Below is a press release from our good friends at the Midwest Comic Book Association (MCBA). The Wizard corporate behemoth has decided to directly complete against the beloved local, non-profit, volunteer-run Springcon convention. Wizard is truly the Wal-Mart of comics conventions.
Springcon and its sister convention Fallcon (both run by the MCBA) both offer free table space to professional and amateur creators… if there are any other conventions that do this, I’ve never heard of them. Their generosity and inclusiveness is pretty unbelievable. The MCBA does much to support the local comics and cartoonist community beyond the conventions as well… we are very lucky to have them around.
I encourage you all to strongly consider whether you want to support Wizard’s ugly corporate convention, designed to funnel money and energy out of our community. With your help, perhaps we can make them reconsider whether they really want their tentacles in the Twin Cities venue.
I will not be attending any Wizard conventions, ever, either as a guest or a consumer… which is an easy decision for me to make. Since I have no investment in making or reading mainstream comics, I have little to lose. Some of you may think you do have something to lose, which may make this decision more difficult for you. Keep in mind, though, if no one attends, you probably have a lot more to lose by attending it.
WIZARD STRIKES AGAIN
Seems the “New Wizard” is Same as the old Wizard
Twin Cities, Minneapolis, Saint Paul, MN (August 12, 2013) – The New York based Wizard World convention organization has once again decided to reach out and attempt to bully a long standing regional convention group. This time it’s the Twin Cities based (Minneapolis/Saint Paul, MN) all volunteer, not for profit Midwest Comic Book Association that is Wizards target.
Oddly enough the MCBA, an all volunteer, not for profit group was initially excited to hear the rumors that Wizard was coming to town. For 25 years they’ve been dedicated to providing promotions, service and support to the comic book industry and the creators/retailers who make their living in it. They viewed Wizards arrival and high industry profile as an opportunity to grow the community and looked forward to working with them in a support capacity as well. The more the merrier. Unbeknownst to the MCBA, Wizard evidently has other plans.
Every year for the past 25 years the MCBA has sponsored two public events. One is the SpringCon show, a two day show traditionally held in May and a one day show called FallCon in October. So out of all of the dates available to Wizard, they choose to schedule their premier event in the Twin Cities on May 3 & 4, 2014. Just two weeks ahead of the weekend SpringCon which is held May 17 & 18, 2014). Seems like the “new Wizard” is just like the old Wizard.
Recently, Nick Postiglione, one of the lead MCBA volunteers recently spoke with Peter Katz, Senior VP of Business Affairs& Development for Wizard who informed him “we had no idea that we were scheduling so close to the MCBAs event” and further continued that the proposed space (the Minneapolis Convention Center) “Only had the first weekend in May available to us”. The MCBA SpringCon dates for 2014 have been posted for quite some time on numerous industry websites and the MCBA website as well. In addition, one quick phone call inquiry to a space rental employee about space availability at the Minneapolis Convention Center put the lie to his availability statement. Evidently, the first week in May was specifically and strategically chosen.
Another interesting tidbit casually mentioned by Postiglione “About a year ago, we were approached by Wizard to see if we were for sale or absorption” he continued “I told them that given the fundamental structural differences in our respective organizations, that probably wouldn’t be possible. But we’d be happy to help their efforts in establishing a presence here. I just had no idea that they actually intended to land right on top of us. It’s an unfortunate situation, a huge disappointment for many of our volunteers, and ultimately a missed opportunity for the various communities we serve as well.”
There you have it. A group that has donated over 30 tons of food to the food shelves, over $100,000.00 to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, the MN Lupus Foundation and the MN Literacy council, as well as promoting retailer and creator events and other regional events is about to be bullied about by the corporate Wizard World convention machine. Again, seems like the “new Wizard” is just like the old Wizard.
Most people in the comic book world are acutely aware of Wizards history of predatory convention and comic book industry practices. Wizards will claim it is not so and that the “new Wizard” is a “much different organization” than that of years past. This is simply not true. This situation perpetrated by Wizard is a willful and purposeful attempt to corner a market and squash the local competition regardless of the negative effects it would have on the regional community and highlights, once again, Wizards self serving, predatory instincts.
To be sure, we live and work in a free market system based on competitive principles. Competition generally serves us well. But, given the unique nature of the comic book industry, the situation is definitely unique and traditionally acts as such. It’s a multi layered community composed of many different, and ever evolving, wildly diverse creative and financial elements. Minneapolis St. Paul is the 15th largest media market in the United States and should easily be able to handle two events of this type. However, that’s not in question here. What is in question is Wizards ethics.
It’s all about timing and making a proactive choice to help build a community or deciding to simply show up, bully the locals and pillage what others have built. The question is obvious “Is there a difference between having the right to do something as opposed to doing what’s right?” Evidently everyone, except Wizard, knows the answer to that question is “Yes!”
While this issue may or may not be concerned with your specific geographical area or affect the way your participate in the world of comic books right now, make no mistake, it is your community here that is under assault and this is your call to action! Vote with your dollars and your heart when choosing what events to support and attend. Please e-mail or call Peter Katz at Wizard and let him know where you stand regarding this type of predatory market behavior. Your community needs you to be heard!
Based on what the MCBA has stated in public, if Wizard did the right thing regarding their event dates, they would welcome them with open supportive arms and continue to help build a bigger, better, healthier comic book community for all of us.
FW – The Super Anti Wizard Guy
Special thanks to the peacemakers at the MCBA who provided the information used in this press release.
Peter Katz – Wizard World – firstname.lastname@example.org- (646) 801-5572