Finn Wields a Lightsaber in New "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" Footage
Conventions | After a profitable 2014, Wizard World Inc. is reporting a $1.8 million loss in the second quarter of 2015 (in contrast to a $760,000 profit during the same period last year), owing much to the rapid increase in the number of conventions it’s producing. However, as ICv2.com notes, the company is also seeing a drop in revenue per show. Wizard World also reports that its inaugural convention in China, held May 30-June 1, “was not as successful as we anticipated.” [ICv2]
Retailing | Sales of both comics and graphic novels were strong during the 2014 holiday season and have continued to grow since then, according to the 13 retailers (nine direct market shops and four bookstores that carry graphic novels) surveyed by Publishers Weekly. The answers seem to reflect some trends that have been ongoing for a while: Image Comics solidifying its place as the No. 3 (and in one case, No. 2) comics publisher, the increasing popularity of graphic novels and an influx of new readers, many of them young and female. [Publishers Weekly]
Retailing | Brooklyn Comics & More Inc., the owner of two now-closed stores in New York City, has filed for bankruptcy. The corporation opened Brooklyn Comics & More in 2010 and Manhattan Comics & More in 2011; both closed in 2013. The company’s debts include $71,799.93 owed to Diamond Comic Distributors. [ICv2]
Creators | Saying his job has become “too much to bear,” cartoonist Renald Luzier (Luz) is leaving the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. He said he worked too hard in the aftermath of the January attack on the Charlie Hebdo offices in which 12 people, most of them his co-workers, were killed, and he did not give himself time to grieve. “I needed time but I carried on for solidarity and not to let anyone down,” he said. However, the loss is taking its toll: “Each issue is torture because the others are gone.” He had previously announced he would no longer draw cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, saying it no longer interested him, and he is tired of the media attention. “We are not heroes, we have never been, we never meant to be,” he said. “Everyone evokes the spirit of Charlie for anything and everything now.” [The Independent]
Wizard World is expanding beyond pop-culture conventions and into subscription box services with ComicConBox.
Like Loot Crate and other similar services, ComicConBox offers subscribers monthly shipments containing toys and collectibles, artwork, games, gadgets and apparel. Plus, this being Wizard World, there are also convention tickets and VIP discounts.
The service is priced at $29.99 a month, with the first box shipping around April 30.
Conventions | Ace Parking, which manages parking at the San Diego Convention Center and six other nearby lots, will move to a lottery system this year to assign permits for Comic-Con International (those lots are Hilton Garage, Petco Lots, Padres Parkade, Diamond View Tower, Horton Plaza and Gaslamp City Square). For a shot at one of those spaces, you have to email Ace Parking by April 12. A drawing will be held on April 15, with the winners receiving information about how to purchase permits for their assigned location. See the full details on the Ace Parking website. [SDCC Unofficial Blog]
Manga | The 72nd and final volume of Masashi Kishimoto’s Naruto, released in Japan on Feb. 4, topped the weekly sales charts, with 874,120 volumes sold in its first week. [Crunchyroll]
Conventions | With 10 fan conventions coming to Indianapolis this year, David Lindquist takes a look at the business of comics-themed entertainment, with interviews with Wizard World CEO John Macaluso and Comic-Con and the Business of Pop Culture author Rob Salkowitz. [Indianapolis Star]
I don’t know much about Madison, Wisconsin, Mayor Paul Soglin, but I’m willing to bet Friday was the first time in a political career that stretches back to 1968 that he’s been photographed with Groot. Or, well, any Flora colossus from Planet X.
However, you don’t get elected mayor seven times — seven times! — without kissing a few babies and shaking a few branches … of sentient tree creatures.
Just a week after announcing the acquisition of Pittsburgh Comicon, Wizard World Inc. has added another event to its rapidly expanding roster — the awkwardly named Wizard World Comic Con Presents Fan Fest Chicago.
Set for March 7-8 at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Illinois (longtime location of Wizard World Chicago), Fan Fest Chicago is billed as “a ‘thank you’ to loyal Wizard World fans.”
The admission price for Fan Fest Chicago will be considerably less expensive than most Wizard World conventions, at $25 for the weekend or $15 for either day. Additionally, those who have purchased VIP or four-day passes to the Aug. 20-23 Wizard World Chicago will be admitted for free to Fan Fest.
Wizard World Inc. it has acquired the 20-year-old Pittsburgh Comicon from co-founder and owner Renee George, although there apparently is some question as to what that means. A message tweeted Sunday from the Pittsburgh Comicon account stated, “the show did not sell out to Wizard. A statement will be coming from Renee regarding the situation soon.”
