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Shamus sets another New York City convention for May 6-8

Big Apple Comic Con

Big Apple Comic Con

Wizard Entertainment CEO Gareb Shamus has announced an additional New York City convention set for May 6-8, 2011, overlapping with Free Comic Book Day and the premiere of Marvel’s Thor.

Comic Con NYC — not to be confused with rival Reed Exhibitions’ New York Comic Con, certainly — will be held in the newly renovated Penn Plaza Pavilion, which will play host in October to Shamus’ Big Apple Comic Con.

“Response to last year’s Big Apple Comic Con and advance interest in the show this October has been so strong that we had to add the Spring event,” Shamus said in the announcement. “Everyone – the celebrities, the fans, the dealers, manufacturers, artists, and the entire community we deal with was begging us to bring a huge Spring event to New York. And now we have Wizard World Comic Con NYC.”

Rich Johnston suggests the date might be “ideal” to tempt Marvel back into the Wizard fold. However, it’s tough to imagine Marvel viewing as some sort of olive branch an event that stands to compete with Thor‘s opening weekend, at least regionally. What’s more, the studio doesn’t need Wizard World to market the movie — to its core audience, no less — particularly that late in the game.

What may be interesting to see is reaction from New York-area retailers regarding the possibility of the convention siphoning off Free Comic Book Day traffic. I don’t know, maybe some attendees will still wander over to Midtown Comics or Jim Hanley’s Universe to pick up free comics before heading back to the Penn Plaza Pavilion.

Quote of the day | Tom Brevoort exits Wizard World

Wizard

Wizard

“We’re not done with Philly per se, but we do seem to be done, at least for the moment, with the Wizard conventions.”

Marvel Executive Editor Tom Brevoort, answering a Formspring question about Marvel’s third Wizard World Philadelphia no-show in a row by making Marvel’s severance from Wizard’s convention wing more-or-less official. (On its blog, Wizard reports that this year’s Philadelphia show “broke ever [sic] attendance record EVER!! The show was a HUGE success!”)

Gareb Shamus acquires Connecticut convention, brushes off critics

Gareb Shamus

Gareb Shamus

Just as his Wizard World Philadelphia Comic Con kicks off today for its 10th year, Gareb Shamus announced he’s acquired another convention, bringing the total to 13. This time it’s the fledgling ComiCONN, which was held for the first time in May in North Haven, Connecticut.

In what’s become standard practice for these Wizard World acquisitions, the convention’s organizers will remain to “promote, advise and consult on the show.” They’ll also continue to operate their own local events.

The renamed Wizard World Connecticut Comic Conn will debut sometime in 2011 in Hartford.

But back to Shamus and his Philadelphia show, the subjects of a fawning preview — the convention “appears to be bigger and better than ever,” mainly because “Gareb Shamus is back in charge” — in this morning’s Philadelphia Daily News.

After the repeated drubbings the Wizard empire has received, maybe it’s due a softer spotlight. Still, even the company’s defenders are likely to admit the article is a little … much. Witness, for instance, this passage, explaining away the recent decline of Wizard’s convention arm. It turns out it was an unfortunate result of Shamus’ flirtation with mixed martial arts fighting and the International Fight League:

“I had left Wizard for a number of years,” said Shamus, whose Wizard brand is arguably the most popular, powerful and influential name in comics. “Around 2003, when I felt the company and conventions were healthy and in good hands, I decided to try something different.” […] “These shows take a lot of time and a lot of money,” Shamus said. “I thought others could handle them, but then decided I had to get back to the company.

And the cancellation of shows in Los Angeles and Arlington, Texas? That was “all just part of a grand plan dating back to when I came back in 2008.”

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Wizard waves Con War white flag, reschedules Big Apple, New England, New Jersey shows

conwars22

The battle of New York is over without so much as a shot fired.

On its convention website, Gareb Shamus’s Wizard Entertainment announced this morning that it is rescheduling its suite of Northeastern comic conventions, eliminating the head-to-head, same-town, same-dates match-up between its Big Apple Comic Con and Reed Exhibition’s New York Comic Con on October 7-10. Now, the Big Apple Comic Con will now be held on Oct. 1-3, the New England Comic Con on Oct. 15-17, and the New Jersey Comic Con on dates to be announced later. In addition, Big Apple has changed locations from Pier 94 to the Penn Plaza Pavilion, while the New England show will be hosted at Boston’s John B. Hynes Veterans Memorial Convention Center. It’s unclear whether the New Jersey con’s date change will lead to a move from Edison’s New Jersey Convention & Exposition Center upon rescheduling.

