A bunch of con news for the end of the year – looks like some consolidation and fine tuning is happening.

Also new policy: we’re only running photos of Jason Momoa whenveer we report on cons.

(Some of this news is a bit old but just wanted to get it all in one place. )

§ WIZARD WORLD NO MORE!  Just today Wizard announced that they are changing their name to Wizard Entertainment, a more 21st century ready name. Although the company will change names, the events will continue under the Wizard World banner. They are also kicking off the convention season  January 3-5 with Wizard New Orleans, guest starring lovable, shaggy, often wet Jason Momoa. Statement:

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John D. Maatta, Wizard Entertainment CEO, today announced that the nation’s largest producer of pop-culture events is now known as Wizard Entertainment, Inc. The renamed entity, formerly known as Wizard World, Inc., is pleased to present its first convention of the 2019 calendar year, Wizard World New Orleans, January 4-6, at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, featuring Aquaman headliner Jason Momoa, together with several stars of “The Vampire Diaries,” “Outlander” and other popular television programs and films.

Maatta stated, “Wizard Entertainment is a name that more appropriately captures the breadth of initiatives we are planning as we head into 2019. In addition to our successful live events across North America, the name reflects our additional opportunities in other regions such as China, location-based entertainment initiatives, and participation in strategic M&A opportunities.”

The entire 2019 lineup can be seen here and includes 12 shows. ICv2 dug into their latest SEC filings and concluded Balance Sheet Weakens, Losses Mount at Wizard

Underlying metrics were weak.  Revenue dropped on a larger number of shows; there was a big drop in revenue per show from $1.31 million per show in 2017 to $894,000 per show in 2018.  Wizard put on five shows in Q3 2018, up from four in 2017, but is now saying it will operate 13 shows in 2018, down from the 14 it originally planned (see “Wizard World Lost $5.73 Million in 2017“).  It attributed the lower revenues per show to the fact that two of the five shows in the period were small market shows; it didn’t say how many of its shows were small-market shows in Q3 2017.

Ballooning interest payments on their borrowings are part of the loss culprit, something everyone who has had to survive on credit cards is doubtless all too familiar with.

Wizard has been counted out before though, it’s a sturdy brand at this point.

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§ FAN FEST/WALKER STALKER DOWNSIZING: People have been saying for a while that the once gangbusters Walker Stalker/Heroes and Villains/Fan Fest brand of shows has been declining a bit, and they have canceled two shows in January as revealed in a letter that went out to exhibitors:

After much consideration, Fan Fest Portland (January 5 & 6) and Walker Stalker Con Phoenix (January 26 & 27) have been removed from our 2019 event line up. Our new calendar will allow us to offer the best possible experience for our attendees and guests as we continue to grow our more established markets. The rest of our 2019 calendar remains unchanged.

Refunds for Event Admission and Photo Ops will be processed automatically. You do not need to contact us or Celeb Photo Ops to initiate a refund. All refunds will automatically begin processing within 5-7 business days. As with any refund, funds may take an additional 5-7 days to hit your account, depending on your financial institution. Unfortunately, our ticketing system is unable to transfer tickets between different cities at this time so we will be automatically refunding all tickets to these two events.
We wish you all a very happy holidays and look forward to a bright, fandom-filled new year.

As with many recent cancellations, the word went out barely a month before the scheduled events. If nothing else it does reveal that the month of January is basically a no person’s land except for Wizard in New Orleans. And I’ve been to NOLA in January and it’s a damp, grey, surreal place. Looks like the first WSFF show in the US wont be until April in Chicago – there’s a show in London in March however.

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§ BUT ANOTHER FANFEST IS GROWING!   Last month we told you about Fan Fest in San Antonio, a very sudden show that had huge stars. Reports were that the show was extremely well run, and the organizers are a new player on the scene. And indeed on January 3rd they are making a big announcement according to showrunner Bob Wills:

On January 3rd, we will start making major announcements for the 2019 Celebrity Fan Fest. We will be in a very large venue for 3-days Friday-Sunday.

Our plans call for having 3-5 major celebrities just like we did this year(Jason Momoa & Ben Affleck).

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§ ACE COMIC CON IS COMING TO PHOENIX WITH FASSBENDER: It was just a year ago that Ace Comic Con burst onto the scene with a show at the former Nassau Coleseum. Ace has definitely cleaned up its act from that bumpy opening and now runs shows smoothly with mega signings. However they haven’t announced a return to Nassau. But they ARE going to Arizona (Glendale) for the second year in a row, with Michael Fassbender announced making a very rare – maybe his first? – appearance at a fan event. Lots more info here, including a sale on tickets and photos until the end of the year. Arizona is their only announced show for 2019 thus far, but they tend to take it one show at a time.  imagina

§ NO SAN FRANCISCO COMIC CON IN 2019: San Francisco continues to be the only venue in the US that’s so up its own ass with techbro privilege that it has no big comic cons. Last month I saw reports circulating that the San Francisco Comic Con put on by the Imaginarium group, was “on hold.” Showrunner Steve Solomon made it clear in comments that this was directly because the city was being….difficult:

I wouldn’t say SFCC is “dead”. I’d call it “cryo-sleep”! We are open to returning. We have the attendees, exhibitors/artists, and staff ready for us to return. What we don’t have is the city of San Francisco, and we need them. Maybe things will change in that city at some point allowing SFCC to awaken from its slumber.

