Wizard vs. Superfly Comics: Harassment and Conventions

Over the past couple of years, we here at PoP! have built an amazing relationship with the good people at Superfly Comics and Games in Yellow Spring, Ohio. We host the Superfly Podcast every week and we’ve picked up some great writing talent as well. former co-owner Thacher E. Cleveland writes Back in the Game every week here on PoP! and the current manager Jared Whitaker pens Game Changer. both of our respective crews were at Mid-Ohio Con 2010. As the newly Wizard-run Mid-Ohio con 2011 approached, the staff of Superfly Comics and Games was contacted directly by Wizard as to why they were not attending the convention this year. Parts of this story were originally discussed on the Superfly Podcast, but we felt it deserved a bit more visibility. To that end, both Jared and current Superfly Czar Tony Barry agreed to tell us what has transpired with the staff of Wizard/Mid-Ohio Con.

PoP!: You guys were at Mid-Ohio Con last year. Was it a good show for you?

Tony: Mid-Ohio was the first two-day show that Super-Fly had attended and was one that I’ve previously eagerly anticipated. Last year was our third Mid-Ohio Con experience, and both financially and sportingly it was our best yet. Last year, I felt comfortable enough with our sales at the show that I was able to purchase tables for the following Gem City con on the spot. It was also my first opportunity to meet many of the Panels on Pages regulars – a bit of networking that has dramatically broadened my customer base as well as my ability to network with the industry (big thanks for that, by the way).

Jared- Last year was my first Mid-Ohio show. The year before, I was a little green, so I manned the storefront while Tony and Tad went to the show. It was a fun time, like most shows. I got to meet a lot of the members of the Pop! Family and meet some artists and comic pros that I like Tony Moore and Dirk Manning.

PoP!: We were there that weekend, too, and remember the mood going rather somber on Sunday as the news came down that it would be a Wizard show this year. What was your initial reaction?

Jared: I got the initial news. A gentleman in a argyle sweater vest and a fauxhawk walked up to the booth and talked to me about how Wizard had bought the show this year and would be putting the show on the following year. Being new to working cons at the time, this really didn’t mean anything to me. But, as far as he knew, I was someone in some kind of charge. He gave me the papers with the information and prices. He made it a point to tell me that the prices on the paper were just a standard form that they use for all their shows and that they don’t represent the prices for the show next year.

Tony: I wasn’t really sure how to feel at first. I suppose my most immediate reaction was disappointment. I’d worked Wizard cons with other stores in the past feel like I’ve got a pretty good grasp on what a Wizard show is like in-front-of and behind-the-scenes. I don’t mean to suggest that I think Wizard shows are completely awful; but I had developed a feeling that they’re a touch overly proud in some unquantifiable way. In my conversations with other vendors who’ve been in the game for much longer than I, I’ve noted a general lack of enthusiasm for the Wizard branding as well as the direction of Wizard shows. When pressed, the most description any of these folks have been able to give me regarding this is the feeling of a ‘general trend downward.’ While I certainly cannot claim that this feeling is pandemic, I can certainly vouch for at least one group of perhaps 10-15 long-term vendors who all more or less share that same sense (for propriety’s sake I’m not naming names here – I’ve a feeling that the events leading to this article may end in Super-Fly not being welcome at any Wizard shows in the future – and it would be in poor taste to drag other people’s names into it).

Knowing this beforehand, and then learning that the group steering this feeling of (for lack of a better word) entropy had purchased this show did not give me a positive feeling in the slightest. When I first looked at the paperwork and noted the prices had skyrocketed, Jared (who had been the first contact with the Wizard representative who’d informed all of the dealers of the purchase) told me that the representative had said that these prices where hastily thrown together and would be adjusted before the convention actually arrived. My immediate reaction to that was “they’d f***ing better!”

Cost of the 10’x10′ corner booth at Mid-Ohio Con 2010: $450

Cost of the 10’x10′ corner booth at Mid-Ohio Con 2011 according to this initial paperwork: $1245 with an additional $1/square foot after Nov 1st 2010, additional $2/square foot if after Dec 1st 2010.

