Ruminations on the Cancellation of WizardWorld
David Lewis, writer of Mortal Coils and The Lone and
Level Sands, has long been a champion of comics as a true
art form, and currently teaches English at Northeastern
University, where he does indeed sneak comics into the curriculum
wherever he can. He posted this article on his
blog, and gave Fanboy Planet permission to reprint it.
the news first hit, I had an IM conversation with Joshua
Hale Fialkov, grand poobah of Hoarse & Buggy's Elk's
Run, from which I take this excerpt:
conspiracy in question isn't Wizard's, nor is it any of
the publisher's. But there is some nefarious force that
is thwarting Boston from having a full-fledged comic book
show worthy of this city.
(10:58:35 PM): Heard about WW Boston?
hoarseandbuggy (10:58:47 PM): yeh, i saw that.
hoarseandbuggy (10:58:52 PM): You move there, and it
goes to shit.
SAcomics (10:58:53 PM): bummer
SAcomics (10:58:55 PM): precisely
SAcomics (10:58:59 PM): i smell conspiracy
the small, local shows, mind you. Just this weekend, I attended
Primate Productions' one-day event at the Radisson on Stewart
Street, a bi-monthly event primarily aimed at collectors
and back-issue retailers. Still, I got to see and chat briefly
with Mike Oeming, Neil Vokes, Todd and Craig of Perhapanauts,
Johnny Raygun's Matt Talbolt, and the lovely Jennifer Omand,
from whom I purchased the charming Squarecat Comics collection.
(Back off, men, she's taken.) April's show already has Mike
Dooney, Hannibal King, Paul Gould, and Shea Justice listed
with the fledgling Writer/Artist Networking Events held
by New England Comics; Concord, NH's GraniteCon; Larry's
Wonderful World of Comics Shows in Chelmsford, MA; and Nashua,
NH's excellent Comic Show. (Undoubtably, there are other
local cons I'm forgetting.) The point being: Even when I
was down in Washington, DC, I knew there was a population
of comic book creators and fans here in/around the Bay State.
Still, it remains an underserved market...
in the case of last year's experimental WizardWorld Boston,
an overserved one. When news of its demise was released
in January, the WizardUniverse.com website said the following:
speaking to our exhibitors and partners, all of whom
shared our concerns about the outside costs of doing
business at this time, Wizard World Boston has been
cancelled. This is an industry decision, and we want
to do what’s best for the industry.
are thankful to the 8,800 fans that attended last
year’s event and hope to return to Boston in
the near future.
are two major items to be gleaned from those comments:
An operation the size of a WizardWorld is not affordable in
the current Boston market. Certainly, it's not feasible all
at once, without any build-up or initial, smaller forays into
There is a pool of over 8,000 comic book enthusiasts who would
attend a show in the Boston area, even at a location as inaccessible
as the Bayside Expo Center (rather than, say, in a nearby
suburb, a campus, or downtown Boston itself).
you telling me there's no convention planner who would like
8,000 local attendees?
another show without the Wizard brand might not get 8k of
foot-traffic (assuming their numbers were right to begin
with -- and assuming that "the Wizard brand" is
more of an attraction than a deterrent). But wheedle that
number down to 6k, even 5k, and you still have an impressive
show and an impressive profit to be made.
trick would be to make it the Boston show -- Enlist A-list
creators, reach out to local talent, advertise (and actively
promote) on campuses, and hook into both Newbury Comics
and New England Comics' impressive retail chains. The soil
for a MoCCA-sized show, an SPX show, or even a MegaCon or
SPACE! show is rich here in New England (that is, when the
ground's not frozen).
Boston wasn't a failure because of lackluster local response;
it perished because of its own false expectations. Following
the late September event itself (ridiculously timed to compete
with the last Red Sox home game against the Yankees), Gareb
Shamus, chairman and CEO of Wizard, wrote the following:
of the greatest, most passionate fans in the world
live here, and they really showed their support. The
entire Wizard team looks forward to coming back next
year and presenting Boston with another outstanding
Even with the convention season at a point of (over)saturation,
Boston should still be presented with "another oustanding
event," no question. The interest and the support is
here; only a show of the right size, right planning, and
right flavor is missing.
On this point,
Shamus is correct: "New Englanders deserve a world-class
event like Wizard World Boston." Maybe it could be
"like Wizard World Boston," but perhaps Wizard
doesn't have the right magic for the job.