I’m told “California, and the city of San Francisco specifically is very unfriendly towards consumer events/comic conventions.”

The last time we went to Wonder Con was a decade ago, its last year in SF, and they city was getting a little cray cray, but sounds like it’s totally gone brogamming mad. I dread the idea of even setting foot there now. There are many shows in San Jose, however.

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§ BUT IMAGINARIUM HAS MANY OTHER AWESOME SHOWS COMING in 2019: Unphased by the probems in the Bay Area, Imaginarium has five shows on the schedule for 2019, mostly in strong but secondary markets:

I’m happy to announce Imaginarium’s 2019 convention schedule! We once again have five conventions on docket, with one new convention among them (Wisconsin Comic Convention). Here is our 2019 schedule:

-Wisconsin Comic Convention (June 28-30, 2019) – Milwaukee
www.wisconsincomicconvention.com

-Atlanta Comic Con (July 12-14, 2019) www.atlantacomiccon.com

-Tampa Bay Comic Convention (August 2-4, 2019) www.tampabaycomicconvention.co

-Michigan Comic Convention (August 16-18, 2019) – Detroit www.michigancomicconvention.com

-Indiana Comic Convention (August 30 – September 1, 2019) – Indianapolis www.indianacomicconvention.com

2018 was a fantastic year for us! Indiana Comic Convention now holds our company’s all-time attendance record at 55,100 unique attendees. Tampa Bay Comic Convention was our second highest attended convention this year at just over 45,000 unique attendees. Michigan Comic Convention and Atlanta Comic Con were shows that we debuted this year to respectable turnouts for first time shows; 12,098 unique attendees for Michigan and 17,199 unique attendees for Atlanta.

Has anyone been to one of these shows? Did you have a good time? What are y ou looking forward to in 2019 as far as comics events go? Let us know in the comments.

 

10 COMMENTS

  1. Love Tampa Comic-Con, being going for 4 years. Well organized, and Imaginarium does a great job with setting up & scheduling the panels. Love Artist Alley. Solid selection of vendors (including lots of comic vendors). Great vibe, nice people overall.

    Other local cons claim to have panels but never post any information about them (I’m looking at you, Megacon). I skip them because I’m not interested in spending hours looking at vendors & buying crap.

  2. Dear Arp — We have lots of panels at MegaCon (Orlando and Tampa Bay), we don’t just claim to have them – the schedule is always posted on our websites in the weeks leading up to the events with descriptions and we also have a phone app which is updated on the fly with all of that information. There’s programming for nearly every type of fandom – celebrity and voice actor q&a’s, creator spotlights, sketch duels, workshops, anime programming, cosplay tips, and lots more. Considering the number of creators we have at the events we have lost of programming to keep them busy. You could sit in a room most of the weekend and not visit the vendors, but we also have lots of great vendors worth visiting.

  3. There are a lot of people who bought plane tickets for the Jan. 5 th convention in Portland. Oregon. Since Heroes & Villians canceled only a couple days ago, they should pay for their airline tickets.

  4. I think it’s Wisconsin Comic Con’s first year at the Wisconsin Center and I think they existed last year at an airport hotel? I’m trying to think because I’m usually on top of cons in my home city Milwaukee… Having a June date makes it more accessible for younger kids since they’re out of school, but they potentially lose all the college students who go home for the summer. Their guest list doesn’t seem super amazing but at least they have some guests from iconic series like Princess Bride, The Office, and Firefly…

  5. Walker Stalker/Fan Fest Portland 2018 was HUGE, but so disorganized and poorly handled that most fans were weary of a repeat. It’s unfortunate they did a complete cancellation, instead of taking the steps to ensure a great show. The show “organizers” were so preoccupied with making money, they missed out on what’s important. The fan experience.

  6. As of now none of the artists or attendees have gotten refunds for WS/HVFF PDX or PHX and it’s been a no-man’s land of unreplied emails, deleted facebook posts and blocked twitter accounts. Very disappointed to see this behavior from a show we had always enjoyed doing. Cancelling all paid booths and will not be booking with them again, and I encourage other vendors and artists to do the same.

  7. “California, and the city of San Francisco specifically is very unfriendly towards consumer events/comic conventions.” It’s not accurate to paint the whole of California with the San Francisco brush. Southern California is thriving with Cons: you can attend a Con a month from January through October just in SoCal. That’s in addition to Cons in the Silicon Valley and Sacramento.

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