Wizard World has been making some long-planned announcements. Although I’ve heard a lot of people try to say they are losing altitude fast, they are still making moves and investing. In this case, two smaller market shows were announced for 2017, Wizard World Montgomery, Ala., and Wizard World Springfield, Mo.. That brings the number of WW shows up to 16 for the year.
The Montgomery event will be held Oct. 20-22 at Renaissance Montgomery Hotel & Spa at the Convention Center, while Springfield is set for Nov. 10-12 at University Plaza Hotel & Convention Center. More announcements for more shows are expected soon.
Future WW shows in 2017 includes the big Chicago show, (August 24-27), Nashville, Tenn. (Sept. 8-10), Madison, Wis. (Sept. 22-24), Oklahoma City (Oct. 27-29) and Austin, Texas (Nov. 17-19).
“We are excited to be bringing our pop culture celebrations to these two growing cities,” said John D. Maatta, Wizard World President and C.E.O. “We have big things in store for 2018, and the addition of Montgomery and Springfield is a reaffirmation of our commitment to producing high entertainment value for fans across the country.”
Celebrities scheduled to attend the Montgomery show include Nichelle Nichols (“Star Trek”), Jon Heder ( Napoleon Dynamite, The Benchwarmers), Emily Swallow (“Supernatural,” “The Mentalist), Holly Marie Combs (“Charmed,” “Picket Fences”), Nicholas Brendon (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer”) and Briana Buckmaster (“Supernatural,” “White Ninja”).
Springfield guests to date include Nichols, Heder, Combs, Craig Parker (“Spartacus,” Lord of the Rings) and Andrew Gower (“Outlander,” “Being Human”).
The move to smaller markets is one Wizard has been teasing for a while. Obviously the shows have lower logistical costs and are reaching tertiary markets that may not have had the fullmedia con experience before.
However, at least one conflict was found, with a planned Wizard World Biloxi having the same dates as a Fear Fete in the very same building. As the Wizard show hasn’t been officially announced yet one imagines the conflict will be worked out in advance.
In an even more shocking throwback to the 90s, Wizard has also announced a return to publishing, with a digital initiative – WizPop, a daily video – and a quarterly print Wizard magazine. The effort will be led by E-i-C and Director of Content Brian Walton, formerly Editor In Chief of Nerdist and Vice President of Editorial Operations at Legendary Digital Networks. Luke Y. Thompson, formerly of Nerdist, Topless Robot, Deadline, and OC Weekly (And if memory serves, Nikki Finke’s “nerd guy” way back in the day at Deadline) will serve as Associate Editor.
WizPop will also feature a weekly round-table reviewing the relevant news of the week. Bridging video, editorial and convention operations, the revitalized Wizard digital initiatives will speak to fans worldwide in Wizard’s distinctive snarkily-smart voice.
WizPop the daily video news service will share the uniquely authoratiative point-of-view of Wizard covering the larger universe of all things pop-culture.
In addition to standing as a daily digital presence, plans are in the works to return to publishing Wizard as a premium quarterly magazine.
From “Casting Calls” to “The Drawing Board,” classic Wizard Magazine columns will be revived as web-based articles and regular video features. Wizardand WizPop will feature news and reviews of the latest in comics, tech, movies, gaming, TV, music, and toys. Also returning will be the hallmark in-depth feature interviews with some of the biggest names in the comics and entertainment industries.
“To a generation of fans the Wizard name has stood at the intersection of entertainnment and pop culture. By introducing Wizard and WizPop as vibrant digital incarnations, Wizard World will expand its pre-eminent position in the industry to connect and interact with millions of fans every day,” said John D. Maatta, Wizard World President & CEO. “With the triumverate of Wizard, WizPop and the Wizard World live convention platform we have created a 24 hour a day digital and live experiential platform serving the fans of pop culture—the Wizard experience and the on-going conversation doesn’t stop when a Wizard Comic Con ends.”
The first episode of WizPOp is below, and the vision of a young woman in a sensible plaid shirt and boyfriend sweater fronting for the Wizard brand tells you that things are Very Different now. During its vaunted print run. Wizard Magazine had only a teeny handful of female staffers – one of them was hired to write for the Anime magazine, as that was “appropriate,” I was told at the time – and while Wizard staffers have circulated into the wider world of comics as a whole generation of content makers, the original Wizard was the holy guardian of thr Boys Only Comics religion.
Obviously that’s all different now. I’m not sure how snark is needed in an era when everything is snark, but I like seeing print resurrected and Walton and Thompson are solid hands. So let’s give it a whirl!
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.