Wizard made headlines, and drew a significant industry backlash, beginning late last year by making a series of aggressive scheduling moves against veteran convention promoter Reed and its slate of comic and pop-culture shows. Most notoriously, Wizard scheduled its Big Apple show the very same weekend as Reed’s New York Comic Con, October 7-10, and in 12th Avenue venue literally blocks away from NYCC’s Javits Center location. Later, Wizard scheduled its New Jersey con for the following weekend. Ever since, guest-list comparisons and official industry presences have weighed in mightily in Reed’s favor.

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Wizard relaunches website, redesigns logo, spoils Battlestar Galactica

From the new WizardWorld.com

From the new WizardWorld.com

If you were to go to WizardWorld.com, the online home of Gareb Shamus’s publishing, retail and convention empire, you would see a jazzy new layout (albeit one still based on the old Yahoo SiteBuilder template) and a fancy new logo for both the company and its many conventions (the little superhero silhouette guy is gone). You’d see news and blog sub-sites dedicated solely to guest-list updates for the aforementioned cons. You’d also see a major, major, MAJOR SPOILER for the acclaimed Syfy series Battlestar Galactica, based on the appearance of certain actors from the show at Wizard’s Chicago Comic Con. Let the surfer beware.

Eliza Dushku out of Wizard’s Toronto and Anaheim conventions

Eliza Dushku-based ad for Wizard World Toronto, in happier times

Eliza Dushku ad for Wizard World Toronto

She was the top-billed star of the Wizard World conventions in Toronto and Anaheim — and briefly the victim of a case of mistaken identity with Warren Ellis. But now Eliza Dushku, the Joss Whedon mainstay who starred in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Dollhouse, has quietly been dropped from the guest lists of both shows.

Is this a victory for the shows’ Con War rivals, Fan Expo (the same city as Toronto) and Reed’s Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo (the same weekend as Anaheim), a sign that Wizard’s rapid convention-circuit expansion isn’t making it any easier to attract big-name talent, or just schedule churn?

Wizard World Nashville now exists

WWNashvilleCCIn theory, at least — as of the writing of this post, there’s nothing up about it on Wizard’s convention website yet. But Rich Johnston had the news even before Wizard’s official Twitter feed: “Garev [sic] Shamus has bought the ten year old Nashville Comic & Horror Festival and has renamed it Nashville Comic Con Wizard World Convention for later this year.”

This latest rebranding of a small local show with the Wizard/”Comic Con” name is part of a now-established pattern; interestingly, Johnston describes it as one in which “no money actually chang[es] hands,” but rather an existing con infrastructure is essentially bartered for Wizard’s name recognition. I hadn’t heard that before, but it may be the only way such rapid expansion makes sense for a company with fewer employees than it’s had since its very earliest years.

In other recent Con War news, Johnston reported last week that Wizard has now sandwiched Reed Exhibition’s New York Comic Con with nearby shows of its own the weekend before (New England Comic Con, Oct. 1-3), the weekend after (New Jersey Comic Con, Oct. 15-17), and of course the very same weekend in the very same city (Big Apple Comic Con, Oct. 7-10). Johnston sees this as an attempt to crowd NYCC out; piggybacking off the press of the larger and more established show could also be a motivation.

For their part, Reed continues its M.O. of adding guests, rather than shows: Recently announced additions to Chicago Comics & Entertainment Expo — a competitor of Wizard’s Chicago Comic Con that runs head-to-head against Wizard’s Anaheim Comic Con the same weekend — include Dan DiDio, Paul Levitz, Mark Bagley, Peter David, Mark Waid, Dash Shaw, Chip Kidd, Art Baltazar, Bob Layton, Jonathan Hickman, Peter Tomasi, James Robinson, Greg Pak, Jim Valentino and, in all likelihood, probably quite a few I’m missing. The presence of DiDio, Levitz and Geoff Johns seems to be a pretty clear vote of confidence from DC, by the by. Meanwhile, reports that the city of Anaheim is strongly trying to woo Comic-Con International away from San Diego indicate that Wizard’s show isn’t quite what the city is looking for.

Wizard announces Cleveland Comic Con

Cwizardworld_2093_65982282ongratulations to anyone who had “Cleveland” on their Wizard World Tour bingo card: Wizard Entertainment CEO Gareb Shamus has announced “the re-launch of North Coast Comic Con as Cleveland Comic Con Wizard World Convention.”