By the end of the day I was noting vendors who’d been present for years posting signs reading “RIP Mid-Ohio Con.” Now, I’ve only been in the convention circuit for about 8 years, but these were some dudes who’ve been in the game for 15+ years. This wasn’t simple disheartening, this was outright objection. Now, I realize that we in the comics industry can tend to be a reactionary bunch, but even so, a reaction like this on as wide of a scale as it seemed means something. It is my understanding that at least one big-name artist publicly announced that he’d no longer be in attendance at this show that very night.

PoP!: What was it that made you decide not to go this year?

Tony: Without question, our initial decision was based entirely on price. While I typically don’t like to discuss the specifics of store finances publicly (because it can be pretty difficult to interpret properly without full context of everything else that’s going on in the shop – and I don’t typically like the idea of people knowing how much I spend on things or earn on things because it has a high potential for people begging for discounts they think I can afford but really can’t or offering unwelcome and uninformed business advice or things of that nature) I kind of feel like this situation begs an exception. Last year we paid $450 for the booth space. We also paid about $50 for gas for the entire weekend. Plus our payroll costs were increased by approximately $150. Thus, the total cost of going to the show was approximately $650 – almost $700 once meals and on-site purchases were covered. I mentioned earlier that I also purchased tables for Gem City while there – another almost $300. Grand total cost at this point: $1000.

At the show our grand-total sales were in the vicinity of $1200. This leaves us with a net increase of $200. Obviously, once you figure in the cost of product, the show ended at a bit of a loss to the business long-term. BUT out of it we a) cycled out dead stock into spendable money, b) networked like crazy, and c) paid forward to the next convention and still ended with $200 extra in-pocket. Not a phenomenal surplus for the amount of work a convention requires, but enough that once all factors were considered it was worthwhile.

Wizard’s initial offer of $1245 for the same space was at base-line more than we’d earned at the previous show. While it is possible that our presence at this show would have earned us profits in that same multiple, but with the show direction being so shook up, and with the community’s general lack of enthusiasm (at best), it simply seemed like too big of a risk given our current financial situation.

This was, of course, deeply saddening, since we as a store have been growing increasingly proud of our ability to attend conventions like this and our growing presence in the convention circuit in general.

PoP!: So you’re basically resigned to not going due to the cost. That seems perfectly reasonable. At what point were you contacted directly by Wizard about coming to Mid-Ohio Con 2011?

Tony: On August 19th we received an email from Peter Katz, Vice President of Business Affairs and Development of Wizard World, Inc. In the email he indicated that “tickets for this show are selling at an extremely high rate and with the robust guest list and programming that we currently have we certainly don’t want you to miss out on this opportunity“ and “please note that because there are very few booths left we’ll be raising the retailer rates on August 26, 2011 by an additional $150 so it is critical that you get your registration forms in asap.”

Jared: The first contact for me was October 5th. We were getting ready to open the store when I got the call. The gentleman did say that he was with Wizard and did notice that we were not going to Mid-Ohio this year. I laid out the reasons that we weren’t going to the show. He then went into the “points”: That Mid-Ohio was under new management and that the show would be run differently this year. He then said the most amazing lie he could have told. He floated the idea that Mid-Ohio this year would “have as many people in attendance as New York Comic Con.” He backed this up by saying that “people in the mid-west area want to go to NYCC, but won’t be about to make it there, so they will end up going to Mid-Ohio.” I was offended because it’s mathematically impossible for Mid-Ohio’s attendance to have those kinds of numbers in one year. Mid-Ohio is a mid-level comic con. It’s bigger than most local and regional shows, but it’s in no way, as big as a NYCC and it’s going to be anytime in the near future, let alone in ONE YEAR of Wizard, or anyone else for that matter, taking control and organizing any show.

After that, it seemed like he was looking for a chink in my armor: “It’s a local show, so you should make it out. He talked up an alternate area for us to set up at, (in which he misinformed me about the price of said area. I didn’t find out about this until after Tony talked to the rep later) everything. He even informed me that they were allowing “booth babes” this year as a selling point. I assumed that he was trying to play on the stereotype that people involved in the comic industry doesn’t get the opportunity to see breasts often. I assured him that I, in fact, have been involved with breasts before and after my involvement in the comics industry.

PoP!: What was their initial offer?

