The “under new management” Wizard World Chicago Comic-Con was held this past weekend, and even without the Situation on hand, we heard from all that it was very well attended. Industry analyst Milton Griepp also attended, and had some observations on the show make-up:

The floor space occupied by the show had expanded significantly since 2010, with the usual booths for comic and toy collectors (this show has more toy booths than any other show we attend), and an increase in booths for apparel and tchotchkes.  Artists Alley also looked like it had grown.

Cosplay was significantly more in evidence than it was two years ago, reflecting, we assume, the nationwide growth in popularity of the hobby.

Aisles remain uncarpeted, making this a tough show to walk for extended periods, but it helps keep prices for exhibitors and attendees low.

Another element that hasn’t changed–bootleg DVDs for sale on the floor, which are reduced from five years ago, but about the same as they were two years ago.

We’ll have some more reports later on but sound off in the comments. Did you go? Was it fun? Did you see Stan Lee? Let us know!


  1. The notion that Wizard is under new management is a myth. Gareb Shamus is still the largest shareholder in Wizard, and I saw him on the floor of Wizard World Philadelphia Con. His name has just been removed from the masthead to give the impression that this is “The New Wizard.”

  2. Seemed like there were more comic book dealers than at the San Diego show. This show tried to have a bit of something for everyone.

  3. How bad was Wizard Chicago this year: After I drove two hours and paid $55 for my ticket, I left after two and a half hours on the con floor and went to a movie at the theater across the street rather than remain at the convention center.

    This year’s version of the show couldn’t even be bothered to put artist’s alley in one part of the floor.

    Never again.

  4. http://lib.store.yahoo.net/lib/wizardworld/chicagofloormap.pdf

    Interesting layout… signing lines on the show floor does create more excitement.

    The artist alley was pushed to the back, but the back is not a flat area… and some of those tables were not an island, but a sandbar.

    Some of those booth layouts are curious… and the lounge front and center, in the most valuable real estate of the show floor…

  5. I suspect Wizard simply had fewer artists present this year. That’s certainly what it felt like. There was a much smaller area reserved for “star” artists than usual (and no writers at all, while I’m at it), and for being as spread out as they were, I think there was more to see at the generally smaller C2E2.

    Which is fine, because Wizard’s con just needs to finish the process of dying so something less awful can come around and replace it.

    I heard a few people talking about the con on the way to my car and I really just wanted to explain that comic shows usually aren’t as horrible as the Rosemont one is.

  6. This was the first time in 25+ years that I passed on going to Chicago Comic Con/WizardWorld. Last year we purchased advanced ticket to save $10.00 per ticket, and ended up waiting 1-1/2 hours in line to get into the show, while those paying same day walked right into the show after their purchase. This year was too much! $55.00 for Sat. & $45.00 for the other days was too pricey, sure you could bring two kids to the show for free up to 10 years of age, so my 8 yr. old gets in free, but my 11 yr. old and his friend pay full price. $150.00 for the day, plus Rosemont parking and $50.00 for gas leaves little money for buying comics. CCI was only $40.00 a day and it was 10 times the show that CCC/WW tries to be. C2E2 has been a better deal, and I have been fairly happy with the content on their last show. I get an educator’s discount, my kids and their friends get in free on Sunday, and my wife’s ticket was $25.00, which leaves ample money for the vendors comics & toys. And, C2E2 pulls this off at McCormick Place vs. the Stephens Center in Rosemont. If Rosemont is getting too expensive for CCC/WW then move the show the Schaumburg Convention Center, which is much easier to get to than Rosemont.

  7. Likefunbutnot: there were at least two writers in AA, myself and Trevor Mueller at tables 3178-3180. We had a great show with near-record sales; I’m sorry we didn’t connect.

  8. Schaumburg is only easier to get to for people who are already in the Western suburbs, Tim.

    Unfortunately, it’s not the expense that I mind. It’s the wasteland of content, with no panels to speak of and the giant Z-list celebrity signing area, that really annoys me.

