Wizard World Comic Con Albuquerque To Be Rescheduled To June 24-26, 2016
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M., May 22, 2015 – Wizard World, Inc. (OTCBB: WIZD) today announced that Wizard World Comic Con Albuquerque will be postponed until June 24-26, 2016. A timing conflict with the concurrent Wizard World Comic Con Sacramento, June 19-21, 2015, and late introduction of the show just last month are the primary reasons cited for the rescheduling of the 2015 event.
Refunds will be automatically issued to those who had already purchased admissions, photo ops and autographs. In addition, those individuals will receive free admission to the 2016 event.
Wizard World regrets the inconvenience and looks forward to providing the full Wizard World experience for its Albuquerque show next year. The company is appreciative of the cooperation of the Albuquerque Convention Center, area hotels and other partners in accommodating the new schedule.
About Wizard World, Inc. (OTCBB: WIZD)
Wizard World, Inc. (http://www.wizardworld.com) produces Comic Cons and pop culture conventions across North America that celebrate the best in pop-fi, pop culture, movies, television, cosplay, comics, graphic novels, toys, video gaming, sci-fi, gaming, original art, collectibles, contests and more. A first-class lineup of topical programming takes place at each event, with celebrity Q&A’s, comics-themed sessions, costume contests, movie screenings, evening parties and more. Wizard World has also launched CONtv, a digital media channel in partnership with leading independent content distributor Cinedigm™ (NASDAQ: CIDM), and ComicConBox™, a premium subscription-based monthly box service. Fans can interact with Wizard World on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and other social media services.
The 2015 Wizard World Comic Con schedule is available at www.wizardworld.com/wizcon.html.
Back in the fall of 2014, when I saw that Wizard World, that latter-day arbiter of pop culture sensibilities, was having its first-ever convention in Raleigh, North Carolina on March 13-15, I thought, Cool. I had been to the Minneapolis and Chicago shows, traveling hundreds of miles to write about each (see here and here, respectively). Raleigh is only 45 minutes from my house.
When I later saw that William Shatner would be at Raleigh Wizard World, I thought, Sweet. Who better than the Captain to explore this strange, new world? I watched as more excellent guests were announced—Sean Astin, John Schneider, Kevin Sorbo. And when I saw Rob Liefeld, the creator of Deadpool, added to the list, I thought, Awesome! Liefeld is one of the hottest comic artists of the last twenty years. I need some more stuff signed by him.
And when I received an email on February 24 from Wizard World’s PR person telling me that Doctor Who’s David Tennant would be in Raleigh, I thought, Oh. My. God.
David Tennant! No offense to other guests, but this was huge. Poll after poll shows him as the most popular Doctor among Whovians (see here, here, and here). Tennant’s Doctor is charming, funny, and passionate. Christopher Eccleston, the Ninth Doctor, did the hard work of rebooting the twenty-year-dead series in 2005; Tennant presided over its expansion both in the UK and across the pond. Plus he is a rarity on the convention circuit. Raleigh would be, in fact, his Wizard World debut (his second appearance will be in Philadelphia this May).
I am a middling Doctor Who fan. My wife and daughter? Rabid. And their favorite, of course, is David Tennant. My wife makes and sells fandom-related jewelry, and she had another convention that weekend in Winston-Salem, about two hours away. Urban Dictionary defines fandom as “a cult that will destroy your life”; I prefer to think of it as the impetus for restructuring your life on the fly. Thus, after much wrangling and a pair of David Tennant VIP tickets ($399 each!), we settled on the following schedule:
Friday: My wife and me at Wizard World, our daughter at the Winston-Salem convention
Saturday: All of us at the Winston convention
Sunday: My wife and my daughter at Wizard World to see David Tennant, me at the Winston convention
Actually, my weekend started on Thursday, at the Wizard World launch party. It was held at the Marbles Kids Museum in downtown Raleigh.
Advertisements for the party indicated that celebrities (plural) would be in attendance, though the only one I saw was Kevin Sorbo, star of the 90s hit series Hercules. Still, we had a nice chat:
Kevin: There are a lot of people who have faith. All the polls show like 80% of people believe in God. We tend to skim over that, and Hollywood doesn’t put out movies that deal with that. And when they do, they sort of bastardize it. Look what they did with Exodus. Look what they did with Noah, for crying out loud. Why would you hire atheist directors to do something out of the Old Testament? It’s weird to me.
Me: The emphasis there seems to be more on special effects.
Kevin: Yeah. We went to a private screening of Noah, and my wife said, “This is like Transformers meets Water World.” Visually, it’s beautiful, but you’re like, does the Bible talk about Noah being schizophrenic, alcoholic, and hell-bent on killing his own family at the end?
Me: You’ve had a varied career, but of course you’re most known for Hercules . . .
Kevin: Yeah, that and Andromeda.
Me: Right. How did your role in Hercules come about?
Kevin: It was a typical audition through Hollywood. My agent called me up and said, “They’re casting five Hercules movies, and they want to see you.” I said, “I’m a big guy, but don’t they want some steroid dude with no neck or some bodybuilder who weighs 280 pounds?” He said, “No, they’re looking for an athletic-looking, sort-of decathlon, Joe Namath-type quarterback.” So I went and read. They called me back and called me back. Seven times they called me back. I was up in Vancouver, Canada filming an episode of The Commish, and they called me and said, “You’re Hercules.” I thought it was going to be five two-hour movies. Then, boom! It became a series, and it passed Baywatch to become the most-watched show in the world.
Me: Before filming, how did you get into the role? How did you prepare yourself to play a mythical hero?
Kevin: It was all in the writing. They made the character very 90s. It was a very Malibu sort of Hercules. He was very hip and accessible and approachable, very self-effacing. There was a lot of humor. The fight scenes were never very violent. Our spin-off show, Xena, was a much more violent show, killing guys. We never killed a guy.
Me: Speaking of writing, you did a book a couple of years ago. What was that like?
