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Wizard waves Con War white flag, reschedules Big Apple, New England, New Jersey shows

by  in Comic News Comment

The battle of New York is over without so much as a shot fired.

On its convention website, Gareb Shamus’s Wizard Entertainment announced this morning that it is rescheduling its suite of Northeastern comic conventions, eliminating the head-to-head, same-town, same-dates match-up between its Big Apple Comic Con and Reed Exhibition’s New York Comic Con on October 7-10. Now, the Big Apple Comic Con will now be held on Oct. 1-3, the New England Comic Con on Oct. 15-17, and the New Jersey Comic Con on dates to be announced later. In addition, Big Apple has changed locations from Pier 94 to the Penn Plaza Pavilion, while the New England show will be hosted at Boston’s John B. Hynes Veterans Memorial Convention Center. It’s unclear whether the New Jersey con’s date change will lead to a move from Edison’s New Jersey Convention & Exposition Center upon rescheduling.

Wizard made headlines, and drew a significant industry backlash, beginning late last year by making a series of aggressive scheduling moves against veteran convention promoter Reed and its slate of comic and pop-culture shows. Most notoriously, Wizard scheduled its Big Apple show the very same weekend as Reed’s New York Comic Con, October 7-10, and in 12th Avenue venue literally blocks away from NYCC’s Javits Center location. Later, Wizard scheduled its New Jersey con for the following weekend. Ever since, guest-list comparisons and official industry presences have weighed in mightily in Reed’s favor.

Wizard’s move is not without precedent: Shamus’s company earlier switched the dates for its Chicago Comic Con from Aug. 12-15 to Aug. 19-22 following Reed and Lucasfilm’s scheduling of Star Wars Celebration V for the original dates. But this move seems more likely an attempt to accommodate comics industry players who did not seem keen on shuttling back and forth between two competing shows in their New York City backyard.

Of course, the date-shuffling and venue-switching hardly represents a cessation of hostilities: Scheduling shows in Manhattan and Boston the weekends before and after Reed’s NYCC could be seen as an attempt to leech business away from more established show. But we’ve already had a same-weekend Reed/Wizard match-up a few weeks back, when Reed’s inaugural Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo more or less forced Wizard’s Anaheim Comic Con into obscurity despite underwhelming attendance (to which, it must be said, Reed admitted with refreshing candor). At this point, it’s tough to say whether there’s really any direct competition between Wizard’s nostalgia-tinged line-up of genre-TV stars and Reed’s much more comics-focused conventions. But whatever competition there is has just gotten much less direct.