[Edit: Updated with reader comments] I’m becoming obsessed with the story of Wizard Entertainment. This may be the most intriguing story in comics since the death of Superman.
Wizard, in case you didn’t know, was up-until-recently one of the 800-pound gorillas in the comics industry.
Its magazine, Wizard magazine, was the unofficial marketing arm of the Big Two comics publishers (Marvel and DC), and its regional conventions were the biggest on the American landscape. Only Comic Con International rivaled their size, but it had one date and Wizard boasted several weekends throughout the calendar year.
So, help me get my head around the following timeline. And, please, feel free to add any I missed.
1991: Wizard Entertainment launched.
1997: Wizard purchases the Chicago Comic-Con.
2001: “Anime Insider” magazine launched
Nov. 2004: Wizard announces the addition of WW Boston (the fifth WW, after Chicago, Philly, “Southern California” and Dallas).
July 2005: Wizard announces Wizard World Atlanta, which is scheduled on the same weekend that Heroes Con traditionally is held. The date selection becomes more controversial when it’s revealed that Heroes Con was allegedly in contact with the magazine about increasing its advertisement levels for the special anniversary show.
August 2005: Wizard backs off WW Atlanta, saying that 2007 is the targeted year for it if they can find a location.
Oct. 2006: Wizard World Boston is permanently cancelled. They announce dates for 2007. Wizard World Philly just happens to fall on Father’s Day Weekend for 2007, meaning it’ll be competing directly with Heroes Con.
April 2007: Reed Exhibitions launches New York Comic Con — a huge regional con that opens to successful reviews (despite some problems with the Fire Marshal).
Feb. 2009: Wizard Entertainment announces the latest in a series of staff cuts just weeks prior to New York Comic Con — at which the company hosts a panel: “Can You Work for Wizard Magazine?”
Feb. 2009: Wizard “postpones” Wizard World L.A. and cancels Wizard World Texas. WWLA is later officially canceled.
May 2009: Former Wizard staffers form MAD event management and announce the Long Beach Comic Con for Oct. 2-4. Marvel pledges support for the event with a limited edition incentive book which will be offered exclusively for show attendees who pre-order tickets.
May 2009: Wizard’s Amazon store’s negative-feedback rating plummets to 53%, when adjusted for the preceding 30 days. Reports from angry buyers (and the company’s seeming lack of response) are staggering.
June 2009: Wizard World Philadelphia, once again scheduled for the same weekend as Heroes Con, opens without traditional anchors such as DC, Marvel, Dark Horse, Image and Top Cow. Attendees show up for the last day with “R.I.P. WWP” T-shirts.
June 2009: Wizard CEO Gareb Shamus buys FunFare magazine and Paradise Comics’ Toronto Comic Con. There are now three, new Wizard-run conventions on the calendar — in New York, Chicago and Toronto.
August 2009: The list of exhibitors for upcoming Wizard World Chicago lacks the following names: DC Comics, Marvel, Dark Horse, Image and Top Cow.
November 2009: Gareb Shamus announces the purchse of New England Comic Con, with dates to be announced soon. The current 2010 schedule is:
Toronto Comic Con, Direct Energy Centre, March 26-28, 2010
Anaheim Comic Con, Anaheim Convention Center, April 16-18, 2010
Philadelphia Comic Con, Philadelphia Convention Center June 11-13, 2010
Chicago Comic Con, Donald E. Stephens (Rosemont) Convention Center, August 12-15, 2010
Big Apple Comic Con, Pier 94, October 7-10, 2010
New England Comic Con, TBD
June 2010: WW Philly is scheduled for June 11-13, so as not to directly compete with the Fathers Day scheduling of Heroes Con.