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Wizard World adds seven cities, from Atlanta to Tulsa

wizard worldWizard 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.

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Comics A.M. | This weekend, it’s Wizard World New York

Wizard World Comic Con NYC Experience

Wizard World Comic Con NYC Experience

Conventions | The New York Post previews what’s now called the Wizard World Comic Con NYC Experience, which kicks off in about three hours at Basketball City (Pier 36) in New York City: “Wizard cons, which are kind of a traveling road show hitting cities across the country, tend to focus more on celebrity appearances and (paid) meet-and-greets than other shows. But they still have plenty of programming that will scratch a given itch. And there will be plenty of comics/memorabilia/ephemera dealers to help empty your wallet. [Parallel Worlds]

Editorial cartoons | The Cartoonists Rights Network International will honor Syrian cartoonist Akram Raslan, who has been imprisoned on charges of sedition for the past seven months because of his cartoons critical of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. [The Salt Lake Tribune]

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Get a whiff of this, True Believers: Stan Lee Signature Cologne

JADS INTERNATIONAL, LLC STAN LEEOver the decades we’ve gotten Stan Lee comic books, Stan Lee voiceovers, Stan Lee movie and television cameos, Stan Lee action figures and Stan Lee playable video-game characters. Now make way for Stan Lee cologne.

The 90-year-old comics legend has partnered with JADS International, which last year released an Avengers-themed line, to create Stan Lee Signature Cologne. Described as “a fresh and sophisticated fragrance for the adventurous,” it contains a blend of “bergamot, ginger, white pepper, basil and violet, and features layers of cedar, vetiver and musk accords.”

In short, what I imagine Stan Lee smells like.

Retailing for $24.99, each bottle of Stan Lee Signature Cologne comes with a message from the Generalissimo himself. It will be available on the JADS website and at Comic-Con International and Wizard World shows.

“Fans know me best as someone who creates superhero characters and stories for comics, movies, TV and the web, so this is a highly exciting step for me to expand into the cologne world as well,” Lee said in a statement “Not only do I want fans to look sharp like their favorite superhero and their Generalissimo here, but I thought wouldn’t it be fun to offer them the chance to smell like one to … whether they have a date or a rendezvous with an ally.”

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Comics A.M. | Calgary Expo sells out; Wizard World loses $1M

Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo

Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo

Conventions | Kandrix Foong, founder of Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo, cautions latecomers that all 56,000 tickets for this weekend’s event are sold out. “We tell everybody now: ‘There are no on-site ticket sales,’” he said. “So they say: ‘OK, I’ll just try my luck when I get there.’ ‘No, no, no, you don’t understand. There are no on-site ticket sales. The end. If you show up you will be turned away. Sorry, but that’s the way it’s going to be.’” [Calgary Herald]

Conventions | Wizard World has released its annual report for 2012, and while its convention business was way up, from $3.8 million to $6.7 million, the company still finished the year with a net loss of $1 million. [The Beat]

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Comic-Con apologizes for online registration problems

Comic-Con International

Comic-Con International

Conventions | Comic-Con International organizers have issued a statement regarding the technical problems many experienced Saturday while attempting to purchase badges for this year’s event: “Comic-Con badge sales opened this past Saturday and while the allotted badges were processed there was clearly an issue with some customers experiencing a frozen screen. We, along with Epic registration, are in the process of investigating this and hope to have an answer as to what occurred. Please know that we take this issue very seriously and offer our sincere apology for those who found themselves in this predicament. Thank you for your understanding in what we know was a very difficult experience for many.” Badges sold out in a little more than 90 minutes. [Comic-Con International]

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Comics A.M. | Stan Lee cancels Ohio Comic Con appearance

Stan Lee

Creators | Following last week’s news that Stan Lee  has canceled his sold-out Thursday engagement at a Toledo library event due to “a very serious circumstance,” Wizard World has announced the 89-year-old writer won’t be appearing as scheduled at this weekend’s Ohio Comic Con in Columbus. Responding to a blog post titled, “Is Stan Lee OK?” the administrator of the Stan Lee’s Comikaze Facebook page wrote, “It sucks Stan had to cancel [the Toledo event], but you know the man doesn’t just do conventions. he puts in a hard days work creating. Its really sad that the Toledo Blade had to go spread nonsense. If you want to be up to date on stan then follow us, cuz he kinda owns our company. Its sad that a some blogs are scaring fans. not really nice.” [The Beat]