    I don’t mind a signing area. I just don’t think that autograph shows are a replacement for every other kind of content.

    A friend of mine had a booth set up at the relatively small GeekGirlCon in Seattle last weekend. After I looked at its web site, I realized there was more going on and more I wanted to see there than I did at Chicago’s “major” comic convention.

    It’s really a farce to call Wizard’s show a comic book convention in the first place. Avatar was the only publisher I saw that even had a booth, there was no meaningful trade press coverage (ouch) and there weren’t even all that many professionals there.

  9. Likefunbutnot- You are right about CCC/WW being a wasteland. The comic book dealers I would typically buy from refuse to travel from either of the coasts and the Midwest to go to this show, mainly due to the treatment from show management who have booked these dealers in spaces preferred by the dealers, only to have the dealers arrive to discover they have been relocated to less desirable spots next to excessively loud booths or booths containing strippers from the Admiral Theatre. Can’t really bring in the family shoppers with that kind of crap going on! As far as Schaumburg is concerned, the extra 10 minutes someone would have to drive from the east to get to Schaumburg is far easier than dealing with the congested O’Hare/Mannheim/River Rd. mess. If people are coming from Chicago on the L then provide a shuttle service from the Cumberland station. Great savings can be had when you avoid Rosemont kickbacks and graft.

  10. As an attendee for both cons for several years, let me go with a more balanced approach.

    What Wizard World provides over C2E2 is simple: DEALS. When I go to Wizard World, I go to load up on discounted trade paperbacks, graphic novels, etc.

    The steeper discounts are obviously from Wizard charging less for a booth than ReedPop does.

    To give some hard numbers, this past weekend I bought 55 trades and collections, spending (on just the books, not including other stuff I bought) 460 dollars. That’s an average of just over 8 bucks per trade. I got New 52 hardcovers for 5 BUCKS at some tables.

    C2E2, however, is a straight-up comic book convention. All the big publishers, artists, writers, making big announcements and signing books. There, I’ll attend more panels, try out more from other publishers, etc etc. But good luck finding booths selling $5 trade paperbacks.

    As for Wizard THIS year-I liked the move to four full days, precisely because it was a bit too much. In past years, I’d be darting around like a madman for the last hour Sunday making last minute purchases. This year, I decided to call it a con by 3pm that afternoon. This also made it easier to just leave early on Saturday-the crowds were just too big to really enjoy shopping around. Saturday is always going to be a mess-if you’re going for only day, make sure THAT isn’t it, and you’ll enjoy it a lot more.

    If I have one gripe-I didn’t like how Artist Alley was arranged. I’d rather have it all in one big section than so spread out like it was.

    The way I see it, no one needs to bitch about what Wizard World is or isn’t. Chicago is lucky enough to have two huge cons that each provide something different.

  11. @John Gregory,

    I’ve been going to Rosemont for a decade and a half and I’ve been to every single day of C2E2. I have every right to bitch about what’s wrong with Wizard’s con.

    And what’s wrong is this: I can get on Amazon.com any time I want and buy cheap graphic novels. Cheap graphic novels that I don’t have to pay $55 to be able to buy in the first place.

    10 – 15 years ago, Wizard had an entire pavilion devoted to major publishers. They had huge panels that they didn’t gate behind enormously expensive VIP tickets. The odd celebrity might show up, but their appearance was a side-line to the comic/sci-fi fandom.

    It was more than a swap meet, in other words.

    And as a swap meet, there’s no fucking way that it’s worth a $50 ticket to get in.

    Also, to one of @Tim’s issues,
    I LIKED the adult content, when Wizard had it. It was part of the fun. There used to be a dealer that specialized in vintage pin-up magazines at CCC every year and one of my favorite-ever Con moments is a 20 minute conversation about the 2004 Presidential election with a well-known nude model. When it was present, it was also segregated to a particular part of artist’s alley. Now we have Gorilla Tango Burlesque, Suicide Girls or (at C2E2) Cosplay Deviants mixed in with regular booths at Chicago’s cons. Should they not be there at all? I think they should. I like that stuff. Do I think they need to be between somebody selling Vintage toys or a Tshirt booth? No.

