Wizard World Jumps Off Printed Page and Into Digital Age

9/19/11Follow @jpruth

There has never been a better time to be a self-professed geek. Gareb Shamus, CEO and founder of New York’s Wizard World, is out to feed fans of comic books and superhero movies more of the news and content they crave. What began some 20 years ago with Wizard magazine, a publication devoted to the latest happenings in the realm of superheroes, has evolved into an online destination for the broader pop culture market. “My specialty has been identifying things that I think are going to be popular one day,” Shamus says. “We’re going to be doing that a lot more now.”

Wizard World (OTC:WIZD) produces online news and hosts more than a dozen conventions across the country dedicated to fandom of heroes and more. While the company is akin to an Entertainment Weekly covering comic book, science fiction, and fantasy titles, many other players also seek to serve this audience. For example, four-year-old comiXology in New York provides a digital comic book platform for DC Comics, which produces titles about Batman and Superman, and Marvel, the home of the X-Men and Iron Man. Shamus says he welcomes others who introduce the public to superheroes. “If they can get people excited about our industry, then we’re going to benefit from it,” he says.

Fans who get introduced to comic books through other sources are likely to discover Wizard World, he says. “We’re [like] the New York Yankees, Bruce Springsteen, and U2,” Shamus says. “When we do something compelling, our fans show up and it doesn’t matter who is playing down the street.”

Shamus says his company helps call attention to independent comic book publishers as well as the big players, DC Comics and Marvel. Now Wizard World offers content about popular fiction beyond superheroes, which includes video games, toys, science fiction, and fantasy. “When you look across all these different genres, we are the pop-fi brand,” Shamus says.

Pop-fi, Shamus’s shorthand for popular fiction, is Wizard World’s new way of encompassing more content. By widening the scope of his company, Shamus wants to … Next Page »

João-Pierre S. Ruth is the editor of Xconomy New York. He can be reached at jpruth@xconomy.com and followed on Twitter @jpruth. Follow @jpruth

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