Over the next decade, Greib and Wizard’s team introduced countless innovations to revive this dead comic con, focusing on ways to incorporate different types of fan communities and their interests. Thanks to the magazine, Wizard’s team had relationships with toy makers, video game producers, film studios, and marketers. Suddenly, Gareb merged with the rest of the world to bring glamor and high-value values to the entertainment world. They combine professional celebrity photo ops and videos to create game activities, film promotions and marketing pop-ups g Suddenly fans were part of the action: they could meet their heroes and compete against each other for the best costumes. They make friends to play tabletop games, gain status, or make friends in a dedicated gaming area. With each innovation, larger groups came along and more communities joined. Gareb’s conference became known as the Wizard World Comic-Con, and more than a few thousand people went from one event to another for a few weekends. What started out as a glorious fly market became a central hub for fans and enthusiasts to come together and connect. Over time, they host events in more than 11 cities a year. Meanwhile, the magazine has given fans year-round access to industry news related to TV, film, video games, comics, toys, events and even cosplay.
Note that Gareb did not discover a passion for comic books – fans were there even before he was born. Instead, he gave them a place to come together and express the verdict without hesitation. A place where members of this subgroup can share a sensitive connection. When you’re a fan of comic book, show or story franchises, there comes a myth and history with which you identify. All Star Wars fans know about Force, Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker, any Spider-Man fan knows that Peter Parker deeply regrets not stopping the perpetrator who killed Uncle Ben and brings great responsibility with great strength. And of course, every Harry Potter fan knows about Lord Voldemort. Wizard Magazine and Gareb’s Comics-Cons over time have given all these fans a history and a place to connect with their favorite fairy tales. Today, that myth has redefined the entertainment industry and every major blockbuster comes from one of these stories but it never happened at all.
Even in the late 1990s, with the growing community and feelings of accompaniment, the comic book industry fell into recession. People were buying less comics, and toy sales were declining. Marvel was forced to file Chapter 11, and in 2000, the company brought in a new president to turn the tide. Even before the new president started, he knew he needed as much insight as he could about the state of the industry. He knew his old friend Gareb might have some ideas that could help Marvel’s future. Although most people in the industry sit in the office writing, drawing, or managing, Gareb had a unique approach. Not only was he connecting with people across all the industries concerned, he was involved with the community of fans through daily conferences and magazines, and he understood the complexities of subcultures. As they spoke, Gareb joked that “a few years after writing, the comic book stories gained character at such a young age that the next issue in Spider-Man is Peter Parker vs. Prostate Test.” The truth was that many of Marvel’s characters were no longer contemporary or socially relevant. If the company wants to connect with new fans, its characters need to be rediscovered and Gareb suggests starting with their Spider-Man.