Not too long ago a brand new show on the busy convention circuit was announced: Wizard World Oregon, to be held February 22-24. While the dates didn’t seem to conflict with an existing Portland, OR show, what we failed to notice at the time is that these dates are just a week before Seattle’s Emerald City Comicon. And that has definitely created yet more scuttlebutt on the con circuit.
For veteran Beat readers, this smells a lot like the great Con Wars of ’09-’10, when Wizard insisted on scheduling its flyweight Big Apple Con on the same or adjacent weekends to the big bopper of the New York Comic-Con. (Click back through this for more unfolding spats.) This was a move which gained Wizard owner Gareb Shamus a lot of industry frownie faces, and it’s one of the reasons why his removal as CEO of Wizard was necessary for the company to keep doing business with comics players.
In the year since Shamus moved on, he’s still been seen at all the Wizard shows, and a persistent industry rumor—repeated by several convention runners we spoke with—is that his SEC-filing-revealed “ouster” was just a PR move, and Shamus is still running the company behind the scenes.
We asked current Wizard CEO John Macaluso about this rumor when we had breakfast with him a few months back, and he said it wasn’t true, while acknowledging that Shamus was still working on an unnamed project for him.
When the Emerald City/WW Oregon dates were announced we asked Macaluso to comment on the timing and he replied:
No controversy!!! We have been looking to do a West coast show for a while. We all thought that Portland would be a great city. We are not looking to compete with the Wonderful Emerald City show and only wish them the best. Sometimes you just have to take the dates that are available. There are no throwback moves here of any kind. Who even know this may help all the vendors who have to travel! Fans can also get a double whammy.
While the “PDX-Seatac” tour is possible, the two cities are only a few hours apart, and it does seem rather odd—and Con War-like—timing.
Emerald City is among the fastest growing and most liked local conventions on the circuit, with a relaxed setting and expansive, comics-focused guest list. As we suggested in the previous post, there seems to be no shortage of fans who want to go to comics shows anywhere these days, and the crossover audience for Val Kilmer and Brandon Graham may not be so huge that both shows won’t be very successful.