Fan Expo HQ, organizers of Fan Expo Canada, Megacon Orlando, Fan Expo Dallas, and a raft of other North American geek culture shows, is acquiring six shows formerly operated by Wizard World and will relaunch them under the Fan Expo brand in 2022, the companies announced. The shows involved in the deal are Wizard World’s largest: Chicago, Philadelphia, New Orleans, Portland, St. Louis, and Cleveland. 

Fan Expo will honor “all prior commitments with fans, exhibitor, and artisans” at its rebranded shows, the companies said in the announcement.  Wizard World will operate its Chicago convention this year, currently scheduled for October 15-17. 

The deal with Wizard World will bring Fan Expo HQ’s North American geek culture show count to 17, which it says will make it the largest producer of fan conventions in the world.  The company, a subsidiary of event giant Informa, has doubled down during the global Covid pandemic, also acquiring the Denver Pop Culture Con (see “Cons on the Move”) and announcing a major new show at the Moscone Center in San Francisco for 2022 (see “Fan Expo Plans Major San Francisco Convention”). 

The Wizard World shows were built up over time, beginning with the acquisition of Chicago Comicon in 1997.  The show launched in 1972 and is the second longest-running comic convention in the U.S. Fan Expo HQ President Aman Gupta noted the legacy. “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,” he said in a statement accompanying the announcement. 

The acquisition will put Fan Expo head to head with ReedPop, which operates C2E2, in the third largest market in the U.S. ReedPop appears to have ceded Philadelphia, at least for now; it has not scheduled any additional dates for its Keystone Comic Con, which it launched in 2018. 

Wizard Brands has been bleeding cash for years, losing $2.4 million in just the most recent quarter it reported (see “Wizard Brands Loses $2.4 Million in Q1”). The company will continue to operate Wizard World Vault, which sells collectibles, and will participate at Fan Expo events.