Wizard World announces Fan Fest for Rosemont, IL in March

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WizardWorld has announced a new Chicago-based show with the Wizard World Comic Con Presents Fan Fest Chicago on March 7-8 at Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont. In contrast to pricier Wizard shows, the event will be $25 for the weekend and $15 for either day, and people who sign up for VP or four day registration at the regular August show get in free.

Although Bleeding Cool originally positioned this show as a “Con Wars” shot across the bows to Reed’s C2E2 show held just a month later in Chicago proper—and we like a good con wars story as much as the next guy—the real reason was more prosaic: Wizard had originally booked the venue for these dates for Bruce Campell’s HorrorFest. However Campbell had to pull out due to filming on the new Evil Dead TV show (YYYAYYYYYYYY!) and since the dates were booked, Wizard put on another show rather than eat the costs of renting the venue.

Pretty simple.

The Campbell event has now been moved to co-locate with Wizard World Chicago in August. WWC is generally held to be a pretty busy and profitable show for all, and the Chicago area can probably support a whole bunch of events. Parking not included, of course.

Wizard World confirms acquisition of PIttsburgh Comicon

Despite a Twitter non-denial denial, from owner Renee George, Wizard World has confirmed they have acquired the long running Pittsburgh Comicon, to be held September 11-13 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.

“We are excited to have acquired the long-standing and popular Pittsburgh Comicon from Renee,” said John Macaluso, Wizard World CEO. “We are excited to inject the Wizard World flavor in the Pittsburgh market, a city we’ve been wanting to expand to for many years. We are looking forward to seeing all our fans in September!”

“I am pleased that Wizard World will be able to continue the two-decade tradition of our show,” said George. “It’s a great opportunity for all of our loyal attendees in the area to take part in an even bigger event with more of what they have enjoyed for many years.”

As with the recent ECCC/ReedPOP deal, the existing Pittsburgh Comicon staff will continue to be involved with aspects of the show. According to George, “Our family and friends will continue to run the charity events, including Charity Quick Sketch & the Make-A-Wish Auction. All current contracts between the Pittsburgh Comicon & exhibitors or artists will be honored at this show. The Pittsburgh fans have been asking for bigger and better media guests and Wizard World will be able to provide that for them.”

The Pittsburgh Comicon has a long history, going back to 1994 when it was founded by Renee George and husband Michael George. It had a rep as a very creator friendly show and even hosted the Harvey awards from 2000-2002—ironically, perhaps the most famous event ever at the show was the Harvey Awards banquet where Frank Miller ripped a Wizard magazine in half while decrying its emphasis on speculation.

The show continued on even when co-owner Michael George was charged and then convicted of the 20-year-old murder of his former wife. Renee George continued to run the show throughout the legal proceedings.

Is Norman Reedus Killing Comic-Con?

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I know you thought the “con kerfuffle” had faded away, but I think it’s definitely an ongoing burning issue for the industry, in a rapidly evolving field, and Chris Butcher, retailer and a show runner himself for TCAF, as well as booth runner for Udon, has posted a brilliant summation that puts all the eggs in one basket and then hits that basket out of the park:

Butcher identifies several trends, which I’ll list for argument:

1. The make-up of the attendees of comic book conventions is changing.
We got that.
2. The make-up of comic convention organizers is changing, too.
I’ve been covering that quite a bit here; people are getting into comic cons just to make money not because they like comic cons.
3. Professional Fans & ‘Personalities’, which is to say Youtubers, Professional Cosplayers, etc.
I alluded to this here with the news of Wizard’s “Social Con” concept. YouTube and Vine stars like the homophobic Nash Grier are coming to Wizard Worlds and drawing huge audiences of teenaged girls who are not there for comics. Sure these Justin Beiber-lites will be delivering Little Caesar and the anger to trivia questions in a few years but for now they are the biggest celebs at shows for a very young demographic.

4. Comic Conventions Are Filling Up And Selling Out, Earlier and Earlier
Again, something The Beat has been harping on and watching for years.

While we may know all this is happening, Butcher goes ahead and ties a ribbon around the home run basket with this graph – emphasis his.


The changing convention landscape is inherently shitty for people who make comic books. Art comix, indy comics, mainstream comics, whatever comics, the changing makeup of conventions is hostile to people who want to make and sell comics at comic conventions. And let me be clear, this is comic books and graphic novels, as opposed to ‘prints’ or crafts or whatever manner of tchotchkes makeup most exhibitor tables these days. Basically, comic book conventions are aggressively attracting an audience who don’t necessarily value books, or comic books.

And here is the real problem. I had a long post set up that covered all the late breaking posts in the Denise Dorman affair, but I’ll forego long analysis for a simple but brutal truth: people who call their event a comic-con, invite comic book people to spend money on tables and then do not promote the comic aspect of the show are basically strangling the comics part for the equation.
I don’t mean to suggest that your average cartoonist calving away over a Howard the Duck commission is as big a draw as Norman Reedus, but unless the cartoonists in artist alley and elsewhere get some kind of promotion that includes them in the modern comic-con, they are eventually not going to want to go to shows any more.

I don’t propose that show runner who have spent a six figure guarantee on William Shatner promote him in the same breath as Dave Dorman. However, show runners need to give comics some play! I’ve seen too many con websites that only mention celebrities and don’t even throw the name of a comics guest up on the slider. PEOPLE, IT’S FREE, IT’S ADDITIVE.

As evidence of what I’m talking about, I’d like to point to this very very typical local news story about the recent Wizard World Nashville.

The focus is on a typical local news human interest story—a nice one about an autistic lad who contemplated suicide finding a superhero persona to give him hope—but not ONCE in the entire piece are comic book makers mentioned. Collectible card games, video games, the Green Power Ranger, cosplayers, everything EXCEPT ACTUAL COMICS AND THE PEOPLE WHO MAKE THEM. Like, that’s why they call if COMIC-CON!

And to be brutally frank that’s most stories I see about cons that have a “media mix.” Costumes, celebrities and a cute kid or two. Actual comic book creators are not mentioned or else shuttled off to the side. (Occasionally a topical superstar like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles co-creator Kevin Eastman will get a call out, or someone else with a movie coming out. But that’s the exception to the rule.)

I’ve seen Wizard World’s PR man call out comics creators in his news blasts, and I realize that local news anchors are going to go for the most obvious stories—Captain Spectrum—but would it really HURT to introduce a telegenic or quotable comics creator to the press as well? Is it entirely impossible?

Cartoonists are being written out of the comic-con story at a very fast pace, and unless something is done, the entire culture of cons is going to be completely shifted to a “remember when there was a broadcast involved in broadcast TV?” narrative.

AND NOW just for the record more links, on the Matter of Selling at Cons:

• Denise Dorman clarifies she and husband Dave don’t hate Cosplayers

• And another follow up: How to Exhibit BETTER at Conventions

Denise and I went back on whether nerdlebrities and high autograph charges were ALSO impacting sales. Aside”Totes maggots!” should be the answer to every question ever.

