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News: It's Wizard World; We Just Convention Here
posted May 24, 2004
May 24 -- Wizard World ended its Philadelphia/"Wizard World East" show today with increased attendance and a buoyant mood.
Perhaps more auspiciously, Wizard World has recently added a fourth point on its convention globe. On March 29, Wizard released attendance figures for its first convention foray into Southern California. Wizard World Long Beach far surpassed pre-show expectations with 19,500 attendees. The new show is Wizard's fourth convention, after Wizard Worlds Philadelphia, Chicago and Texas.
Wizard placing a show in the Los Angeles area is additionally significant because of such a convention's proximity to the San Diego area inhabited by the summer's Comic-Con International. Additionally, Wizard's other three shows are in former strongholds of independent conventions -- the East Coast corridor of the old-time Creation Cons (Philadelphia), the old Chicago Comicon that Wizard formally supplanted to launch this aspect of their business (Chicago), and the Deep South which used to harbor the Dallas Fantasy Fair (Texas). Although Comic-Con International attendance has grown by leaps and bounds in the last half-decade and seems safe to withstand a more direct challenge, Wizard enjoys two potential advantages were the two shows ever to compete more closely. The organizers have the powerful publishing arm that cannot be ignored and a strong relationship with Marvel, a company that has largely withdrawn from the San Diego show in recent years but seems to have increased its presence at the Wizard shows.
According to published reports guests at the Long Beach Convention Center was divided equally between big-name comics stars and those with general fantasy genre backgrounds and audience hooks -- favoring the latter over comics-related talent was a criticism of past Wizard World shows in other locations. The balance was somewhat more surprising than it might have been in Dallas or Chicago because of the location's proximity to the movie and television industries.