Kevin: It’s been great because of the number of speaking appearances I get. I did a dozen last year, and I’ve already got about eleven more lined up this year. It’s been amazing to get out there and do all the talking I’ve been doing about the book, which is about a health scare I suffered. I was the healthiest-looking guy in the world in the 90s, and I had three strokes and almost died. It took me out of the show [Hercules] for four months. We had to re-write everything.
Me: Which is harder, writing or acting?
Kevin [laughs]: I think writing is much harder. Writers take much of the blame for everything in Hollywood, so God bless them. It’s the toughest job around.
Me: How did you get started doing conventions?
Kevin: You know, conventions really didn’t kick off until about fifteen years ago. The growth has been astronomical. In the 90s, comic cons weren’t that big. They were around, but there wasn’t the publicity and the push and the hype. I got invited during the 90s, but I could do only one or two a year because I was in New Zealand ten months out of the year [filming Hercules]. Now, I go to a lot around the world. I’m doing two in April in Australia. I have one coming up in Belgium. I get invited to about five a month, and I go to six or seven a year.
Me: Are there things you won’t do for fans? Are there lines fans try to get you to cross that you push back against?
Kevin: Not really. Women have not exposed their breasts to me, but they have wanted me to sign the top of their chests. Some people get very nervous because they know you from TV, and now they’re seeing you in the flesh. It’s a surreal moment for them, and I get that because when I first moved to L.A., I started meeting some of the celebrities I used to watch on TV, and I was like, “Wow. That’s really him standing there.” For me, it was Anthony Quinn [who played Zeus in Hercules]. Meeting him blew me away.
The next night, Friday, was my night at Wizard World. It is often said that Wizard World, with its deep pockets and runaway costs, delights in squeezing out local conventions. See, for example, this article decrying “William Shatner at $199 an autograph,” which is ludicrously inflated. Shatner charges less than half that amount, and he has charged it for years.
What has changed, and not for the better, is the number of comic book artists who now charge for an autograph. Michael Golden charged $10. Dean Haspiel (who?) charged $10. Tom DeFalco gave one or two free signatures, but he charged after that due to, as the sign on his table exhorted, the miserable capitalists who sell his stuff on eBay.
And Rob Liefeld. When I saw him in 2012, he charged $20 to sign copies of New Mutants #87 (first appearance of Cable) or #98 (first appearance of Deadpool). Everything else was free. Now he charges $30 for any Deadpool item, $20 for any New Mutants or X-Force issue, and $20 for any book being witnessed by CGC. He’s still a cool guy, though, and he did not charge me for this picture.
I get that writers and artists are trying to make a living. A market exists for their autographs that they did not create and are merely tapping into. But their judgment—or is jealousy?—of collectors feels wrong-headed. eBay does not lower payments to creators (a buyer’s market does that) nor deprive them of ownership of their work (publishers retain this). Besides, CGC’s fees are rich enough. To pay an extra $20 for the signature hurts.
Perhaps it was this increase in signing fees that was responsible for the small crowd.
Or the fact that few celebrities showed up for opening night (aside from Tony Stark).
The dealer’s room was livelier, but what struck me most there was the dearth of comic book dealers. I counted two. The rest had toys, decals, T-shirts, etc. Curiously, there were also the Lasik Vision Institute and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, giving the dealer’s room a festival-in-the-park feel. I left without buying anything (or scheduling eye surgery).
I tried to buy a third David Tennant autograph ticket for Sunday, the day my wife and daughter would be there, for my daughter’s friend. But they were not selling any more tickets until Sunday morning—possibly (as it turned out, they didn’t have more then, either). “It’s the first time we’ve worked with him,” said the apologetic young woman, “and we’re not sure what to expect.” Translation: they had under-prepared. Wizard World has remedied this (sort of) for Philadelphia, making David Tennant photos and autographs available only to VIP ticket buyers. It’s an imperfect solution: a limited quantity of tickets at a cost that prices a lot of people out of contention. But at least they won’t run out by the first day of the con.
So my daughter’s friend lost out. My wife and daughter, however, racked up, each of them receiving (1) any item autographed, (2) a professional photo-op, (3) a David Tennant collector’s card, (4) other Doctor Who stuff, and (5) a limited edition Walking Dead comic book with a black-and-white sketch cover by Dean Haspiel (so that’s who he is!). And they got into the Tennant Q&A, which, we found out, was open only to VIPs because the room was so small. (My question: why didn’t they rearrange the rooms? It’s David Tennant. You can bump the Harry Potter fan fiction panel to a snack bar table.)
If the crowd was meager on Friday, it had Hulked up by Sunday. There were 500 VIP ticket holders that day (600 on Saturday), plus who knows how many who managed to get a one-day autograph or photo ticket before they were sold out. My wife took over 100 pictures during the Q&A, enough to allow us to play a game called The Many Faces of David Tennant.
David ponders why the TARDIS isn’t cleaner on the inside.
David does his Gilbert Gottfried impression.
David whistles “Dixie,” because he’s in the South.
David tries to hypnotize the crowd but puts himself to sleep.
This is David Tennant, not David Bowie.
“Blimey, Rose! I told you to close the TARDIS door before take-off!”
Tennant is surprised at how popular Doctor Who has become in the United States—surprised but pleased. Asked about his acting career, he said he likes the variety of roles (in his new drama, Broadchurch, he plays a character as far from the Doctor as you can imagine). Whom would he cosplay as at a convention? “Someone with a mask, so I could enjoy the convention.” One questioner recommended that he try the barbecue before leaving North Carolina. This apparently led to a discussion of food in which he dissed American bacon (too dry and crunchy). Another asked him who he fanboys over. Answer: Marvel Comics, which he had recently toured.
After the Q&A came photos, and about an hour after that, the signing line started. When my daughter reached the table, she asked Tennant if she could record him saying hello to her friend (the one who got gypped on the autograph). Most celebs won’t do this, but in the absence of an advertised prohibition, it doesn’t hurt to ask. Astonishingly, he agreed! Then a Wizard World staffer stepped in and put a stop to it. Normally, I would rail against this, but the staffer had a point. If Tennant did that for my daughter, he would have to do it for everyone, which would slow the line to a crawl. The lesson for convention goers is this: guests aren’t being rude or aloof when they refuse some of your requests. The refusal may simply be a matter of convention policy.