• An interview with Dorman that has more background.

• An exhibitor named Marc Alan Fishman has an excellent round up on the “new breed of conger.”

Allow me to answer in kind. The general population – those Instagram-obsessed fans – gives more than just a shit for those creators who take the time to reach out and communicate. I say this admitting freely I’ve never seen Dave Dorman. And we’ve exhibited at the same shows more than once. I don’t know how specifically Dave exhibits. But if he is like others I’ve seen over the last seven years… he may sit, smiling, awaiting those loyal regulars to come with cash in hand. In short, it’s not enough anymore. It hasn’t been that way in a long time.

• Months ago, Gene Ha also looked at how to sell at conventions and suggested some links.

Artist Thom Zahler offers his thoughts:


To me, there are advertising shows where I set up and hope to break even, and selling shows, where I generate revenue. San Diego is definitely an advertising show. But by the article, it sounds as if the Dormans treat SDCC as a selling show. And she also mentions that they could make more money being in the studio rather than setting up at some shows. Let’s talk about that.

Using that paradigm, I’m shocked that San Diego would ever be a good show. If your setup costs are $7000, you’ve got to sell that to break even. So what would a good show have been? $10,000? $15,000? The amount of product you’d have to sell to generate isn’t something I can conceive of. I suppose it’s possible for someone with a body of work different than mine, but it still seems like a lot.

At San Diego, and shows in general, I do what I can to get my costs down. My booth is $2500, but I split it with someone to make that number more manageable. Same with my hotel. I go to Target and get a flat of water and snacks so I’m not living on five dollar coffee and three dollar pretzels. I even designed my own shelving system that would fit in my suitcase so I could save the significant cost of shipping racks to the show. The less you spend, the quicker you turn a profit.

So if the numbers don’t work on a show, or you’re not getting what you want out of it in terms of networking or exposure, it’s your duty as a businessperson to cut that loss. I do a hefty convention schedule, but there are one or two shows I’m dropping because the math doesn’t work. That’s my responsibility.

• Ryan L Schrodt has an excellent post on What is killing comic book conventions? that brings up what Butcher and I have been talking about.


3. SHOWRUNNER RESPONSIBILITY
PROBLEM: Personal responsibility for comic book creators is huge when it comes to making money at conventions, but it isn’t everything.  Some responsibility falls upon the convention organizers.  Prohibitive ticket costs will keep attendees from spending money in Artist Alley.  Poor layouts could mean that some creators are completely missed.  Scheduling your convention against another convention or a major local event will mean low attendance.  And promotion? You damn well better have promoted your comic book show or no one is going to show up.  Even the greatest creators ever will not make any money if they are guests at a poorly run convention.

SOLUTION: If you are running a comic book convention, keep these things in mind.  Make sure that your ticket prices will cover your expenses and keep your expenses relatively low, especially in your early years.  If you are charging Wizard World prices for your convention that only has 20 guests, you won’t make any money and neither will the creators.  Likewise, if you have 100 creators and you are charging hotel ballroom convention ticket prices, you won’t make enough money to continue throwing conventions.  If you place the biggest name at the show in the middle of the aisle, their line will keep the people next to them from making any money.  Don’t put comic creators next to the bathroom or in the darkest corner of the hall.  Make sure you promote your comic show at local colleges and comic book shops.  Do you r research by attending other more successful comic book conventions and emulate what makes them successful.

Finally, one guy gives up on wizard.

• And FINAL PLUG: Tomorrow at the ICv@ conference I will be moderating a panel on comic cons with an ALL STAR LINE-UP!!!!!


The Con Explosion
The rapidly expanding con scene is an important part of the changing audience for comics, a place where potential new customers are mingling with more committed fans, and the opportunities are great.  Who are these new attendees, and what does it mean for the medium?  Our speakers have data and personal experience to help us find the answers to these questions.
• Christine Bohle, Sr. Category Marketing Manager, Eventbrite
• Patrick Bradley, EVP Digital Media & Entertainment, Wizard World, Inc.
• Shelton Drum, CEO, Heroes Convention
• Lance Fensterman, Senior Vice President ReedPOP
• Meg Lemke, Chair, Comics & Graphic Novel Committee at the Brooklyn Book Festival, and Contributing Editor at MUTHA Magazine
• Rob Salkowitz, author, writer of Comic-Con and the Business of Pop Culture
• Moderated by Heidi MacDonald, comic editor and commentator from The Beat


TOTES MAGOTES YOU ARE NOT GOING TO WANT TO MISS THIS.

Wizard World announces revenue growth in Q2 on increased show slate

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Wizard World just released its Q2 SEC filings, reporting income up sharply on an increased slate of shows. You’ll recall that Wizard World is a public company having gone “penny stock” a few years ago. The PR cites “higher quality events, including better organization, more programming, and an exciting list of celebrities and artists to an increasing fan base, ” as aiding the growth as well as doubling their number of events from two to four—and increasing admission prices. Wizard ran four shows in the first six months of 2013 and 8 in the comparable period in 2014. Convention revenue was $7,110,940 for the quarter and $12,284,138 for the first six months, on costs of $4,348,167 and $7,608,194 for a gross margin of $2,762,773 and $4,675,944 respectively. After operating expenses, net income for Q2 was $759,842 and $1,452,044 for the first six months, both vs a seven figure loss in 2013.

While I’ll leave it to an actual financial expert to look at the stock part of the filing, I did notice this:

We expect to produce sixteen (16) live events during the year ending December 31, 2014. To date, we have operated profitable live events in Philadelphia, Chicago, New Orleans, Columbus, Portland, Nashville, Austin, and St. Louis, but we have operated at a deficit in other events. In order for us to operate a successful event, we must produce an event that is relevant to the public in order to drive admissions, booth sales, sponsorship, and advertising. In order for the Company to grow the digital business, we must attract unique users and drive traffic to our online site. To date, we have exhausted considerable resources developing our media platform, but we have yet to earn a profit from the platform.


This suggests that the Sacramento, Louisville, Minneapolis, Atlanta and San Antonio Wizard worlds were not profitable. The San Antonio stop, at least, won’t be back in 2015, I’m told—it’s listed as TBD on the Wizard Site. To Atalnta stop is listed, although they’ll take another crack at Minneapolis, Louisville and Sacramento.

Clearly, running shows as long as Wizard has, they’ve learned a ting or two, and the business can be lucrative…but a new territory is a crapshhoot, and their ambitious expansion program will probably be fine tuned as good markets are recognized.

The stock was up a tad on the news, but it generally fluctuates in a small range list most penny stocks.

Wizard World, Inc. (OTCBB: WIZD) (the “Company”), a leading provider of Comic Cons and pop culture conventions across the world, today announced that the Company has released its second quarter 2014 financial results in the Company’s Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the period ended June 30, 2014 (“Q2 2014”). 

