Todd Allen was at the WWC/CCC on Preview Night to promote his collected Murder Professor and sent us along some observations. The opinions expressed below are Todd’s own and do not necessarily reflect our own.
You walk into Wizard World / Chicago Comic Con and the first thing you notice is the floor. As in there’s no carpet. Pretty much anywhere. And yes, I did hear a few “they couldn’t even spring for carpet” jokes followed by the general disdain for the wristbands they would prefer you not take off for the full weekend.
Once you get past the seeing the concrete floor and look up, the first booth you see is a toy booth. (Toynks) Now usually you’re seeing a publisher in the Tiffany spot, but I gather there was a last minute cancellation and they snatched it up. Which is fine. I know the owner’s girlfriend and am taking the opportunity to tell her if he’s got that important a booth, it’s time she finally came to a show in costume.
The configuration is a little different than before. If you go straight in from the entrance, you have three aisles of exhibitors and by exhibitors I mean a mix of publishers (Top Shelf, Avatar), retailers (Toynks), some video game materials, Suicide Girls, Crimespree magazine, Samsung (promoting cell phones) and so forth. Move a couple aisles further down and you have a ton of autograph booths, which seemed mostly empty tonight. Ted DiBiase (wrestler, often association with the “Million Dollar Man” nickname) was there, but I’m not sure if anyone else was. The dealer space starts about where it normally starts. Ditto artist’s alley in the back, although the spill-over section of artist’s alley by foot court appears to no longer be there.
Extra wide aisles, while never a bad thing, seem to indicate the number of exhibitors/dealers/artists in the alley has shrunken again. Certainly, there’s a lot less comics from an exhibitor standpoint.
So, given all that, I was really curious what kind of traffic there was going to be on a Thursday night without all the celebrities on autograph duty. I was also (as were several people I know) looking to see how many people were glancing around perplexed at the lack of comics at a “Comic Con” and getting irritated. And you know what? I didn’t see any of that at all.
What I actually saw was a pretty decent amount of traffic for a Thursday preview night. People seemed to be a good mood. Small purchases seemed to be made with some frequency.
I was up front, signing at the Crimespree booth, 3 booths in from the door, so I can’t tell you first hand what was going on in the dealer area. I talked to a couple people in artist’s alley, both agreed they had good amount of traffic. One said he’d almost paid for his table, the other said people were doing more looking than buying. Both were thinking if this was an indicator, Saturday was going to be an absolute zoo. The one dealer I spoke with as the show was shutting down thought it was alright for opening, but nothing to right home about.
Now, in the greater scheme of things, a preview night may or may not mean anything. Still, the only really bad thing I heard was from somebody whose booth was less prominent this year. Looked OK to me, but we’ll see what the first full day brings.
Bar con wasn’t so hot. The big sighting was Julie Newmar, Burt Ward and a couple of Julie’s entourage having drinks in a cordoned off section of the Hyatt bar. It was a bit surreal to watch Newmar walk out of the bar, sit in what appeared to be a high-backed office chair on wheels, and be wheeled away, but it happened. Very quiet in the bar. There seemed to be a brief wave of people at around 11:30, but there wasn’t a lot of trouble getting a seat and I wasn’t recognizing very many people. Then again, there really aren’t that many comics guests relative to other years and not everyone was in town yet, so there you go.
The oddest thing about the show is often what’s scheduled opposite it. Over the years, there’s been Beatlesfest, a knitter’s show, something involving a lot of Korean brides. This year, we may have the sharpest contrast yet. In the main room, Wizard World/Chicago Comic Con. In the side room, a National of Islam convention? That’s what the Hyatt concierge had listed. And that was what I was thinking it looked like.
Diversity, thy name is Rosemont Convention Center. At least on Thursday.