So the inaugural Wizard World Raleigh was a success. Great city, great guests, friendly service—and the Doctor. One woman my wife talked to had driven eight hours from Alabama with her two kids to see him. On top of the arm-and-leg-ness of VIP tickets, this struck me as insanely devoted. “Would you do that?” I asked my wife on Monday as she stared out the kitchen window, a melancholy smile on her face. “Yes,” she said without hesitation. “Yes I would.”
Well-played, Wizard World. Well-played.
Dexter’s Laboratory. Johnny Bravo. The Powerpuff Girls. Cow and Chicken. Ben 10. Samurai Jack. Ed, Edd n Eddy. Camp Lazlo. For over twenty years, Cartoon Network has provided original programs that are now considered classics. Young adults look back fondly on the series. Kids cosplay as the characters. Every time I take my daughter into Hot Topic (with a hat pulled over my eyes, not to keep from being recognized, but because, to the target audience, I don’t belong), I see familiar faces adorning shirts, shoes, notebooks, lunch boxes, lip balm, and lots of other stuff. Now the network has released DVDs of two new series, Clarence and Steven Universe. Will they, too, become part of the national zeitgeist?
Previewed at the 2013 San Diego Comic-Con and debuting the following year, Clarence tells the story of Clarence Wendell, a fourth-grade boy with an unusual trait in these postmodern times: he sees the good in everybody. His best friends are Jeff Randell and Ryan “Sumo” Sumozski. Jeff is brainy and aloof (hence, the square-shaped head), while Sumo is the spaz of the trio. Series creator Skyler Page worked on the industry juggernaut Adventure Time, and Clarence sports a similar style and absurd humor. Critics like the show, which will appeal more to younger kids than teens. Adult viewers may be disappointed with this DVD, however, which has only 12 episodes, less than half of the 29 that have aired. The pilot episode is present, but there are few special features–no commentary or deleted scenes, and no creator interview (which makes sense: Page was fired from the show back in July). Still, the episodes are entertaining, if not clever, and at roughly 13 minutes each, you can watch one while cooking Kraft Mac & Cheese. Always a plus.
Steven Universe is a little older, premiering on November 4, 2013. Created by Rebecca Sugar (another Adventure Time alum!), the show has a more action-oriented plot than Clarence. Steven is the youngest member of a group of warriors called the Crystal Gems. Drawing their power from four mystical gemstones–garnet, amethyst, pearl, and rose quartz–the team hangs around the town of Beach City, racking up one cool adventure after another. Occasionally, they do something heroic, such as using a laser to destroy a giant, menacing red eye, but more often, Steven’s troubles are, beneath their sci-fi veneer, pretty typical. In one episode, he forms a magic bubble to protect a would-be girlfriend, Connie, from a falling rock, but then he can’t make the bubble disappear. This is just like childhood: getting in over your head with no real plan how to get out. Perhaps it is this universality of theme that has made Steven Universe a hit with critics and viewers alike. One quibble: the 12 episodes on the DVD are not episodes 1-12 but a random assortment. Because each episode builds on the next, watching them out of order is not the ideal way to experience this highly enjoyable show.
1. Fun Dungeon Face Off
2. Pretty Great Day with a Girl
3. Lost in the Supermarket
4. Clarence’s Millions
5. Jeff’s New Toy
7. Rise ‘n’ Shine
8. Average Jeff
9. Slumber Party
10. Dream Boat
11. Too Gross for Comfort
12. Neighborhood Grill
Steven Universe episodes
1. Laser Light Cannon (originally episode 2)
2. Gem Glow (originally episode 1)
3. Cat Fingers (originally episode 6)
4. Bubble Buddies (originally episode 7)
5. Tiger Millionaire (originally episode 9)
6. Steven’s Lion (originally episode 10)
7. Onion Trade (originally episode 15)
8. Giant Woman (originally episode 12)
9. Lars and the Cool Kids (originally episode 14)
10. Rose’s Room (originally episode 19)
11. Beach Party (originally episode 18)
12. Steven and the Steven (originally episode 22)
About Cartoon Network
Cartoon Network (CartoonNetwork.com) is regularly the #1 U.S. television network in prime among boys 6-11 and 9-14. Currently seen in 97 million U.S. homes and 194 countries around the world, Cartoon Network is Turner Broadcasting System, Inc.’s ad-supported cable service now available in HD offering the best in original, acquired and classic entertainment for kids and families. In addition to Emmy-winning original programming and industry-leading digital apps and online games, Cartoon Network embraces key social issues affecting families with solution-oriented initiatives such as Stop Bullying: Speak Up and Move it Movement.
Turning Broadcasting System, Inc., a Time Warner company, creates and programs branded news, entertainment, animation and young adult media environments on television and other platforms for consumers around the world.
POP CULTURE ICON BRUCE CAMPBELL TO HOST NEW ORIGINAL SERIES “LAST FAN STANDING” FOR UPCOMING DIGITAL NETWORK CONTV
Cinedigm And Wizard World’s New Network To Launch This February With Fan-Favorite Film, TV And Original Entertainment Geared Towards the Comic Con Community
JANUARY 9, 2015, LOS ANGELES, CA – The forthcoming digital streaming service CONtv has announced it will be kicking off production for a new original series, “LAST FAN STANDING,” a game show hosted and produced by fan-favorite actor Bruce Campbell (The Evil Dead, Army Of Darkness). Created in partnership with Pop Quiz Entertainment, the series will be filmed live on the ground at Comic Con conventions nationwide with first show taping on Saturday, January 10 at New Orleans Comic Con. “LAST FAN STANDING” engages event attendees through a proprietary audience response system, where all patrons play along, competing for cash and prizes. The show culminates with the top four players vying for the coveted title as Campbell hunts for the “LAST FAN STANDING.”