The Company hosted four comic cons in Q2 2014: St. Louis, Minneapolis, Atlanta and Philadelphia, bringing fans together with their favorite celebrities, artists, exhibitors in a pop culture and multimedia experience. Convention revenue for period ended June 30, 2014 was $7,110,940, an increase of $4,209,524 (or 145%) from $2,901,416 reported in the comparable period in 2013. Convention revenue for the six months ended June 30, 2014 was $12,284,138, an increase of $7,589,246 (or 162%) from $4,694,892 reported in the comparable period in 2013. The significant increase in revenue in 2014 is primarily accredited to the Company’s team’s dedication to delivering higher quality events, including better organization, more programming, and an exciting list of celebrities and artists to an increasing fan base, which all translates to higher revenue growth.

The Company ran eight events during the first six months ended June 30, 2014, as compared to four events during the comparable period in 2013. Average revenue generated per event in 2014 was $1,535,517 as compared to $1,173,723 during 2013. 

Operating expenses were $2,002,931 in Q2 2014, as compared to $859,536 the same period in 2013, which was the result of increases in staffing and employment costs due to the increased number and size of the events. Operating expenses for the six months ended June 30, 2014, was $3,223,900, as compared to $1,550,043 reported in the comparable period in 2013. 

Income from operations was $759,842 in Q2 2014, an increase of 358% from $(293,666) reported in the comparable period in 2013. Income from operations for the six months ended June 30, 2014, was $1,452,044 as compared to $(167,574) reported in the comparable period in 2013. The increase is primarily attributable to running more and larger events with similar fixed costs.

$759,703 or income per share of $0.01 for the three months ended June 30, 2014, as compared to $(3,183,533) or loss per share of $0.09, in the comparable period in 2013. Net income for the six months ended June 30, 2014, was $1,451,744 or income per share of $0.03, as compared to $(2,079,357) or loss per share of $(0.06), reported in the comparable period in 2013. Income in 2014 was primarily generated from convention revenue and stronger profit margin versus the loss in 2013 which was non-cash generated from a loss on the fair value of the Company’s derivative liabilities, and by year end of 2013 the Company successfully extinguished all derivative instruments.

At June 30, 2014, the Company had working capital of $4,030,802 and as of August 8, 2014, there were 51,341,524 shares of common stock issued and outstanding. 

“We are excited to have successfully completed eight of our 2014 events to date, as our team is now preparing for our flagship event in Chicago which is expected to bring tens of thousands of fans to meet over 50 celebrities including the reunion of the cast from Star Trek: The Next Generation, more than 315 artists and more than 300 exhibitors,” said John Macaluso, CEO of Wizard World, Inc. “We are thrilled to have already topped our 2013 revenue and we believe we will continue to exceed our expectations for the remainder of the year, increasing shareholder value and organically building our shareholder base with the ultimate shareholders, our fans.” 

The Company will continue its 2014 tour next in Chicago, August 21-24. Seven additional shows are scheduled in 2014, bringing the yearly total to 16 conventions. To find a Wizard World Comic Con in a city near you, go to: http://www.wizardworld.com/

The Company encourages shareholders to not rely on this press release and to refer to the Company’s Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for full disclosure relating to the second quarter financial report, filed on August 11, 2014, which can be found on www.sec.gov

SDCC 2014: Watchtower Tuesday: Preview of Preview Night

This is shaping up to be an epic San Diego, as the media blitz begins weeks before the actual Comic Carnival begins.

Who will win the battle for Hall H?  Marvel Studios or DC Entertainment?  [Read more…]

Zak Sally will be at Wizard World Minneapolis

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Author and historian Danny Fingeroth sent along his panel programming for this weekend’s Wizard World Minneapolis, and whatever the ongoing controversy, it is fair to say that WizWorld programming has improved quite a bit. While looking through the programs, we noticed that one participant is indie comics stalwart Zak Sally</a> of La Mano Press, Sammy the Mouse and more. Let’s just say that if there is one person we never expected to see at a Wizard World show it’s Zak Sally. Maybe he will hang out with “social media sensations” Nash and Hayes Grier and Nathan Fillion, and then the circle will be complete.

Here’s Danny’s programming line-up:

FRIDAY, MAY 2:

6:00 – 6:45PM
ONE-ON ONE WITH DAN JURGENS
Dan Jurgens is an accomplished creator who both writes and draws the adventures of the comic book industry’s most legendary characters including Superman and Spider-Man. His storytelling talents have breathed life into the most noteworthy properties from DC Comics, Marvel Comics and more. Dan has also created numerous characters that have become enduring staples in their fictional universes while stretching to other media as well. Dan speaks about his work and career with comics writer and editor Danny Fingeroth (Superman on the Couch). (M100 E)
 
 
SATURDAY, MAY 3: 

11:00 – 11:45AM
1939: THE YEAR THAT CHANGED EVERYTHING (BATMAN WAS JUST THE BEGINNING!)
75 years ago, as fateful events that would lead to the outbreak of World War II in September 1939 were coming together in Europe, the U.S.A. was experiencing an explosion of popular culture. In 1939, Batman debuted in Detective Comics #27; Timely (later Marvel) Comics released Marvel Comics #1, showcasing the first Marvel superheroes, Sub-Mariner and the Human Torch; and Hollywood produced classic films including The Wizard of Oz, Gone With the Wind and Stagecoach. Discussing historical and cultural factors that made that year so important is a panel including Dr. Alex Lubet (University of Minnesota), pop culture expert Aaron Sagers, and Danny Fingeroth (Disguised as Clark Kent: Jews, Comics, and the Creation of the Superhero.) (M100 B)
 
 
1:00 – 1:45PM
THE COMIC BOOK AND ME: BOB DYLAN AND COMICS
As he has profoundly affected creators in all media, Bob Dylan has influenced comics and graphic novel writers and artists for the past five decades. Showing and discussing Dylan homages and references in comics through the years (including Moore and Gibbons’ Watchmen) are Dr. Alex Lubet (a Dylan expert who teaches Bob-courses at the University of Minnesota) and Danny Fingeroth (The Stan Lee Universe.) (M100 I)
 
3:00 – 3:45PM
SUPERSTAR ARTISTS ROUNDTABLE WITH KEVIN MAGUIRE, BARRY KITSON, CHAZ TRUOG AND DOUG WHEATLEY
Five of the top artists in comics talk about their careers, their craft, the comics business and whatever else might come up. Join Kevin Maguire (Justice League; Captain America,) Barry Kitson (Thor; X-Force,) Chaz Truog (Coyote; Animal Man) and Doug Wheatley (Star Wars; Batman) for this pencil-powered panel. Danny Fingeroth (How to Draw Comics from Script to Print DVD) moderates. (M100 I)
 
5:00 – 5:45PM
INDEPENDENT COMICS CREATORS ROUNDTABLE WITH: ZANDER CANNON, ZAK SALLY, VINCENT STALL, AND URSULA MURRAY HUSTED
The model of comics creators tethered to one or two major publishers, working on adventures of corporately-owned characters is no longer the only game in town. Many of the top talents in comics work either exclusively on their own material, while others work both sides of the street, alternating independent work with mainstream assignments done in their own distinctive styles. Here, speaking about how they have forged their own paths, are some of the most distinctive creators in comics today: Zander Cannon (Double Barrel; Heck,) Zak Sally (Sammy the Mouse; Recidivist,) Vincent Stall (5M The Busline Diary; Jetsom) and Ursula Murray Husted (Drawing on Yourself; The Lions of Valletta.) Danny Fingeroth (How to Draw Comics from Script to Print) moderates. (M100 I)
 