    What I really wish and hope for every year is that someone will come to their senses and make Wizard’s con the con it was 10 years ago. When it was worth going to. But a giant swap meet where you can meet wrestlers just isn’t worth it to me. And that’s a shame because, like I said, I’ve been going for a long-ass time.

  12. “But good luck finding booths [at C2E2] selling $5 trade paperbacks.”

    Odd. I recall seeing multiple booths at C2E2 selling cheap trades. Both the $5 booths and the %50 off booths. And saw several booths with $1/50cent/25cent comics at C2E2 as well.

    I know, because I stocked up that way.

    In all actuality, the vendors at C2E2 and at Wizard World Chicago are the same vendors. There may be a few that attend one over the other due to personal availability or taste, but by and large – they’re the same people.

    Also, Marvel and DC have recently done a warehouse clearance, so you may have seen some books at Wizard that weren’t available at C2E2 because of that.

    All in all – I’m skipped Wizard as C2E2 more than met my comic book convention needs for the year. Maybe one day I’ll go to Baltimore Con or Heroes Con…

  13. I’m pretty much over cons. (Especially Wizard). Maybe it’s because I’m older, but I just don’t see the point in paying $55 just so I can walk into a store. If I had kids, I guess it would be a different story.

  14. I will definitely agree that single-day ticket prices were positively ridiculous this year.

    As for cheap trades at C2E2, last year I found 1 booth selling $5 books (the one that spans both sides of an aisle that offer $25 for 5 Marvel trades). Absolutely no DC trades for 5 each.

    At Wizard World, there were at least 5 booths offering 5 buck trades-and getting a New 52 hardcover at that price is downright ridiculous.

    As far as publishers not coming, my first year going was 2009, and that was one of the first times they skipped out on it (there was still a DC Nation panel that year). C2E2 started up that spring, and its spot on the calendar is just better to attract guys like Johns and Quesada to come in, make big announcements, etc. Wizard World Chicago is usually just a month after San Diego-so despite its attendance, it just doesn’t make much sense for the publishers to come out in force so soon after their biggest event of the year.

  15. DC does not remainder graphic novels.
    (That is, clear a warehouse of unsold stock by selling it to a discount distributor.)

    They might offer discounts directly to comics shops, otherwise DC feels that customers might wait for the remainder instead of waiting for the trade.

    The retailer described at C2E2 is Tales of Wonder. They do retail and wholesale discount distribution. I acquired the entire run of Runaways last Spring at C2E2.

    As for publishers not attending, I think it’s more a cost issue than announcements. WWC doesn’t publicize their attendance figures, but I believe the majors felt that they weren’t getting the promotional return on their investment. DC and Marvel were at both WonderCon and C2E2, which were very close (March 16-18, April 13-15, 2012). Of course, the comics companies make announcements BEFORE Comic-Con. But there’s always something to announce.

    It’s costly for a publisher to attend a convention. There’s the shipping and construction of the booth (using unionized labor). There’s hotel and airfare for the staff and talent. There’s the promotional material for the booth.

    Given the lack of press coverage (comics and general) at WWC, there’s not much reason to attend what amounts to a dealer show. Perhaps a few decades ago, when any comics show was rare, a publisher would attend. Now, with a convention every weekend, and major regional conventions almost every month, the publishers can be choosy.

  16. “The Con”, aptly named, ran by Wizard World was one of our site’s covered events. This year was a travesty. We won’t spend the resources even reporting on this overpriced turd. A day later, I gave a review, and even documented the rampant fan abuse I saw. Needless to say, Wizard World was not happy, and voiced their opinion to me via email. I’ve refused to remove it. You can read it here. http://www.thethrowdown.wordpress.com