Wizard World Wrapup

I don’t remember whether I said this before or not, but this was my first Chicago con since the first year Wizard took it over. When I mentioned that to some staffers, they said this was their tenth anniversary running it. My, how time flies.

The official attendance figures are now available:

Wizard World, the country’s foremost touring event for pop culture and comic books, announced today that it once again exceeded attendance expectations with its tenth annual Chicago event at The Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, attracting more than 58,000 attendees over three and a half days, making this past weekend’s convention the largest Wizard World event to date. Guest of Honor Jeph Loeb, a comic book writer (Superman/Batman, Batman: The Long Halloween, Ultimates 3) and a film/TV producer/writer (NBC’s Heroes, Lost, Smallville) headlined the event that saw fan turnout top last year’s 56,000 attendees — growth attributed to Wizard’s ongoing commitment to providing fans with the opportunity to meet some of the biggest stars in comics, film and television, and explore the worlds of comics, cards, toys, anime, manga, and gaming.

(Except that all the manga and anime fans and retailers were at Otakon, which would have been a better choice for me.)

Many people don’t believe the numbers, based on attendee experiences. That article by Tom Spurgeon has some advice for the show promoters which makes sense and talks about why plausibility in one’s announcements is a concern. (An early piece of PR mentioned 200,000, which was completely unbelievable and was probably the result of over-enthusiasm.)

I cut out the rest of the PR because most of it focused on TV and wrestling and other non-comics “celebrities”. Mike Chary defends the show in a post that says it’s not fair to compare it to San Diego because Wizard is still mostly a comic show, although that’s not how they themselves present the event.

So of course, what did I do for my official writeup at PW Comics Week? Compare it to SD. (I do agree with Mike that there was too much else going on in Chicago that weekend and that Chicago would be better placed earlier in the season.)

Looks like the rumors about a week’s difference between Chicago and San Diego next year were wrong, thankfully. (San Diego is July 25-29, 2007, and Otakon is the week before that.)

Wizard World will return to Chicago next year August 9-12 with a Preview Night for advanced registration VIP attendees on Thursday, August 9.

The more I read about Wizard World, the more I realize how many people I missed seeing there. If I’d found more of them, I might have had a better time. Among those I regret: Max Riffner (whose Quick Step will be a must-have minicomic), Kris Dresen, Kalinara and Ragnell, and online friends Hannibal, Bryan, and Joe.

One of my commentators, Lucas, said he had no problems finding people I was looking for, so maybe some of it was just bad timing.

And hey, less than a month until Baltimore!

Here are my previous posts on the convention:


  • Lyle

    Interesting observation about how time flies — my only WWC was the year after they took over, which I now realize was eight years ago.

  • Mike Chary

    I was not trying to defend the show, though I see how what I wrote might come across that way. I was calling for rationality in examining what people think are the weaknesses of the show. Chicago’s metro area is probably three times the size of San Diego’s. If Wizard wanted to put on a larger show in Chicago, they could do so trivially. They might not be able to attract as many media guests, but just for instance, Wizard began as a price guide so they could put on the largest collectibles show in the country. Without counting exactly there are eight cities with major league sports teams within relatively convenient range for Chicago. They could get tons of sports related guests. It wouldn’t be as much of a comics show anymore, but then, neither is San Diego.

  • You made some good points, though, and in an environment of Wizard-bashing, that counts as “defense”. :)

  • Mike Chary

    Well, I’m also not saying that a lot of people were not disappointed. Someone coming to the show looking for sketches, for instance, might have been disappointed in the absence of artists.

    One of the reasons I go to cons is to see people.
    10 years ago we had a lot of Usenetters (and aol chat chatters) coming to Chicago, so I got to meet people and attach faces with names I only knew from the net, and that didn’t happen this year partially because I’ve already met many of these people and partially because, well, there are less new people on the media I use to discuss comics. I tend to read rec.arts.sf.written more these days. The AOL chat is gone (which, of course, you used to organize and promote get-togethers with). There was no Legion dinner which used to be a huge deal.

    On the other hand, I spoke with Sidne Gail Ward while she was at San Diego and she said the place was so huge that she hadn’t seen tyg or really anyone she knew. So that magic is gone the other way there. (Which is an interesting phenomenon. Once, a law school professor looked me up on Google and said that there was so much stuff there that no one could ever find out anything important about me.)

    So if you want to meet up with netters at Comicon International, they might be there, but I’d arrange a meeting in advance. Granted, in Chicago, the people might not be there at all. Otoh, I didn’t even know you were going to be there and I ran into you two or three times just hanging around. And I ran into KC 5 or 6 times.

    As for meeting creators, well I got to see Keith Giffen for the first time, but otherwise, well, when Peter David and Paul Levitz recognize you immediately , the game’s probably over in terms of meeting creators you don’t know by sight.

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