Tony: That same email had attached forms indicating a $700/booth cost – with no indication of the price for corner booths. At this point I do have to admit that I erroneously believed until just a few days ago that this was the same amount that had been on the initial paperwork – and had been decrying that they’d not changed the pricing at all despite that they’d said they would. Apparently I was wrong about that point and I’m willing to eat some crow on that.

That point aside, this was still a substantial increase from the previous year – since the new paperwork didn’t indicate what the price increase would be for a corner booth, I’m forced to assume that it remains the $150 increase as advertised in the initial paperwork. In that case, that meant the same space we purchased last year would now cost $850 as opposed to $450. Add to that the thought that the prices would increase $150 if I didn’t respond within the week. This was also different from when the original paperwork had said the price changes would take place – and was the first time we’d actually heard the quoted prices or timetable.

PoP!: What reasoning was given for the price hike?

Tony: At this particular juncture, none was given at all; just the assumed “well, Wizard will run a better show, right?” mentality that had come with the original pitch at last year’s show. Later when we were receiving phone calls regarding the matter this exact sentiment was verbalized. They also explained that Adam West and Billy Dee Williams would be there and that the quality performance and guest list that Wizard brings to the table are expensive. Remembering my conversations with other retailers, I wasn’t completely swayed by the ‘branding sells itself’ argument – and as for my opinion regarding the celebrity guests, I’m certain that they’re great pulls for Wizard and won’t argue that they certainly increase attendance. However, in my experience, largely the people who come in for autographs most often already have the merch that they’re trying to get signed or are going to buy it directly from the aforementioned celebrity and then, given how much those folks had to pay for their own tables, will have often spent the majority of their funding with those celebrities and have that little left for my booth. Not that I begrudge the presence of celebrity presence, but I simply don’t have a lot of faith that being in the same room as Adam West is by definition going to double my sales – which is realistically what I need to see if I’m going to pay double booth prices.

As an alternative, they did offer an outlet section for $350. One of these tables would be in a different area of the show completely removed from the other vendors, and forbade the use of backdrops, fixtures, of any real signage as well as forbidding the sale of any items that cost over $25. While I do appreciate that they’re trying to provide options with that plan I also felt that biting on that deal would be useless for our purposes. We have too much stock variety to limit our sales like that and we’re too local to go to a show like this and not advertise like crazy (read: put up signage and fixtures). While I’m not saying that people who purchased these tables are stupid, I do feel like it would have been stupid for us.

PoP!: You declined the invite, and what happened next?

Tony: I wrote back to this original email inquiry that unfortunately the prices for this show had gone from last year’s ‘tight but affordable’ to a current ‘definitely not affordable.’ We received no response to this email and I figured the matter dropped. I even felt that I’d perhaps been ruder than necessary in my response – but frankly, I was a little miffed that I didn’t feel like this show was affordable anymore. Either way it seemed to be over.

PoP!: How many times were you contacted by Wizard in an effort to get you to come to Mid-Ohio con?

Tony: This month (October for those of you keeping score at home) we’ve received four phone calls and two more emails requesting our presence. Each time we ended up responding slightly more strongly.

PoP!: Why is that?

Tony: At first in the beginning of the month (knowing that the convention was on the 22nd of the month and was rapidly approaching) we were willing to listen to their pitch – and they did seem willing to negotiate prices a bit. I was asked to name what price point I’d be comfortable with in order to attend. I said that if they got get us in the vicinity of last year’s numbers I could consider it. When pressed for an exact number, I said if they could get me a corner booth for $500, then the show would be reasonable for me to attend. Otherwise, I simply didn’t have the blind faith that the Wizard branding was worth the increased risk. The caller responded the lowest he could reasonably go was $700 for an in-line booth (which would decrease my face-out space by half). We both then agreed that since that was more money than I was comfortable spending and that since it was a non-optimal booth space for us anyway and that fact that the store already had an event planned for that Saturday night – it didn’t look like a good fit. This was actually the second phone call from this caller. The previous having been the previous day when Jared had been told that this show was a) going to be as big as NYCC and b) would have chicks there (Chicks, dude, chicks! What’re you? A fag?)

