m sure they’d be fine if they just dropped a link for Spring Con right on the WW pages. I see local show links there all the time!

I mean, Retro Con had bag inserts at the WW Philly show last year. Learn to get along, folks!


May 1, 2014 at 9:25 pm

Oh hey! That new Beat article also features a video on the situation, where Wizard World offered to let Springcon promote at the Minneapolis show.

That’s pretty cool. Springcon extended the same offer back to them. Hooray!

Wow! You all need to calm down and quit complaing. Seriously. I, along with at least a few others vendors whom I am friends with,ARE LOCAL FROM THE TWIN CITIES. Thanks for wishing that we to will fail and loose money. We are looking forward to Wizard World and a big crowd, so should you. Comparing WW or San Di CC to local home grown cons is like comparing really good apple pie to really good pizza, they are two TOTALLY different animals catering to the same crowd. And BTW its not all about celebrates.You all are focusing WAY to much on that 1 aspect while ignoring all the other fun activities the big cons have to offer. At Dragon Con and Diego Comic Con, there is a lot for everyone. I look forward to Spring Con every year just s much as Dragon Con for very different reasons. I go to Spring Con to buy all my local Comic store buddies stashes that they have accumulated over the past year, talk with friends,hang out. I go to Dragon Con and Diego CC to see the best cosplays done with so much fucking passion in the thousands, not dozens, go to concerts of bands that normally don’t come here. Find very hard to find collectables from every interest from around the country that you really only find there, and yes see some celebrities. I ask you all this? What is so wrong about that ?!? Really ?!? Was it worth 5 days pay for me to get my picture taken with Tom Savini AND Stan Lee AND Jim Powers AKA Darth Vader in his Vader costume, UMMM gee let me think, umm hell yeah! I take it the many of you bitching and whining have never been to a true large scale con, they are awesome! AND SO ARE THE SMALL LOCAL CONS! I ask you all this, are you for some reason not capable of going to both?!? I do, and will. Are the big cons cooperate backed? Yes of course they are.So is Star Wars,Lord of the Rings,Star Trek,True Blood,Star Gate,Doctor Who,Lost,X-MEN,Sci-Fi channel,Wonder Woman,Resident Evil,Underworld,Marvel,The Walking Dead,Game of Thrones,DC,ETC,ETC,ETC,ETC.If the other grassroots cons fail as a result of WW, well then I guess there fans were never truly loyal to begin with. I hope this rant or scolding really will help some think things from a different point of view, stop comparing apples to oranges,cats to dogs, and be happy there are more cons. I hope I do well this weekend so I can spend hundreds of dollars at Spring Con like I always do.

$50 for Nathan Fillion David? At the St. Louis WW they charged $100 :( I would have purchased several autographs, but blowing my budget on one when I know they charge less at other cons meant I spent no money at all at their con. I hope enough people wake up and stop giving them money, that’ll be the only way they’ll change.

There are many geek conventions year round in the twin cities. However, there were only 3 “comic cons” – Fallcon, Springcon and Autoptic. They are VERY spread out. What Wizard has done is branded itself as a “comic con” and scheduled itself right on top of the largest of these established MN comic cons.

Also they scheduled their “comic con” on FREE COMIC BOOK DAY in one fell middle finger to all the local comics creators & retailers. (Which to me seems like the bigger WTF…)

We do Crypticon, the other celebrity based convention here in Minneapolis. We chose not to see WW s competition but rather as a tool to reach other fans who we might not get our name out to. We run a smaller show and while we might not get the big names like Matt Smith or Nathan Fillion, we do draw and some good names we had Billy Dee Williams last year and this year we have Corey Feldman. the other upside to being smalle. we don’t have the hundred dollar autograph fees And photo ops. Minnesota is truly blessed when it comes to conventions, if you love SCi-fi, or horror, or anime, or Dr Who, apps are there is a convention for you, not to mention CONvergence which is the grandaddy of all with something for everyone.

David Imgrund

May 7, 2014 at 5:04 pm

Well, there are a lot of misinformed people in regards to WW. SpringCon / MNCBA tried to work with and play nice with WW and were slapped in return. WW never offered to let SpringCon promote at their show. They were offered a “dealer” table at a discount but that was it. Whomever said that they try to play nice with local conventions is lying to you. They have a proven history of attacking local conventions. Yes, SpringCon will survive but they will have decrease revenue and it will most certainly have poorer returns at the artists’ tables. WW tried repeatedly to take over SpringCon and failed then miraculously dropped themselves in two weeks before SpringCon and said it was just a mistake, that they had no idea. Of course SpringCon has been the same weekend for 27 years running speaks volumes to WW’s honesty on that front. Also, had it confirmed from the scheduler at the Convention Center that WW fought for that weekend, and were told about SpringCon and they still fought for that specific weekend

As far as vendors go it has been reported that there were no local vendors at WW. In fact there really weren’t that many vendors there in general. If there were local vendors they are not people who work with SpringCon and they paid too much for their tables. If you really are a local vendor, which I find hard to believe, tell us how much they gouged you for your space.

A few other points. Stop calling Wizard World a Comic Con. They might give themselves that name but they are lying. You say we are comparing apples to oranges and maybe you are right, but they are the ones falsely calling themselves a comic convention when they are really nothing more than an overpriced flea market and autograph mill. While I wish WW would die in flames, I never said anything about the vendors loosing or losing money, however anyone that willingly contracts with unscrupulous events like WW gets what they get.

Another thing, WW Minneapolis kept constantly spelling the name of the city wrong, which is hilarious. They were getting a lot of requests from local events to promote themselves there. They got so many requests they took away all free tables and free fan promo stuff, but they were allowed to buy space for a LOT of money. Remember that most of these events a non-profit and don’t have big budgets. While Crypticon and others tried to play fair with Wizard World, anyone found promoting other events without buying a booth was kicked out. Crypticon Mpls plays fair and treats fair with fans and celebs alike. There are a lot of people who would flip out if WW was this close to Crypticon or (insert their favorite event here) but flocked to WW because SpringCon is not their thing. Worse, there are SpringCon regulars and alleged supporters that went and supported Wizard World with their money.

In the end WW lost a lot of money. They certainly did not come anywhere near their boasted (bloated?) expected 50k attendees. In the end they had to have lost at least $100k and if I had anything to do with that, I stand proud. WW brought nothing new and exciting. They brought a lot of has been, used to be’s, and some never were’s. The signing guarantees alone were enough to sink most ships, not to mention special flights, extra special room assignments, per diems, etc. Except for Spider-baby, I cannot think of one local artist that deigned to attend as a guest or to lend their names and reputations to this travesty.

you sound pretty angry about all this, dave. it’s kinda hard to take so much of what you’re saying seriously, because it sounds like you hated them from the get-go. i kinda wonder where you got all these figures from. you know how much money they spent, what they lost, you know the people who booked the show, you say they expected 50k. dude, only a handful of shows ever got 50k first year. i somehow doubt they planned for 50k. the space would’ve been much bigger. it was already pretty full as it was. they probably could’ve fit 20k, tops.

animeminneapolis had a booth there, and i saw show fliers for springcon all over the place. no one complained. i think you’re making something minor out to be a catastrophe. i’m with these other folks, i think springcon is going to be fine.

and i can’t really take you at your word of what is and isn’t a ‘comic con’ especially after you call the people there has beens and never weres. that’s just mean and condescending from the start.

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