Wizard World acquires Pittsburgh Comic Con

Wizard World has acquired Pittsburgh Comic Con, the annual comic book convention held in Monroeville, Pennsylvania. This means that if you attend the Pittsburgh Comic Con, you won’t be financially supporting a man who was (twice) convicted of murdering his wife.

Michael and Renée George, owners and operators of Comics World, a comic shop in Windber, Pennsylvania, started the Pittsburgh Comic Con in 1994. It wasn’t the first Comics World Michael George owned and operated with his wife, only before, it was a different wife. Michael and Barbara George owned and operated Comics World in Michigan.

In 1990, Barbara George was murdered, shot in the back of the head, by Michael George, in the comic book shop the two owned. For whatever reason, the police were not able to gather enough evidence against Michael to charge him with the murder.

In 1992, Michael married former Comics World employee Renee Kotula. The two had been having a personal relationship while Michael was married to Barbara. They then moved to Windber and opened a new comic book shop, again calling it Comics World.

Murderer Michael George
Convicted murderer and comic book entrepreneur Michael George.

Michael George later went on to open a third Comics World in nearby Scotland, Pennsylvania. I used to buy my comics there, back when I used to buy floppy comics. Although I live in Hagerstown, Maryland, I used to work in Scotland, Pennsylvania. The store is still there, although much larger, nicer, and now under new ownership.

The Barbera George murder case was reopened years later by a special cold case unit created by Prosecutor Eric Smith.

If this whole sad, twisted tale of murder sounds like a story from Dateline, that’s because it was.

So the Pittsburgh Comic Con finally doesn’t have any connection to Michael and Renée George. Good. As long as those two owned it, if you spent money on it, you were supporting a convicted murderer and his mistress. Considering that Michael George pocketed $120,000 in life insurance money from Barbara’s death, there’s a good chance that the Pittsburgh Comic Con, founded less than four years after her murder, was at least in part financed with actual blood money. I remember there was talk of people boycotting the Pittsburgh Comic Con until Michael George no longer owned it, but I don’t remember whatever happened with that.

Now it doesn’t matter. Michael George no longer owns the Pittsburgh Comic Con. Wizard World does. Say what you will about Wizard World, at least it never murdered a woman.

Rick @ Bentcorner.com

I'm originally from southern California, but western Maryland is my home now. This is my blog. It's where I write about whatever I feel like writing about, when I feel like writing.

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7 thoughts on “Wizard World acquires Pittsburgh Comic Con”

  1. I knew Michael George – I bought comics from his shop and I attended the Pittsburgh Comic Con nearly every year. I was absolutely floored when I went to the show the year after Mike was charged with murder and locked up. I enjoyed the Comic Con and especially appreciated the fact that the Comic Con made generous annual donations to the Make A Wish Foundation. I never knew Mike to be anything other than a gentleman and a pleasant person to be around. Everyone at the Comic Con seemed to like him. Did he murder his first wife? Maybe – a jury found him guilty. Did I feel guilty going to the Comic Con after he was found guilty ? Not at all. I enjoyed the Comic Con. Am I glad that the Comic Con was purchased by Wizard World – not at present – they raised the admission by a good bit and many of the artists and vendors that I became friends with were not at the Comic Con this year. Maybe Renee made out well selling the Comic Con to Wizard. Maybe the proceeds from the sale will benefit Michael George – so what! If Michael killed his first wife – he will eventually be called to task for his action and if Renee was complicit with the act – she will also eventually answer for being complicit. I knew Michael George and enjoyed his Comic Con and enjoyed his company. If he killed his first wife it really goes to show that you can’t judge a book by it’s cover.

  2. I remember the comic book store that I worked at (in it’s original location on Scalp Avenue in a small strip with a pizza shop at the other end…) in Johnstown, PA… it was not doing very well but we stayed open on Saturdays only (our main store was in Indiana, PA…about 45 minutes away). Business was very slow…I can’t remember the exact day anymore but it was late in the year…I’m thinking late 1992 / early 1993 … (because we moved to another location on Scalp Avenue in 1993…). There may have been 2 customers in the store at the time when in walked Mr. George. I think he was checking out the competition. He looked around the store for what might have been all of 5 minutes before he came to the counter….we had small talk before he mentioned that he wasn’t from around the area…he then felt obligated to let me know that he had a box of comics in his car that was worth more than my entire store and the strip mall that it was located in…the conversation kind of ended shortly after that… he left…it was close to closing time (around 5 pm..). One of the customers remarked that the guy was arrogant…I didn’t judge but I always remembered that day because a friend let me know very soon after that about the opening of a store in Windber, PA…it was him…and he had a lot of books in there…I told people about his store location because I always believed that the owners all bumped into each other at the conventions and I wanted only good will between us… I had heard some people try to tell me that he was saying things about our store over the years but they never really bothered me because a lot of the things were a matter of opinion and our store was still standing after 5 years from the day that his opened…His store was a big store compared to ours…he earned the right to brag…nothing wrong with that. After seeing the Dateline stuff(..well after I had quit the comic store and well after it had closed as well…), I was very surprised and I have always wondered about the time proximity of his arrival in PA compared to his visit to my store…and about the books that he had in his car…lol.

  3. Who owns his store in Windber now? Is it still owned by his family? I would like to know because if it is, I won’t bother going there.

  4. Although very few may see this comment, I read the book about his wife’s murder. There was very shoddy police work done for starters. There was some circumstantial evidence against Michael George, but no physical proof. Was George a good guy, absolutely not, he did have affairs on his wife, and with Reneé who worked at the store & later became his second wife. None of this makes a murderer though. After 17 years the case was reopened by the Macomb County prosecutor Eric Smith, who’s deceased father was the chief of police in Clinton Township when the murder originally took place in 1990. I feel that he was seeking something to make his father proud even though he had passed. Read the book, there is just too much that doesn’t point to him. Remember innocent until proven guilty.

    1. He was proven guilty. In 1990, there was a lot of comic & sport cards stores in the area that were a lot bigger with bigger inventory that his Clinton Twsp, Mi. store. Never was there any robbery’s within the try county area. I owned a store in 1990. There was no robbery. He was guilty. He made too many mistakes. The weight of evidence pointed only toward him. There wasn’t anyone that wanted him dead. If that was true, they would have waited for him to come to the store and kill him & his wife. He didn’t realize his wife was having a surprise birthday party for him that night. He is guiltily.

  5. The worst part about this story is that many in law enforcement and beyond suspect that Renee was his accomplice. Yet she goes on with her life, happily raising poor Barbara’s daughters as her own and profiting from Barbara’s hard work. I wonder how these two girls can live with themselves, supporting their horrible father and dishonoring the memory of their mother in the process. Even if they are naive enough to think Michael is innocent of murder, it’s been established that he regularly badmouthed their mom, flirted blatantly with other women, and cheated on her with the shady Renee. I pray that they wake up eventually so they don’t have to spend their lives agonizing over the incarceration of this creep. I’m thrilled to know that Comic Con is no longer associated with this evil pair.

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