Wizard World Chicago (Comic-Con) 2009 Saturday/Sunday Notes and Wrap-Up
Wizard World Chicago (AKA The Chicago Comic-Con) continued to be a strange creature on Saturday and Sunday. You might go so far as to say it was a different show each day. I might not argue too much with that.
Saturday was a bit of a revelation.
By the time we got through the traffic to get to Rosemont, it was a little after 2pm. Coming out of the parking garage across the street from the convention center, it looked like there was a masked exodus going on. A very steady stream of people were leaving. I was thinking that the floor was going to be dead.
The floor, particularly up front towards the entrance was packed. The first few rows of the dealer area were packed. It thinned out as you went towards the back of the room, and artist alley was busier than it was Friday, but not by much more than 30%.
I was looking to get to the Comixology panel, so I swung around to the panel rooms. I did not know what to make of the sight. People everywhere. Come to find out, the Twilight panel was about to start. Naturally, the panel I wanted to attend was at the back of the corridor, and I had to lower my shoulder to get through what should have been the middle of the hall, as the Twilight people took up a disproportionate percentage of the passage’s width. I don’t know if Twilight is ruining comics, but it certainly looks like the lines are a damned nuisance.
I got back to the main floor by about 5 pm. There was still a steady stream of people leaving, but the floor was still busier than Friday. By about 6 pm, it was down to Friday levels. I couldn’t tell if that many people were buying or not. On Saturday, I saw my first boxes of $3 graphic novels/tpb’s. Oh, yes. This was a fire sale.
Near as I could tell, the place must’ve been really hopping around 11 am or noon, and it seemed like there wasn’t enough to interest people for the whole day. There were a ton of costumes, but the bulk of them weren’t comic-related. A lot of Star Wars. A lot of Anime. A lot of things that I wasn’t even sure what they were (could’ve been Twilight, I suppose).
I think the Chicago Comics “Get the ‘F’ Out of Rosemont,” party (at the store, after the show closed) was good. I was about two sips into beer #1 when I had to take somebody to the emergency room. I guess that made it a real party.
Sunday was the reality check.
Saturday was full. Sunday, while not quite as slow as Friday or other Sundays in recent years was a lot closer to what I was expecting. It wasn’t quite a ghost town, however, and that’s a drastic improvement.
The front (publishers/autographs) area was less busy. Artist Alley seemed to be at a relatively even keel across the weekend, with only a little variation for the overall floor traffic. As for the dealers, oh, you knew the fire sale was coming.
How dead is a dead crowd? I just walked up to Howard Chaykin in artist alley and George Perez at the Heroes Initiative booth. If this is a bustling convention, that does not happen.
I saw at least 3 booths where the graphic novels/tpb’s were down to $3 a piece, regardless of cover price. $5 tpbs was the general rule. Graham Cracker’s, probably the largest local dealer and one of the biggest dealers at the show finally went down to $5@ on Sunday. Unless you couldn’t find it at any other booth, you were a fool to pay 50% off at this show. A lot of the $1 boxes went down to $0.50 or $0.25. I saw one booth dropping to 60% off archive editions. When people talk about flea markets at the shows, well, cheap signage and super discounts is close enough. Please note I’m not discussing the high end back issues. I don’t think those were active, but you only need to sell a couple high end golden age books to pay for the trip.
The Mystery of the Missing Booths
By Saturday the booths for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and Hero Foundry, both non-profits, had been combined to become the new booth for Suicide Girls. What happened to those groups? Were they ever really coming? I haven’t the foggiest, but when I saw him at a CBLDF fundraising during the American Library Association convention about a month ago, CBLDF director, Charles Brownstein told me he wasn’t planning on coming. <Insert your own conspiracy theory here.>
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