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Wizard World closes its convention business, selling all cons off to Fan Expo

Wizard World Chicago
(Image credit: Wizard World)

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.

Calgary Expo 2018

(Image credit: Fan Expo HQ)

"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 Wizard World 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.'

Mega Con Orlando

(Image credit: DC)

"Dates and show information for 2022 will be released later this year," a Fan Expo representative tells Newsarama. "Where possible, we are working to maintain the existing date patterns, and intend to remain in existing venues."

With the acquisition of these six comic conventions, Fan Expo HQ now has 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, including the former Wizard World cons.

Wizard World's sale of its largest shows to Fan Expo is effectively Wizard's exit from the comic book convention business - at least as an organizer. Wizard was originally founded as part of the comics journalism magazine of the same name. 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.

According to a Fan Expo representative, Wizard World will continue to operate its collectibles business Wizard World Vault, and is expected to have booth space at future Fan Expo events.

Here's a list of all the upcoming major comic conventions in North America and around the world. 

Chris Arrant

Newsarama Senior Editor Chris Arrant has covered comic book news for Newsarama since 2003, and has also written for USA Today, Life, Entertainment Weekly, Publisher's Weekly, Marvel Entertainment, TOKYOPOP, AdHouse Books, Cartoon Brew, Bleeding Cool, Comic Shop News, and CBR. He is the author of the book Modern: Masters Cliff Chiang, co-authored Art of Spider-Man Classic, and contributed to Dark Horse/Bedside Press' anthology Pros and (Comic) Cons. He has acted as a judge for the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards, the Harvey Awards, and the Stan Lee Awards. Chris is a member of the American Library Association's Graphic Novel & Comics Round Table.