Most of you reading this probably found the comicCONMEN.com blog by either Twitter
, or perhaps a Facebook
link. I absolutely dig the fusion between popular social media and #comicmarket
- not just because of the real time conversations, but because I get a very small insight into what OTHER people are thinking, and if you are a comic info junkie like i am, you get LOTS of those little blips…
One topic that I find a sort of a train wreck with comic folk is that there are SO many amateur foodies. A marvel executive has even created a term for this: Eataku. Taken from the Japanese term Otaku, which is the Japanese term for a hardcore anime/manga fan, the Eataku is basically a food nerd.
I even suspect certain pros, exhibitors, artists, executives, etc choose the conventions they attend by WHERE they get to eat. If i were to be hypercritical, I would think that even would RATE their convention experiences based on that cuisine. An interesting hypothetical would be to find a direct correlation between conventions with internet buzz to the amount of exotic twitpics are made from local eateries…
I’m a blue collar guy: I certainly haven’t met a cheeseburger that I didn’t like, and I wouldn’t consider my pallet fancy. So instead of boasting with own twitpics, I thought I would instead post some of my recent observations about 2011 Comic Convention season in terms that both the lunch pale slinging, working class could understand and the most elite Eataku too…
WIZARD WORLD CHICAGO-
or a pretty big smorgesborg buffet that just might satisfy a comic fan…
The Wizard World Chicago Comic Con is several yeas removed from being considered a “SEXY” Comic Con. I’ve chronicled the biases
against Wizard in the past, and believe I’m pretty fair in my assessment of the job they do as largest national promoters. I speak from experience as a comic retailer who makes his living exhibiting at such shows with my family business JayCompanyComics.com. I also approach this from another standpoint- as new convention promoter with our AMAZING COMIC CONVENTIONS
in both Arizona
and Southern California
Make no bones about it, what Wizard does best is that they get bodies in the door. It might be argued that this is their driving force above and beyond, at the sacrifice of not satisfying long term clients/exhibitors, or chasing talent in hopes to get them to headline their events. My point is that Chicago was PACKED with fans: a dense Thursday Preview Night to Big Full day Friday, to a MONSTROUS Saturday, and a Motivated Sunday. Their event in Chicago has a high rate of returning attendees as this summer convention has become a tradition, tracing its roots even BEFORE Wizard purchased the Chicago Con in the late 90s. Wizard has also mastered selling the COMIC CON moniker to the masses, a point that i have explored before.
Back to the convention itself, and the SEXY factor-
The venue in Rosemont is no frills- from poorly lit ceilings, to a wall to wall concrete interior. Where the heyday of the show at least sported big booth designs from major publishers and even a few media companies near the front entrance, those have long been replaced with simple pipe draped curtains of free standing “celebrity” booths, along with wide open areas of line control ropes. Smaller “reunions” of various casts from the original Willy Wonka to Buffy to the Evil Dead movies had their own sections, and were strongly promoted on their website, literature, and through various VIP packages. I found it curious that arguably the most relevant comic tie in property- The Walking Dead was part of largely nostalgia based attraction, except most of the personalities represented were various Zombie extras, without key principles from the cast nor the comic creators represented at all.
I applaud the Wizard ditching the backyard wrestling rink that rattled near the restrooms and popcorn stand in previous years, with the newest incarnation radically expanding the artist alley. If the promoter claims that this was the largest gathering of its kind, i can certainly believe this as fact rather than a boast. The area was HUGE in size, swallowing up a significant area used for retail in previous years. Given the word of mouth, it appears that the far majority of the 500 or so tables were actually paid for, rather than merely given away. This area was buzzing with Pro/Am energy. Lots of people creating fan art, hocking prints, schilling small press ashcans. There was a tailgate party vibe.
While scores of the attendees remarked to us that there wasn’t a major presence from Marvel or DC, creators such as Humberto Ramos, Jimmy Cheung, Eduardo Risso, Brian Azzerello Tim Seeley, and others were lumped in this artist alley too. Each artist didn’t seem to mind the added attention; Greg Horn was smiling from ear to ear saying that this might be the biggest convention for him in years, if not ever.
The vendor area was SLIGHTLY smaller in years past. Not the number of retailers per se, but the amount of booths each took. Example, local power house chain Graham Crackers would take 12 or more booths in previous years, but were down to 4. Another unnamed modern retailer who took 3 booths in previous years, was down to a single corner. Another reason for the shrinking number of booths might be the increased prices Wizard charges to display. On the face value, prices are far more than most regional shows, and its debatable whether the increase in attendance balances this out . Perhaps another contributing factor to the decrease in dealer booths is the close scheduling of Fan Expo in Toronto, and Baltimore Comic Con too, in successive weeks. While fans are not affected by a busy August, vendors are forced to pick and choose where they put their time and resources.
Whatever the reasons for the SLIGHTLY smaller dealer room, there was still one of the most massive assortments of comic books being bought/sold/traded among any convention in North America. Still lots of bookstore remainder graphic novels all over the convention floor. Still lots of bulk comics sold for under a dollar. Fans walked out with box loads, and it seemingly didn’t matter WHAT they were buying, just that it was LOTS at the right price.
And this is my point with talking food at the beginning of this article. There were many activities at the Chicago Comic Con for the fans, definitely a variety of things for people to experience. While Wizard’s brand of roast beef, sushi, soul food, and stir fry might not compare to a leading 5 star restaurants, the crowds certainly got filled with what they were serving all weekend.
Enjoy this Post? Well, then buy me a beer!!
- Wizard World Anaheim Comic Con Observed
- Embracing The Circus: Why Local Comic Shops should love Comic Cons
- Conventional Wisdom Part 1: HUNTERS and GATHERERS
- We Interupt this week’s posting…
- COMIC CON: the place to find NEW readers, collectors, and fans