Concentrate: This Week in Con News (March 19)

Welcome back to our weekly news feature where we boil down the week’s news from the convention circuit plus share our calendar of the weekend’s upcoming conventions.

This week, we were reminded that with the rising popularity of pop culture fan events comes the inevitable con jobs (forgive the pun). Omega Expo, supposedly set for November in Houston, TX, had announced a slate of guests that was unbelievably impressive: Ryan Reynolds, Tom Hiddleston, Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles, Rob Liefeld, Jim Lee… a flyer even boasted “music by Deadmau5” and sponsorships from Crunchyroll and Wizards of the Coast.

The statement left on Omega Expo's home page after being accused of fraudulent bookings.

The statement left on Omega Expo’s home page after being accused of fraudulent bookings.

Obviously, it turned out that none of these things were true. In fact, not even the venue was booked. Word started to spread when eagle-eyed fans noticed Padalecki & Ackles were already booked for a Creation Entertainment convention the same weekend (Creation hosts the official Supernatural conventions, among other shows). Reps for Reynolds and Hiddleston caught wind and confirmed neither were booked. Liefeld himself tweeted that he had no connection with the event.

For their part, Omega Expo has blamed their (now-former, one assumes) talent booker, Jeffrey Scott Smith, who they claim “fabricated information both about Omega Expo and his background.” While the Expo is supposedly now offering full refunds to ticket buyers, their site still boasts some of those original featured guests, and lists the same dates and venue. (Ticket sales are currently suspended.)

Regular con-goers are used to sniffing out scams from ticket resellers, collectible hoarders hocking wares on eBay, or exhibit hall vendors pushing counterfeit goods. But it’s easy for fans to be blinded by their dream of meeting their celebrity hero, and with so many new conventions cropping up, it’s hard to keep track of who’s legit and who isn’t. It’s a shame, since there are countless small new shows that are legitimate and deserve every chance at success, especially in underserved markets. Omega Expo seems to think a few solid bookings will allow their public image to recover; fans may not forget so easily.

  • Game of Thrones mastermind George R.R. Martin announced this week that he is not planning to attend San Diego Comic-Con, or a few other events he usually visits (including World Fantasy Convention), since he really, really needs to write his book.
  • Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: former Buffy star Nicholas Brendan was arrested yet again after destroying another hotel room while in town for another Florida convention, this time at ALT*Con.
  • Wizard World has postponed their previously scheduled Greenville, South Carolina event due to a scheduling conflict. Originally set for May 29 – 30, 2015 and now booked for July 15 – 17, 2016, the delay of over a year is apparently due to the dates issued by the convention center. (Greenville has a home-grown show this weekend.) One fan claims it’s due to a lack of interest from vendors. Incidentally, Wizard’s new con in China is slated for May 30 – June 1, 2015 although it’s being produced in conjunction with Chinese digital content firm FansTang and has yet to announce a city or venue.
  • The driver in the SDCC Zombie Walk hit-and-run incident has plead not guilty, and said in a interview that he feels “completely horrible” but skirted the question when asked if he would do anything differently if he could relive that day. He has filed a civil suit against the city, arguing the Zombie Walk event should require a permit.
  • ReedPOP is gearing up for the first stateside Star Wars Celebration next month, announcing autograph details, a Thursday morning kickoff panel with Episode VII director J.J. Abrams and Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy, the full exhibitor list, and a trivia contest with unspecified “awesome prizes,” and the world premiere of the two-part second season premiere of Star Wars Rebels (Saturday, 5:00pm, at the Digital Stage (3rd Floor)/Ballroom 300). Astonishingly, Celebration is not sold out yet; though the deadline to purchase tickets that will be mailed to you has passed, pre-sale tickets that can be picked up at the door are still available.
  • The popular NYC meetup Geek Girl Brunch has migrated to the west coast: the LA branch will host their first official event in Anaheim on WonderCon Saturday, April 4.


  • Another monocole alert for Sherlocked, London’s official Sherlock con: photo ops went on sale this week, with prices ranging from £10 – £45; most of the celebrity talks will be separately ticketed as well, ranging from £20 – £35; all this is on top of the admission ticket. (The general admission does include free access to a special effects demonstration by Danny Hargreaves, who is awesome, as we learned at Gallifrey One.)
  • “Lottery” is quickly becoming a four-letter word in the con world, with artist Skottie Young now considering a switch from a first-come, first-served system for sketch commissions at cons to a lottery system. He wouldn’t be the first artist to do so, but it is indicative of the kind of demand a convention can put on an artist – and the kind of competition other fans are up against when trying to meet their favorite creators at events.

  • Expect news on the San Diego Comic-Con downtown hotel lottery tomorrow; historically, email notifications for the lottery sale have gone out the Friday afternoon before a Tuesday morning sale, and all signs are pointing to the lottery opening at 9:00am PDT Tuesday, March 24. (This means the Early Bird Sale also closes Tuesday at 8:00am PDT, so plan now if you want to snatch up those savings.) Check back tomorrow for a breakdown of the hotel prices, a handy spreadsheet, and a video of last year’s system.

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What’s Happening This Week (Wednesday, March 18 – Tuesday, March 24)

Organizers: hosting a con soon? Fans: want to help get the word out about your favorite event? Contact us to have it added to the calendar.

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