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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.

Comics A.M. | The comics Internet in two minutes

Disney & Marvel

Disney & Marvel

Business | Marvel CEO Isaac Perlmutter, who’s now worth about $1.6 billion thanks primarily to Disney’s purchase of the company, is among the 97 newcomers on Forbes magazine’s annual list of world billionaires. Perlmutter, who’s No. 616 out of 1,011 billionaires, netted nearly $900 million in cash from the deal and became Disney’s second-largest stockholder — behind fellow billionaire, and Apple co-founder, Steve Jobs (No. 136 on the list, with a worth of $5.5 billion). In September, the 67-year-old Perlmutter debuted at No. 230 on the magazine’s list of 400 richest Americans. [Money Control, The Hollywood Reporter]

Retailing | Barnes & Noble, the largest bookstore chain in the United States, reportedly has refused to carry the new graphic novel by Molly Crabapple and John Leavitt, labeling Scarlett Takes Manhattan as “too pornographic.” In a brief interview, Crabapple notes the book also has encountered problems with Diamond Comic Distributors, which initially listed Scarlett as “mature” before “plunking it into the much-worse-for-distribution ‘adult’ section.” [The Gloss]

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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.

A quick chat with Dark Horse’s Jim Gibbons

Dark Horse Publicity Coordinator Jim Gibbons

Dark Horse Publicity Coordinator Jim Gibbons

Meet the latest addition to Dark Horse’s stable: Publicity Coordinator Jim Gibbons. Recently tapped to handle PR chores for Hellboy, Buffy, Conan, the Goon, various Sith and Jedi etc. following the departure of Jacq Cohen for fellow Pacific Northwest publisher Fantagraphics, Gibbons is the latest in long line of former Wizard staffers whose exit from that company gave them an entrance elsewhere in the industry. The transition for Gibbons, however, was just about as seamless as it gets — cross-country move excepted, that is.

I had a quick email exchange with Gibbons — a friend and former coworker — that should be of interest to anyone who’d like to get to know the guy who’ll be helping you get to know Dark Horse’s comics in the weeks and months to come.

Robot 6: Jim, how’d you land this gig?

Jim Gibbons: A few days after I was let go from my job at Wizard, my good buddy — and CBR Staff Writer — Josh Wigler sent me a link to the jobs section on DarkHorse.com and suggested I apply. I believe the end date for resume submissions at Dark Horse was set for about a week after I had lost my job, so it seemed fate was smiling upon me and where one door had closed, another had opened… and numerous other cliches. But, in all seriousness, things had luckily lined up for me in an oddly fortuitous way. Not only was there an opening at an amazing comic company right as I’d lost my job, but I had just written Wizard‘s Book of the Month feature on one of my favorite Dark Horse titles, Conan the Cimmerian. I guess I was a victim of some of strange but really good timing.

So, I wrote my cover letter, sent in my resume, didn’t make an ass out of myself in the interviews, thankfully had some fantastic people I had met during my time at Wizard put in a good word for me and was lucky enough to become a publicity coordinator at Dark Horse Comics.

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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?

Gareb Shamus buys New England Comic Con


Looks like the Con War has opened a new front: Wizard Entertainment CEO Gareb Shamus has purchased the New England Comic Con to add to his ever-growing slate of comics and pop-culture shows. According to a press release posted on the Wizard site, the Con’s previous owners, Larry Harrison and Jerry Tournasm of retailer Harrison’s Comics & Collectibles, will continue to work for the show.

The latest addition to a roster of Shamus/Wizard shows that includes Anaheim Comic Con, Toronto Comic Con, Big Apple Comic Con, and Wizard World Philadelphia, the Wizard World New England Comic Con, as it will apparently be called, is not to be confused with either the Boston Comic Con — whose guests for its April 10-11 show next year include Jim Lee, Mike Mignola, Eric Powell, and Bill Sienkiewicz at the top of a pretty impressive roster — nor the previous Wizard World Boston show, held once (in 2005) before being canceled. Whether Shamus’s latest attempt at a Boston event will engender the same sort of rivalry as his other cons have with such shows as Heroes Con, the Long Beach Comic Con, Fan Expo Canada, and Reed Exhibition’s New York Comic Con and C2E2 remains to be seen.

More, undoubtedly, as it develops.

Con War dispatch: of con guests and collateral damage

conwars2Con War is hell, and you never know who’s gonna get caught in the crossfire. Wizard owner Gareb Shamus’s evolving effort to rebrand his publishing and online empire and take on Reed Exhibitions’s C2E2 and New York Comic Con by aggressively counter-scheduling his Anaheim and Big Apple events has produced some nasty peripheral exchanges, even as direct confrontations between the two convention promoters have all but ceased.

Take the back-and-forth we noted last week between PvP creator Scott Kurtz and Comics Alliance honcho Laura Hudso . It started when Kurtz publicly blasted a Wizard/Shamus functionary with both barrels after the staffer obliviously sent him an email addressed to “Kurt” — hey, these things happen — soliciting his attendance at Anaheim Comic Con. Hudson took Kurtz to task for tarring all Wizard employees with a brush perhaps better reserved for the company’s decision-makers. This led to a lengthy and ugly comment-thread roundelay between Hudson — who, as the former senior editor of Tim Leong’s defunct Comic Foundry magazine, need bow to no one in the “taking cheap shots at Wizard and its employees as though the two were fungible entities” department — and Kurtz, some of his fans, and former Wizard staff writer Chris Ward. Over the course of the argument’s five pages, posts were deleted; accusations of trollery, spamming, egomania and hypocrisy were thrown about like so much confetti; Hudson’s problems during her tenure with Jenna Jameson-publishing Virgin Comics were hashed out; former Wizard President Fred Pierce was accused of buying off former Wizard critic Frank Miller; and a horrid time was had by all.

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