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The Fleenplex Is Almost Tall Enough To See The Grandeur That Is Stately Beat Manor

Sure, these news items are reported elsewhere, but sometimes you just get pulled in by the particular flavor that Heidi Mac puts on a story. Thus, we’ll be referencing The Beat‘s versions today.

  • By now, I imagine that everybody and their dog has heard of the demise of Megan Fox Tits Wolverine magazine; actually, my dog (above) was napping pretty hard yesterday, so maybe she hasn’t. And since the mighty has fallen, I suppose we’ll break with the Fleen Style Guide and refer to MFTW by its former name, Wizard. Having studiously ignored the ever-descending fortunes of said magazine, a thought occurred to me yesterday in the aftermath of the implosion.

    Let’s be clear — I am not qualified to comment on the legalities of securities transactions, and I am not saying that anything I’m about to comment on was less than perfectly legal. But a paper transaction that effectively allows one company to cease to exist while an almost identical company (run by the same people) suddenly begins to exist, but allowing a clean break from the old company? We’ve seen it before in comics, which you may cross-reference under the names WOWIO/Platinum, and Dreamwave/Dream Engine to name two. These situations strike me as extraordinarily distasteful.

    I’ve seen the disappearance and new-name-reappearance of a company from the inside; close to fifteen years ago, I worked for a tech consultancy (about whom I have nothing but good things to say) that one day ceased operations and restarted them. In a bid for investment capital, the founder/principal signed a deal with some money guys who took a previously-unused, publicly traded company that had zero activity, bought the consultancy, and immediately spun it back off via a penny-stock issuance under a name practically identical to the old one. Go back to the story at The Beat and re-read the 2nd and 7th grafs, and the 2nd, 3rd, 5th, and 6th comments. Note the parallels.

    Things got real interesting for me at that point. The money guys promptly fired the owner/principal, and in the course of about 10 weeks screwed the remaining employees sideways, then declared the business a failure without paying us everything we were owed¹. This is, hopefully, as close as I’ll ever get to personally experiencing the historical business practices of the comics industry.

    Wizard staffers, as of this writing, don’t seem to have much expectation of severance, although one would hope that they do qualify for unemployment (but that’s a can o’ worms right there, with advanced legal degrees needed to determine what has to be true for somebody to claim unemployment insurance beyond the entirely-logical and therefore almost certainly-insufficient fact of being unemployed).

    Now here’s where it intersects webcomicdom; one of the interesting parts of this story is that Wizard World (the new public company) is keeping its convention business (the last year or so saw it aggressively purchase small- to medium-sized conventions all over North America). If the conventions are what keeps the business going, they’re going to need to stock up on guests. I happen to know that prior to the dissolution of the “old Wizard” and the formation of the “new Wizard”, a number of webcomickers were being aggressively courted to show at various Wizard cons in 2011.

    This is where the bad taste in my mouth (over the securities deals) starts turning into … let’s call it a “heightened situational awareness”. If I were being asked to exhibit at a Wizard show (I haven’t been), and they were offering more than table space (say, flight & hotel) I would want a damn good lawyer to look over the contracts to make sure I wouldn’t be on the hook for anything. After all, in the words of “new Wizard”‘s own press release:

    Cautionary Statement Regarding Forward-Looking Statements Statements in this press release relating to Wizard World’s future plans, expectations, beliefs, intentions and prospects are “forward-looking statements” and are subject to material risks and uncertainties. When used in this press release, the words “will”, “future”, “expect”, “look forward to”, similar expressions and any other statements that are not historical facts are intended to identify those assertions as forward-looking statements. Any such statement may be influenced by a variety of factors, many of which are beyond the control of Wizard World that could cause actual outcomes and results to be materially different from those projected, described, expressed or implied in this press release due to a number of risks and uncertainties. Accordingly, no assurances can be given that any of the events anticipated by the forward-looking statements will transpire or occur. A detailed discussion of these factors and other risks that affect our business is contained in our SEC filings, including our most recent reports on Form 10-K and Form 10-Q, particularly under the heading “Risk Factors.” Copies of these filings are available online from the SEC or by contacting Joe Favorito at (917) 566-8345 or All information set forth in this press release is current as of January 24, 2011. Wizard World undertakes no duty to update any statement in light of new information or future events. [emphasis mine]

    Yeah, it’s boilerplate. I’m also interpreting it to mean, if “new Wizard” suddenly gets replaced by “new new Wizard”, creditors may have a long slog in front of them to get what is theirs by right. Any lawyers want to chime in on the comments page with a correction or reasons why anybody that does business with “new Wizard” shouldn’t be more cautious than usual? I’d love to hear your take on it.

  • Let’s end on the very good news — again, lots of places to get background on this story, but let’s just stay with The Beat — that James Kochalka has been named the first-ever Cartoonist Laureate of Vermont (or anyplace else, near as I can tell). You’d be hard pressed to find a better CL, and you can be sure that this story will only become more awesome between now and the official investiture? coronation? accolade? Whatever the correct term, Kochalka starts fulfilling the duties of his office on 10 March. Everybody be glad for James!

¹ From the distance of time and cynicism, I’d say that the money guys had some money that they desperately needed to make disappear, because they all seemed to come out of it smelling like roses. I eventually got a chunk of my outstanding pay by offering to have a chat with the state Attorney General and IRS about whether or not it was legal for the money guys to tell me, as they were handing me my paycheck, that I hadn’t been an employee for the past two weeks, but had actually been an independent contractor and thus only entitled to half my previous salary. Classy.

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