Scheduled to launch next month, CONtv is a joint venture between Cinedigm, a leading independent content distributor, and Wizard World, a leading producer of live pop culture multimedia conventions. “LAST FAN STANDING” will be shot throughout various Wizard World events throughout 2015, and will premiere on CONtv later this year.
Wonder how much Thor’s hammer weighs? Or how much damage the Vorpal blade would inflict on a 5th-Level Cleric? Fans finally find vindication in their hours studying comics, films, movies and more with host and horror icon Campbell in this outrageous new quiz show. A collaboration between his own production entity and Pop Quiz Entertainment, this will be Campbell’s first digital series.
“At a live preview during Wizard World’s Chicago Comic Con last August, six hundred screaming fans could barely hold their seats! It was obvious to us that this would be a hit,” said Chris McGurk, CEO of Cinedigm Entertainment. “With a host as beloved in the fan community as Bruce, there’s no better fit for CONtv than ‘LAST FAN STANDING.’ We think of this series as a celebration of the pop culture obsession and fan engagement that makes the CONtv audience so special.”
“The audience went crazy for ‘LAST FAN STANDING’ when we debuted the game at Chicago Comic Con this summer! CONtv is the perfect place to reach true fans, and we can’t wait to challenge our audiences to find out who is the ultimate pop culture guru,” said Campbell.
“We love that CONtv will be bringing the excitement and action of our conventions to fans across the country,” says John Macaluso, CEO of Wizard World. “By shooting ‘LAST FAN STANDING’ on location, CONtv viewers will be able to join in on the fan experience even when they aren’t able to be at the convention in person.”
Steve Sellery, CEO of Pop Quiz Entertainment commented, “We created ‘LAST FAN STANDING’ to celebrate the excitement and the fandom of each audience member, while providing them the chance to compete in a live game show. This truly is a unique and highly experiential platform that we trust will become a ‘fan favorite’ well into the future.”
The new series joins the recently announced “FIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD,” a horror-competition series from Alpine Labs, BlackBoxTV and Revolver Picture Company. An unprecedented mash-up of the reality and scripted genres, “FIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD” follows a collection of online celebrities including Joey Graceffa, Jesse and Jeana (PrankvsPrank), Justine Ezarik (iJustine), and more, as they face challenges in an attempt to survive the undead’s relentlessly grisly, and frighteningly realistic onslaught.
Additionally, CONtv also recently announced an expansive portfolio of acquired film and television content available on the new digital network. Carefully selected for the passionate fans that make up the CONtv audience, the new partnerships enable the network to carry a deep catalogue of the best in pop culture obsession from pulse-pounding horror, to short-lived TV series, to cult classic films.
Upon its launch in February 2015, the digital service will be offered as a free ad-supported platform as well as a low-cost monthly subscription of $6.99/month with content exclusives, audience rewards, a dynamic second-screen experience, and ticketing bundle opportunities for Wizard World conventions. CONtv plans to launch across a wide spectrum of devices including Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast, Xbox, PlayStation, Android, Samsung Smart TV, Windows, Mac OS, mobile, and tablet devices.
CONtv is a new digital entertainment network exclusively dedicated to the fanspace. Launching in early 2015, CONtv will offer audiences access to thousands of hours of original programming, elusive cult films and television shows, celebrated genre movies, and exclusive live coverage of Comic Con events nationwide. From quirky original series to an eclectic catalog of 1200 must-watch titles, CONtv’s seemingly endless stream of animé, fantasy, grindhouse, horror, martial arts, sci-fi, and superhero content will be available on demand through a free, ad-supported format or a low-cost, subscription-based model of $6.99 a month for premium content. CONtv is a partnership of Cinedigm Entertainment Group, the nation’s largest independent distributor of digital entertainment, and Wizard World, producers of the largest chain of Comic Con and pop culture conventions in the U.S. Together, they provide an unrivalled experiential hub of content, community, and conventions across the broad spectrum of platforms including Android, Apple TV, Chromecast, Mac OS, PlayStation, Roku, Samsung Smart TV, Windows, Xbox, mobile and tablet devices.
Cinedigm (NASDAQ: CIDM) is a leading independent content distributor in the United States, with direct relationships with over 60,000 physical retail storefronts and digital platforms, including Wal-Mart, Target, iTunes, Netflix, and Amazon, as well as the national Video on Demand platform on cable television. The company’s library of over 52,000 films and TV episodes encompasses award-winning documentaries from Docurama Films®, next-gen Indies from Flatiron Film Company®, acclaimed independent films and festival picks through partnerships with the Sundance Institute and Tribeca Films and a wide range of content from brand name suppliers, including National Geographic, Discovery, Scholastic, NFL, Shout Factory, Hallmark, The Jim Henson Company and more.
About Wizard World
Wizard World (OTCBB: WIZD) produces Comic Cons and pop culture conventions across North America that celebrate the best in pop-fi, pop culture, movies, television, cosplay, comics, graphic novels, toys, video gaming, sci-fi, gaming, original art, collectibles, contests and more. A first-class lineup of topical programming takes place at each event, with celebrity Q&A’s, the Wizard World Film Festival, comics-themed sessions, costume contests, movie screenings, evening parties and more. Wizard World also produces socialcon featuring social media stars and will be launching CONtv, a digital media channel in partnership with leading independent content distributor Cinedigm™.
About Pop Quiz Entertainment
Pop Quiz Entertainment develops and produces experiential events and branded entertainment platforms for network, cable, syndicated and online distribution, as well as live audiences across the nation. Pop Quiz Entertainment is the media and production division of Rising Tide Sports & Entertainment Group, with offices in Greenville, South Carolina and Delray Beach, Florida. Pop Quiz Entertainment is currently producing several shows, for live and broadcast audiences, including: “Last Fan Standing,” “Quest ForThe Best: The Armed Forces Trivia Challenge”, “Hasbro Live,” and “Match Play.”
