Wizard World Chicago wrap-up

Spent close to an hour talking to George Khoury today, who just got back from handling our booth at Wizard World Chicago for us. From what George says, it was definitely one of the slower Chicago shows of recent years. Since Wizard continually insists on having theirs right after Comicon, it’s no wonder WW seems to be shrinking a bit rather than growing.

Wizard needs to face facts; they are not going to compete with Comicon. It’s the mag-daddy of all conventions (at least in the US), and it just keeps growing every year. We always take an extra week after Comicon to vacation in California (hey, I’m not likely to get on a plane to CA more than once a year, so I’ve gotta take advantage of my time there). This year, Wizard World was less than two weeks after the close of Comicon. This made it incredibly difficult for us to get our books shipped to Chicago in time; we got back to NC late Saturday night, so then had to 3-day Express ($$$!) our stuff on Monday to make the Thursday “Preview Night” at Wizard World. (Preview Night at Wizard World was apparently pretty sparsely attended as well this year, whereas at Comicon, it rivaled Saturday for the biggest crowd.) And frankly, if George hadn’t been able to do the Chicago show, we’d have had to skip it; two big conventions that close together (during our busy summer work period) is too much for me.

Next year, Wizard’s trying to have their con BEFORE Comicon; so at least we’ll have a couple of weeks off before heading to San Diego. But what does Wizard do? They schedule it the weekend AFTER Heroes Con (a perennial favorite of TwoMorrows; Shelton Drum knows how to put on a great, fun convention). Remember last year when Wizard decided to have their first-ever Atlanta Con the SAME weekend as Heroes Con? So many pros boycotted the Wizard show (out of respect for Shelton) that they ended up canceling it.

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.

But we’ll be back at Comicon July 23-27, 2008. It’s the one “can’t miss” event for us.
One other way Comicon’s got it all over Wizard; they use a seniority system to determine your booth placement. The more years you’ve been exhibiting, the better your booth location. That’s why we’ve got such good visibility at Comicon. And Wizard? Once again, they stuck us in the back, facing the loading docks, despite our having exhibited at Chicago (and some of their other cons) numerous times over the years. No, our booth isn’t as flashy as Wizard’s own booth, or their pro wrestling/fighting/martial arts/whateveritis stuff, but we’ve been a pretty loyal customer for a lot of years. I wish that had some bearing on things, but for us anyway, it doesn’t.