The Chicago Comic-Con, formerly Wizard World Chicago, kicks off this weekend. There are tons of media guests and even a few comics folks, like Mark Millar, George Perez, and Dan Slott. And for a crossover, The Legion of Former Buffy Stars Who Write Comics is expanded by one as Emma Caulfield debuts a webcomic called…CONTROPUSSY.

The Chicago Daily Herald previews the show, and even confronts all the rumors swirling around the Chicago convention scene, though Wizard CEO Gareb Shamus expects “record attendance.”

Are the suburbs losing their biggest comics convention? Not a chance, Shamus says.

“We’re absolutely committed to the show and its location,” he said. “As far as I’m concerned, we’ll be there forever.”

That’s good news for Rosemont and surrounding towns. The show, held at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, brings an estimated 75,000 people to the Northwest suburbs over the course of the weekend. Rosemont officials say the event provides a nice boost for local businesses.

However, an Elite Beat operative checked out the scene last night at Preview Night and filed the following report:

The entire show has of course been re-branded “Chicago Comic-Con” on the signage and con program. No mention of “Wizard World” anywhere!

Judging from Preview Night, I can’t believe this was once the second biggest convention after SDCC.  It was like a ghost town.   Just about every publisher of note has bailed on this convention.  I couldn’t even find Wizard’s own booth! No DC, no Marvel, no Image.  I think Avatar had the biggest setup.

The best action was in the Artists Alley, since Chicago is still a great “comics pro” hometown and there’s always a renewable source of indie artists looking to sell their art and promote their newest comic. 

Dealer wise, not much of interest.  Most dealers I notice have switched from lugging around longboxes of singles to longboxes of heavily discounted trades.  The old “vintage comics” standby dealers are still around, but they’re looking more and more obsolete as their buying audience ages.  Of course there’s still the “sword and medieval weaponry” booth and the bootleg DVD guy.

When I got my wristband (instead of a badge, probably to discourage “badge swapping”), I asked the Wizard volunteer if it mattered if I took both of the “Wizard” swag comics (you’re supposed to get only one).  She replied, “honey, I really couldn’t care less”  

That’s probably the best way to sum up the general atmosphere of this show…

1 COMMENT

  1. The only cool thing happening during the Con is not even at the Con—Chicago Comics is throwing a party with free booze and food.

  2. The Chicago Comic-Con not only draws talent from the Chicagoland area, but also from around the Midwest. It’s an eight-hour drive to Chicago from Omaha (or a 90-minute flight), and, unfortuantely, there aren’t many other great conventions in the Midwest.

  3. Actually, Image had a presence after all. Jim Valentino was manning an Image United booth/table along the wall by the entrance.

    But as for the crowd, I wasn’t sure whether exhibitors and retailers outnumbered paying customers. But that was preview night. Maybe more people will show up now that the con’s actually under way.

  4. This is the first year that I have deliberately missed the Chicago convention. There have been times in the past when I was busy elsewhere. There have been times in the past when I didn’t feel well enough to attend. And there have been times in the past when I couldn’t afford to go. But this year, I just don’t care to go. And it is mostly because of Wizard.

    I went to the Detroit show this spring. I’ll go to Mid-Ohio Con this fall. And I’ll go to the convention in Chicago in the spring. But I’m done with Wizard cons.

  5. Walking the hall and talking to dealers, I repeatedly heard about the shabby treatment the dealers were getting from Wizard this year. Some decided to not show up, since Wizard relocated their booths without telling them, and others are concerned about the way Wizard is sucking the disposable cash with the $100 – $250 meet the “stars” private parties in the evening. These dealers seem more optimistic about the C2E2 show by Reed in April, and many have had their butts kissed extensively by Reed. I saw a lot of deep discounts on comics, graphic novels, and toys on a Thursday night, so that will be great for those attending. The name change of the show suggest that Wizard is trying to detach itself from the show, maybe trying to sell it to new owners? I’m going back on Saturday with family and friends, so we’ll see if there is an improvement in attendance. Thursday evening was an event for three day ticket holders, and it seemed light. I think this year, people will only make a one day commitment to Wiz… “Chicago Comic-Con”.

  6. GLAMOURCON 47 happens to be scheduled for next weekend at the Crowne Plaza O’Hare – Chicago, nearby the Rosemont convention center. The reference to “tons of media guests” at Comic-Con has me wondering how much emphasis comic conventions are placing on celebrities to draw traffic and how much overlap there is between the two markets. The Glamourcons are devoted to pin-ups, of course.

