Monday, June 05, 2006

No Beast Master! Philly Wizard World Wrap-up 2006

Well the 4th Wizard World has come and gone here this past weekend in Philly and this show appeared not only myself, but any others certainly the smallest Wizard show in Philly, but also the one with the lowest attendence and the lowest energy. I don't know how Wizard will spin the numbers, but they were just not there, traffic only busy briefly on Saturday. Artist Alley was not jumping for many, myself included, certainly not like previous years. There was a lot of space left in the hall lets say...

The con started out Friday with cloudy skies and it did rain off and on over the weekend which may have hurt attendence.

The crowd was busy for a while Saturday...even Spider-tent Spidey showed up.

Artist Alley...

Artist Andy Kuhn

My buddy Alberto Ruiz sketches away...

Dave DeVries gives a demo at his booth

In fact the exhibitors, artists and publishers all fit on a single page in the con booklet. There was the gal who played Lois on Smallville on Saturday, and the usual Kevin Smith and Jim lee, who seem to be at every Wizard Philly. But there were no Galatica chicks, X-men Stars, Star Wars actors, to me no real big draws for the general public. Sure Smith and lee are known to the babymen but to the general public they are unknowns. Sure they had Ferrigno and the original Lois lane from the 50's Superman TV show, King Kong Bundy and few other aging wrestlers, but overall I say the show had no pull factor for the normals.

This was only my girlfriend Echo's second big con, and already she had learned very quickly the
Echo also learned that you could wear a power ring in many different places.

The NYC Mech Crew Ivan, Nick and Andy...

The signing area...

Some kids were seen, but not a lot..

Echo and a werewolf...sonds like a mid 70's TV show.

Jamar scored big with some Yo MTV rap cards!

Awww..Scott and Bonaia bury the hate for 30 seconds...

Good food can be had at the Reading Termial across the street. I recommend the Chilly Dogs.

The Duck at the San Ki Duck House was great...and didn't last long.

Echo and myself at the table...

This guy can read on the crapper faster than any man alive...

Echo did a lot of sketching at the show, she posted some on her blog.

Some of the crew: Rich Faber, Echo, Scott Cohn, Jamar Nicholas, Bonaia Rosado and Scott Neely

I heard many many people complain of slow sales and just an overall lackluster 3 days. I made less $$ at this show than any I have been to in years, including the last Pittsburgh show I went to a few years back that was rained out but a tornado on Sunday.

Now again I report this from not only an artist POV but an exhibitor/businessman, not a fan boy, a babyman looking for the items to check off their geek list. I didn't long to dig through boxes for old comics, in fact I bought 3 things at the show in total, one a t-shirt for my girlfriend. I stand in line for nobody, don't want any autographs, those days are long gone, I just want to promote my books, my mag Draw! and meet some pals and a few fans, do business with other artist, press the flesh, hook up deals if there are any to be had. I did a total of 5 sketches and moved a moderate amount of back issues of Draw! and my DVD to pay for the table plus a little more for eats and parking. If I didn't live in Philly the show would have been a complete bust as I heard it was for many. Now I also heard a few people did well, so it isn't a total wash for all, but for every person who said the show was good I heard 3 say it was bad for them and they would probably not be back.

The Marvel Booth

The publishers rows was the smallest yet with really only Marvel. a trimmed down DC, top cow, and Aspen being the big dogs. no Tokyo Pop, no big manga presence. It was rounded out by Spike TV and Playstation. Also of note was the fact there were no guys selling old TV shows and bootleg movies and tapes, something that has been at just about every show I have ever been to since I started attending them as a teen. I guess the MPAA has effectively shut these guys down, last years the guys selling were arrested at the show and forced to shut down if I remember.

"Now bend your wrist like a girl."

Things of note:
•The fact that X-men the movie was is huge yet didn't seem to spin into anything for the con, no stars from the movie seems a misfire. That would have been a huge draw I think. Even get some of the other side characters, the Juggernaught actor etc.

• No drapes on the artist alley tables, though the price went up on it looked even more rinky dink, also nothing to pull over and cover your books at the end of the day.

• I saw very few kids, few readers under 15. I would say this may be a reflection of a few things, no big TV/Movie stars to pull the public, and the fact that a cycle in fandom has happened plus those who may have attended in the past now attend more manga oriented shows which have sprung up.

• Professionally the show was run very smooth, it's an easy show to do. Easy to get to and easy to park and easy for great eats nearby at affordable prices. I have never had a hitch here, the Wizard Staff is always nice and helpful.

