Rumors have been floating around for a while that something was up with the Big Apple Con, the New York show run by retailer Michael Carbonaro. Now, according to a press release, the show has been purchased by Wizard and will move to a new venue — Pier 94 — and an October date for this year.  Should this date hold for next year, it would put the show in direct competition with the New York Comic-Con, which is moving to a fall date in 2010.

The Big Apple Con had been held at the Pennsylvania Hotel, a crumbling landmark which was much the worse for wear and contributed to what many considered a less-than-sparkling display for comics and their media guests. The hotel had been slated for demolition, but the housing bust has put that on hold.

Wizard has been running conventions for a while, of course, but had faced rocky roads this year with the cancellation of one show (Texas) and the postponement of another (Los Angeles.) The Chicago and Philly shows are still planned. As with other Wizard shows, the new Big Apple Con will be partnered with another pop culture show, this time the Video Game Expo. Complete PR follows.

Gareb Shamus, CEO of New York-based Wizard Entertainment,  today announced he has acquired Big Apple Con, one of the trailblazing brands in the comic book and pop culture world, and the longest running annual show in New York City. The “new” Big Apple Con is moving to Pier 94 in Manhattan the weekend of October 16-18, 2009.

“I’ve been going to shows in New York City since I was a kid and I have a fondness for Big Apple Con,” Shamus said. “Today’s acquisition fulfills a dream of running a mega-show in New York City unlike anything there’s ever been.”

This move also enjoys tremendous support and enthusiasm from industry leaders. “Diamond is really looking forward to working closely with our friends at Wizard as they expand into the New York market,” said Bill Schanes, Vice President for Purchasing at Diamond Comics. “We anticipate a great event based on their ability to attract key talent, to promote and market the event, and at the same time to give consumers a tremendous value for their admission price.”

Ed Fleming, CEO/Founder of Video Game Expo (VGXPO), the largest East Coast expo of its kind, announced recently its partnership with Wizard World Philly. Now, VGXPO will expand its relationship to include Chicago Comic-Con and Big Apple Con as well. “Our partnership provides VGXPO with the ability to rapidly grow our footprint from Philadelphia to Chicago and now New York City,” he said. “We look forward to working and sharing our passion for video games with all the fans in New York.”

Michael Carbonaro , the longtime and current producer of the show, will continue to provide his limitless creativity and enthusiasm to the show.

Benji DeJohn is listed as Show Manager and Joe Favorito as Media Relations contact.


  1. So Wizard is hemorrhaging money left and right, canceling Wizard Worlds, and now Gareb goes and buys Big Apple, a show that has never really taken off in NY before? While I admit I’ve never attended the show, it’s always been described as a show with a “basement atmosphere” to me. That is, smells of BO, and filled with uber-nerds with little to attract the casual fan. This reeks of desperation to me. And I assume this moves Big Apple from November to October ahead of time, yes? If they keep it in October, or even anywhere in Q4 for 2010, it’s dead. Sure, combining it with a Video Game Con will draw some of the lesser fans in, but not enough to survive.

    If I’m wrong so be it, but I just don’t see it happening.

  2. This whole thing boggles the mind. All indications were that Wizard might be toning down its operations across the board, both in print and conventionwise. To jump into one of the most uncertain markets and to place themselves in direct competition with a huge con that has been building in stature and quality for the last 3 years seems crazy.

    I wonder what kind of con we are getting? The small-town feel of the Big Apple? The typical Wizardworld extravaganza? Something in between? And will it work?

    Interesting. This whole thing is very interesting.

  3. Definitely interesting. While I will agree with Ian that Big Apple Con always had something of a basement feel (despite being above ground) and could tend towards the seedy at times (with the softcore models) as well as the tangental (people selling vampire teeth and swords) there was always a lot of good shopping to be had, and at times a lot of access to creators in artists’ alley. I would always want a shower as soon as I got out of there, but I would tend to get out with a sack full of books I got cheap. I have to wonder whether the Wizard makeover of the show will raise the prices for all involved, driving out those values in favor of a more corporate and media-friendly environment? Or whether they will try to compete with Reed by being the discount alternative? I guess we’ll see.

    And, if nothing else, I’m glad MoCCA isn’t in October, and will be safe from the con market saturation.

  4. There is not much chance of two major cons being able to survive in NY. I just hope Shamus only takes himself down with this idiodic move and not NYCC as well.

  5. The Big Apple Con may be held in a dump, but at least it’s a conveniently located dump. Just take a train to Penn Station and there it is. Plenty of other stuff around when you need a break from the con’s unique “atmosphere”. Now it’ll be all the way on 12th Ave? That alone makes it much less appealing.

  6. One thing I don’t quite understand, why is it necessary to purchase a convention? Wizard already has the apparatus to produce conventions in other cities, why does it need to acquire an existing one to make this move into NYC? What does it mean to buy a convention? Did they just buy the “Big Apple Con” name? That doesn’t make a lot of sense to me either. The Big Apple cons I’ve gone to are significantly different in scope and character than the Wizard Worlds I’ve been to.

