Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

August 16, 2016

Wizard Reverses Position: Gun Seller Remains At Wizard Show; Dealer Not Selling Real Guns

After deciding over the weekend not to have gun seller DS Arms, Inc. remain on their exhibitor list for the forthcoming Wizard World show in Chicago, the convention company reversed its decision at some undetermined point on Monday afternoon. The exhibitor will remain because they will not be selling or have on hand any actual firearms. They will use their exhibitor space in what sounds like the way described by CR reader Jon Ira Thomas in the article reachable through the first link as what they've done at past shows: dispensing a number of freebies about their wares, showing off some non-firing models at the booth and generally recruiting business, not selling guns in any way at the pop-culture show.

How did Wizard get here? It looks like this happened by Wizard filling some of their exhibitor space through a third-party mechanism and not knowing how that exhibitor planned to use the space until potential attendees made public their worries. That Wizard has to fill booth space for what was their longtime signature show -- and likely still is, all things considered -- and North America's arguable #2 convention for a few years, that's news in and of itself. As a few CR have pointed out via e-mail, this may signal a continuation of recent policy where Wizard has quietly moved into any and all areas in which in there is some perceived money to be made: this year's big push was into music performances.

I still think it's a bad look, straight up. It doesn't speak well to the show's ability to sustain its identity on the floor. While the gun dealer has every right to want to exhibit and to my mind seemed an unlikely candidate to make the show unsafe even if selling their wares, Chicago's recent history with gun violence makes this an even odder choice right now. Suggesting that gun ownership is another part of the pop-culture landscape makes comics look like a bottom-feeding enterprise at a point in the medium's history it should be seen as everything but.

It may not even be a Chicago thing. Rumors have it the company also plans to sell through Atlanta's Dragon Con show. I can hardly wait for a whole row of weapons sellers, franchising opportunities and on-line colleges. There was a time when the best place to find comics might have been some of the giant flea markets out there. That still seems like a long time ago, and a faraway place. Is it?

Wizard's Chicago show runs August 18-21.
posted 12:25 am PST | Permalink

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