The 2015 Wizard World schedule is available at: wizd.me/PRSchedule2015.
MICHAEL GOLDEN MEETS THE TRAIL BLAZERS!
(A Comic Con Night to Remember)
PORTLAND, OR – Call it a little “February” Madness, but with the Wizard Portland Comic Con approaching like a full court press, the area’s leading pop culture show isn’t letting any lead up time idle, tapping slam dunk artist Michael Golden (“Fantastic Four,” “Deadpool”) as the shooter creating an amazing art piece featuring five of the Portland Trail Blazers most recognizable players.
This combination of the all star talent turned into a great promotion for both Wizard and the Trail Blazers, with 20,000 copies of the Golden poster printed and given to all attendees of the Miami Heat vs. Portland Trail Blazers game Thursday 1/8/15!
The five players dominating the Portland skyline are: holding the W, Nicolas Batum; holding the moon, Wesley Matthews; holding Rip City, Robin Lopez; holding the Earth, LaMarcus Aldridge; holding Trail Blazers, Damian Lillard.
It was all part of Comic Con Night at the Trail Blazers game, as professional cosplayers were roaming the stands and cheering the Trail Blazers on with the fans, as they went on to beat the Heat 99-83.
But the shot clock hasn’t timed out on the fun!
Along with the artist of this exclusive piece, Michael Golden—who will be at the Wizard Portland show to sign the poster for those 20K fans who received one—all those attending Wizard Portland Comic Con can meet a variety of amazing talent, including Punisher artist Mike Zeck, writer/editor Renee Witterstaetter (of “She-Hulk” and “Guardians of the Galaxy” comics), actors such as Stephen Amell from “Arrow,” Bruce Campbell from “Evil Dead,” and a number of “The Walking Dead” cast members including Michael Rooker (also in the film, “Guardians of the Galaxy”).
In addition, fans can also meet some of the Trail Blazers at Wizard World Comic Con Portland. And again, get those posters signed!
Now that’s a scoring opportunity!
The show takes place January 23-25. For more details visit: http://www.wizardworld.com/portland.html
“Why do you think horror movies are so popular?” asked my friend John. It was Friday evening, October 24, and we were standing in Tobin Bell’s autograph line at Spooky Empire, the semiannual fright fest held in sunny Orlando. I have known John since 1990, when he, a transfer student from Massachusetts, walked into my high school Spanish class and took the only available seat–the one next to me. After high school, we worked together at McDonald’s, and when he moved to Tennessee for college, and then Florida to work in the nursing home industry, we remained friends. He was with me at the Minneapolis Wizard World, as a matter of fact.
And this is what our friendship is like: deep thoughts. Why are horror movies popular? “Fear is primal,” I answered. “We like being scared because it is a release, especially when the object scaring us is revealed to be harmless, like a man in a mask.” (The Atlantic magazine ran a great article on exactly this topic; I’ll recommend it here.) We talked about it more, stepping forward every so often as the incredibly slow-moving line moved forward (with incredible slowness). This is not because the line was mismanaged; there were simply a lot of people in it.
I have seen all the Saw movies, and Tobin Bell was the one person I wanted to see at my inaugural Spooky Empire, which calls itself “one of the largest horror cons in the US.” Horror cons tend to be peopled by B- and C-list celebs, but this one had some moneymakers: Tara Reid, David Guintoli and Bitsie Tulloch (from TV’s Grimm), Derek Mears, Chris Sarandon, some of The Walking Dead cast, most of Rob Zombie’s Halloween cast, and, of course, Tobin Bell. He was very gracious with his time, talking and laughing with attendees. The person in front of me had a Tobin Bell mask for him to sign, and I wanted to ask Tobin how it felt to hold his own face in his hands, but I was afraid it’d be weird. Instead, I handed him my still-in-the-box figure of Billy, Jigsaw’s creepy puppet (which I had already had Cary Elwes sign at DragonCon). Below is the result.
Want a close-up of Billy? Here it is.
Sadly, the household-name-ness did not extend to the authors. I am a writer, an English professor, and a sometime bookseller. In other words, I know literature. As a 25-year fan of horror fiction, I know horror literature. But I did not know a single writer in attendance. (Full disclosure: Carrie Harris was there. She seems pretty big in YA circles, and she got the big-author-convention treatment, meaning she got a panel of her own and her picture was the biggest in the program.) I seem to remember Clive Barker attending a couple of years ago, so I know Spooky Empire can attract true literary stars. I was disappointed that they hadn’t done so this year.
The good thing is that the writers who were there stayed paneled-up. They led not just author talks but actual seminars on writing and publishing, some of which were tailored to specific interests, such as Friday night’s “Writing for Screen and Other Mediums.” Though the name should have been “media” (sorry, writerly tic), it was a good seminar.
Halloween is a cold weather holiday, so it seemed strange to attend a horror convention in a T-shirt and no jacket. Yet I enjoyed the experience. The dealer room seemed small for “one of the largest horror cons in the US,” but some cool merchandise was available. I talked to one dealer who had a collection of vintage costumes, most still in the boxes. Had he had those costumes for 40 years, or did he buy them like that? “I assemble them,” he said, buying a mask here, pants there, the box from some other source. How long does it take him to put together a costume? Over 10 years, for some. He also had an assortment of stuff like we used to order from the ad pages in 70s-era comics and magazines–stuff like X-ray glasses, monster teeth, fake blood, all still in packages, most in mint condition.
These are the dealers I like. Others had mostly new stuff, some of which I see over and over at conventions. This, however, I had never seen.
One suggestion I have for Spooky Empire: better signage. John and I went through the hotel main entrance (Doubletree at Universal), followed the crowd of ghouls and zombies and normal-looking people (who could be homicidal maniacs because, as Wednesday Addams reminds us, “they look like everyone else”), and got all the way to what turned out to be a side entrance to the convention, where a guard pointed back the way we had come and said, “The convention entrance is that way.” A sign to that effect would have kept us from going in the wrong way. Also, a hotel employee was standing out front, directing drivers to the convention parking lot, up the street from the hotel parking lot. I think a sign could have done that job as well.
