- Posted by Johanna on August 11, 2012 at 9:15 pm
- Category: Comic News
Since I’m now living in the Midwest, Wizard World Chicago is only two hours away, so I thought I’d zip down this morning to check it out. I last went to that particular comic convention back in 2006, and while I knew they’d been emphasizing celebrities over comics, I wasn’t prepared to find out just how little interest I had in the show. I left at 7:30, arrived just after 10 (since there was a line to park), and was done by 1:00. I was glad to get home in time to get more done in the afternoon, but I wish I’d found more at the con I wanted to spend time with.
The first booths I saw entering the hall set the tone: they were for bootleg DVDs and t-shirts (more than one vendor of each type, too). It was clear that comics were only a small part of the entertainment mix on offer to geeks and fans with money to spend. New to me, though, were the multiple bars on the floor, selling mixed drinks.
It was also the case that the merchandise booths tended to be more attractive. Tables of white boxes just can’t compete with eye-catching fashions and clothing logos and swords and jewelry.
I had problems figuring out where to find things, since there was no program book, and the numbers on the photocopied map were much too small to read. Someone else had complained to the show staff about the same problem, and they were told that the show had “gone green” and we should use their mobile phone app. Which threw several error messages when I tried it.
The high point of my show was visiting with Sarah Becan, creator of the awesome I Think You’re Sauceome. She provided a wonderful welcome to the Midwest, as well as re-introducing me to Terry Gant of local store Third Coast Comics. It turns out we were both Legion of Super-Heroes fans back in the day and last met in the 90s.
I didn’t go to any programming. I was interested in seeing the Q&As with James Marsters — but it was first thing in the day, and I wasn’t ready to leave the floor yet — and Dean Cain — but I would have had to hang around for almost an hour after I was ready to go. None of the planned panels had anything to do with comics; they were all about the celebrity guests and “sci-fi speed dating”.
My purchases were as follows:
* Renewal of my CBLDF membership and the new R. Sikoryak t-shirt, shown here.
* Winter Beard, a 2006 Xeric Grant winner by Cathy Hannah. It’s a collection of simply-but-strongly drawn semi-autobiographical strips about a girl falling in love with her best friend. It captures well that whole “do I dare risk making our friendship awkward in order to try for something more? do I really care deeply for him or is it just a crush because we get along so well together?” The epilogue shows her giving the comic we’ve been reading to the guy and how he reacted.
* A set of the Justice League Sonic tots. They were adorable, and I need something to decorate my new office, but they were also the reason I spent three hours instead of two at the show, because I made the rookie mistake of walking away from the booth that had them without paying attention to where it was, and then I had to walk the entire floor to find them again.
Was it worth going to Wizard World? No. It cost me $13 in parking, $10 in crappy convention food, and almost $16 in tolls for three hours of opportunities to spend more money. If I’d cared more about some of the various stars there, I would have perhaps found the expense of time and money more worthwhile. But I figured out a while ago that while it would be interesting to meet, for example, James Marsters, I really want to meet Spike. It’s the character, not the performer, that I form the lasting connection with — and they’re always available to me through the magic of home video.
I do wish that Wizard World would simply drop the “Comic Convention” from their logo. That way, they could provide the kind of experience they’re skilled at creating and that there’s clearly an audience for without giving people like me the wrong impression. The show was very crowded, with plenty of attendees shopping and showing off their costumes and standing in line for autographs.