Most retailers (not all) told me that sales were down from last year overall, but up on C2E2. Most comic book artists (but not all) told me that book sales were down but that original art sales were way up, dramatically in a number of cases, with a number making more than they were expecting from the whole weekend on the relatively-sparsely attended Preview Night. There were lots of people attending quite willing to drop $200-$300 on a page of comic art, without any of the haggling the artists are used to at other shows. And talking to attendees, most people had never been to anything resembling a comic con before – this was especially true on the Saturday when a combination of Kirk, Batman and Blagojevich really drew in the casual punter – the Drudge Report, Huffington Post and national news may have helped there. But there was a third female attendance and over a tenth were kids.
And while the comics publishers were remarkable by their abscence – blamed on Wizard’s insistence on booth and set up fees, whereas some other conventions waive charges – it’s impossible not to call this a comic convention when you see the numbers of comic book creators at Artists’ Alley. I counted three hundred on the list, which is bigger than San Diego. Not everyone was there all the time, but big names included Joe Mad, Bill Sienkiewicz, Ethan Van Sciver, Greg Horn, Brian Pulido, Mike Grell, J Scott Campbell, were making themselves available to the public and generally doing well. There was clearly an emphasis on local talent, but they were there in abundance. I left with comics. Lots of comics.
Not being in the city does hurt the vibe of the show however. I took a trip downtown on Saturday for a party with the customers of Chicago Comics and was struck by the mood of the city, a real party town. And that aspect was totally missing at the show, with sponsored parties, however fun, petering out well before even the early closing hours of the hotel bars. Although that did give you more of a chance to prop up a bar with a Final Five Cylon or a Duke of Hazzard as they produced a bottle of vodka from a pocket.
Wizard have taken lessons from San Diego but have clearly tried not to emulate that beast. They are going on their own way, creating a large national chain of comic conventions that’s servicing a local population that can’t make it to the bigger shows – but also injecting them with stars of stage and screen to bring in a new audience. I firmly believe that it is up to publishers to realise this, and find ways to attend more of these shows. Because that’s what Wizard World is doing, finding new audiences and creating potential comic book readers and bringing them to the shows. And it’s an audience that publishers can and should be on hand to woo.
I used to be a real comic convention snob. It took the MCM London Expos to knock that out of me, and I’m starting to realise that my expectations and experiences are not shared by the vast majority of the population and that an increased numbers of Wizard World style conventions will increase the acceptability and appeal of comics to a population, even if that population is only on hand to see Xander and Spike. It is evangelistic, it is social engineering, it is marketing. Wizard World Chicago is not a show I’d recommend to international visitors, or people trying to break into comics. But for locals, coming for one, maybe even two days, it should be a blast. And, hey, comics!
August 26th is National Reads Comics In Public Day. Wizard World did its bit towards that accepted language and attitude this weekend.
So! On with the Gutters!
Top Twenty Stories Of The Week
1. Comic Book Fans Believe Daredevil Is Cancelled Forever
2. Meet Some More Alien Green Lanterns (Saturday’s Batch)
3. Joss Whedon Spills: What His Script Doctoring Does For Captain America
4. Rod Blagojevich Meets Batman At Wizard World Chicago Comic Con (VIDEO)
5. Swipe File: Greg Land From 1994
6. Swipe Fly… I Mean… File
7. Marvel’s First Out Gay Superhero To Be Written By An Out Gay Man – For The Second Time
8. Rumorous Growths: Fantastic Four Reboot Casting
9. Capwolf Found In The Amazonian Forest
10. Movie Designs For The Alien Green Lanterns (NOT ANYMORE)
11. 133 + 16 = 150? Mighty Marvel Mathematics At Work
12. Warren Ellis Returns To Osborn With Back-Up Strip
13. Much X-Men Casting… And Re-Casting
14. Swipe File – Harley Quinn Goes To The Apple Store
15. James Cameron Has Been Digitally Tinkering With Aliens – Will We Like What He’s Done?
16. VIDEO: Batman XXX A Porn Parody – The Official Trailer Plus Screencaps
17. Carla Gugino Signs Up For MILF Duty
18. French Disgust Over McDonalds. What’s New? Asterix…
19. Jim McCann Brings Back Alpha Flight
20. Heaps Of Juicy X-Men: First Class Details – Setting, Style, Characters
Top Ten Stories That Not Enough People Read
1. Will Scott Pilgrim Make Its Money Back? Kick-Ass Shows The Way
2. First Shots From Captain America Set In Farnham, Surrey
3. Porn Version of The Human Centipede – Here’s The Full Script
4. I Love This Last Exorcism Viral Attack On Chatroulette
5. Lots Of Storyboards From Scream 4, Other Updates – UPDATED
6. Ape Entertainment To Publish Black Dynamite Comic?
7. Frankie Boyle, Kick Ass And Hit Girl On First Cover Of CLiNT Magazine
8. Will A Detective Comics #27 9.0 Sell For $2 Million?
9. Swipe File: Highland Laddie Vs Oor Wullie
10. Brendan McCarthy Seeks Publisher For FUBAR
Wizard World Chicago In Video
1. Creator Videos From Wizard World Chicago IV – J Scott Campbell, Ethan Van Sciver, Brian Pulido, Moose Baumann, Pocket God, Antarctic Press, Top Shelf Comics
2. Creator Videos From Wizard World Chicago III – Victor Gischler, Stuart Sayger, Michael Golden, Greg Horn And Billy Tucci
3. Creator Videos From Wizard World Chicago II – Menton J Mathews III, Tim Vigil, Russell Lissau, Trevor Mueller, Alan Evans, Jeff Balke, Chris Burnham, Tom Stillwell and Rodney Ramos
4. Creator Videos From Wizard World Chicago I – Mike McKone, J Caliafore, Dan Parent, Torc Press, James Lynch, Objects Of Amusement And Todd Allen
5. Rod Blagojevich Meets Batman At Wizard World Chicago Comic Con (VIDEO)
6. VIDEO: From One End Of Chicago Comic Con To The Other