These complaints are trifles, though. Spooky Empire is as well-run as it is well-known, and I look forward to going again. I won’t get another weekend pass–there isn’t enough for multiple days–but the one-day pass is worth the money. John, who isn’t a horror guy, concurs, saying he enjoyed seeing the celebs and cosplayers. Where will we go next? Dunno. But when we figure it out, you–or, since I’m from North Carolina, y’all–will be the first to know.
See below for a few more Spooky Empire pics.
Look at that disgusting blob! And Slimer, too.
With guests like this, who needs security?
“There will be time, there will be time / To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet.”
Word to the wise: don’t photo bomb guys who have actual bombs.
Abraham Lincoln, convention goer
Chris Sarandon (Jack Skellington) signs a Nightmare Before Christmas picture for my daughter.
Ken Page (Oogie Boogie) signs the same picture.
Fans chat up Tara Reid.
I’m guessing this is a teacher from the Black Lagoon.
I wonder what Tobin Bell thought of HER.
Who watches the Watchmen? A few hundred people at least, all of whom were in line ahead of me at last month’s Baltimore Comic-Con (Sept. 5-7) for Dave Gibbons’s autograph.
Gibbons is, of course, the artist behind Watchmen, the 12-issue miniseries published by DC in the mid-80s. The accolades heaped on Watchmen are as legendary as the series itself. It was the only graphic novel to appear on Time‘s 2005 “100 Greatest Novels” list, and it appeared again in 2009 on the magazine’s “Top 10 Graphic Novels” list. In 2008, Entertainment Weekly ranked Watchmen thirteenth on its list of the best 50 novels printed in the last 25 years, calling it “the greatest superhero story ever told and proof that comics are capable of smart, emotionally resonant narratives.”
I have loved Watchmen since it came out, and when I saw that Gibbons, who lives in the UK, would be in Baltimore, I booked my flight immediately. By “flight,” I mean I got up at 5:00am and drove the six hours from Raleigh, NC, passing through Washington just miles from the White House and getting stuck in horrendous construction-related traffic that even President Obama is, apparently, powerless to prevent. Other great artists and writers were there, including Steve Leialoha, Walter and Louise Simonson, Greg Capullo, David Finch, and Al Milgrom, who does few conventions these days. Denny O’Neil left early due to a family emergency, and the wait for George Perez was four hours (!), according to one woman who endured it.
But Gibbons was, for me, the star of the show. I waited about an hour in his line, and when I got to the table, I found him to be gracious, funny, and down-to-earth. He was impressed by my Graphitti edition Watchmen hardcover (the first graphic novel version of the series) and my Marvel Comics Doctor Who #1 (for the wife, a consecrated Whovian). But he oohed and ahhed—actually, we all did—over something another guy had: the 1994 computer game Beneath a Steel Sky, still in the box. Gibbons did the background art for this game, and he said he had never signed a copy before. Get it on eBay, young man!
The Baltimore Comic-Con has long been a two-day affair. This was its first year spanning a third day, and everyone I talked to thought it a success. Vendors especially were pumped-up because their rate stayed roughly the same despite the extra day. They also praised the convention staff for being responsive and professional. Sales were good, too: one dealer sold an Action Comics #252 (first appearance of Supergirl) for $900.
Dr. Chilton, the captor/tormentor of Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs, says that Baltimore “can be quite a fun town, if you have the right guide.” The only guide I needed was the folks at this year’s Comic-Con. As you are planning your convention schedule for next year, mark down September 25-27 in Baltimore. It won’t be a baaa-d decision.
They don’t look like minions, but I’ll take their word for it.
Deadpool doing what Deadpool does.
Hello, Walter Simonson!
Hello, Louise Simonson!
Don’t blink. Or wink. Or think about blinking or winking. Especially when drinking.
The line to see Dave Gibbons.
And, finally, Dave Gibbons, holding my newly-signed Watchmen hardcover (which, if it were shirt, I would never wash again).
It is a truth universally acknowledged . . . No. Let me rephrase. Waiting sucks.
I was in line at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, IL. Shoulders smarting, back stiff as a statute, legs wobbly like a wooden easel, I was waiting for Josh Peck, a guest at this year’s (August 21-24) Chicago Wizard World Con. Josh is best known for starring opposite Drake Bell in the Nicklodeon show Drake & Josh. My daughter loved that show, and I was standing in line for her.
Josh finally arrived, and a great cheer went up–until he realized neither he nor his handler had any photos for him to sign. So we waited another 20 minutes. Chatted him up (his take on appearing in the remake of Red Dawn: “Awesome.”). Someone asked if he would yell “Megan!”, his signature line from Drake & Josh; he politely declined. Oh, and I got a selfie.
(OK, it wasn’t a selfie; I asked someone to take the pic. Shows you how superannuated I am.)
Josh was friendly but ill-at-ease. You could tell he was a convention novice, as opposed to, say, Lou Ferrigno. A regular at Wizard World cons, Lou is best known for his role as the Hulk in the 1978 CBS television series. I got a chance to talk to him for a few minutes.
Me: How did you get started doing conventions?
Lou: I was out with a friend of mine one time, and I went to a place in Hollywood where they had a convention. I walked around, and they kept telling me I ought to do a convention because the fans really want my autograph. I’m so used to giving autographs, and I thought, why not have a table? That’s how it started. It’s a good living.
Me: How long have you been doing conventions?
Lou: About 15 years.
Me: What are some crazy fan stories you can share?
Lou: I had a woman one time who came to me about a year ago, and she had a Hulk tattoo on her leg, and she had my signature tattooed on her leg. She had both legs done, and she wanted to take a picture, and her husband is standing there looking like, every morning I have to get up and look at my wife’s legs with your signature and the Hulk’s picture.
Me: I guess we saw where her loyalties lie. How did you get into character to play the Hulk?