6:30 – 7:15PM
CAPTAIN AMERICA VS. SUPERMAN: THE BATTLE OF THE SUPER PATRIOTS
One started as a car crushing super human before fighting for “Truth, Justice and the American Way.” The other began as a flag-clad symbol of propaganda before breaking with the government. And in 2016, sequels to their movies will go head to head on the same weekend. Join pop culture expert and TV personality Aaron Sagers, along with other geeky pundits, as they talk Cap vs. Supes in a discussion about the icons have crossed paths, evolved, stayed similar or became radically different. (M100 E)
 
 
SUNDAY, MAY 4:                            

12:00 – 12:45PM
GETTING RESPECT: COMICS GO TO COLLEGE
Comics and graphic novels have come into their own as subjects worthy of—indeed, demanding—attention from academia. Historians and cultural theorists teach courses, hold conferences, and publish books on various aspects of sequential art colleges and universities teach courses in comics as literature and social history as well as how to make them. Here, to give an overview of various ideas about and approaches to comics studies are a cross-section of comics scholars and teachers, including Barbara Schulz (Minneapolis College of Art and Design—MCAD—Comic Art Degree Program), Ursula Murray Husted (University of Wisconsin Stout), and Dr. Alex Lubet (University of Minnesota). The panel is moderated by Danny Fingeroth (The Rough Guide to Graphic Novels.) (M100 I)
 

2:00 – 2:45PM
HOW TO WRITE COMICS WITH ZANDER CANNON, ZAK SALLY AND DANNY FINGEROTH
Accomplished comics writers Zander Cannon (Top Ten; The Tick,) Zak Sally (Sammy the Mouse; Recidivist) and Danny Fingeroth (Deadly Foes of Spider-Man; How to Create Comics from Script to Print) show and tell you how to write comics and graphic novels, going from initial idea to outline to script to finished story. Plus, the panelists will answer your questions about both the creative and business sides of the comics writing profession, including how to find an artist to work with (hint: a comics convention is the number one place!) and how to write exciting dialogue! (M100 I)

Jimmie Robinson on Five Weapons, the Convention Craze and Digital Challenges

By Bruce Lidl

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The Sacramento Wizard World convention was an opportunity for comic fans in Northern California to gather and celebrate their passions with other fans and celebrities. It was also a chance for Jimmie Robinson, a veteran Bay Area comic book creator (and frequent commentator at The Beat) to meet his readers and spread the word about his on-going all-ages Image series, Five Weapons. I was curious to get a creator’s insight about this new convention, but we ended up chatting about a variety of topics, so I decided to make a separate article in its own right. As a long-time participant and observer in the comics industry, Jimmie has a great perspective on what is really happening right now, and he was very generous of his time to speak with me on the show floor.jimmie robinson

Robinson was quite positive about the Wizard show, the staff, and the vibe around the convention center. Everybody was seemingly happy with the turnout and the enthusiasm of the attendees, especially the local downtown merchants. I was curious to hear how his convention schedule played into his work-time and income, and whether he was seeing the kinds of returns on paid sketches, commissions and appearance fees that some artist superstars like George Perez have experienced. According to Robinson, conventions, even well attended ones like Sacramento Wizard, are not “real money makers” for him, as he still has to pay his expenses, including travel and lodging. The worst thing about conventions for Robinson is not the expense, though, it is the time taken away from his work of actually making comics, something he much prefers to do if possible. In general, he limits himself these days to shows he and his team (wife Gail and dog Eli) can drive to, including the Reno Wizard show and possibly San Diego. For him, conventions remain all about “spreading the word” about his books, particularly Five Weapons, his current title from Image/Shadowline, an all-ages tale of the one pacifist student enrolled at a school for assassins (broken up into 5 weapon-themed houses, kind of a killers’ Hogwarts). He emphasized just how “tough” a sell an all-ages title can be. Currently at issue #7, in the second five issue story arc of the title, he has a commitment from Image to publish a third story arc, taking him through issue #15. Depending on how these story arc sell, he hopes to publish at least through #20, which would complete the initial narrative he conceived for the title.

Eli manning the booth

Eli manning the booth

Robinson was “very appreciative of the huge support” he’s received from Jim Valentino and the Shadowline imprint at Image, particularly with a book that may not be the most marketable. And he “regretted” not being at the January ImageExpo, where the homogeneity of the creators on exhibit was negatively received online. Robinson had only complimentary things to say about his experiences with Image.

While Robinson appreciates the personal outreach opportunities conventions give comic creators, he is also “very enthusiastic” about the growth of digital comics, both from a sales perspective but also from a creative viewpoint. Digital sales of his older Bomb Queen title have been “very good” and he has seen bumps in sales of older issues when new ones come out and re-ignite interest. He is also an outspoken fan of comiXology’s Guided View reading enhancement, although he does struggle somewhat with making sure that his books look good when they are going to be converted to the new format. The process of conversion is quite “mysterious” to Robinson, and he does not have any insight at all into who actually does the work at comiXology, but he’s “very conscious” when he is drawing of what kind of panel layouts work best with the new technology.

His one major criticism of the current digital comics trend is the lack of transparency into the data generated by digital sales, as any data he does get from comiXology is basically limited to royalty statements and is usually “way old, usually from two quarters behind.” He is eager to see if he is able to get quicker and more detailed information from the shift at Image to selling directly and without DRM (Five Weapons #1 is available right now for free in either PDF, EPUB, CBR or CBZ formats). Robinson is “completely for” Image’s move to drop DRM and is generally really excited to see his work available in as many formats as possible. As someone who first heard Scott McCloud talking up online comics way back in the mid-90s, Robinson knows first hand how far the industry has come in expanding distribution avenues for new creators to attract readers. He echoed the message oft repeated today, that the challenge is no longer to “break into comics but to stay in comics!”

five weapons

It was a pleasure chatting with Robinson and getting his expert viewpoint on a comics industry that  offers both unprecedented opportunities and daunting challenges for even well-established creators like himself. And check out Five Weapons and see how good all-age titles really are these days!

Measuring the Comics Convention Wave: Wizard World Sacramento Hits Local High Water Mark

By Bruce Lidl

As the on-going explosion of interest in comics and pop culture conventions continues seemingly unabated, companies like Wizard World are rushing to meet the demand. The first ever Wizard World Sacramento took place this last weekend, making it the first big comic convention in California’s capital city, and likely the biggest show of its kind in Northern California since Wonder-Con moved to Anaheim in 2012. Clearly a success attendance-wise, the show was a sellout for 3-day passes and Saturday passes, and was very crowded when I stopped by on Sunday, with a line to enter that wrapped around two full sides of the Sacramento Convention center. According to Jerry Milani of Wizard, they were a bit cautious when planning this inaugural show, only renting out part of the convention center, but they are confident enough now to already book the entire convention center for their return in June 2015.