However, while there’s still no statement on the convention’s website or Facebook page, George is quoted extensively in the press release trumpeting the renamed Wizard World Comic Con Pittsburgh, scheduled for Sept. 11-13.
The addition of Pittsburgh brings the number of Wizard World events in 2015 to 25.
Conventions | It looks as if Wizard World’s convention won’t be returning to San Antonio, Texas, in 2015. A Wizard World spokesman said the company couldn’t come up with a date that fit the schedule of the city’s Henry B. Gomez Convention Center, adding, “We hope to revisit the possibility for 2016.” However, reporter Rene Guzman notes that San Antonio’s Alamo City Comic Con was a much bigger deal this year, in terms of the exhibit floor (it took up three exhibit halls of the convention center, compared to Wizards’ one) and probably attendance as well: Wizard World said its inaugural event in August drew “thousands,” and Alamo City had 73,000 attendees, almost twice as many as last year. There will be a Wizard World Austin conventionn in 2015, so anyone wanting a taste of that Wizard magic can find it a short road trip away. [San Antonio Express News]
Manga | Tadatoshi Fujimaki is bringing his manga Kuroko’s Basketball to an end. The final chapter will run in the Sept. 1 issue of Shonen Jump, followed in October by the release of the 29th and final collection. The manga isn’t licensed in North America (although the anime is), but it became famous worldwide after more than 400 threat letters were sent to venues in Japan hosting Kuroko’s Basketball events and to retailers selling the series. The perpetrator confessed to the crimes, and was sentenced last week to four and half years in prison. [Anime News Network]
Creators | Brian Truitt interviews two creators of Cloaks: actor David Henrie, who created the main character Adam, a street magician in New York who is recruited by a black-ops group, and Caleb Monroe, who wrote the comic. Says Monroe, “As a magician, Adam looks for underlying realities, those things many of us have forgotten or deceived ourselves about. Then he develops ways to slip those back into people’s lives disguised as entertainment.” The first issue is due out next week from BOOM! Studios. [USA Today]
Legal | A South Korea court has ruled an exhibition devoted to One Piece can be held as planned after it was abruptly canceled earlier this month following allegations that Eiichiro Oda’s popular pirate manga contains images that resemble the Rising Sun flag, considered a symbol of Japanese imperialism in South Korea. The company staging the One Piece show, which includes life-sized statues, rare figures and Oda’s sketches, asked the court to step in after the War Memorial of Korea in Seoul pulled the plug on the event just days before its scheduled July 12 opening. The court found that One Piece can’t be considered to “[hail] Japanese imperialism” simply because it depicts a flag reminiscent of the Rising Sun; and even if those images are of the Rising Sun flag, it’s mainly shown in a negative light. [The Asahi Shimbun]
Marvel and Wizard World have unveiled Jorge Molina‘s exclusive variant cover for the 100th Anniversary X-Men Special #1, which will be given free to VIP attendees of the Aug. 1-3 Wizard World San Antonio Comic Con.
Limited to 3,000 copies, the variant is the latest entry in a deal between Marvel and Wizard World in which a limited-edition cover will be available at each of the 16 Wizard World Comic Con events scheduled this year. Previous variants in the series featured work by Neal Adams, Greg Horn, Michael Golden, David Mack, Mike Grell, John Tyler Christopher and J.G. Jones.
Wizard World Inc. announced this morning that it will add add nine cities to its 2015 schedule, which will include new conventions in Las Vegas, Cleveland, Fort Lauderdale and Raleigh, North Carolina, bringing the total to at least 22.
Four stops that debuted with this year’s lineup — Atlanta, Louisville, Kentucky, Reno, Nevada, and San Antonio, Texas — don’t appear on the initial 2015 calendar, raising the possibility that Wizard World has decided to focus resources elsewhere. However, the press release states “additional cities (new and returning) may also be added in the coming weeks” (Atlanta is listed as “TBD” on the Wizard World website).
Twenty-two conventions marks a high for Wizard World, which just last year boasted 16, and is nearly twice the number it boasted in 2011, when it emerged as a publicly traded company following the closings of Wizard and ToyFare magazines (that figure was quickly whittled from 12 to eight).
In documents filed this morning with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the company attributes that growth to holding four conventions in the first quarter of 2014, versus just two last year, better marketing and advertising, and increased admission prices. Each of those events — in Portland, Oregon, New Orleans, Sacramento, California, and Louisville, Kentucky — averaged about $1.3 million in revenues, up from $896,737 in 2013.
However, gross profit in that same period decreased from 46 percent to 37 percent, which Wizard World chalks up to the cost of increased advertising for each convention. The company reported a net profit for the quarter of $692,041.