  7. I’d say that moving locations is a step in the right direction for Big Apple. But ANOTHER con in the upper west end of Manhattan?! BLAH. As a New Yorker I hate going over there even for the good shows!

    This will hopefully be a great year for the MoCCA art fest!

  8. Win: Wizard gets an established New York show with expertise and contacts. (But did they learn their lesson with Chicago Comic-Con?) Win: Wizard has one less show to compete with. Win: Smaller shows at other venues can generate profit with low overhead. Win: fans avoid the Hotel Pennsylvania.

    However… Wizard gets only one chance to succeed. Eveyone’s expecting them to fail. Big Apple’s strength is that it is a dealer con with talent added to draw a crowd. I found lots of unusual items at the last show, and tables weren’t mobbed. Yes, the bathrooms were deplorable, the aisles crowded, the admission a bit high… all of which will hopefully change at the new locale. Where else can it go? What other spaces are big enough? NYCC proves that people will trek anywhere if there’s a good reason to do so. I’ll be there.

  9. One sure thing about press releases — there are plenty of lines to read between. I wonder — who’s really buying who here? Feels more like what’s left of Big Apple getting a quick infusion and a nominal brand name to prop it up — and Wizard getting to park some assets and commitments somewhere. Best thing about the pier is that it’s closer to the river — so the show won’t have to go too far to finally sink. My money’s on Reed.

  10. While something I never expected, this could be a good move for both Wizard and Big Apple.

    Expectations will be low which will allow BA to succeed simply by moving to a new less seedy venue. Wizard succeeds if they focus on keeping it a comics centric show and allows it to grow naturally.

    But, ultimately, only time will tell.

  11. Reed vs. Wizard for the New York Comic-Con champeen?

    Feels sorta strange cheering for one Corporation against the other in a competition to see which one is the BEST at importing/copying the successful non-profit SDCC model for the East Coast… And I wonder if the two’s business relationships with MARVEL and DC will force alliances one way or another in booth appearances come the following Octobers?

  12. Ed, if Wizard tries to turn this into a Wizard World, then they fail. NYCC is already the second biggest con in the U.S, with 2009 attendance at around 70K.

    If they keep the Big Apple DNA, give it a course of antibiotics, some cosmetic surgery, and improve its diet, then it will thrive. Big Apple is a dealers con with some celebrities and an amazing creators alley.

    Two challenges: attracting the general populace (videogame partnership helps, grabbing toy and sports fans would help; attracting the nonfanboy comics readers that frequent MoCCA, NYCC, NYAF, science fiction conventions, but avoid Big Apple.

    If Wizard makes Big Apple as THE place to find interesting, cool, unusual, hard-to-find merchandise, like a Brigadoon which appears only once a year, like a pop-culture Baghdad bazaar, then it will succeed and prosper. (They should partner with an auction house to add cachet to the show.)

    I want them to succeed. I want Big Apple to get better. I want to go to a comics show every season in New York, each with a different aspect and emphasis. I want to be able to find interesting items and meet talented creators and talk with passionate fans and discover and learn and enjoy! Most of all, I want innocents to be seduced by comics, not repulsed.

  13. Did it go completely unnoticed that Brett White, one of the last employees from last year left at Wizard Conventions, was fired yesterday?

    Yeah, notice that there’s a new press contact instead of White.

    Plus, Brett Twitters:

  14. “While I admit I’ve never attended the show, it’s always been described as a show with a “basement atmosphere” to me. That is, smells of BO, and filled with uber-nerds with little to attract the casual fan.”

    Oh, please. Some people would describe EVERY show that way … even if it was held on Paradise Island and all the fans were beautiful Amazons.

  15. Fact of the matter…Wizard is on the move and the new partnerships add content and consumers. Who in the industry wouldn’t boast if they were mentioned in the #1 magazine for comics? No one… don’t be a hater, Wizard is an icon! Mark my words, Philly will be the new San Diego, Chicago will become the epicenter and the New York show will represent the heart and soul of all fans!

    I can’t wait to see what they do next!

    All those who bow to the corporate impostor that pretends to care (nycc) and buy into the facade that is C2E2…….you are transparent! These shows are fugazzi (fake)!

  16. A little tardy to the party…

    I’m really interested in seeing how Wizard will do this. The whole “keep it small” vs. “WW NYC” is a huge point. I sincerely doubt Wizard can compete with Reed’s new behemoth, but the current Big Apple set up definitely needs a change. Big Apple was the first convention I ever went to, and as I’ve grown and been to other conventions, I’ve found myself actually uncomfortable at Big Apple. Really, I only go to casually shop for half-off trades and the occassional artist.

  17. Good thing ever happened in the business, isn’t it? I always thought Big Apple Con’s blatantly stood for ‘Con Artist’ just as the owner Carbonaro.

  18. LOL BIG APPLE CON Artist. That guys is a petty criminal and sicko idiot, Mike Carbonaro. Is he still alive?