After 25 years, the Wizard World comic conventions are no more.
Fan Expo has announced a deal with Wizard World to acquire six of Wizard World’s largest yearly comic conventions, including the organizer’s Chicago, Philadelphia, New Orleans, Portland, and St. Louis Wizard World events.
“Fan Expo HQ is devoted to creating unmissable, exceptional fan experiences. We’re beyond thrilled to be able to offer that to fans in six new locations, and pleased that Wizard World recognized our ability to elevate guest experience to the next level,” says Fan Expo HQ president Aman Gupta in the announcement. “We’re looking forward to getting to know each of these individual communities, learn what they’re looking for, and raise the bar!”
Of all the conventions acquired, the Chicago event is arguably the one with the most potential. It is the second oldest comic event in North America (behind only Comic-Con International: San Diego), and for a time in the ’90s and early ’00s was the second largest comic convention in North America (also behind SDCC).
“Personally, I’m eager to contribute to the incredible legacy of the Chicago event, the second oldest comic event in North America (1972), and restore it to its former glory and beyond,” Gupta adds.
There will be one last Wizard World – the already scheduled for Chicago, taking place October 15 through 17, 2021, will go on as planned in the historic Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Illinois.
In 2022, it – and the other five cities’ Wizard Worlds – will be renamed as Fan Expos.
Dates for the 2022 events in New Orleans, Portland, and St. Louis were announced earlier this year by Wizard World, but as of press time, Fan Expo says the dates are now ‘to be determined.’
The acquisition of these six conventions gives Fan Expo HQ 17 North American cons, making it the largest comic convention organization in the world. Fan Expo HQ expects nearly 1 million fans across its 2022 events.
While financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, Fan Expo HQ Vice President Andrew Moyes said that the agreement with Wizard World came about relatively quickly over the last several months, and additional Wizard World shows could eventually transition into the Fan Expo brand once the company has successfully integrated the first six largest shows.
Fan Expo HQ is a division of global giant Informa, a British publishing, business intelligence, and exhibitions group with annual revenue over $2B. They also organize the annual Game Developers Conference.
Wizard World was originally founded as part of the comics journalism magazine of the same name in 1990. In 1996 it got into the convention game, buying the long-running Chicago Comicon and renaming it Wizard World Chicago. The magazine side of the business closed in 2011. Wizard World was acquired from its original owners in the early 2010s and sought to built its footprint by expanding into secondary and tertiary markets, but did not gain much traction. Wizard World will continue to operate the Wizard World Vault and will be participating at all Fan Expo events, according to the announcement.
Like so many other businesses, the entertainment convention industry as a whole took a hit during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. It’s possible other conventions may be bought out by companies with deep pockets. When this happens, prices usually go up. As pop culture becomes even bigger business it’s good to know there are cons seemingly everywhere. But will they become increasingly big, costly, and impersonal?
If you like Comic-Conventions now is a good time to let them know and support them.
Here’s a list of the upcoming major comic conventions in North America and around the world.
David Raiklen wrote, directed and scored his first film at age 9. He began studying keyboard and composing at age 5. He attended, then taught at UCLA, USC and CalArts. Among his teachers are John Williams and Mel Powel.
He has worked for Fox, Disney and Sprint. David has received numerous awards for his work, including the 2004 American Music Center Award. Dr. Raiklen has composed music and sound design for theater (Death and the Maiden), dance (Russian Ballet), television (Sing Me a Story), cell phone (Spacey Movie), museums (Museum of Tolerance), concert (Violin Sonata ), and film (Appalachian Trail).
His compositions have been performed at the Hollywood Bowl and the first Disney Hall. David Raiken is also host of a successful radio program, Classical Fan Club.