Obligatory Stormtroopers picture

Obligatory Stormtroopers picture

To this only slightly jaded con-goer, the show was very consistent with the new culture of comic conventions, with both organizers and attendees clearly influenced by all the recent coverage of the San Diego Comic Con. At one point I overheard Wizard staffers have to explain that they were not in fact the same organization that ran the San Diego convention. The crowd was very diverse in age and demographic background, many families and couples, was heavily sprinkled with cosplayers, and seemed attracted to a wide range of media properties, with strong The Walking Dead, Marvel movie series and Game of Thrones presences. The key marker of this new era of conventions to me, however, was the very large and central role of big-name media celebrities there to explicitly make some money. Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Norman Reedus and Michael Rooker (The Walking Dead) and William Shatner were featured guests, and they offered all manner of paid opportunities for interaction. VIP fan meetings, paid autographs, paid photo ops, you name it, for a price you could seemingly have any kind of experience with the stars.

Comic books were present, though, with industry legends Stan Lee, Chris Claremont, Chris Golden and Neal Adams appearing. Local comic book vendors were a notable presence on the sales floor, although it must be said, the area set aside for autographs and photo ops with celebrities was probably bigger than the entire area for traditional commerce. There was a small artists alley, with a handful of Big 2 artists and a number of independent and/or specialty artists offering sketches and commissions. I had the opportunity to speak in-depth with Jimmie Robinson of Image (Bomb Queen, Five Weapons) and he thought it had been a “good” show, overall, although not a particularly big money maker for him. (I’ll have more from Robinson in a companion article coming later).

Crowds at Sacramento Wizard World

Crowds at Sacramento Wizard World

As The Beat has speculated previously, Wizard World is clearly pushing hard to take advantage of the growing interest in pop culture, comics and celebrities, with a number of first time shows this year in cities like Louisville, Richmond, Tulsa, San Antonio, Atlanta, Minneapolis and Reno, in addition to return shows in St. Louis, Nashville, New Orleans, Portland, Columbus, Austin, Columbus, Philadelphia and Chicago. According to Wizard’s Milani, the key attributes that determine their choice of a city include available venues, a market that makes sense for their offerings and their existing show calendar. He admitted that they do pay attention to avoiding conflicts with other comic book conventions (they don’t have any shows at all in July to avoid San Diego issues, and their new Atlanta show will be three months before the long-established Dragon-Con) but it was clear that they consider their shows to be different from more locally organized efforts.

The key element Milani cited was Wizard’s ability to bring a large number of celebrities of a certain level to regional cities. Matt Smith of Dr. Who fame will be a featured guest at their next show in Louisville, Kentucky, and fans can have a VIP experience with him for $349, a photo op with him for $99 ($195 for a dual photo with co-star Karen Gillan) or an autograph for $99. The seem like pretty high prices to me, but they are not too surprising when appearance fees for big stars like Smith and Hemsworth may be as much as $100,000. Milani told me that Sacramento had courted Wizard aggressively, with a great deal of enthusiasm from Mayor Kevin Johnson’s office, and numbers released by the city after the show claim an economic impact of $2 million dollars for the weekend.

Whither Wizard World?

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As we reported the other day, the Wizard World convention experience is expanding dramatically in 2014, adding seven shows in comics market ranging from huge—Atlanta—to kind of off the beaten path—Sacramento, Tulsa.

Given past show scheduling conflicts, a few people have scrutinized the list for potential regional conflicts. Given the hectic nature of the current comics convention schedule it’s pretty much impossible not to be before or after another show that’s just a day-trip away. A few close calls do seem to exist. The new Atlanta show is three weeks ahead of Heroes Con—Atlanta is a four hour drive or so away, so this could kind of be construed as a regional thing. On the other hand, the Richmond, VA show is the week after Baltimore Comic Con, and I didn’t catch the SPX dates for 2014, but it’s right about the weekend it usually falls. That’s probably three regional shows in two or three weeks. But Baltimore and SPX don’t seem to conflict, so I doubt a Wizard show will really impact either of them.

A bigger question is just how many shows can the comics economy really absorb? (I suppose first you have to ask if Wizard shows are really comics shows, since celebrity appearances are their bread and butter.) As anyone who has been reading The Beat the last few years knows, it’s pretty hard to throw any kind of reasonably planned show and have it fail nowadays. The massive call-the-fire marshal success of the Denver and Salt Lake City cons this year show that in a new territory people are kind of starved for the glitz and glamour of their own Comic Con.

A story that didn’t get too much discussion around the blogosphere was the change in ownership at Fan Expo Canada, North America’s third largest show, which was purchased by Informa, which bills itself as “the largest publicly-owned organiser of exhibitions, events and training in the world with around 7,000 employees working in over 150 offices across more than 40 countries.” The purchase included Fan Expo Vancouver, and I’m told they are looking to launch or acquire more Canadian pop culture events. So more coming there. People want to get in on this business.

While thinking about all this, the thing that popped into my mind was Creation Con, a name which will be familiar to old timers, but whose current existence I had to verify on Google. Creation was one of the original comic con companies, putting on the big Thanksgiving show in New York City from the early 70s until the 80s. Somewhere along the way they morphed into more of a “nerdlebrity autograph” kind of company, putting on shows themed to Star Trek, and (back in the day) Stargate, Hercules and Xena. Discussing this with some industry pals, I surmised that they would be throwing Vampire Diaries shows now, and whaddaya know, when I checked their website, they are indeed putting on a Vampire Diaries show in Orlando in December. They also produce shows based on Supernatural, which I should have guessed. Gotta stay on the game. Their upcoming events calendar shows 20 events in the next year, not one of which I have ever heard anyone in my circle talk about going to.

But, business is business. William Shatner and Ian Somerhalder have to do something with their time, especially if you can charge $119 for a photo op. I did go to a Creation show over a decade ago to meet Bruce Campbell, back when that was a rare event. It wasn’t really my kind of thing—a teeny dealers area, and mostly celebrity panel after celebrity autograph session. Not much of a fest. I see they have costume contests and movie contests now. If you’ve been to one of these events and want to report in the comments, I’d be grateful. (I did check out the “fan testimonial” page where someone noted they had a good dinner, so that’s a start then.)

Still, you can pick out the flow of natural evolution here, and with their ambitious expansion plans, Wizard World could be going down the Creation path if they aren’t careful. Putting on a full service “comic con” with artist alley and publishers and curated panels and all that takes a lot of effort. (Check back to The Beat’s own series on putting on a con is you don’t believe us.) And each and every comics person thinks they are the star of the show and expect a certain amount of care and handling, which can be very, very time consuming. As the “comic con” whittles down its focus to a bunch of actors or a single show, it all becomes much easier to deal with—actors all have agents who set these thing up and the whole process becomes streamlined as to costs and events. A comics show has to be a labor of love at some point, whereas an autograph show is more of a business. And as I’ve noted before, the activity and creativity of actual comics artists create a buzz and liveliness that just autographs don’t.

