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.