A week to the day later he called again. He indicated that he was now able to drop the prices a little further, and once again stressed that booths were almost sold out and my opportunities were running slim. I told him that at that point, the convention being less than two weeks away, it simply wasn’t feasible. If he’d agreed to my price point the previous week – or had responded with a reasonable counter-offer I probably would have bit – but at this point it was simply too short notice. He began to question my motives: “What’s holding you back? Is it a staffing issue? Or–” At which point I cut him off and told him firmly that now the single biggest reason that we wouldn’t be attending was the fact the they couldn’t take “no” for an answer. They’d already been told “no” four times and I’d had enough – and I wasn’t particularly filled with confidence that the claims of being almost sold-out were true if they were being this persistent this close to the convention. After hanging up on him I again felt that perhaps I’d overreacted. Perhaps I’d been ruder than necessary. But I also didn’t really want to have to tell Wizard that we wouldn’t be going to their show every day until the show and I wanted to make sure that my position was clear.

Apparently it wasn’t because on the 17th we received another email from Peter Katz, VP etc. He said that he wanted to touch base and that in case we’d forgotten there were still a few tables left and if we wanted in we still could go. At my wits end, I drafted a four-page email explaining in great detail a) why we weren’t attending, b) their persistence was unwelcome and in fact offensive, and c) the extreme frustration I faced in feeling like I had to write this email in the first place. I explained in detail why it simply wasn’t feasible for us to attend this show, how frustrated I’d become with their sales practices, and went so far as to accuse them of greedy corporate expansionism. In short, I was thorough on every level I could think of. And I feel pretty confident that anybody who reads that particular email should be pretty clear on my stance. Seriously, misunderstanding my point in that particular email is not possible.

PoP!: Jared was kind enough to upload a dramatic reading of that email to YouTube. It seemed pretty clear.

Tony: The response I received was a short paragraph which nominally apologized for the caller’s persistence, ignored all of my other arguments and complaints, and invited me to come to the show so he could apologize in person. This point must be emphasized: I spent well over an hour writing a manifesto, a grand and bold statement proclaiming loudly and firmly that there was 0% chance of our attendance (and once again I felt that perhaps I’d gone too far, perhaps I’d been too rude and/or petty) – and the response was to invite me to the show.

Once again, in simpler terms;

Me: “I’m not going to your show, and I now kind of hate you”

Peter Katz: “That’s too bad, but I know how to fix it! Come to the show!”

The following morning while I was still in bed my cell phone rang: “Hello, this is James Henry from Mid-Ohio Con and I’m just calling because they asked me reach out to the retailers and -” This was the point where I completely snapped. It was less than twenty-four hours later and these jerks were waking me up to ask again! I cursed him out in as grand a method as I could possibly imagine. And I felt particularly bad about this because I remember James Henry from previous years. He’s one of the folks who used to organize the show that Wizard must have kept on staff. I’ve largely had positive experiences with him – and now here I am waking up screaming at him. This was altogether unpleasant. And I’d like to apologize to him, as I feel he was mostly thrown under the bus by his supervisors in this situation, but I’m not at all convinced that I’m capable of having a rational conversation with him about the matter anymore. That ship has sailed.

PoP!: At some point, it no longer became a matter of money. You’d made other arrangements for this weekend and tried to make that clear, yes?

Tony: Very. This year is the third annual Yellow Springs Zombie Walk for charity, and while we’re not the main driving business behind it (for that you can thank the folks at the Import House), we are tangentially involved. Obviously the subject matter is right in our wheelhouse, and Jared has obligations to be involved as his band is performing at the end of the event. There’s a lot of organization that goes into something like this both physically and mentally – and that added distraction of having to plan a high-risk convention in the middle of it all did not seem like an altogether glorious idea. Again, if we’d been able to negotiate a mutually beneficial price earlier it might have been a possibility, but less than two weeks away it simply wasn’t going to happen.

This was mentioned in all three of the phone calls the store received as well as the four-page treatise I’d written.

Jared: The fact that we had something else going on that weekend of Mid-Ohio kind of made it a done deal. I wasn’t sure why after hearing this, why they would continue to push for us to completely abandoning our current plans to go to their event. It seems pretty irresponsible to me. But as long as people go to Wizard shows, it’s fine.

