An "X-Force" To Be Reckoned With - Marvel's Mutant Militia Turns 25
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.
Publishing | In the wake of the ban in Saudi Arabia of the animated adaptation of The 99 comic, creator Naif Al-Mutawa writes about what he had to go through in the first place to get approval in that country for the Islamic superheroes (one of the steps was the sale of Cracked magazine at a loss so his company would be sharia-compliant to the satisfaction of an Islamic bank). He looks at what led to the fatwa, and concludes by seeking one of his own, posing questions for the clerics who issued the decree. [The National]
Publishing | As part of its five-year anniversary celebration, Multiversity Comics surveys such industry figures as Eric Stephenson, Rachel Deering, Tom Spurgeon and Gina Gagliano about the biggest changes that have taken place during that time, and where comics are headed. [Multiversity Comics]
Conventions | Ross Lincoln gathers up the threads of a story that’s been unfolding over social media for the past few days: A cosplayer expressed concern that the Facebook cosplay gallery for the inaugural Cherry City Comic Con in Salem, Oregon, featured significantly more women in costume than men. Displeased by the dismissive reply from the administrator of the Facebook page, she sent a private message asking for a refund of her convention registration fee, explaining, “I don’t think this will be a safe place for female cosplayers.” Organizer Mark Martin posted that request on his personal Facebook page with the response, “despite the no touch policy, the family friendly policy, the 3 security guards at all times, and the fact that you’re bat-shit crazy? Refunded!”
Several prominent cosplayers picked up on that, and it became a cause celebre on Twitter and Facebook for a couple of days; meanwhile, things got more complicated with sock puppets and a possibly fictitious con representative getting involved. In the end, Martin apologized; to give organizers their due, the convention includes a harassment policy in its official rules and policies. The con will take place on May 10-11. The Daily Dot has more. [The Escapist]
As 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.
Marvel and Wizard World have debuted John Tyler Christopher‘s exclusive variant cover for The Amazing Spider-Man #1, available for free to VIP attendees of the May 30-June Wizard World Atlanta.
Limited to 3,000 copies, the color version will be provided free at registration to those with VIP packages. As at previous shows, the black-and-white sketch variant will presumably be available for purchase at the Wizard World Store on the exhibition floor.
Marvel and Wizard World have revealed exclusive variant covers available to VIP attendees at Wizard World Louisville Comic Con and Wizard World St. Louis Comic Con: Michael Golden’s Daredevil #1 and David Mack’s Wolverine and The X-Men #1.
The covers are available as part of a variant program in which a limited-edition cover will be available at each of the 16 Wizard World Comic Con events scheduled this year. The Golden and Mack covers follow Miracleman #1 and Miracleman #2, by Neal Adams (available at Portland Comic Con and New Orleans Comic Con, respectively) and Wolverine #1, by Greg Horn (available at Sacramento Comic Con).
Wizard World Inc., which debuted in January 2011 as a publicly traded company, reported nearly $11.2 million in convention revenues in 2013, but still claimed a $3.6 million net loss for the year.
According to documents filed today with the Federal Exchange Commission, those revenues amounted to an increase of 66 percent from 2012, attributed to the expansion from seven conventions to eight, and “management running better advertised, social media driven events resulting in an increase in attendance.”
Wizard World also increased ticket prices, as well as “the overall size and scope of each event,” leading to an average per-convention revenue of about $1.4 million (up 45 percent from 2012).
As described, the channel will offer sci-fi, fantasy, horror, gaming and animation content using a business model that blends advertising support and premium subscriptions. The latter will provide exclusive access to “exclusive access to the events, panels, talent, and fans that make the Comic Con experience so exciting.”
“This is an exciting day for the fans of pop-culture around the country,” Wiazrd World CEO John Macaluso said in a statement. “To have 24/7 access to all the content that Cinedigm and Wizard World provide collectively provide, at the touch of a button, provides tremendous value for our fans.”
Wizard World, which is scheduled to host 16 conventions nationwide this year, is compiling panel coverage that will premiere on the as-yet-unnamed channel.
Following the announcement last month of their variant program, Marvel and Wizard World have unveiled Neal Adams’ cover for Miracleman #2, to be given to VIP attendees of the Feb. 7-9 Wizard World New Orleans.
As part of the arrangement, a limited-edition cover will be available at each of the 16 Wizard World Comic Con events scheduled this year, beginning Jan. 24 with Miracleman #1 at Wizard World Portland in Portland, Oregon.
Limited to 3,000 copies, the color version of Adams’ Miracleman #2 will be provided free at registration to all VIP attendees at Wizard World Comic Con; the black-and-white sketch version, limited to just 2,500, will be available for purchase at the Wizard World Store on the exhibition floor. Adams will be on hand to sign the books.
Other guests at Wizard World New Orleans include Doctor Who star Matt Smith, Stan Lee, Mike Mignola, Jim Cheung, Eric Powell, Chris Claremont, Marv Wolfman and J.G. Jones.
Marvel, whose relationship with Wizard Entertainment soured in the waning years of the magazine, has teamed with Wizard World for a series of convention-exclusive covers.
They debut next month with Neal Adams’ color and black-and-white sketch variants for Miracleman #1, available next month at Portland Comic Con, and Miracleman #2, available in February at New Orleans Comic Con. More exclusive variants will follow at each of Wizard World’s 14 other conventions across the country.
Stage | Dancer Daniel Curry, who was seriously injured during an Aug. 15 performance of the Broadway musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, made his first appearance since the accident at a benefit concert held Monday that raised $10,000 for his medical bills. Curry was injured when his leg was pinned by an automated trap door — he blames malfunctioning equipment, producers say it was human error — resulting in fractured legs and a fractured foot; he has undergone surgeries and unspecified amputations. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Actors’ Equity have launched investigations into the accident, and Curry’s lawyers are exploring a possible lawsuit against the $75 million show and the equipment suppliers.
During previews of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark — before the March 2011 firing of director Julie Taymor and the sweeping overhaul that followed — no fewer than five performers were injured, the most serious previously being aerialist Christopher Tierney, who fell about 30 feet in December 2010, breaking four ribs and fracturing three vertebrae. He returned to rehearsals four months later. There have been no major accidents since the show opened in June 2011. [The New York Times]
Wizard World has announced the addition of seven cities to its 2014 convention schedule, bringing the total to 15. The company, which trumpets the lineup as “the largest Comic Con Tour ever,” suggests there also may be “room for additional expansion.”
The new cities are: Atlanta; Louisville, Kentucky; Minneapolis; Richmond, Virginia; Sacramento, California; San Antonio, Texas; and Tulsa, Oklahoma. They’ll join returning shows in Portland, Oregon, New Orleans, St. Louis, Philadelphia, Chicago, Nashville, Austin, Texas, and Columbus, Ohio.
Noticeably absent from that list is New York City, which played host in June to the newly rebranded Wizard World Comic Con NYC Experience.