Creators | Artist Molly Crabapple, who was arrested Sept. 17 in New York City during a protests marking the one-year anniversary of Occupy Wall Street, writes about the experience and her involvement with the movement. [CNN.com]

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Wizard World announces Portland, Oregon, convention

After whittling down its convention empire from a dozen locations to just six, Wizard World will expand once again next year with the addition of a Feb. 22-24 event in Portland, Oregon.

Already host to the Stumptown Comics Fest and Rose City Comic-Con, Portland is also home to publishers Oni Press, Top Shelf Productions and (in nearby Wilwaukie) Dark Horse, as well as countless creators, ranging from Brian Michael Bendis and Colleen Coover to Greg Rucka and Matt Fraction.

The event, alternately referred to on the company’s website as Wizard World Oregon Comic Con and Wizard World Portland Comic Con, will be held in the Oregon Convention Center (site of Stumptown Comics Fest). The first announced special guests are The Boondock Saints stars Norman Reedus, Sean Patrick Flanery and David Della Rocco, and comic artist Greg Horn.

“We are thrilled to be adding Wizard World Portland Comic Con to our 2013 schedule of events and introduce a new region to our exciting shows,” Wizard World CEO John Macaluso said in a statement. “The city of Portland and Oregon Convention Center are a great fit, and the timing is ideal on the convention calendar.”

Comics A.M. | This weekend, it’s Wizard World Chicago

Wizard World Chicago

Conventions | Wizard World Chicago Comic Con kicks off today with a guest list that includes Stan Lee, George Perez, Neal Adams, Greg Capullo, Humberto Ramos, Carlos Pacheco, Barry Kitson, David Mack and Chris Burnham. The convention continues through Sunday in Rosemont, Illinois. [Wizard World]

Creators | Cyriaque Lamar has a brief interview with Matt Kindt about Mind MGMT #0, which is being solicited now for a November release. (Issues 1-3 are already available.) Here’s Kindt on the look of the comic: “For this project, I wanted it to be less like you’re picking up a comic and more like you’re holding a story, right down to everything outside of the panels. I want it to feel interactive, something you don’t just drift into. I tend to read graphic novels over issues — I can’t remember thirty days ago from a bit of story. I wanted each issue something you’d go back to every month. My goal was give the book as much depth as possible to reward monthly readers.” [io9.com]

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Here’s ‘The Situation': Greg Horn cover debuts

The Situation & His Amazing Friends, by Greg Horn

There’s probably something to be said for Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino, who’s somehow managed to parlay washboard abs and an unnatural tan into a high-paying career as a reality-television (ahem) personality, clothing designer, vitamin-pusher and celebrity endorser. I don’t know what that might be, mind you, but definitely … something.

Now that he’s conquered the worlds of tanning, reality TV, workout DVDs and puzzling public-service announcements, Sorrentino is (naturally) turning his attention to comic books — one that, like his autobiography, he didn’t write himself. Instead, the still-untitled comic from Wizard World and MPS Entertainment is written by Paul Jenkins, illustrated by Talent Caldwell and colored by Paul Mounts. Sorrentino, in the proud tradition of Bob Hope and Jenna Jameson, will only star.

Today Wizard World officially unveiled the cover by Greg Horn (below) that, according to the press release, “depicts ‘The Situation’ fully charged and ready to go.” I’ll just leave that alone.

“I was confident that an amazing artist like Greg Horn would come up with a great look, but I was still blown away by his painting,” Sorrentino said in a statement.  “It has me more excited than ever to see what’s coming next.” I should probably leave that alone, too.

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Wizard World names John Macaluso as new CEO

John Macaluso

Nearly four months after Wizard magazine founder Gareb Shamus resigned as president and chief executive officer of Wizard World Inc., the company has announced the appointment of John Macaluso as his replacement.