PoP!: Have you contacted other stores in the area to see if they’ve had similar experiences?

Tony: Yes. To a very upsetting end. Again, to protect the innocent I’m not naming names but:

  • One store (that had not been in attendance last year) I spoke to didn’t even know the show was this weekend.
  • Another store (that had not been in attendance last year) knew the show was happening but had not been approached.
  • Another store (that had been in attendance in previous years) was not attending this year (for largely the same reasons), but had only been contacted twice. And neither of those times had been this month.

I really don’t know how to process this information. I didn’t really think I could get more upset about their blatant lack of professional respect – until I discovered that for some reason we were being singled out.

And this is a thing that I really don’t understand; while I’m very proud of Super-Fly, and what we’ve done in the four years we’ve been open, I’m also under no false illusions that we’re some mighty monolith store whose presence or lack-thereof will make or break this show. In the grand scheme, I’m afraid that we’re awfully small potatoes. So why, then, six increasingly desperate invitations/requests? We’ve speculated that it’s perhaps that we’ve been to Reed shows, or perhaps it’s our connection to PoP! (either in that it’s a comics news site or in that it’s populated by a bunch of ex-Wizard freelancers), but that’s complete speculation.

All I’ve been able to gather is that for some bizarre reason, Wizard has targeted Super-Fly for attendance at this show and is prepared to do what it takes to get us there… except offer reasonable price points or to stop harassing us when asked directly to stop harassing us.

PoP!: Well, I do legitimately hope we’re not in any way responsible for what you’re going through. But regardless, where do you stand now with Mid-Ohio con and Wizard in general, looking ahead?

Tony: It’s like this: originally I was prepared to sit this year out and consider next year based on what the numbers looked like and how accurate Wizard’s claims were. At this point, I’ve found myself in the position where I felt I had no other options than filing a Better Business Bureau complaint and threatening legal action. And this is just my experience with them trying to get me in the door – god knows what might go down on the show floor…

Added to this is the fact that we still cannot find any kind of vendors list to tell us who is going to be there (and you’d better believe that if I’m paying $700 for a booth I’m expecting you to advertise that I’m going to be there), and the fact that when talking to my customers about this ordeal almost none of them even knew the show was this weekend. Bonus points: I actively searched for ads for this show and could not find one. I looked in the local free paper. I looked on Newsarama, Bleeding Cool, Comics Alliance, and Panels on Pages and could not find a single ad. In fact, the only place online outside of Wizard’s own website that I found any mention of the convention at all (on a casual search – not a full in-depth search) was a website titled conventionscene.com

Now, if I’m paying $700 to come to your show to sell my wares, you’d better damn well expect that I expect you to advertise it at all.

I’m greatly saddened by this whole ordeal. It has forced me out of a local show that I really liked. It has forced me to be ruder than I want to be towards anybody multiple times. It has forced me to file my first ever BBB complaint. It has forced me to threaten legal action against a company that I previously had respected. And finally it has forced into a position where I feel I’ve no choice but to discuss this openly and publicly and quite possibly land myself on a Wizard blacklist for all of their future shows.

But in the end, if this is their continued attitude – I cannot think of any reason why I would want to give them any money ever.

Jared: While Tony was writing his first email response, we briefly contemplated if we were taking things too far. My stance was “What were they going to do: Ban us from going to the show they are begging us to go to? I personally don’t worry about any blackballing from Wizard, if that is in fact a real thing that happens in real life, simply because I don’t think Wizard can afford to exclude anyone from what they’ve shown me with their strong-arm tactics. Tony summed the whole thing up the best with a question we’ve been asking people in the store: “How many times do you need to be told ‘No’ before you get the picture?”

PoP!: We’re in a similar boat. We’ve had good times at Wizard shows in the past and I’d hate to think that telling this story could put us on a blacklist, but it’s a story I think people should hear about. Thanks for sharing it with us and good luck with the Zombie Walk this weekend.

Thanks again to Tony and Jared for sharing their story. If you’re at the show this weekend, we hope you had a great time. If not, check out the Zombie Walk. I hear there are some fine retailers setting up shop.

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Who ARE these people!?

Lee Rodriguez is a co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of Panels On Pages. He is also a freelance graphic and web designer, action figure customizer, swell guy, and an awesome dad.