In the now-traditional mode for Wizard’s aggressive convention-circuit expansion, former North Coast owner Roger Priebe will remain aboard as an advisor and consultant.

The new show’s venue and dates have yet to be announced, but depending on when Wizard’s Cleveland and Cincinnati conventions end up falling, we may see another front in the Con War develop, this time against the Columbus-based long-time regional player Mid-Ohio Con.

Con War Contrast: Wizard and Reed’s guest lists

C2E2_Logo4aSearch Robot 6 for our most recent Con War stories and you might get the impression that the action has been one-sided. In under a month, Gareb Shamus’s Wizard Entertainment has added four new shows to its “Wizard World Tour” of “Comic Con”-branded pop-culture conventions.

Apart from the early-December announcement that Wizard rival Reed is partnering with Lucasfilm to put on the next Star Wars Celebration — a move that forced Wizard to reschedule its Chicago Comic Con — the outfit behind the New York Comic Con and Chicago Comics and Entertainment Expo has left the expansion arms race to its opponent.

Instead, perhaps attempting to make good on its nose-tweaking tagline “The con Chicago needs, the con you deserve,” Reed has focused on shoring up its C2E2 guest list. The show boasts some true heavy hitters, including Geoff Johns (superhero comics’ biggest writer), Alex Ross (superhero comics’ biggest painter), Gail Simone (superhero comics’ most prominent female writer), Jeff Smith (arguably the biggest name in children’s comics with Bone) and, in a very rare con appearance, Chris Ware (arguably the biggest name in alternative comics with The ACME Novelty Library).

Additional guests on the pretty-massive roster include Jim Cheung, Mike Mignola, Steve McNiven, David Finch, Steve Epting, Geof Darrow, Frank Cho, Gene Ha, Adam Hughes, Greg Land, Ethan Van Sciver, Ben Templesmith, Mike Perkins, Butch Guice, David Lloyd and a dedicated line-up of women creators spearheaded by Amanda Conner, Jill Thompson and Sherrilyn Kenyon. And as best I can tell, every single guest C2E2 has announced actually makes comics.

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Shamus announces Cincinnati Comic Con Wizard World Convention

wizardworld_2092_102283471-1There are almost more words in the name than there are conventions on the “Wizard World Tour,” but there you have it: Wizard Entertainment CEO Gareb Shamus has acquired the Cincinnati Comic & Anime Show after its first year of operation and rebranded it as part of his seemingly never-ending expansion of his convention line-up.

As is now custom with Wizard shows, the con’s previous organizer, dealer Marc Ballard, will remain with the show — Shamus’ tenth — as a consultant. New dates and venue information are forthcoming. “Attendees can anticipate the strong caliber lineup of stars and exhibitors that fans across the nation have come to expect,” according to Shamus’s press release.

The announcement comes one week after the creation of the New Jersey Comic Con Wizard World Convention, to be held just one week after dueling Manhattan-based shows: Reed Exhibitions’ New York Comic Con and Shamus’s own Big Apple Comic Con.

Wizard announces New Jersey Comic Con

wizardworld_2091_30612964It’s the biggest thing to hit the Garden State since Jersey Shore: Wizard Entertainment’s Gareb Shamus has announced the launch of yet another convention, the New Jersey Comic Con Wizard World Convention. (Yes, that’s the full name.) The ninth show in Shamus’s ever-increasing roster — many of which are based on pre-existing cons, rebranded with the Wizard name — it will take place in Edison’s New Jersey Convention & Exposition Center on Oct. 15-17.

That, of course, places it just one week after both Reed Exhibition’s New York Comic Con and Shamus’s own Big Apple Comic Con, controversially scheduled in the same city and on the same weekend as Reed’s effort in a move widely seen as launching a Con War between the two companies. Since then, the two outfits have rolled out distinct battle strategies, with Reed focusing on top-tier comics guests and Shamus/Wizard concentrating on adding more and more shows to the Wizard World Tour.

Shamus and Wizard expand into Atlanta

Atlanta Comic Con Wizard World Convention

Atlanta Comic Con Wizard World Convention

More than four years after abandoning plans for an event in Georgia’s capital, Wizard Entertainment CEO Gareb Shamus has purchased Atlanta Comic Convention, a one-day show founded in 1994.

Renamed (deep breath) Atlanta Comic Con Wizard World Convention, it joins Shamus’ rapidly growing stable of eight events that includes Chicago Comic Con, Big Apple Comic Con and the recently announced Austin Comic Con. No date or venue have been announced for the Atlanta convention.

