"We confidently welcome any competition, whomever they may be," was the response of Reed Exhibitions, in light of Friday's surprise news that Gareb Shamus' Big Apple Con will go head-to-head in 2010 with Reed's New York Comic-Con & Anime Fest.
As announced in the show program for the 2009 Big Apple Con, which began today, next year's show is scheduled for Oct. 7-10, the same weekend of the newly combined New York Comic Con/Anime Fest, a three-day event scheduled for October 8-10 at New York's Javits Convention Center.
"New York Comic Con is without question the second largest pop culture event in North America with a legitimate attendance of 77,000 last February," continued Lance Fensterman, Reed's Vice President, Publishing and Pop Culture and show manager of the New York events. "In 2010 the event will grow to occupy nearly the entire Javits Center - nearly 750,000 gross square feet and also host the New York Anime Fest.
"With 51 other open weekends on the calendar, it's a curious decision to run an event that aspires to be similar to NYCC on the exact same weekend, but that is a question that the creators, fans, and publishers will answer...Or already have with 60% of the enlarged NYCC already sold with still 12 months to go. I think this speaks for itself in terms of the support from all corners of the industry.
"New York Comic Con will continue to focus on what has allowed us to enjoy the success we have thus far - our fans, our guests and our exhibiting customers. We feel it is our responsibility to grow this industry through mainstream media coverage, new readers, new promotional opportunities, rights & licensing and above all else pleasing the fans, not to serve ourselves and our own agenda. With a continued focus on our guests, fans and exhibitors we have every expectation to grow New York Comic Con even larger and more exciting in 2010, regardless of who wishes to draft on that success."
The surprise development was perhaps foreshadowed earlier this year, when Shamus announced his new 2010 Anaheim convention was also scheduled to go head-to-head with Reed's inaugural show in downtown Chicago, dubbed C2E2, from April 16-18, 2010. Shamus told John Siuntres on his Word Balloon podcast that he's confident he'll get the guests he wants for his Anaheim show, which will likely have a focus on Hollywood guests. This falls in line with this year's Big Apple Con, which features several Hollywood-related guests, along with retired Baseball players.
While Shamus is apparently betting the pop culture-sphere has enough attractions to sustain simultaneous shows, with the New York programs being only miles apart, it seems likely the calendar may or has already forced potential comic book exhibitors to ultimately choose sides in what seems like a developing convention war.
Both major comic book industry publishers Marvel and DC have committed to having full support of C2E2, including panels and large exhibition spaces, but neither company has yet made any commitments to Shamus's two 2010 shows, and both publishing giants were notably absent from Shamus's Chicago convention - once a con calendar staple - earlier this year. While Marvel's Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada and DC/WildStorm's Executive Editor Jim Lee are the co-guests of honor at Big Apple Con this weekend, neither Marvel nor DC has any other official presence at the show.
The seemingly brewing battle may have already entered the testy stage, at least according to one of the competing sides. In his blog Medium-At-Large, Fensterman charges that NYCC staffers were escorted out of the Big Apple Con Friday by staff security at the instruction of "Wizard people."
"Wow. Little different than the last few years when Joe Yanarella, Adam Tracey and the Wizard crew would come to NYCC and we'd have a nice chat, catch up, be professional and then they'd hang out and see customers," wrote Fensterman.
"To be fair, Peter Katz of Wizard did hand them cash to refund the ticket cost. Classy. So why were they so afraid of having some NYCC staffers there?"
Newsarama is attempting to content Shamus for this comments on this development.