I'm even on Google+... Kind of.

Comments (31)

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  1. Tito Cruz says:

    Tony and Jared thanks for sharing your story. Something tells me that this story isn’t unique to just Superfly. It is a shame that it has come to this.

    Lee thanks for bringing this story to the forefront.

  2. Jeffro says:

    So….did you go to the Con?

  3. Dear Tony and Jared,

    You bastards. I invited you to my place this weekend for a “sleepover” and you told me you would be too busy at Mid Ohio Con. I realize it’s a roughly 4 hour drive, and that gas isn’t cheap. That’s why I lowered the initial cost of a ticket to said sleepover from $300 apiece to a measly $500 for the both of you. I even said you could bring Gavin. When I called you back and you were in the middle of your shower, I said I’d gladly hold till you were done, but you said you’d call back. You didn’t. Then, when I showed up outside the shop at 4am, graciously offering not only to drive you to your respective ATMs but to eat the cost of gas myself, I received no answer. Serves you right – I’m now having dinner with the gentlemen Wizard sent to pick you up.

    PS – You suck.

  4. OhioBrian says:

    I took my 7-year-old to the show, not knowing about the massive price increase beforehand. If he hadn’t been looking forward to the show for months, we would have bailed on the spot. As it is, we won’t be back — and we live just a few miles away.

  5. Joshua says:

    I’m going to Wizard World Austin next month, hope to see you guys there.

    • Robert Eddleman says:

      I just got a flyer for the show in the mail. This is the first I’ve heard of it, and it’s too late for me to get off work. Nice advertising, Wizard.

      • TwilightTony says:

        They put out fliers for that one??

        • Robert Eddleman says:

          Apparently.

        • Joshua says:

          I don’t know how much publicity they put into it, but I got a postcard in the mail. I just assumed it was because they had me on file from attending in past years.

          You guys are going, right? Don’t be a dummy. Adam Baldwin is going to be there, that will increase your sales by 8,000%. There aren’t many tables left though, so you better hurry. Due to high retailer demand, booth prices are going to go up in the near future. It’s Wizard you fucktards, only an idiot wouldn’t pay inflated exhibitor prices to be associated with THE GREATEST COMICS JUGGERNAUT IN THE COUNTRY. You can’t afford not to be there. Since the magazine was canceled Wizard can focus all of their AWESOME TALENT on the convention circuit. Plus, booth babes. You like tits, right? Don’t be a gay.

  6. david says:

    Just returned from wizards mid ohio con. Last years con was much better. The floor space last years was at least 50% greater. The aisles were at lest 4feet wider. You could walk down an aisle last year with people looking at booths on either side, not this year. It was so crammed for space that it would take the wind out of you. I would love to see a return to open spaces for enjoyment sake. I guess they shrank things down so it looks good on film like it was some huge convention packed wall to wall with people.

  7. Tony says:

    I’m sorry, guys, but I was in artist’s alley and I had my best show yet. They really did a good job bringing people through the door. The old owners did basically zero marketing.

    2x the price is way too high, but it sounds like they were figuring that out. And I really can’t get upset that someone tried to sell you something. You’re in sales. It happens.

    • TwilightTony says:

      That they wanted to sell us a booth wasn’t the issue. That we had to tell them ‘no’ six times is the issue. I’m certain that if you received six requests over the course of three weeks to do something that you’d clearly explained you didn’t want to do – you’d likely feel pretty irritated as well.

      As for their marketing, can you tell me where you saw the advertising? Because I couldn’t find any anywhere I thought to look.

    • To be completely fair, setting up in Artist Alley is vastly different than a retailer set up. I’m glad you did well, that’s not going to be 100% fact for everyone. The retail end has a lot more angles to cover. Not to make it a nerd pissing match.

      On the advertising front, PLEASE show me where you found ads for the show. Because in the two weeks leading up to Mid-Ohio, we at the store found NO local ads and NO internet ads. I’m not calling you a liar and it is possible we maybe we missed something somewhere, but it wasn’t for a lack of trying.

      • Tony says:

        Jeez, I don’t want to set myself up as the Wizard apologist.

