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Tensions resurface as Wizard World arrives in Minneapolis

by  in Comic News Comment

As the ever-growing Wizard World tour pulls into Minneapolis, Minnesota, this weekend, KARE TV shines a spotlight on the friction between the inaugural show and organizers of SpringCon, a 26-year-old annual event that’s being held two weeks later.

“We don’t have William Shatner at $199 an autograph, we don’t have the stars and that kind of thing,” Nick Postiglione of the Midwest Comic Book Association, which organizes SpringCon, tells the TV station. “We have comic book creators, writers and artists.”

The nonprofit group’s displeasure with the timing of Wizard World Minneapolis Comic Con is no secret: When the convention was announced last year as part of an expansion that included shows in Sacramento, San Antonio and Atlanta, an email circulated accusing the company of “specifically and strategically” selecting a date so close to Spring Con, contrary to assurances by chairman John Macaluso that the established event “was not on our radar.” The email also quoted Postiglione as saying Wizard had previously approached the Midwest Comic Book Association regarding the possibility of purchasing or absorbing SpringCon, an offer organizers declined.

Wizard of course has a bit of a history of conflicts with established local conventions, which have occurred with enough frequency to earn the label of “con wars.” Most famously, the company — or, rather, its predecessor, overseen by Gareb Shamus — in 2010 pitted its newly purchased Big Apple Comic Con against New York Comic Con, and, five years earlier, announced an Atlanta convention for the same 2006 dates as HeroesCon. In the latter instance, Wizard backed down in the face of industry outcry — numerous top-tier creators threw their support behind HeroesCon — and announced it would reschedule its Atlanta show for 2007.

Fast-forward to 2014, and a new Wizard World with a new top executive has a whopping 18 conventions that dot the map from Philadelphia to Chicago to New Orleans to Portland, Oregon, meaning the odds that one of them will plop down in close proximity to an established local show is only likely to increase.

There’s little that organizers of those competing events can do about it, beyond ramp up their promotional efforts and, as Postiglione suggests, focus on what they have to offer. In the case of SpringCon, it’s a grass-roots event that showcases creators (this year’s lineup includes a lot of local talent, as well as more nationally recognizable names like Zander Cannon, Ale Garza,  Brian Hurtt, Adam Hughes, Christopher Jones, Dan Jurgens, Ryan Kelly, Peter Krause, Steve Lieber, Doug Mahnke, Tom Nguyen, Jeff Parker, Amy Reeder and Bill Willingham).