I’ll be honest that I haven’t been too keen on Wizard World for several years, largely because it struck me as more of a pop culture show than a comic show. Going into this year was no exception. They’re promoting lots of actors and wrestlers and folks that aren’t really associated with comics in any way. They had comics people, too, but that hasn’t been the focus of their advertising.
But after getting to the show, it seemed to me there was actually a greater focus on comics than at rival convention C2E2! I think the Artists’ Alley was at least as big, and there seemed to be a greater percentage of comics folks there (as opposed to just artists who do work that happens to appeal to comics-appreciative audiences). There were certainly more retailers selling comics there too. Now, there were certainly people there selling anime DVDs, and cosplayers dressed up like various incarnations of the Doctor, and a video arcade, and some RenFest folks, but I got the impression that there was less of that here than at C2E2. Furthermore, I had a few people say similar things.
In a second report, he addresses some concerns:
The biggest complaint I heard from retailers and exhibitors was that traffic/sales were not up to their expectations. Some of that came from people who had never done a Thursday show before, and were thinking it was going to be pretty close to a typical Friday. Some felt that their product was perhaps a little too far afield from the average Wizard World crowd. One retailer noted to me, though, that he felt the show was simply getting too large. That the number of retailers had grown substantially more than the number of attendees, so each retailer was getting a smaller portion of the overall money being spent at the show.
On the other hand, Jeff York for the Examiner was more critical overall (Warning you may have to close a screen full of floating Clinique toner bottles to read this piece.
The Wizard World Chicago Comic Con has been going on since 1972 and keeps getting bigger and bigger each year. However, that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily getting better. Quite the contrary, as this year’s event, held from August 8- 11, was rather disappointing on a number of levels. And its size was just one of the issues. The fixes are fairly easy to achieve to ensure that future conventions are as thrilling and productive as they were in years past. Here then are the top 10 ways to improve the Con:
While the list of ten items may have been chosen with one eye to SEO, most of the comments sounds reasonable: treat preregistered attendees better, better food (one of the reasons I stopped going a long time ago), and NOT SO MUCH WALKING DEAD.
Overall, it sounds like the usual big Wizard World show; certainly the tweets from fans were satisfied. Publishers haven’t been supporting Wizard shows for a while now, but the show still manages to provide the fan experience that people have come to expect from hearing about all those other cons.
§ WWC made a social media feed page for the tweets ‘n’ stuff.
§ Meanwhile, one Chester Cebulski went to a show in Chile and has some thoughts. (I kid, it is of course, Marvel’s well known C.B. Cebulski—you just don’t hear his given name very often.)
What’s your opinion about Chilean comic book production?
I can say that what I have seen over last two days was amazing and impressive. The diversity of comic series inspire me. Especially diversity between men and women. In the United States there is a growing movement of female comic comiquers. But still a small percentage. Here is about fifty/fifty. It’s great to see. Everything is very, very unique. They have different influence of different places that they take, but don’t copy everybody. It’s not about only super heroes and manga.
§ And Otakon was held in Baltimore this weekend, and a antendee name Carrie Wood wrote it up for the Baltimore Sun. Shorter version, she had a good time but there were lines. I think that review can be written about every comic-/manga/fanfest these days.
§ I would like to call attention to Rob Clough’s review of Chuck Forsman’s The End Of The Fucking World—originally published in a series of mini-comics, it’s one of the strongest debuts of the year:
He has a knack for giving voice to a certain sense of ennui and desperation for connection and meaning, yet manages to do so in a way that avoids navel-gazing and static storytelling. In some of his books, this involves adding a magical realist or fantasy element to create a different layer of storytelling. The heart of his stories remains the same, as Forsman is interested in examining the relationship between parents and children, especially when things have gone horribly wrong. When a child isn’t loved or nurtured, how do they negotiate the world? What choices do they make? When they are on the cusp of adulthood, how do they react to their newfound sense of agency and power? These are the questions that form the backbone of TEOTFW.
§ There is a program called Breaking Bad that aired las night, I hear. Apparently Twitter heard of it. “Tread lightly.” Anyway here is a nice thing that Francesco Francavilla did, making minimalist posters for every episode. Being that no one makes minimalist posters like Francavilla, the show’s producers got wind of them and included them in a gift book given to the cast and crew. And Francavilla got one too.
§ Tom Spurgeon quizzed Steven T Seagle for his Sunday interview, which is nice because Seagle has been around a long time and done many fine books—like the new GENIUS—but because he’s totally avoided the “Superhero world” he doesn’t get mentioned in lists of comics writers as much as he probably should:
SEAGLE: If I’m being totally honest, I feel a little alone in American comics. I definitely think there are guys that get what you could do with comics. The nature of the business does not leave a lot of leeway for pursuing those avenues. My books don’t sell incredibly well a lot of the time because they’re out there. That’s part of the nature of doing the kind of work I like to do, I’m not going to be that favorite comic book writer guy, and you have to be okay with that. You have to be okay with the fact that you’re not going to make a kajillion dollars off of your comics. I”m very fortunate in that the Man Of Action side of our business has propped us up in such a way that I can go, “I want to do The Re[a]d Diaries just because I want to.” [Spurgeon laughs] I think it’s worth doing. And I think people will like it if they can find it, but it’s going to be a tough sell to get people to find it. I think there are writers that understand what comics can do as much as I do, but it’s tough to get somebody to let you tell those kinds of stories in the U.S. I think the more European stuff I read the more I see people that know this even better than I do.
§ Finally, everyone is sick of Comic-Con by now, but this report for the Guam newspaperby Florence Stair sums things up so well, I had to quote it:
I was able to score a first edition “Adventure Time Fiona and Cake” comic book and have it signed by the creator, Natasha Allegri, and also artist Stephanie Gonzaga. I also witnessed actor Tom Hiddleston in full Loki regalia surprise the crowd, promoting the next installment of the “Thor” franchise. Despite hours of walking around the exhibit hall, and my bag weighing down with all the goodies I collected, my excitement never waned. There was always something exciting to see or do, like taking pictures with cosplayers, getting in line to get free stuff, or previewing video games and celebrity spotting.
So there you have it. Comic-Con is fun, no more arguments ever, okay?
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.