Wizard World Philadelphia
Conventions | HeroesCon, which begins Friday in Charlotte, North Carolina, will double in size this year, with the exhibit area increasing from 100,000 to 200,000 square feet. “There’s a whole lot more of everything,” says founder Shelton Drum. Including people? Last year’s convention drew in 17,000 attendees, and Drum thinks this year’s event will attract more newcomers curious about the source material of their favorite movies. [Winston-Salem Journal]
Creators | Peter Bebergal talks with Alan Moore about Jerusalem, magic, comics, and the tendency to conflate gods with superheroes: “It is contrived, because they’re not at all the same. Superheroes are the copyrighted property of big corporations. They are purely commercial entities; they are purely about making a buck. That’s not to say that there haven’t been some wonderful creations in the course of the history of the superhero comic, but to compare them with gods is fairly pointless. Yes, you can make obvious comparisons by saying the golden-age Flash looks a bit like Hermes, as he’s got wings on his helmet, or the golden-age Hawkman looks a bit like Horus because he’s got a hawk head. But this is just to say that comics creators through the decades have taken their inspiration where they can find it. Before I was interested in magic as a viable way of life, I was certainly aware of the occult, and wouldn’t be above taking names or concepts or ideas from the occult.” [The Believer]
Retailing | Diamond Comic Distributors runs the numbers on Free Comic Book Day: 1.2 million fans went to 2,000 participating comics shops and picked up 4.6 million free comics, generating $2.2 million worth of publicity along the way. And fans reported on their experience with more than 66,000 tweets with the FCBD hashtags. [ICv2]
Conventions | The Philadelphia Daily News previews this weekend’s Wizard World Philadelphia, which marks the return of Marvel after a several-year absence. [Philadelphia Daily News]
Publishing | May marked the worst month of the year for the direct market since January as sales of comic books and graphic novels fell 11.21 percent versus May 2010. Chart watcher John Jackson Miller chalks up the decline to a combination of retailers ordering more Free Comic Book Day titles than “for-profit” books and publishers’ summer events heating up a little later this year. Marvel led Diamond Comic Distributors’ list of top comics for the month with Fear Itself #2, followed by the first issue of DC’s Flashpoint. Avatar topped the graphic novel chart with Crossed 3D, Vol. 1. [The Comichron]
Legal | The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has joined a coalition that includes booksellers, media companies and the ACLU of Utah in seeking to permanently stop enforcement of a 2005 Utah statute that would regulate Internet speech that some consider “harmful to minors,” including works of art, graphic novels, information about sexual health and the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth. The law has not gone into effect because Utah consented to a temporary injunction until the case can be decided. [press release]
“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!”)
Legal | A federal judge in Madison, Wisconsin, will hear arguments today regarding Neil Gaiman’s claim that Todd McFarlane owes him money for his copyright interests in three characters — Dark Ages Spawn, Domina and Tiffany — that he says are derivatives of their earlier creations Medieval Spawn, Angela and Count Nicholas Cogliostro.
“Our view is McFarlane just took some of the characters Neil was a co-creator of and just gave them different names,” Gaiman’s attorney Allen Arntsen told The Associated Press. “It’s a matter of principle.” In court filings, McFarlane attorney James Alex Grimsley denied Gaiman has any rights to the three additional characters, claiming they’re not based on the earlier creations. [The Associated Press]
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.”
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.