We have been a bit remiss in covering the WizWorld Texas aftermath. Scott Hinze has a big round-up at Newsie, but even Wizard’s own PR machine says the show drew only half of what they expected:
Wizard World, the nation’s foremost touring event for pop culture, comic books, anime, toys, games and collectibles, concluded its tenth annual tour at Wizard World Texas, November 10 – 12 at the Arlington Convention Center with a confirmed attendance of more than 11,500 fans for the family-friendly three-day event. One of Wizard’s most successful tours, the 2006 series attracted a total of 127,500 fans in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Chicago and Texas and brought a variety of celebrity guests and esteemed comic book artists and creators to meet their most loyal fans.
11,500 is LESS THAN HALF the attendance predicted in the preshow hype:
Over 25,000 attendees are expected over the three-day event that will explore the worlds of comics, cards, toys, anime, manga, gaming, and more, and will offer attendees the opportunity to meet some of the biggest stars in comics, film and television.
Our own spies said attendance seemed to be down from last year, although photos show a decent but not bustling crowd on Saturday. Over on the Bendis board, opinions were mixed:
Man, WWT is getting smaller every year. I’m worried that someday they are just going to cancel it. This year artists alley was so small it didn’t even have the seperate room, it was just 4 small rows in the corner of the dealers area.
Still, got a few signatures and a ROM sketch from the guy who does ‘Random Encounter’ that kicks ass so I’m pretty happy.
Another attendee has a differing view:
I don’t know the actual attendance numbers, but it looked to me like there were twice as many folks there as last year.
This was the most fun I have had at WW Texas, and I have been to them all. Got to meet Bill Sienkiewicz, Ed Brubaker, David Finch, C.B. Cebulski, Steve Epting, George Perez, and Kristian Donaldson. I know there are more that I am forgetting.
I hated that Artist Alley was crammed into the main room this year, and I wonder if it was not because Wizard sold fewer tables to dealers this time around.
The Dallas market can support a large con if Wizard would bring more top creators and not treat this con as the red-headed stepchild. Regardless, I thought it was great and plan to attend all three days next year!
And yet a third:
Actually, the reason Artists Alley was smaller was because a lot of artists were complaining about being in the ballroom instead of on the convention floor for the last few years. And since they didn’t want to cut the number of booth spaces, they simply cut some of the artists alley tables to move it into the main area. I think it’s a smart move, but in the end they might want to tighten the isles a little more, there was a ton of space between tables and they could have easily added 4 more rows.
But if you look at the creator list from last year and compare it to this one, you’ll see that it was a far more impressive list this year. But they did sell out of tables rather early (and I know a few people that couldn’t get tables) so I’m assuming they’ll re-think the layout again.
Anyway you slice it, this has been a pretty stagnant year for the Wizard shows. Increased competition, creator burnout, and bad programming would seem to be the culprits. Internally, many Wizard personnel have been working on the IFL launch, which has been successful, but not a barn-burner. Marvel and DC sat out Texas, few creators had the time or inclination to spend another weekend sitting behind a masonite table, and the fans didn’t come out for whatever reason.
As the Bendisboarder reaction shows, comics fans will have a good time meeting their favorite pros, getting sketches and drinking afterwards. But from our own vantage point, there is just no compelling reason to go to a Wizard show any more. The guest lists and programming are woefully behind the curve in reflecting the wider world that comics have reached this year. Ask yourself this, who would contribute more to a show? A local manga creator like Rivkah—or Virgil? Come on now. Wizard is even behind the times in the cartoonist-as-celebrity mindset they pioneered. We are always happy to see an Image founder or Michael Turner—they are fine guests and popular creators. But they can’t match the bookstore sales of a Scott McCloud or Svetlana Chmakova or BONGO COMICS.
Wizard has announced a restructured schedule for 2008, but 2007 will keep pretty much the same timeframe. We asked several frequent Wizard exhibitors who had replaced ousted Stewart Morales…and no one could tell us. Not a good sign for a business branch that desperately needs a goose. It’s possible their waiting for 2007 to bring out the regime change, but after a year of declining attendance, a Rumsfeld-like refusal to change would seem to be highly imprudent.
Photo by Clay Harrison, who sent us a really nice set of photos which you can view here.