Lou: It came naturally to me. I use pantomiming, acting without speaking, and they just loved it. I used the sensitive part of me to become the character.
Me: You have talked a lot about an actual actor playing the Hulk versus CGI. You’ve said people have told you they preferred your version.
Lou: Over 90% of the people have said that.
Me: Why do you think that is?
Lou: CGI cannot compete with a human Hulk. There is no sensitivity. The Hulk, the character I created, with his vulnerability and sensitivity—it can never be replaced.
Me: When I was growing up, my mother didn’t let me watch the Hulk because she said he was “vulgar.” Did you ever get negative comments from people who didn’t like the character?
Lou: The only negative was a lot of mothers hated me because their sons ripped their shirts and walked around the house that way.
Another headliner was Stan Lee, whose first autograph session was scheduled for 5:00pm on Friday. I had paid online for an autograph ($80!), and though the ticket was good all weekend, I thought going the first day would help me eschew half-day lines. At 4:00, I strolled to his booth, saw about 20 people standing there, and got in line. Wonderful! I thought. Then: this doesn’t seem right. Next, I noticed three things in the span of 10 seconds:
The Stan Lee VIP badges around the necks of the people in front of me;
- To my left, a separate line of proletariat-looking people, where I clearly belonged; and
- A con staffer walking toward me.
Once I was moved to the correct line, I waited about an hour, which isn’t bad. At one point, someone said Stan Lee was somewhere in the exhibit hall posing for pictures FREE. I found him, took this picture, and noticed something strange. Do you see it too?
Five points to Gryffindor if you recognize that this person isn’t Stan Lee. I don’t know whether he was a cosplayer, a doppleganger, or something else, but I later got a candid (read: surreptitious) pic of the real deal.
Stan was terrific, charming and humble, and his line managers took a bend-but-don’t-break approach that I appreciated. In fact, all the crowds were well managed. One helpful feature was a signing schedule at every celebrity’s booth, like this one at Josh Peck’s.
Despite being the biggest event in the Wizard World portfolio, Chicago was a delight. I did a lot of waiting, but that is unavoidable, and I passed the time gawking at some world-class cosplayers. The rooms were laid out well, prices were clearly advertised, most things happened on time, and I saw little tension among staff or attendees. CGC was doing comic book grading on site, and that also went well, probably because Stan Lee had his own booth.
If you go to only one Wizard World con ever, make it Chicago. You’ll have a ball. Here are a few more pics to show you why.
No, this isn’t security removing an unruly attendee; it’s just a cadre of cosplayers.
The long and short of it.
Doin’ the Cybertron shuffle.
Looking forward to the Ant Man movie in 2015.
Even the queen had a good time hanging with a few (dis)loyal subjects.
Rafer Roberts, Gail Simone, and Matt Wilson Come to the Baltimore Comic-Con!
BALTIMORE, MARYLAND – August 27, 2014 – In its 14th year, the Baltimore Comic-Con returns to Baltimore’s Inner Harbor Friday, September 5th through Sunday, September 7th at the Baltimore Convention Center! You thought we couldn’t squeeze a few more guests into our already-packed room? Think again! We’re welcoming Rafer Roberts, Gail Simone, and Matthew Wilson too!
Rafer Roberts first made a name for himself with his self-published, underground title Plastic Farm, published since 2001. More recently, he has found increasing mainstream exposure, with stories in the Dark Horse anthology, the Harvey-nominated Once Upon a Time Machine, the New York Times best-selling FUBAR anthology from FUBAR Press, and back-up stories in Valiant’s X-O Manowar, Harbinger, Archer & Armstrong, and a future issue of Unity. More of his work will see print in IDW’s Imaginary Drugs and Locust Moon’s Little Nemo: Dream Another Dream anthologies.
Gail Simone is a critically acclaimed, fan-favorite writer of comic books and animation. She has written classic runs on such titles as Batgirl, Birds of Prey, Deadpool, Secret Six, and Action Comics. Her creator-owned graphic novel, Leaving Megalopolis, created with co-creator and artist Jim Calafiore, was the highest funded straight comics project in Kickstarter history. She has written animation for Wonder Woman, Tomb Raider, Brave and the Bold, and Justice League United, and is currently working on the comics Tomb Raider, Red Sonja, and several creator-owned projects. In addition to appearing at the Dynamite Entertainment booth over the weekend, Simone will serve as Keynote Speaker at this year’s Harvey Awards on Saturday, September 6th.
Matthew Wilson is an art school graduate with a degree in Sequential Art. His color palettes have graced the pages of numerous books from multiple publishers, including DC Comics Swamp Thing, Wonder Woman, and Batman ’66, Marvel Comics’ Secret Avengers, Uncanny X-Force, Moon Knight, and Young Avengers, Dark Horse’s Terminator Salvation: The Final Battle, The Guild: Fawkes, and Deep Gravity, Image’s The Wicked + The Divine, Suburban Glamour, and Phonogram: The Singles Club, BOOM! Studios’ Snarked, Pale Horse, and The Rinse, and many, many others.
“We’d already announced Gail with the Harveys, but not specifically as a guest,” said Marc Nathan, promoter of the Baltimore Comic-Con. “And now, to add Rafer and Matt to the list, we’re really bringing an amazing set of talent to the fans this year!”
The Baltimore Comic-Con will be held Friday, September 5 through Sunday, September 7, 2014, at the Baltimore Convention Center, which is located immediately across the street from the historic Camden Yards sports complex (which includes Oriole Park and Geppi’s Entertainment Museum). Tickets, a full guest roster, and additional information is available on the convention’s website.
Mark Your Calendars
The Baltimore Comic-Con returns to Baltimore’s Inner Harbor in 2015 for another three-day spectacular! Block off Friday, September 25 through Sunday, September 27, 2015 on your calendars now!