According to the press release, Atlanta Comic Convention founder Will Tillander will remain as a consultant for the show, which will expand from one day to three.

Wizard’s previous attempt at an Atlanta convention, announced in July 2005, triggered a backlash from retailers, creators and fans because its inaugural show was scheduled for the same weekend as Heroes Con in Charlotte, North Carolina. Shamus quickly dropped plans for a 2006 Atlanta show, but said Wizard would seek an event there the following year. None materialized.

Wizard announces Austin Comic Con [Updated]

CC_AUSTIN-300x191Gareb Shamus’s rapidly expanding convention slate just got one show bigger. According to a press release posted on Wizard’s recently launched Magic Words blog, “Gareb Shamus, CEO of New York based Wizard Entertainment, today announced the launch of Austin Comic Con 2010 Wizard World Convention, to be held at the Austin Convention Center from November 12-14, 2010.”

Wizard is no stranger to the Lone Star State: The Dallas/Arlington-based Wizard World Texas was a staple of the late convention season for several years, including one in which it merged with the horror show Fear Fest in 2008, until its cancellation last year. The press release for the Austin con specifically positions the new show as a response to popular demand for Wizard’s convention wing to return to Texas.

The Austin Comic Con is the seventh such show Shamus and Wizard are now behind, along with conventions in Toronto, Philadelphia, and Chicago; an as-yet-unscheduled New England Comic Con in Boston (site of another past Wizard World attempt); and the controversially scheduled Anaheim and Big Apple Comic Cons, set to take place the same weekends as Reed Exhibition’s Chicago Comics & Entertainment Expo and New York Comic Con respectively.

Update: In other convention news, organizers of the newly launched Long Beach Comic Con have announced a one-day show for Feb. 20 at the Long Beach Convention Center. Creators from Aspen Entertainment and Top Cow Entertainment are scheduled to appear.

Long Beach Comic Con, which debuted in October, is run by Martha Donato, former senior vice president and convention organizer for Wizard Entertainment.

Coming soon: the new Wizard website

from WizardUniverse.com

from WizardUniverse.com

Is Wizard preparing to relaunch its web presence one more time? That’s the implication of a graphic recently added to the current, bare-bones site that once housed the digital version of Gareb Shamus’s publishing flagship (and once employed yours truly).

A banner atop the placeholder page now present at wizarduniverse.com reads:

Please pardon our appearance!
There’s a new WizardUniverse.com coming soon!
We’re relaunching with a New Look & New Attitude!
In the meantime, we are still open for business…enjoy!

Additional, awkwardly punctuated text directs visitors who are “looking for Wizard” to WizardWorld.com, where in addition to the usual assortment of news they will find updates on “the Wizard World tour of conventions, from 2010’s Toronto Comic Con, to our inaugural Anaheim Comic Con to next summer’s Wizard World Chicago Comic Con!”

Con War tea-leaf readers can make of the omission of the June 11-13 Philadelphia and October 7-10 Big Apple shows what they will.

Con Wars, meet Star Wars: Reed/Lucasfilm force Chicago Comic Con rescheduling

SWClogoThat’s no moon. That’s a Celebration.

The running battle between rival convention promoters Reed Exhibitions and Gareb Shamus’s Wizard Entertainment just saw a game-changer of Death Star proportions enter orbit: Reed has announced it’s partnering with Lucasfilm to become the exclusive producer of the Star Wars Celebration conventions. The relationship officially begins with the announcement of Star Wars Celebration V, to be held in Orlando, Florida, on Aug. 12-15.

Of course, those are the same dates for which Shamus’s Chicago Comic Con had been scheduled.

Until this morning, that is, when Shamus announced via press release that he is pushing the Chicago show back a week, to Aug. 19-22. In a statement that will no doubt raise some eyebrows given his past scheduling maneuvers, Shamus said:

We respect our 20 year relationship with LucasFilms [sic] and everything Star Wars has meant to the fan community. In deference to our attendees, guests and friends at Lucas, we are changing dates. We are all fans of the Star Wars films, and this slight change enables us to bring the type of presence the fans would expect at our annual Comic Con.

Shamus, apparently, has been doing some partnering-up of his own: According to this post at the message board for the horror magazine Rue Morgue, recent Wizard emails to potential exhibitors have touted coming partnerships with horror-con outfits Rock and Shock and Monster Mania. But can it compete with the firepower of a fully armed and operational alliance between Reed and Lucasfilm — one that’s apparently quite willing to take aim square at Shamus’s own schedule?


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