Wizard World on the Way Out?

Chicago Comic-Con is running this weekend. Yes, Chicago Comic-Con, not Wizard World Chicago as it’s been called for most of this decade.

And that name change brings up all kinds of questions.

Back in 1997, Wizard bought the Chicago Comicon, at its time the #2 comic book convention in the country after Comic-Con International in San Diego. They renamed it Wizard World Chicago and started building a series of conventions across the country. At its height there were five shows in Chicago, Los Angeles, Texas, Philadelphia, and (briefly) Boston.


Then in January 2009, Wizard dropped a bomb: citing the economy, Wizard World Texas and Wizard World Los Angeles were being canceled. People planning for WWTX at least got fair notice, but WWLA had been scheduled for March, just two months away. They insisted that WWLA was merely “postponed,” but made no indication of when the show might return.

That left two: Wizard World Philadelphia in June and Wizard World Chicago in August.

Rebuilding and Rebranding

Over the next few months, though, something odd happened: the convention series started growing again, as Wizard owner Gareb Shamus bought Big Apple Con, then bought Paradise Toronto Comicon. Neither show was rebranded as a Wizard World event, and Wizard quietly started referring to WWC as “Chicago Comic-Con.” And then they launched Anaheim Comic-Con.

So now there are again five conventions under the umbrella, but only one, Philadelphia, still has the Wizard World name. Chances are pretty good that they’ll rename it by next June…or possibly cancel it the way they dropped WWLA.

Whither the Wizards?

The obvious question is: why?

Well, Wizard World has acquired a bit of a bad reputation. Maybe they’re rebranding in hopes of escaping that.

Or maybe they want to give the shows a more local feel, rather than corporate.

Or maybe it’s something else. Judging by the announcements, it’s not Wizard Entertainment that’s been buying and launching these new shows — it’s Gareb Shamus. I wonder whether he might be planning to sell off Wizard and keep the conventions, or otherwise split the cons and the magazine into separate companies.

Makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

Update (August 11): After reading this article on “Comic-Con” vs. “Comic Con” vs. “Comicon,” I’ve gone back and tried to make sure I have the official spellings for each convention.


11 thoughts on “Wizard World on the Way Out?

  1. Lia

    I’m certainly concerned about the fate of the Paradise Con, I’ll tell you that. Then again, it was cancelled this year, so maybe this is the only way it can keep going.

      1. Lia

        Fan Expo is the huge one, Paradise is a small, low-key con. And Paradise is all-comics, whereas Fan Expo is more like San Diego now, with co-emphasis on Anime, Sci Fi, Horror, and Gaming.

        There’s more news and cool guests at Fan Expo, but it can be kind of exhausting. Paradise is much more relaxing.

        Fan Expo did start out as comics-only, but they expanded over the years.

  2. Ben

    I haven’t been to a con in years, but this worries me slightly about the future of big comic conventions in these states. If this guy decided to he could hurt these cons in a variety of ways.

    1. Kelson Post author

      On the plus side, most of the current WW cons aren’t the only big show in town. New York has NYCC, Toronto has Fan Expo, Anaheim is a two hour drive from San Diego, and if NYCC is anything to judge by, C2E2 should take care of Chicago. I know there’s at least one other Philadelphia con, but I don’t know if it’s comparable in size.

      On the minus side, Wizard World has never worried about scheduling their cons opposite other events. WW Philly vs. HeroesCon this year, Anaheim vs. C2E2 next year, etc.

  3. fastest

    I’ve been at Chicago Comic Con for the last 2 days. DC and Marvel both don’t have booths there, and I highly doubt, with the new show coming to Chicago next year, that they will hold this one again. It is a completely different thing this year.

    1. Kelson Post author

      I’m still astonished that *both* DC and Marvel skipped having a floor presence. But in part it’s just a matter of me still thinking in terms of Chicago being the #2 show, when NYCC seems to have taken over that spot. At least they both have a presence in the programming.

      How were the crowds on Friday? The Beat article I linked to at the top had someone talking about how Preview Night was basically empty, but how was attendance on the first full day?

      1. fastest

        Preview night was pretty empty, but that is to be expected at WWC. Not that there wasn’t anyone there, I was getting bumped like crazy at the 50% off trades booth. And Mike McKone’s sketch list filled up very quickly.

        Yesterday (Friday) was a normal Friday crowd. I usually like going on preview night and Friday to avoid the crowds. There is much less people because, well, everyone is at work. Today will be the real test of how WWC is doing. If it’s slow on a Saturday, you know something is wrong.

        1. fastest

          It was not slow today. It was as busy as any Saturday ever. And with the lack of a DC or Marvel booth, they just fit a whole crap load more TV and Film star singing booths right next to the entrance, making it near impossible to traverse the left half of the con floor. Whatever the problem is, it is not con attendance.

  4. James McEwan

    The switch to comic-con is no doubt an attempt to cash in on the global name recognition San Diego comic-con now has with the mainstream audience as an entertainment expo.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.