Zeitgiest-baring tidbits keep creeping out regarding last weekend’s Wizard World Chicago. As the “end” of “big con season” it’s a time for reflection and observation.

First, Kate Willaert teases with the provocative title What You Didn’t Read In The Chicago Panel Reports, namely, fans confronting Marvel’s Joe Quesada with Mary Jane questions for 25 minutes at a stretch.

Newsarama at least mentions in their report that we were on the topic for 25 minutes or so, and Comic Book Resources comments on it in their report’s title. But one thing that neither site mentions, is that the moment it came up, with Joe Q naming it as his third genie-in-the-bottle, the sound of low “boo”s filled the audience! And ended up being “boo”ed two more times before the whole discussion was over! At a panel that was filled more with *X-Men* fans than Spidey fans!

I didn’t hear any “boo”ing from the crowd at the Mondo Marvel panel, but the MJ marriage once again dominated the Q&A portion of the panel, though you wouldn’t guess from the three-sentence summary it gets in Newsarama’s report. The CBR report actually mentions a few of the specific questions/answers addressed, but misses what I thought was the money-quote of the hour, which at least Newsarama paraphrases in their aforementioned three-sentence summary. When asked why we need Spidey unmarried in the regular books, when you can read new young-unmarried-Spidey stories in Ultimate Spider-Man, Joe responded that there are all sorts of things you can do with regular Spidey that you can’t do with younger, Ultimate Spidey, because younger Spidey can’t do things like “have sex, or download porn.”

Todd Allen finds the show kinds of drowsy and raises something we’ve heard several people say: move the show to Navy Pier, while observing the flow of retail at the show:

Wizard World Chicago, from a retail stand-point is now a liquidation show. Normally, Sunday is the day you bargain shop at a convention. Not so at Wizard World. Well, perhaps some of the single issue bins didn’t start out at a quarter each, but they came down pretty fast. Still, starting on sneak peak opening Thursday night, most of the heavily discounted material was already at 35% – 50% off, and the bulk of that didn’t drop further. If you wanted trade paperbacks that were 1-2 years old, especially Marvel and DC, you could get them cheap. As low as $5 a pop. If you weren’t discounting, well, it sucked to be you. Who’s going to be paying retail when there’s a fire sale going on? And there continues to be attrition of retailers. A fellow at the Hyatt Bar rattled off 5 or 6 names to me Thursday night, but two names non-locals might recognize that I didn’t see were Chicago Comics and Forbidden Planet.

The TwoMorrows blog also says something we’ve been hearing a lot, the timing of the show was to soon after SD.

Why they feel the need to go up against other cons is beyond me; it just ends up hurting their own show. There are plenty of weeks from May-August to choose from, without causing everyone to get burned-out by too many, close together. And as great a city as Chicago is, Rosemont (where the con is held) just isn’t the kind of vacation destination that San Diego and Southern California are.
The New York Comicon is rapidly becoming the new “must-see” con, and next year’s move to April should insure even better attendence than their successful ‘07 con (and considering NY is charging MORE than Comicon for their booths—while Comicon has at least 4x the number of attendees at NY—they better bring in more people!). I won’t be surprised to see NY blow right past any of Wizard’s shows in popularity, to become the new #2 show. We’ll be in New York in April ‘08, and we’ll be in Charlotte for Heroes Con in June. But at this point, I can’t say for sure we’ll be in Chicago the following week. And I know we won’t be at any of the other Wizard shows. Chicago’s by far their best attended one, and when you factor in airfare, booth rental, hotels, and shipping costs, the others don’t make sense, at least for us.

That last link via Johanna who throws in her own two cents. BTW: every time we tout the NY Comic-Con we’re accused of being cheerleaders for Reed, but in all honesty, we’re hearing this kind of thing unbidden by us, more and more. And as we always say, we are rooting for the home team, no matter who throws the show.


  1. Even if it hasn’t reached the size requirement yet, NY Comic-Con has rapidly won the hearts and minds of the professional crowd. It’s a convention where you can actually get some business done along with the socializing.