        I do know there was an article in the Dispatch, on the front of the Other Paper, and I think Adam West spoke to the TV stations. I don’t recall any media promotion in years past. I did not see any paid advertising, but I wasn’t looking. And the show did seem more crowded.

      • Tony says:

        Six calls does sound annoying, and I’m all for razzing people when they get out of line. I’ve complained a fair amount about the table cost, and I’ve done it directly to Wizard. I don’t know that I’d spend 4,721 words turning it into a public beef, though.

        Please don’t take this harshly. I wish you the best, I wish Wizard the best. I’m glad you’re running a shop out there, and it seems like you’re doing what you can to expand the market. The comix biz needs all the help it can get.

        • TwilightTony says:

          First off, I want to acknowledge your intent to not come across as aggressive and I’d like to reciprocate it.

          But here’s the situation I’ve found myself in: after repeated increasingly strongly worded attempts to end the pestering, every single attempt to communicate my position had been completely ignored. I’d very bluntly said the exact words “we will not be in attendance at Mid Ohio ’11,” and then hung up rudely. After that we received three more invites. The first prompted a massive letter explaining exactly what all of my problems were. Their response was to invite me to the show. That was *massively* disrespectful. As was calling me while I was still asleep on my personal cell phone the next day. Wizard displayed *massive* disrespect to me personally as well as my business. Beyond that, they displayed no signs of relenting.

          Have you ever found yourself in a position where you felt that you had no further option but to threaten legal action against somebody who won’t stop bothering you? It sucks. It sucks to make the threat. It sucks to be in that position. It sucks the entire journey getting to that position. It also sucks contemplating exactly how you’re going to do that. It is completely awful being in that position.

          But that’s exactly the position I found myself in. After saying ‘no,’ and after saying (in effect) ‘hell no,’ and after taking the time to write a massive complaint letter, to then still receive phone calls – on my personal phone might I add – I really couldn’t think of many more options.

          It was suggested to us that we were likely not the only people facing this level of persistent irritation – and that making it public might bring those other instances to light. And out of this we’ve most definitely learned about a number of other people’s grievances with Wizard.

          Obviously, you’re not as personally offended as I am when people ignore your requests – but – at what point do you feel it becomes necessary to fight back when you’re being abused by a multi-million-dollar corporation?

          Was making a public beef the correct thing to do? I don’t know. I certainly felt like it was the only option I had left after my verbage failed me. And that’s where I get caught on your response. I became *extremely* frustrated by the treatment I was receiving especially as they’d been repeatedly asked to knock it off. And here I am discussing it with a fellow industry professional who’s attitude (respectfully) seems to be “quit your whining.” And that saddens me because abject dismissal of the issue is what got us here in the first place.

          As for the advertising; I do thank you for your input on that. As stated I literally could not find anything which looked even remotely like an ad – but knowing that at least something existed alleviates a little bit of that.

  8. John Kirkman says:

    I don’t know guys. I went to the show and it was packed, the floor had more exhibitors than last year and everyone seemed pretty happy.

    http://www.comicsbeat.com/2011/10/24/retailer-files-complaint-aganst-wizard-and-posts-dramatic-video-on-youtube/

    • TwilightTony says:

      Yeah,
      That’s not really the point. The point is that they adamantly refused to stop bugging us until we felt that we had to threaten legal action. No company that behaves like this is going to get our money. Period.

      If people had a good time at the show, that’s great. I’m pretty bummed that my ability to enjoy the show was robbed from me.

    • No one on our end was HOPING for it to be a bad show. The point is that we had no evidence that Mid-Ohio was going have “more people than New York Comic Con.” So after we said no and gave our reasons, we STILL got calls and emails. As a functioning adult, (I’m assuming) how many times do YOU have to be told ‘No’ by someone before you get the point?

      I’m glad you were happy and people were there. I hope the show stays somewhat the way it was. But please don’t make it out to sound like we’re incompetent whiners to can’t take telemarketers. The economics weren’t there for us to go to the show and that should have been the end of it. Instead, Wizard spent man hours trying to bully and harass an awesome yet, in the grand scheme of things, a small potatoes store in the area into spending outside of a reasonable amount of money to go to their show. That’s the bottom line.