On some level, I do understand the need to meet Ian Somerhalder—I trekked off to meet my man Bruce after all. All of these events are fulfilling some kind of need in the fan base, so there isn’t really a right or wrong as long as no one gets hurt. If people want to pay $359 to get a front row seat at a celebrity panel, I can’t really stop them. I hope they are getting their hearts desire.

Wizard World adds seven cities including Tulsa, Sacramento, and San Antonio

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Just how many places can Norman Reedus be in at once?

As we’ve been mentioning here time and time again at the Beat, comic cons are big business now, even in smaller markets and clearly Wizard World, the pop culture expo company, has noticed this. They’ve just announced SEVEN new shows, including Sacramento, Louisville, Atlanta, San Antonio, Richmond, Minneapolis, and Tulsa.

Wizard is everywhere. Except New York. No mention of the show that was held here in May, although that was branded differently.

Wizard attempted to go into some of these markets before in a previous expansion, but the market for comics/pop culture shows wasn’t then what it is now.

Here’s the upcoming schedule:

September 20-22 – Wizard World Ohio Comic Con

October 18-20 – Wizard World Nashville Comic Con

November 22-24 – Wizard World Austin Comic Con

Wizard World 2014 Schedule

January 24-26 – Wizard World Portland Comic Con

February 7-9 – Wizard World New Orleans Comic Con

March 7-9 – Wizard World Sacramento Comic Con

March 28-30 – Wizard World Louisville Comic Con

April 4-6 – Wizard World St. Louis Comic Con

May 2-4 – Wizard World Minneapolis Comic Con

May 30-June 1 – Wizard World Atlanta Comic Con

June 19-22 – Wizard World Philadelphia Comic Con

August 1-3 – Wizard World San Antonio Comic Con

August 21-24 – Wizard World Chicago Comic Con

September 12-14 – Wizard World Richmond Comic Con

September 26-28 – Wizard World Nashville Comic Con

October 11-12 – Wizard World Austin Comic Con

October 31-November 2 – Wizard World Ohio Comic Con

November 7-9 – Wizard World Tulsa Comic Con

We haven’t checked this against the existing con schedule but it’s sure to overlap with many other shows. Many of these are smaller markets with smaller existing shows. Wizard’s usual plan is to partner with an existing show so some of these may have been buyouts of older shows.

Our DMs just lit up with folks who have interest in going to Tulsa, but surely fans there are dying to meet and greet cast members of the Walking Dead and CM Punk, frequent guests at Wizard shows and regulars on their circuit.

Wizard World, Inc. (OTCBB: WIZD), the world’s largest pop culture convention series is announcing a large-scale expansion to its already largest Comic Con Tour. Fans of movies, TV, cosplay, comics, graphic novels, toys, games, sci-fi, sports entertainment, music and more across the U.S. will now be treated to a whopping 15 events in 2014, potentially with room for additional expansion.

Wizard World promises to continue bringing top-level celebrities for autographs, photo ops and panel programming as well as top rated TV show and blockbuster film and game releases to engage with the Comic Con audience. Additionally, while industry trends show artists exhibition areas shrinking at many other convention show floors, Wizard World has a strong commitment to including leading and up-and-coming comic book artists and writers from the U.S. and from all over the world. Over a dozen countries’ top talent have been represented at Wizard World 2013 events including Canada, Mexico, Spain, Great Britain, France, Italy, Philippines, Turkey, Singapore, Croatia, Brazil, Saudi Arabia and more.

Fans can expect to see community fueled costume contests, evening panel programming, live video streaming, top industry exhibitors, retailers, fan groups and exclusive attractions (like the Frank Frazetta pop-up museum collection) that are staples of the Wizard World experience, providing memorable and long-lasting experiences for attendees of all ages.

Eight cities from the 2013 schedule return next year: Portland, Ore. (Jan. 24-26, Oregon Convention Center); New Orleans (Feb. 7-9, Ernest N. Morial Convention Center); St. Louis (April 4-6, America’s Center); Philadelphia (June 19-22, Pennsylvania Convention Center); Chicago (Aug. 21-24, Donald E. Stephens Convention Center); Nashville, Tenn. (Sept. 26-28, Music City Center); Austin, Texas (Oct. 11-12, Austin Convention Center); and Columbus, Ohio (Oct. 31-Nov. 2, Greater Columbus Convention Center).

The tour has expanded to include the following new shows: Sacramento, Calif. (March 7-9, Sacramento Convention Center); Louisville, Ky. (March 28-30, Kentucky International Convention Center); Minneapolis (May 2-4, Minneapolis Convention Center); Atlanta (May 30-June 1, Georgia World Congress Center); San Antonio (Aug. 1-3, Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center); Richmond, Va. (Sept. 12-14, Greater Richmond Convention Center) and Tulsa, Okla. (Nov. 7-9, Cox Business Center).

“Our mantra has been, ‘Give the fans a great experience, give the celebrities and creators a great experience, take care of our exhibitors and everyone will want to come back,’” said John Macaluso, Wizard World CEO and Chairman.  “We have had such an overwhelmingly positive reaction to all our 2013 events, both first-year and existing shows, that it was obvious what the fans were telling us – ‘We want more!’”
Wizard World Comic Con events bring together thousands of fans of all ages to celebrate the best in pop-fi, pop culture, movies, graphic novels, comics, toys, video gaming, television, sci-fi, gaming, original art, collectibles, contests and more.  Three events in the coming months conclude the 2013 slate: Columbus, Ohio (Sept. 20-22); Nashville, Tenn. (Oct. 18-20); and Austin, Texas (Nov. 22-24).
About Wizard World:
Wizard World (OTCBB: WIZD) produces Comic Cons and pop culture conventions across North America that celebrate graphic novels, comic books, movies, TV shows, gaming, technology, toys and social networking. The events often feature celebrities from movies and TV, artists and writers, and events such as premieres, gaming tournaments, panels, and costume contests.
The full event schedule can be found at http://www.wizardworld.com/wizcon.html.

On the Scene: Revealing Wizard World Philly 2013

Revealing Their Costumes

The heat wave that scorched the streets of Philadelphia on the weekend of the show did nothing to stop the stampede of comic universe fans from coming out to Wizard World Philadelphia, an annual convention at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.  As we entered the cool oasis of the sales floor, we saw people, many of them in cosplay, gathered around coffee tables that served as the designated hang out space–reading comics, drawing, and talking with one another. We felt an inspiring sense of community as soon as we stepped in.

  Jem Daenerys Targaryen

She-Ra

People’s costumes were really outrageous this year. I noticed a significant trend of 1980s characters such as Jem, She-Ra, and Skeletor. In addition, attendees adopted the looks of Daenerys Targaryen, Kaleesi from Game of Thrones, and of course your classic super heroes.