Shamus shuttered his publishing empire in January 2011 and took his nearly 20-year-old company public as Wizard World, which at the time boasted pop-culture conventions in a dozen cities. That number has since been whittled down to six: Toronto, Philadelphia, Chicago, Columbus, Austin and (in 2013) New Orleans.

Macaluso, who joined Wizard World’s board of directors in May, is a California businessman who sold his garment-manufacturing company California Concepts in 2007.

“I am excited to continue the momentum that the Wizard World Comic Con shows have built, and to help develop new strategies to take us to new levels of success,” he said in a statement. “We have an outstanding lineup of events on the schedule with highly talented celebrities and artists and an outstanding team of professionals in place to maximize the Wizard World experience.”

Comics A.M. | More on Stuck in the Middle library challenge

Stuck in the Middle

Libraries | An editorial in the Lewiston, Maine, newspaper praises a local school board’s decision last week to leave the 2007 comics anthology Stuck in the Middle: 17 Comics from an Unpleasant Age in the Buckfield Junior-Senior High School library following a parent’s complaints about “objectionable sexual and language references”: “American culture can be graphically sexual and explicitly foul and it’s important that young people learn how to navigate that world in a responsible way. The best possible way, of course, is for parents to steer their children through that process, but not every parent does and many children are left adrift. So, the next-better place to learn is the school library, where a responsible adult can help educate children about their hormone-charged emerging feelings in a confusingly sensual culture.” [Sun Journal]

Business | Wizard magazine founder Gareb Shamus, who resigned earlier this month as president and chief executive officer of Wizard World Inc., will sell most of his shares in the company to his successor, who’s expected to be named next month. [Bleeding Cool]

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Comics A.M. | Wizard tries to ‘reach out'; Image Expo adds creators

Wizard

Conventions | Wizard’s executive chairman Mike Mathews tells Heidi MacDonald that after the resignation of former CEO Gareb Shamus, the company wants to be “a Switzerland of entertainment” and mend fences with members of the industry: “Gareb is one of these types of personalities who has taken strong positions over the years with various people in the industry and brands. And that kind of hurt us because of where we are trying to go — we’re trying to be a Switzerland of entertainment and we want to try to try to reach out to brands.” MacDonald notes the company is offering a $100 credit toward Wizard conventions to former Wizard subscribers whose subscriptions abruptly ended when the magazine was shut down. A new CEO is expected to be named early next month. [The Beat]

Conventions | Image Comics announced several more guests for the Image Expo, scheduled for Feb. 24-26 in Oakland, California. The lineup now includes Blair Butler, John Layman, Rob Guillory, Nick Spencer, Joshua Fialkov, Joe Keatinge, Jim McCann and Jim Zubkavich, among many others. [press release]

Organizations | The Associação da Luta Contra o Cancer is running an awareness campaign in Mozambique featuring images drawn by artist Maisa Chaves of Wonder Woman, Catwoman, She-Hulk and Storm checking their breasts for lumps. [Daily Mail]

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Gareb Shamus resigns from Wizard World

Gareb Shamus

Gareb Shamus, divisive founder of the once-influential Wizard magazine, has resigned as president and chief executive officer of Wizard World Inc.

The publicly traded company announced the move in documents filed Thursday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. “The resignation is not the result of any disagreement with the company on any matter relating to the company’s operations, policies or practices,” Shamus wrote in his two-sentence letter of resignation.

Michael Mathews, the former CEO of interclick inc. who joined Wizard World in March as chairman, will oversee the day-to-day operations of the company until Shamus’ replacement can be found.

Shamus founded Wizard: The Guide to Comics in 1991, overseeing the rise of a magazine whose prosperity was inextricably tied to the speculator boom it helped fuel with its price guides, creator hot lists and enthusiastic coverage of new publishers like Image Comics and Valiant. By 1997, Wizard Entertainment had added Inquest Gamer and ToyFare magazines and extended its reach with the purchase of Chicago Comicon, later rebranded Wizard World Chicago, setting the company on its long, and occasionally rough, path to becoming a major organizer of regional conventions (earlier this year Wizard World briefly trumpeted 12 cities before slashing that number to eight).

