When the Big Apple Wizard Con arrives in NYC October 1st, 2010, organizer-founder Mike Carbonaro will be in evidence everywhere. The Big Apple part of the Wizard Comic Con convention title comes from the Big Apple Conventions that were a major pop culture in New York for over 11 years, the result of what could have been an unfortunate incident.
Prior to the Big Apple shows the Great Eastern Convention was the New York staple, hosted by Fred Greenberg at the New York Coliseum. When that location was leveled to make way for the Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle, Greenberg was set to relocate the show to the Jacob Javits Center, the city’s largest convention facility.
On the day of the load in day for that show the dealers and guests were greet by signage informing them the show was canceled. The quick thinking organizer Carbonaro rallied the troops and marched everyone over to the basement auditorium of St. Paul the Apostle’s Church on 9th Ave and 60th Street in New York, salvaging the day and laying the foundation for a New York institution.
In 2009, Gareb Shamus and the folks at Wizard began to consider doing their own New York and came up with the brilliant idea. Instead of simply doing their own New York convention, Wizard approached Carbonaro and asked him if he might be interested in joining forces and folding the Big Apple Conventions into a Wizard show. And so last October, 2009, the Big Apple Wizard Convention was born.
Last year the convention was held all the way on the westcside of Manhattan at Pier 94. Given the transportation limitations of the venue, this year’s convention returns to its former home, the Penn Plaza Pavilion, located at 401 Seventh Avenue at 33rd St.
In addition to being the ambassador for the Big Apple Wizard show, Carbonaro is the comic book collector equivalent of Indiana Jones, scouring the country in search of hidden comic book treasure troves. So on a good day it’s hard to nail him down to a place and time to chat.
However, he was able to commit to a place and time to chat about some of the exciting guests and programming pop culture fans can expect to find at the 2010 Big Apple Wizard Convention, and to quote and enthusiastic Carbonaro, “It’s back, I’m back, we’re all back!”
Q: Would it be correct if I called this the $6 million Big Apple Wizard Convention?
MC: Oh that’s great; I love it!
Q: Because the two big celebrities there are, if you will please…
MC: Lee Majors and…you say it!
Q: Richard Anderson, the actor who played Oscar Goldman on the $6 Million Dollar Man?
MC: I believe this is Lee Majors’ first appearance in over like 20 years
MC: And we have Mary McDonnell, President Laura Roslin from “Battlestar Galactica.”
Q: Plus Batman and Robin, actors Adam West and Burt Ward.
MC: Yeah, so people are excited. Especially all those first-time autograph hounds, as the saying goes. I’m actually on 7th Avenue right now in the city. It’s a week away from the show and I think I can see the line forming already.
Q: It’s been a big year because the Wizard show has been making its way around the country and they’ve brought to New York some of the people who appeared at those other shows. Plus, in addition to Lee Majors, you’ve got a really unique lineup for the New York audience, including the Brady boys from The Brady Bunch.
MC: Yes, three Brady boys we have: Barry Williams, Christopher Knight, and Mike Lookinland.
Q: You’re really stacking the deck for this show. There are a lot of great media stars – although I don’t know why they’re going to be there, but pardon me for saying that – the Human Centipede folks are going to be there.
MC: Ashley Williams and Ashlynn Yennie will be crawling around the show somewhere.
Q: The show last year was and a much bigger space, Pier 94 on the Westside. Why did you decide to bring the show back to the Penn Plaza Pavilion, your old stomping grounds?
MC: We’ll, we started off at the church and the show evolved to the Penn Plaza Pavilion, and then we went to the Pier last year. We thought that maybe, not that that venue was too big, but it wasn’t as friendly of a site. So we decided to go back to the Hotel Pennsylvania and the Penn Plaza Pavilion and we’ve expanded into other parts of the hotel to doing gaming. That location was an unused part of the hotel that was never utilized before.
We’ve got things going on the sixth floor as well. We’re really going to be keeping the show up, plus we’re going to run it at least twice a year, and we’re going to really evolve it into something that will be a lot of fun for New York. We may even expand into other hotels and other places. Like the film festival does, we’ll do it for comic books, just take over New York City.
Q: Excellent. So we’ve been talking about the media guest, but this is after all a comic book show at its core. So who are the big name comic creator guests?
MC: Joe, I’m glad you asked. There are a bunch of special and first time guests. We have the creator of the bestselling comic series Kick-Ass, Mark Millar; Rob Liefeld the creator of Deadpool; Bill Jemas the former President of Marvel Comics and former editor of Marvel Comics, Jim Shooter. That’s just to name a few.
Q: So you mentioned something about gaming taking place at the convention, what kind of gaming event is taking place?
MC: Starting at the Big Apple Convention, fans of “Magic: The Gathering” can participate in the TCGplayer.com Championship Series. They have two main Magic event tournaments and a couple of smaller events running throughout the weekend. It’s crazy because winners for the main event will get something like $5,000 in prizes and those top players get invited to play in a $75,000 TCGplayer.com Championship Tournament at the end of the year.
Q: And if I can add a shameless plug for an event I’m co-hosting at the convention…
Q: In conjunction with the NYC Horror Film Festival we’re holding the “Killer Short Sudden Death Film Competition” at Big Apple this year. Filmmakers who have a short that is no more than 15 min. long can submit it for the competition until 3 pm on Sat. Then on Sun., from 5 - 7 pm in the Gold Ballroom at the Pennsylvania Hotel, will be screening the shorts submitted and the audience favorite with a spot in the 2010 festival (Nov. 10th - 14th at the Tribeca Cinemas). Films submitted get a second chance by going through the regular fest review process. So they could still end up in this year’s festival. The cool thing is that they get the chance to be seen by even a larger audience.
MC: Amazing Joe!
Q: With the festival offering so much to the fans are tickets already sold out for ay of the three days?
MC: It’s getting close. I’m amazed by the line up and it’s going to be rocking convention. We want everyone to come down and have a great time. Folks can go online to www.wizardworld.com to check on ticket availability, as well as any last minute special guests and programming. So come on down.
Big Apple Wizard Convention
Oct. 1-3, 2010
Friday, October 1, 2010 - 5 pm - 9 pm
Saturday, October 2, 2010 - 10 am - 7 pm
Sunday, October 3, 2010 - 10 am - 5 pm
Penn Plaza Pavilion
401 Seventh Avenue at 33rd St.
New York, NY 10001