Tania Del Rio

In the Artists’ Alley, I scouted out Tania Del Rio, the lovely and talented individual who wrote, drew, and revamped the Sabrina the Teenage Witch floppy comics. Del Rio’s Sabrina is currently being rereleased as paperback manga style digests. The second book just came out.  Comics Alliance calls her version of Sabrina, “One of the best and most underrated all-ages comics in the last 10 years,” and I couldn’t agree more. I find her stories to be very touching, bringing me to tears in some instances. I was ecstatic and truly grateful that she took the time to sign the second volume I had picked up that Wednesday. Tania Del Rio also wrote the comic Archie #636, the story in which the Archie gang has their genders reversed through magic, and publishes a popular web comic: mypoorlydrawnlife. Tania Del Rio is super nice! When asked about her experience at the con she said, “Wizard World Philly was seriously one of the most fun con experiences I’ve had! Coming from the West Coast, I really appreciate getting to meet my East Coast fans as well as see new people discover my work. It seems that good Artist Alleys are becoming more and more rare at big conventions, but this one was filled with a great mix of artists and was lively all weekend long. Also, I was so busy doing sketches I barely could get a second to eat or walk around, but that’s actually a really good sign! I’m already looking forward to next year.”

Bryan G. Brown

My friend and fellow cartoonist Bryan G. Brown was also tabling in Artist Alley. He writes a comic call First Fight about his experiences in his mixed martial arts training. He and I collaborated on a comix zine called The Blueberry Boy of Asbury Park, which debuted at the Asbury Park Comicon a few months ago.  He gave me some overall positive feedback about WWPhilly, saying it was the best con he ever tabled at, but also criticized a policy that restricted exhibitors from distributing promotional materials—unless they happened to be affiliated with the two major sponsors of the show.

Brown found this policy “a bit ridiculous considering the entire point of cartoonists exhibiting their work is to show their stuff and promote themselves.” Brown deems policies of this sort to be impractical in the long run, calling it “short-sighted to try to cut out the life blood of these conventions which are the artists and writers who created the characters and stories that fans of comics love—not the celebrities and eye care companies that are lining the pockets of the owners of these cons. Thankfully, any attempts to stifle traffic to Artist Alley was no match for the awesomeness of comic fans – I can’t wait for next year! Thanks to everyone!”

Bryan G. Brown also wrote about his personal experience at the con on his own site. Brown plans to exhibit his work at the Small Press Expo in Bethesda, Maryland, but will forego tabling at any major conventions until that time.

Routh

We met Brandon Routh!  He is sooo kawaii!  Brandon took the stage as Superman in Superman Returns. He also played Todd, the vegan and bassist playing evil ex-boyfriend of Ramona, in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. Thinking about his role in both movies, it’s hard for us to decide which role we loved him in more!

Tony DiGerolamo

Bongo Comics writer Tony DiGerolamo presented a panel on how to start a web comic.  He writes the webcomic Superfrat as well as the comics on The Webcomic Factory.  He shared lots of valuable information from his experiences that highlighted the benefits of creating webcomics instead of printing them.

Cosplay Contest

Cosplay Contest

On Saturday night, the Adult Cosplay Contest took place, which was judged by Power Ranger Jason David Frank, professional cosplayer/comic enthusiast Ivy Doom Kitty, and wrestler Eric “The Smoke” Moran. It was a lavish event that displayed a great variety in design, creativity, and style. It was a memorable way to wind down the night. The official after-party then followed the contest.

Our Coplay

Sunday was the day geared towards kids!  Mel Coci and I dressed as Salem and Sabrina. Our cosplay fit right in because Sabrina and Salem are friendly to comic book readers of all ages!  There were many activities planned especially with young ones in mind such as the Children’s Cosplay Contest and karate workshop with the powerful Jason David Frank.

Supermen

There was a panel called What’s Better Than Superman? Supermen! featuring Brandon Routh and Dean Cain.  They talked about what it is like playing Superman, what it means to be a hero, natural disasters and nuclear disasters. “I think the bigger role that Superman plays is the hope that we can all be better people,” said Routh toward the end of the panel.  “He’s a role model for us to be friendly and spread love. If we can stop the fighting between us, we would all be more like Superman.”

The Green Power Ranger Power Hour

Jason David Frank put together a karate workshop for the kids called The Green Power Ranger Power Hour!  Adults were allowed to participate, too. It was all ages, really. He really is a great sensei and we love his personality. He is absolutely fantastic and an amazing role model! We want him back in Philly ASAP!

Kevin Sorbo and Dre

Watching Hercules was a family activity at my household for many years. I think I have seen every single episode, so seeing Kevin Sorbo—the man who played Hercules in real life—was surreal. I immediately felt star-struck. By the way, he looks like he hasn’t aged a single day since Hercules. Is he immortal?

Cain

Mel’s main goal was to get an autograph or some sort of memorabilia from Dean Cain. She and her sister Angela have always been big fans of the show Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. Since Mel is Australian this was an extremely rare opportunity. When his manager told us the cost of their memorabilia, Mel went to go hit up an ATM. He said we had twenty minutes to do business. I stood there in her place. As she walked away, I also watched Dean Cain walk away with a friend of his and call out “I’ll be right back” to his manager. Then the manager managed to slip away. He said he would be right back, too. Mel came back, ready with the money, to an empty scene. She held onto hope as she waited for their return, and ended up missing most the Children’s Cosplay Contest. They never came back.

Phil Kahn

Phil Kahn, the local writer of the comic Guilded Age, was tabling at the con! I asked him to sum up his experience at the con. “Wizard World Philly,” said Kahn.  “I’ve never been happier to have completely spent all my energy AND money.”

HollarbackPHILLY

“Cosplay is not consent.”

That’s one of the mottos of the non-profit organization Hollaback, a movement to end harassment. The Philly branch of Hollaback teamed up with Philadelphia cartoonist Erin Filson and created an anti-harassment comic book, “Hollaback: Red, Yellow, Blue.”  Filson and I discussed how she got involved with HollabackPHILLY. “I make a web-comic and was thinking of creating a series about catcalling situations I had encountered, so I emailed HollabackPHILLY to see if they wanted to share links,” she said. “Meanwhile, they were in need of an artist to mock up their recent SEPTA subway ads. So we got together to talk about that but eventually the conversation turned into the possibility of creating an anti-street harassment comic book. We were all very excited about it right away. I care deeply about gender equality and social justice so I was thrilled to have the opportunity to combine that passion with my love for comics. I think HollabackPHILLY’s mission of addressing street harassment and the fact that it is wrong is very important. The behavior is so normalized and accepted yet it is really something that adds to a culture where women are degraded and over-sexualized and an environment where you never feel safe.”

Hollarback: Red,Yellow, Blue

When asked to reveal their thoughts about their time at the con, Media Projects Coordinator of HollarbackPhilly Anna Kegler said that she was “really impressed by the number of men who stopped by our table and expressed support for not only the comic book, but the entire mission behind our comic book project.”  Director of HollabackPhilly Rochelle Keyhan answered that she was “pleasantly surprised by how much interest people took in our booth, from geeks, to cosplayers, even to Wizard World support staff. We handed out materials to nearly 1,000 people, most of whom we had conversations with about productive ways to be a part of the solution. Many of them eagerly promised to spread the word, to help us recreate our streets as ones we can be proud of.”

