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Bendis, Con War conscientious objector — and other dispatches from the front

by  in Comic News Comment

Confirming yesterday’s report on Robot 6, comics superstar and Marvel mainstay Brian Michael Bendis has announced that he won’t attend Gareb Shamus/Wizard’s Anaheim Comic Con, for which he’d been announced as Guest of Honor during last weekend’s controversial Big Apple Comic Con. Why not? We’ll let him explain it, courtesy of his Twitter feed and message board.

Tweet #1:

sadly, i will not be guest of honor or attending the wizard anaheim show next year. i will be staying home and making comic books.

Tweet #2:

i will be at the excellent emerald city con. why? no con war.

When asked to elaborate on the rationale for his cancellation by a user of his message board, Bendis replied:

you can figure it out.

[Wizard Editor] mike cotton and those guys are good guys. there’s just stuff going on behind the scenes i don’t want to be part of. when those things stop, i’ll do more cons.

Though it’s not 100% clear, the three posts at the very least imply that the writer will also not be attending Reed Exhibitions’ Chicago-based C2E2 show, against which Shamus scheduled Anaheim, choosing instead to opt out of the con conflict entirely for the unaffiliated Emerald City Comic Con in Seattle this March.

For their part, Wizard continues to soldier on in the wake of their decision to schedule next year’s Big Apple show for the same weekend as the New York Comic Con in much the same way as they have in the past: by releasing ebullient, yet vaguely worded, press releases. Their post-BACC PR refers to the show as “the tri-state area’s largest pop culture festival,” a claim Reed will no doubt take issue with, and claims “this past weekend’s convention broke the event attendance record for Pier 94 in New York,” though no attendance figures are cited.

Perhaps the key passage of the press release is its list of mainstream media outlets that covered the con: “People magazine, the Wall Street Journal, Crains, AOL, National Public Radio, CBS, ABC, NBC, AP, Reuters, Nikki Finke’s Deadline Hollywood, Variety and more.” If, as rumored, Shamus plans to more or less openly move away from a comics-based model for his shows, an ability to successfully land favorable stories in the mainstream press, as opposed to navigating the more skeptical waters of the comics press and promotional outlets, is all the more important.

While individual Wizard staffers still remain tight-lipped about the show, Stephen Shamus — Wizard’s VP of Business Development and brother of founder and CEO Gareb Shamus — could hardly contain his enthusiasm about his on-stage appearance with Big Apple guests Naughty by Nature. On his Facebook account, Shamus posted a video of his cameo during the hip-hop group’s performance of “Hip Hop Hooray” and wondered “if any other Comic Con ever had such a high profile act perform on site.” (That’s him on the right, next to NbN’s Vinnie.)

Meanwhile, the Con War has claimed some unusual casualties online. Rich Johnston’s post quoting Wizard writer Mark Allen Haverty’s defense of the Shamus organization’s moves is now missing in action, while Wizard’s own website has been replaced with a bare-bones portal containing little more than links to purchase magazine subscriptions and convention tickets. (The Beat’s Heidi MacDonald also yanked a Con War post, though as she explains, this is because it was an unfinished post that went up accidentally.) Further developments are no doubt forthcoming.