However, the following decade wasn’t as kind to Wizard or the comics industry, with the magazine seeing its circulation dwindle to about 17,000 copies by December 2010. A month later, Shamus abruptly announced the closing of Wizard and ToyFare, the company’s last remaining magazines, and the subsequent launch of an online magazine, a move he later characterized as “the smartest business decision I’ve made in years.”

But about two weeks ago, the digital magazine that Shamus had boasted reached “millions of people” apparently disappeared from the Internet, just about the time that its founder launched a blog on the Wizard World site. Now that, too, is gone. His new Twitter account remains — although he hasn’t written an update since Nov. 28.

Wizard World hopes to have Shamus’ successor in place by Jan. 15.

Wizard’s Gareb Shamus launches blog, Twitter feed — and shuts down digital magazine

Looks like Wizard Magazine/Wizard Entertainment/Wizard World founder Gareb Shamus is taking a more hands-on approach to the internet component of his comics-related empire. After years of communicating with his audience (or at least putting his signature on these communications) solely through press releases, editor’s letters, and the occasional confrontation over unrefunded subscriptions to the now-defunct Wizard magazine with a white Lando Calrissian cosplayer, Shamus has started a blog and opened a Twitter account. Meanwhile, Wizard Magazine’s much-ballyhooed digital incarnation — previously touted by Shamus as “the smartest business decision I’ve ever made”appears to have disappeared from the Internet.

On Twitter, Shamus is following a dozen people, including Brian Michael Bendis, Jim Lee, Kevin Smith, and Whitney Cummings of the NBC comedy Whitney. So far his only tweet is a retweeted link to an interview with Siggy Flicker, matchmaker and star of VH1’s Why Am I Still Single? (Ironically, perhaps, that last bit reminds me of the weird fake Gareb Shamus twitter account that’s been following virtually all of us ex-Wizard employees for a couple of years now.)

On his blog, Shamus has posted interviews with creators Bill Sienkiewicz, David Mack, Marv Wolfman, Phil Jimenez, Greg Capullo, and Kevin Maguire, as well as his thoughts on chocolate chip cookies. That’s actually a pretty fun line-up.

But Wizard World, the digital magazine that replaced Wizard‘s print iteration after it and sister publication ToyFare were unceremoniously canceled? Nowhere to be found on its dedicated URL WizardWorldDigital.com. And on Wizard’s main site, currently billing itself as the place “Where Pop Fi Comes to Life,” Wizard World‘s death has gone unnoted as well. Perhaps White Lando can direct inquiries about this matter to @gareb.

Comics A.M. | Tom Ziuko health update; women and comics

Tom Ziuko

Creators | The Hero Initiative offers an update from colorist Tom Ziuko, who was hospitalized earlier this year for acute kidney failure and other health conditions, and then returned to the hospital for emergency surgery about a month ago. “I can’t impress upon you enough how frightening it is to actually come up against a life-threatening medical situation (not to mention two times in less than a year), and not have the financial means to survive if you’re suddenly not able to earn a living. Like so many other freelancers out there, I live paycheck to paycheck, unable to afford health insurance. Without an organization like the Hero Initiative to lend me support in this time of dire need, I truly don’t know where I would be today,” Ziuko said. [The Hero Initiative]

Publishing | CNN asks the question “Are women and comics risky business?” as Christian Sager talks to former DC editor Janelle Asselin, blogger Jill Pantozzi, Womanthology organizer Renae De Liz and others about the number of women who work in comics, the portrayal of female characters and why comic companies don’t actively market books to women. “Think about it from the publisher’s point of view,” Asselin said. “Say you sell 90 percent of your comics to men between 18 and 35, and 10 percent of your comics to women in the same age group. Are you going to a) try to grow that 90 percent of your audience because you feel you already have the hook they want and you just need to get word out about it, or b) are you going to try to figure out what women want in their comics and do that to grow your line?” [CNN]

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