    The general consensus seems to be that San Diego is almost too big to do meetings and certainly too big for impromptu connections to lead into much of anything besides deciding to follow up after the show. And Chicago has become less and less a “must attend” event. There are fewer publishers there and fewer editors from the publishers that are.

    For myself, I’ve been going to the con in Chicago since well before I was a published writer and well before it became Wizard World. I’d hate to give up on a longstanding tradition. But I’m seeing that the schedule for next year is Philly May 30-June 1 and Chicago June 26-29. I mean, they’re practically competing with themselves! They’re certainly stepping on Heroes Con’s toes again.

    There’s a good chance that I’ll just skip Wizard World Chicago next year and head down to Heroes for the first time. I’ve heard great things about the show and to my knowledge they’ve never scheduled a show right on top of someone else’s.


  2. Wizard World Philly was also a discount-a-thon, with plenty of $5 boxes of Marvel/DC graphic novels and lots of cheap action figures. In many ways, Wizard World Philly felt like a gigantic nerd farmer’s market.

    I’m curious to know if there was any substantial manga presence at Chicago. There was none in Philly, which was very disappointing. A manga retailer would have cleaned up in Philly.

  3. This was my 9th WW: Chicago, and while it was far from the best time I’ve had at one, it was a vast improvement over last year, especially in three areas:

    1. A measurably larger crowd, especially in Artist’s Alley. Last year, I had a table in the separate side area of Artist’s Alley, and there was less than no foot traffic. The main Artist’s Alley area had almost two full rows of empty tables, and the parts that did have artists would see isolated heavy crowds (particularly the Image back corner) but it was by and large pretty empty, too.

    This year, Artist’s Alley was much more crowded, both with artists and with attendees, up and down virtually every aisle. I think this was helped by the presence of guys who would normally be at company booths signing in AA instead (J. Scott Campbell, Arthur Suydam, and especially David Finch, whose line went halfway down the dealer’s area on Friday morning).

    2. A LOT more young kids. There were constantly members of the under-12 set underfoot, and most of them seemed excited and eager to be there. (I saw a brother and sister dressed as Captain America and Wonder Woman, the WW doing Linda Carter’s patented spinning move….it was adorable.) This also caused one of the more unfortunate moments of the weekend at the Mondo Marvel panel, though, when Joe Quesada was talking about Spider-Man having sex and downloading porn as a mom and dad dragged their 5 or 6 year old son out of the room. Good goin’, Joe!

    3. People actually showered! Maybe I was just congested or something, but I didn’t end up humming “That Smell” by Lynyrd Skynyrd more than a couple times all weekend.

    After an absolutely horrible year last year, I thought this year’s Wizard World was a vast improvement, and I hope the momentum continues into the earlier summer date next year. I understand people’s hatred of Wizard, but remember for those of us who live in the Midwest (St. Louis, here), it’s the only game in town. I’d rather encourage continued improvement of a con I can drive to than hope for its replacement by a con in NYC that’s three times as far away and well out of my price range.

  4. Moving the show to Navy Pier would be a bit of a logistical nightmare. As beautiful as it is, it’s a horrid tourist trap. The food and drinks in the area are ridiculously expensive, the crowds in summer are ridiculous and the accessibility leaves alot to be desired. For instance parking is anywhere from 18-30 bucks at the pier. The public transit access is so-so, the best way to get there is by cab or walking. And it’s a bit of a hike from nearby hotels to the pier.

    I lived out by rosemont and completely agree, it’s a wasteland and does nothing to attract people.

  5. I’m mixed about huge names in Artist Alley- sure it brings crowds but nobody wants a line of somebody else’s fans blocking access to their table. The 2 Artist Alley sections thing has gotten old though because it screws whoever ends up in the 2nd smaller section that doesn’t see half the traffic of the main section.- maybe Wizard should refund people half their money for sticking them in “no fans land.”