This year’s previously confirmed guests for the show include: Eddy Barrows (Earth 2); Marty Baumann (Pixar artist); Jeremy Bastian (Cursed Pirate Girl); Marguerite Bennett (Batgirl); Mark Buckingham (Fables); Dave Bullock (Batman Black and White); Darrenn Canton (Tunnels & Trolls); Greg Capullo (Batman); Richard Case (Sandman); John Cassaday (Doc Savage); Bernard Chang (Green Lantern Corps); Sean Chen (Amazing Spider-Man); Jimmy Cheung (Infinity); Cliff Chiang (Wonder Woman); Frank Cho (X-Men: Battle of the Atom); Amy Chu (Girls Night Out); Richard Clark (House of Gold & Bones); Steve Conley (Bloop); Jeremy Dale (Skyward); Alan Davis (Wolverine); Rachel Deering (In the Dark); Todd Dezago (Tellos); Tommy Lee Edwards (Star Wars); Garth Ennis (Preacher, The Boys); Ray Fawkes (Constantine); Tom Feister (G.I. Joe); David Finch (Forever Evil); Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez (All-Star Western); Gerhard (Cerebus the Aardvark); Dave Gibbons (Watchmen); Keith Giffen (The New 52: Future’s End); Bryan JL Glass (Mice Templar); Michael Golden (The Ravagers); Allan Gross (Road Song); Cully Hamner (Animal Man); Dean Haspiel (The Fox); Fred Hembeck (Garfield); Marc Hempel (Sandman: The Kindly Ones); Adam Hughes (Before Watchmen: Dr. Manhattan); Justin Jordan (Luther Strode, Green Lantern: New Guardians); Dan Jurgens (The New 52: Future’s End); Chris Kemple (Red Vengeance); Barry Kitson (Empire); Aaron Kuder (Action Comics); David Mack (Shadowman); Kevin Maguire (Guardians of the Galaxy); Alex Maleev (Moon Knight); Billy Martin (Vitriol, The Hunter); Ron Marz (Witchblade); Mike McKone (Ultimate FF); Bob McLeod (X-Men: Gold); Tradd Moore (Deadpool Annual); Mark Morales (New Avengers); Dan Parent (Archie, Veronica, Kevin Keller); David Peterson (Mouse Guard); Joe Prado (Justice League); Brian Pulido (Lady Death); Ron Randall (Trekker in Dark Horse Presents); Tom Raney (Incredible Hulk); Ivan Reis (Aquaman and The Others); Budd Root (Cavewoman); Don Rosa (Donald Duck); Craig Rousseau (Perhapanauts); Joe Rubinstein (The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe); Andy Runton (Owly); Alex Saviuk (Web of Spider-Man); Louise Simonson (Power Pack); Walter Simonson (Thor); Andy Smith (Superman #23.1: Bizarro); Allison Sohn (sketch card artist); Charles Soule (Thunderbolts); Jim Starlin (Thanos: The Infinity Revelation); Paul D. Storrie (Sheena, Queen of the Jungle); Ben Templesmith (The Memory Collectors); Robert Tinnell (The Wicked West); Peter Tomasi (Batman and Two-Face); John Totleben (Swamp Thing); Herb Trimpe (GI Joe: A Real American Hero); Billy Tucci (Shi); Rick Veitch (Saga of the Swamp Thing); Mike Vosburg (Lori Lovecraft); Mark Waid (Daredevil); Lee Weeks (Daredevil); Mark Wheatley (Frankenstein Mobster); Bill Willingham (Fables); Renee Witterstaetter (Joe Jusko: Maelstrom); Rich Woodall (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles); Kelly Yates (Amber Atoms); Thom Zahler (My Little Pony); and Mike Zeck (Secret Wars).
Regrettably, Frank Barbiere, Eddy Barrows, Jimmy Cheung, Rachel Deering, Agnes Garbowska, and David Mack have had to cancel. We look forward to seeing their return to the show in the future.
General Admission and VIP Package tickets for Weekend, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday are now on sale! Visit www.baltimorecomiccon.com/tickets/ for more information and to purchase your advanced tickets now!
In the coming weeks, look for more announcements from the Baltimore Comic-Con. We are looking forward to highlighting our guests, the Harvey Awards, industry exclusives, and programming. The latest developments can always be found on our website, Twitter, and Facebook pages.
Please take a moment to help us spread this message using the social media links embedded, reposting, or retweeting!
All Star Reception
Join us high atop the Baltimore skyline overlooking the Inner Harbor for an intimate evening that would be the envy of Bruce Wayne and Tony Stark! This cocktail party event with food, drink, and socializing will be attended by the likes of Reilly Brown, Mark Buckingham, Greg Capullo, Frank Cho, Alan Davis, Dave Gibbons, Dean Haspiel, Barry Kitson, Brandon Peterson, Gail Simone, Walter and Louise Simonson, John K. Snyder III, John Totleben, Rick Veitch, Matt Wagner, Mark Waid, Bill Willingham, and more on Friday, September 5th at 8pm. This unique opportunity is a limited ticket count event. Tickets are available at www.baltimorecomiccon.com/tickets — act now before the opportunity is gone!
Please use the following e-mail addresses to contact the Baltimore Comic-Con:
firstname.lastname@example.org – for any general press inquiries or to be added to our PR distribution
email@example.com – for requesting exhibitor, publisher, and Artist Alley applications
firstname.lastname@example.org – for inquiries about submitted registrations
email@example.com – for the Harvey Awards ceremony and banquet
firstname.lastname@example.org – for general Baltimore Comic-Con inquiries
About The Baltimore Comic-Con
The Baltimore Comic-Con is celebrating its 14th year of bringing the comic book industry to the Baltimore and Washington D.C. area. For more information, please visit www.baltimorecomiccon.com.
About The Harvey Awards
The Harvey Awards are one of the comic book industry’s oldest and most respected awards. With a history of over 20 years, the last 9 in conjunction with the Baltimore Comic-Con, the Harveys recognize outstanding achievements in over 20 categories. They are the only industry awards nominated and selected by the full body of comic book professionals. For more information, please visit www.harveyawards.org.