  9. J_Smitty_ says:

    I don’t know, I own a handmade donut shop and Google has been busting my door down for weeks trying to get me to go in for their groupon alternative.

    I’m not saying I haven’t been annoyed and anyone who chooses not to do it (or attend a con) is well within their rights but as a salesman with a limited pool of potential clients I’m not surprised you got six calls.

    If it were me I would have taken the initial “no.” and then gotten the Henry guy on the line to you immediately with my honest best offer.

    Their big mistake was throwing out a bunch of nonsense in between those two steps.

    • Jason Kerouac says:

      Smitty, I think you’ve hit the nail on the head here. If your company has been told “No, we can’t afford to go” don’t waste time browbeating and trying to finagle something… cut to your bottom line best offer and make your pitch. If that won’t do the trick, then it’s clearly not going to work.

      If I go to a yard sale and I’m checking out someone’s old samoflange, then put it down, and they ask me why, and I say “Eh, 40 bucks is a bit out of my price range” they have two courses of action open to them. They can either make me a better offer, or they can stand there and tell me what a great samoflange it is. If I leave without it and they follow me home to tell me they’ll take 30 for it, I may be inclined to call the cops.

  10. Dirk Manning says:

    I’ve been BURIED in work the last few weeks surrounding the release of NIGHTMARE WORLD Volume 3 and, yes, my last-minutes decision to attend MID-OHIO CON… so I’m sadly a little late coming to the part in regards to this whole situation.

    That being said… WOWZA. Good on you guys for speaking-up about what was going on in a firm but professional fashion.

  11. aRT bOWSHIER says:

    You stood up to this bully. Let’s hope no more rear uptheir ugly heads..

  12. Jeffrey Judd says:

    Tony and Jared,

    Bravo gentlemen. I’ve attended Mid-Ohio-Con for 26 consecutive years and this one was definitely my last. I admit to possessing an anti-Wizard World disposition well prior to this year’s con but decided to attend for the sheer spectacle factor – like watching a slow, but violent train wreck.

    Were the overall attendance numbers up from last year? Definitely. Were the vendors and customers packed in like claustrophobic sardines? Absolutely. Did Wizard offer a classy Con Program Guide? Hell no. The guide was provided by my local LCS who got all kinds of grief for trying to promote the show – on their dime. I understand that individuals attend conventions for a variety of wide-ranging reasons. I understand that some will be satisfied with the experience and others will not. I don’t begrudge one point-of-view or the other.

    What I do know is this: Over the past quarter century, I typically spend between $500 and $2,000 each year at M-O-C. This year? $125. There was so little merchandise that personally interested me, I left early, went to said LCS, spent $400, and went home realizing that my decades-long Fall routine had come to an end. The Gem City Con and Cinci Comic Expo just moved way up on my list.

  13. Maximilian says:

    Personally, I’ve had a pretty decent experience with a Wizard show a couple years back in Philly. There were tons of great guests and it was well worth the trip for my wife and I. That said, we opted not to go to Mid-Ohio Con this year once we found out the prices had increased despite the fact we were really looking forward to going and have attended the past three years. The guests and panels certainly don’t make up for the jump in price. We ended up going to the YS Zombie Walk to see Jared rock it with Doctor Meat instead. From what it sounds like, Wizard World Ohio is a lot different than M-O-C used to be, and that’s a shame.

  14. TwilightTony says:

    Update for interested parties: it turns out that ‘Robert Kirkman’ post on that other site was fraudulent. Please make a note of it before scribing any hate missives (y’know, like I do).

  15. aRT bOWSHIER says:

    I did get a postcard even tho I’ve never been to MMMMID oHIO OR A wIZZZ CON.

  16. Felix the Cat says:

    I personally know Peter Katz and he is a fun guy to hang out with. However, I also know he is a bullshitter and will sell sand to a guy in the dessert…or at least try to. I believe Wizard has over-extended themselves buy purchasing all of these shitty little conventions – sounds good on paper, but between this strategy and the shell public company, seems like shenanigans to me. Where does Gareb think his public company is headed to? It is a sham…I mean, a shamus!!

  17. Junkle says:

    I heart Superfly

  18. John says:

    I had a bad experience the first year the Henrys took it over, and I have not been back since. I personally felt it was poorly run and disorganized.

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