“I’ve been going to Wizard World for several years, but this was my first time running a table there,” Filson added. “I loved it and would definitely do it again! The volunteers and staff were friendly and helpful. Seeing people get excited about the comic book I made was the most amazing thing! And I love all the cosplayers! Seriously, it was such a great weekend!”

The next Wizard World Philadelphia Comic Con is scheduled for June 19-22, 2014.

 

[Dre Grigoropol is an indie cartoonist and blogger. Her work can be viewed at www.dretime.org. Follow her on Twitter at @dretimecomics. Photos by Dre Grigoropol and Mel Coci]

 

Wizard World made $6.7 million in conventions in 2012

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Wizard World has just filed its annual report for 2012  and the convention business was up a good bit in 2012.

Year Ended
December 31, 2012 December 31, 2011
Convention revenue $ 6,743,502 $ 3,782,124
Gross profit (loss) $ 2,419,235 $ 950,913
Operating expenses $ (2,221,426 ) $ (4,108,215 )
Income (loss) from operations $ 197,809 $ (3,157,302 )
Other income (expenses) $ (1,216,730 ) $ (1,148,064 )
Net loss $ (1,018,921 ) $ (2,009,238 )
Income (loss) per common share – basic and diluted $ (0.09 ) $ (0.08 )

The report attributes the increased profits to “running better advertised and marketed events” as well as increasing ticket prices and “overall size and scope of each event.” Others savings for the year were due to “reducing stock based compensation to consultants, reducing web development fees and reducing professional service fees.”

The entire report is pretty lengthy and contains a lot of detail on executive compensation and stock options. Wizard World went public as a penny stock in 2011, turning its magazine business into a website, and emphasizing its convention business. According to filings, shows in Philadelphia, Chicago, New Orleans, Columbus and Austin made money, meaning Toronto ran at a deficit, but the Toronto shows have been put on the shelf anyway, especially after Hobby Star—promoter of the huge FanExpo events—sued over the name Toronto Comicon. 

Filings say the revamped website is still unprofitable—no surprise given the generally busy market and falling online revenues.

All in all, it’s a pretty good showing, for the Wizard World brand, which has certainly made big strides in the past year or so to present well-attended, bustling pop culture events. 

Wizard expands con schedule to St Louis and Nashville

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A long ago Wizard World con schedule included stops at New Jersey and Cincinnati—venues that never panned out. But it seems the con biz is going so well that Wizard is adding two shows to its sched: WW St. Louis Comic Con March 22-24 , and WW Nashville Comic Con October 18-20. Both seem promising venues for the pop culture/autograph/comics shows that Wizard has been having great success with of late. Both shows will feature the familiar guests lineup of Stan Lee, Dean Cain, Lando Calrissian, et al.

Nashville was on Wizard’s old list of expansion cities, so this is a plan long held. Some former cities like Los Angeles and Boston that have challenging con situations or a lot of local competition, haven’t been added back however. It’s fun to compare the list in this link with the current schedule.

PR below:

Wizard World, Inc. (PK.WIZD) today announced the addition of shows in St. Louis and Nashville to its 2013 schedule of pop culture conventions, with Wizard World St. Louis Comic Con set to make its debut March 22-24 at America’s Center and Wizard World Nashville Comic Con debuting October 18-20 at Music City Center. Popular Wizard World celebrity guests Stan Lee, Dean Cain, James Marsters, Ernie Hudson, Billy Dee Williams and Jason David Frank are the early celebrity roster headliners at both events.

Additional celebrities, artists, exhibitors and other attractions will be announced in the coming weeks.

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St. Louis and Nashville fit comfortably in the 2013 Wizard World calendar, which also currently includes shows in Portland, Ore. (Feb. 22-24), Philadelphia (May 30 – June 2), Chicago (Aug. 8-11), Columbus, Ohio (Sept. 20-22), and Austin, Texas (Nov. 22-24). Wizard World has also scheduled its next New Orleans date (Feb. 7-9, 2014).

Wizard World Comic Con events bring together thousands of fans of all ages to celebrate the best in pop-fi, pop culture, movies, graphic novels, comics, toys, video gaming, television, sci-fi, gaming, original art, collectibles, contests and more. St. Louis Comic Con show hours are Friday, March 22, 3-8 p.m.; Saturday, March 23, 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.; and Sunday, March 24, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Nashville Comic Con will take place on Friday, Oct. 18, 3-8 p.m.; Saturday, Oct. 19, 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.; and Sunday, Oct. 20, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

For more on the 2013 Wizard World St. Louis Comic Con, visit http://www.wizardworld.com/home-stlouis.html. For Nashville Comic Con information, visit http://www.wizardworld.com/home-nashville.html.

About Wizard World:
Wizard World produces Comic Cons and pop culture conventions across North America that celebrate graphic novels, comic books, movies, TV shows, gaming, technology, toys and social networking. The events often feature celebrities from movies and TV, artists and writers, and events such as premieres, gaming tournaments, panels, and costume contests.

The full event schedule can be found at www.wizardworld.com.

***** SAVE THE 2013-14 DATES *****
February 22-24 – Wizard World Portland Comic Con
March 22-24 – Wizard World St. Louis Comic Con
May 30 – June 2 – Wizard World Philadelphia Comic Con
August 8-11 – Wizard World Chicago Comic Con
September 20-22 – Wizard World Ohio Comic Con
October 18-20 – Wizard World Nashville Comic Con
November 22-24 – Wizard World Austin Comic Con
February 7-9, 2014 – Wizard World New Orleans Comic Con

 

Wizard stuff: Macaluso Chairman; Austin programming; convention profits up in Q2

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Despite the nearly daily arrival of Wizard World PR in our inboxes, we haven’t been the most attentive to running their news; apologies for that. With this weekend’s Wizard World Austin Comic Con coming up, here’s a little of what’s happening and a peek at the most recent SEC filings:

[Read more…]

Wizard World adds Oregon show in February 2013

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It’s been a long time since we announced a new show on the Wizard World Tour—but a new con has just been announced for Portand, OR in February 22-24, headlined by actors Norman Reedus, Sean Patrick Flanery, David Della Rocco and artist Greg Horn. The show will be held at the Portland Convention Center. [Read more…]

Where's the Situation? Not at Wizard World Chicago

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A few months ago there was a bit of fanfare—and perhaps a distant whiff of Axe—when it was announced that Jersey Shore cast member Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino and his family would be writing a comic for Wizard World, and appearing at various shows on the tour.

The comic—by Paul Jenkins, Talent Caldwell and Paul Mounts—was to debut at next weekend’s
Chicago Comic Con Wizard World Convention. But sadly, neither Sitch nor the comics will be on hand. According to Wizard spokesman Jerry Milani, the book will be debuting at Mid Ohio instead.