Since Tokyopop all but got wiped from the map, an informal “cadaver derby” for comics publishers has sprung up in chat rooms and bars of the comics biz. One name frequently heard: Wizard. So let’s see what’s going on in the Shamus Empire, shall we?
Today, the Anaheim Comic-Con kicks off in Anaheim, CA — preview video above. It’s one of the busier stops on the Wizard World Tour, and to mark the event they also announced a new Los Angeles Comic Con to be held Sept. 24-25, 2011 at the Los Angeles Convention Center. The show replaces the Big Apple Con planned for New York in September — the Big Apple is moving permanently to the Spring. (The next edition will be held May 21-22 at the Penn Plaza Pavilion.)
At Atlanta Comic Con planned for December 3-4 is also being rescheduled with no new date announced.
Of course, there were statements:
“We are ecstatic to come to the rejuvenated downtown area of Los Angeles to celebrate the best of pop culture – graphic novels, TV, movies, toys, games, genre properties and of course, comic books,” said Shamus. “You can always trust Wizard World to bring the most diverse and robust collection of artists, writers, creators and celebrities anywhere.”
Clare Kramer, of Buffy: The Vampire fame, will also be in attendance. A popular guest at several of the Wizard World Tour stops, Kramer will be on hand to meet fans, sign autographs and take photos. “When I found out that Wizard World was coming to Los Angeles, I was so excited. They are one of the most professionally run organizations out there, and I just love every minute of it,” said Clare Kramer. “The fans, Wizard World, guests and vendors always have a blast at these shows, which is why I keep coming back for more!”
This event brings more of what the fans love about the Wizard World Tour. “There is a real need for a Fall event that encompasses all the best that pop culture has to offer,” said Mike Mathews, Chairman of Wizard World Inc. “We’re listening to our customers and giving them the show they’re asking for located in the entertainment mecca..”
The announcement provided a definitive end to the great New York Con Wars of 2009, when Wizard took on New York Comic-Con by holding a Big Apple event one week prior — and announcing the 2010 show for the very same weekend as NYCC. Of course, this showdown never took place, but by planning his biggest 2011 NYC show a few weeks before the Reed show, Wizard head honcho Gareb Shamus was still largely seen as going into NYCC’s territory.
But although the eastern front war is now settled is there trouble brewing on the western front?
The new LA show is four weeks before the Long Beach Comiccon, to be held Oct. 29-20, and five weeks before Comikaze Expo, ANOTHER new LA show to be held at the LA Convention Center. We had not previously heard of this event, but it’s being run by siblings Regina and Mario Carpinelli and branding features the popular “squid destroying a city” imagery that everyone so loves these days (us included.) In addition, a one-day Long Beach show ran just one week ago, just before the Anaheim show.
Although all this sounds like just close scheduling in a busy market, there is some prior beef between Wizard shows and Long Beach, which is run by Martha Donato, a former Wizard employee. According to some exhibitors and guests, Wizard has previously employed a zero tolerance for those who exhibit at the competing shows, with an “us or them” edict. In addition, we’re told that Wizard World has an event at the Long Beach Convention Center tentatively booked for December under the name “Wizard World Long Beach Convention Center.”
All of this leaves the question: who is running Wizard World now, anyway? The Wizard World Digital magazine has been coming out, somewhat irregularly, and after the departure of Justin Aclin to work for Hasbro and art director James Walker, the editorial staff has been stripped down to just Mike Cotton and Carlos Meija, and somem freelancers
The convention arm continues to operate under VP of business affairs Peter Katz. While everyone gives the show high marks for professionalism and organization, whether the crowds are in a buying mood depends on who you ask. Attendees say the Miami event was under-attended and the Toronto Con, held the same weekend as Reed Pop’s C2E2, was not a big buying and selling show:
My final thought on this con is that it was very well organized. I was able to do the things that I wanted to, without worrying about big crowds and not getting into the panels that I wanted. But, there still are some things Wizard can do better for next year. They should offer guests more to eat then just pizza ( at one point they ran out), and try to get more vendors to show up. I had a lot of cash I was willing to spend for some nice silver age comics but it was slim pickings, since there were only 3 to 4 comic vendors. Also, there wasn’t much to choose from if you are into action figures and statues, but there was an amazing selection of tee shirts. After this con all I can do is sit and count down the days until Fan Expo in August.
In other Wizard partnership news, the Wizard/Shamus brand is less involved in Geek Chic Daily, the daily newsletter that wants to be the Daily Candy of geeks; or as co-owner Peter Levin put it Wizard is now a “nonoperational partner(s).”
iFanboy: Can you expand a bit on the relationship between Geek Chic Daily and Wizard. We’ve seen in the past year or so of Wizard issues published, there was always a Geek Chic Daily tag on the cover. I spoke to Gareb a couple weeks ago and he mentioned clearly that you guys were separate companies. How do you see those companies working together to help promote one another and to help promote their content?
Peter: Wizard and Gareb are non operational partners in Geek Chic Daily. You know, in particular, it was Gareb and Wizard and the comic cons that they own and operate that were a very interesting petri dish, if you will, for us to be able to find out what this consuming audience was looking for, and also to stay current on trends and going ons in the industry. You know, we’re at a point where we’re probably doing more with all of the events that exist out there and all of the conferences domestically and then we’ve started to look at the international stuff as well. But, Gareb was a great launch partner for us. We’ll continue to source new readership and potentially float ideas and concepts by that audience when if applicable.
Wizard, you may recall, recently went public, under the ticker symbol WIZD, and as a public company, SEC filings reveal…much. But you need to know how to read them. The latest one — involving issuance of $575,000 in preferred stock — made our eyes glaze over, but a recent one regarding the dismissal of an accounting firm seems pretty straightforward:
On February 3, 2011, we dismissed Seale & Beers, CPAs, Las Vegas, NV (“S&B”), as our independent registered public accounting firm. Our Board of Directors (the “Board”) participated in and approved the decision to change our independent registered public accounting firm on February 1, 2011.
S&B’s reports on our financial statements for the years ended July 31, 2010 and 2009 did not contain an adverse opinion or a disclaimer of opinion, but were qualified or modified as to uncertainty, audit scope or accounting principles. Specifically, because the Company had a loss from operations, accumulated deficit and working capital deficit during the subject period, and has earned no revenues since inception, S&B expressed substantial doubt about the Company’s ability to continue as a going concern. In connection with the audit and review of our financial statements through February 3, 2011, there were no disagreements on any matter of accounting principles or practices, financial statement disclosures or auditing scope or procedures, which disagreements if not resolved to S&B’s satisfaction would have caused them to make reference in connection with its opinion to the subject matter of the disagreement. In connection with our audited financial statements for the years ended July 31, 2010 and 2009, there have been no reportable events with our Company as set forth in Item 304(a)(1)(v) of Regulation S-K.
In other words, WIZD’s own accounting firm felt that that their lack of income might be a bit troublesome moving forward and they decided to part ways. Wizard World has since hired Li & Company as their accounting firm.
In looking at the big picture, it seems that Wizard World Digital is kind of puddling along, but Wizard World’s eggs are more clearly than ever in the convention business. And given that the business of “comic-cons” is thriving right now, that is definitely the right decision.