    SRS

  7. All I can say is that my brother, who lives in the area, has attended this con for nine years and has always had a good time. However, he ignores most of the media guests and focuses on the comics pros who attend. Even though he was laid off earlier this year, he’s still going; he just can’t spend much compared to past years. He did tell me he’s looking forward to it.

  8. So, “preview night” really was a preview night and not just an extra half-day of the con, huh?

    @Tim: I’m guessing it’s less Wizard trying to distance themselves from the cons and more that the cons are trying to distance themselves from Wizard. In the last year, Shamus has bought 2 cons (Big Apple Con and Toronto Comicon) without rebranding them as Wizard World, and announced a third (Anaheim Comic-Con) without the WW brand.

    That leaves Wizard World Philadelphia as the last con with the Wizard World brand. I wouldn’t be surprised for it to be renamed next year. Or canceled two months before the convention. *cough* WWLA *cough*

  9. “That leaves Wizard World Philadelphia as the last con with the Wizard World brand.”

    And I think this is being done in case of bankruptcy. Wizard could file bankruptcy, go out of business, and Shamus could continue to own the cons.

  10. This report sounds just like Wizard World Philly this year. Same stuff going on and many no shows from the big boy publishers. I think Dynamite had the biggest booth as you walked in the door. Dealers giving away books practically. I don’t know why I’d buy from a comic store again. I’d just wait till the next show and get everything I need over half off.

    “It’s over, Johnny.”

  11. Just got back from CCC. The costume contest that my daughter (Saturn Girl – if you were there) was participating was a [email protected]#k. There was no clear plan on how to run it. Four Wizard info centers were providing different answers on how and where to enter the competition. We were one of the last to get an entry form. Many, many attendees who spent a lot of time, effort and money on their costumes were mad as hell, and filled with profanities when they were told they could not enter the contest after getting the wrong info from a booth. A BIG problem was that the contest was held in front of the lobby escalators, using the stairs as a stage to present the contestants. It made it very difficult to get in and out of the convention, and I think it was a safety hazard. There was large amount of costume participant who did great work on their costumes. The X-Men Sentinel & Optimus Prime were towering giants, the Green Lantern Guys and Girls were great and the big fellow in Black Canary drag must have lost a bet!

    While we were finally filling out the entry form an the Wizard circle booth, we heard two guys complaining that they spent $300.00 each for the VIP passes & were told most if not all the night time events they were eligible to do were cancelled, and they would not get a refund. What a great opportunity for all the show management to be scarce, with only a volunteer left at the booth. I hope it works out well for those two.

    The show floor was pretty crowded by 11:00, and I think many of the dealers and artists were doing decent business both at the discount booths and some of the high end vintage booths. A large, large amount of mainly Marvel Essentials & Graphic Novels were being sold @ $5.00 each at quite a few booths. Some distributor must have unloaded truckloads of these TPB’s at severe discounts because they were found in the thousands. A very good buy for those planning to attend on Sunday.

    Well I gotta get the kids to bed, so lets hear about some other tales from the front.

  12. Wizard World Chicago changed their name? Is it to try and preempt the buzz for the April show put on by the NYCC folks?

    Anybody have an idea as to what it’s going to be called? ‘Cause I thought the April show was going to be called Chicago Comic Con, and now I have no clue.

  13. The new Chicago show by the NYCC folks will be called the Chicago Comics & Entertainment Expo (c2e2.com). I’m already planning to get a three day pass to it as it sounds like they will be running a show the way it should be done.

    Next year, I can only see myself going to the Wizard con on Sunday to grab all of the deals…and that makes me somewhat sad…

  14. I just got home from the show. The traditional publisher area had been taken over by dealers, which was an anticipated shock. But I’ve been going to Chicago Comic-Con since the mid-1990s, before Wizard took it over, and I realized something on Saturday: This was the Comic-Con of the pre-WWC days. Tons of dealers, no programming (not much, anyway) a big Artists Alley. It was as if they rolled back the 2000-era SDCC-ification of the show and returned to its roots.

  15. I just got back as well. I had no idea going in that neither Marvel nor DC would even be there. I mean, they had talent there, but the whole atmosphere felt like such a rip-off. Had I known beforehand, I probably would have skipped it all together. Got some cool trades, but come on, I felt like there was NO PREVIEWING for upcoming stuff at all. It was ALL people trying to sell their merch. I don’t pay $35 just to go in there and buy stuff.

    HUGE disappointment. DC and Marvel can both suck it as far as I’m concerned. People notice things like that. Indie comics are better anyway.

  16. Andy,

    It was fairly well known that Marvel and DC wouldn’t have their usual large presence at the show. Unfortunately, you didn’t seem to know that. Image and Dark Horse also didn’t have a large presence.

    Maybe this convention just turned into an overpriced small press con.