• Artist alley was a lot smaller this year and I bet will be smaller next year. The fact is the babymen who attend want one thing, superheroes...that's it. If you draw a Marvelor DC book you might do OK, but alternative press, small press, well this isn't your show and with Mocca next week many decided I think to skip the show. Sure the odd book like Mousegaurd may get some play, but most fans want Wolverine and ugly drawn superchick books.

• The lack of good back issue sales also tells me the feeder is shut off to many new fans. Traditionally new fans would want to read the older comics, older issues to read origins, first apperences etc. become collectors in the hobby. I don't see that, the lack of kids at the show may also reflect the ticket price is too high for a family now with gas prices driving weekend entertainment costs up.

• There was just an overall lack of energy and enthusiasm in the show despite the Spike TV booth and people yelling about something over at the Marvel Booth. What they were yelling about I don't know. Spike attended because they feel the 18-34 demo at the show is one of the few ways they can reach that core audience they crave. Now this says to me that they must feel the audience for comics then is older.Post adolecent to a great extent. If the audience is aging and no new audience is feeding in or being split off by other things like manga cons, well that might explain what I saw?

• The other conclusion I came too (and I am not alone here) is there are now too many shows happening now and people A) have to choose better because of the expense B) No wthat cons are so frequent, fans have a sort of fatigue, cons are not special events.

•No Beast Master. Could Marc Singer's not being at the show have been the crucial X-factor missing to ignite the event....?

•No Aria Geovanni. In fact only one porn-pin-up chick was seen to have a booth this year.

•The bar crawl was also a lot less packed this year at the after-show hang at the Marriot. The last few years the after-show bar hang was packed to the hilt, but its was less than half the last years crowd.

All said and done I still had a good time and hung with friends, ate good food in China Town and enjoyed myself despite the so-so $$$ aspect of the con. Next year I think the show will face a harder sell to some as the NY show seems the new darling with sold out capacity. I also think Wizard makes a huge error in not also trying to promote or steer toward artist alley more love. A lot of artist complain that area is always stuck to the side or just not laid out well. They must make a significant amount of $$ of the table sold to artists, so love tossed back our way would be nice.

I give this con a very chewy 2 out of 5 cheese steaks.


Heidi MacDonald said...

HA HA you said "rinky dink"

SNeelyArt said...

Great assessment, Mike. I agree with it. If it wasn't in our backyard, I probably wouldn't do it. The show may have lost it's luster and is now fading...

Urban Barbarian said...

Helluva post! I feel like I was there! Thanks, Mike!~

Bobby Timony said...

I would have loved to come and see you guys again, but I'm getting married next saturday, and, having just payed for the wedding, we couldn't afford to make the trip.
I'll be going to the Small Press expo in october, maybe I'll see you then.

Mike Manley said...

Congrats Bobby! best wishes to you and the perspective Mrs. Timony.

I will be at Mocca this weekend but I won't be able to attend SPX this year as I'll be attending another event in memphis.

I wish my assesment had been about a better con, really it's a drag when the hometown is a let down.

BoneDaddy said...

Too bad it didn't go as well as expected. You mentioned only one porn pin-up having a booth--maybe that had something more to do with the attendance than previously thought!
I definitely wouldn't rule out gas prices, either. Kids typically have to come with parents, who don't want to "waste gas" on that sort of trip. I don't know.
I'm not up on the biz of comics sales, but I got into comics in the late '80's, and it seems like there was a huge lag in the midwest by the mid-late '90's. My hometown only has under 10,000 people, but I could find every Batman title during the Knightfall arc at just about any grocery store magazine shop, and even some gas stations. By about '96 or so, there was only one major mag shop, and all the grocery stores dropped their comic carts. Even a vintage comics shop found itself in at least three different locations before mysteriously disappearing.
I kind of thought the trend might be coming around, though, with all the comics-based movies coming out in the last decade (at least Schumacher couldn't kill the comics/movie industry).

Choisez said...

Great pics and I enjoyed your con report! Mind if I ask what camera you use? The colors and details look sharp!



Shannon said...

Wow. Awesome report Mike. Very informative. As an indy creator (and self-publisher) I appreciate knowing that WWPhilly may not be the best place to go next year. Being on a limited con budget and all really makes me evaluate the pros and cons of the shows I do attend. I need to make the most of those that I do go to. Thanks!

Unknown said...

Mike, I swear I didn't intentionally try to walk off with one of your sketch books for free. Being the manbaby I am, I was kind of awestruck to have actually met you. My apologies, once again.

Mike Manley said...

Hahaha, hey guy no worries. Shannon, you know i think the guest list is pretty much the same, and they don't seem to boost anyone else at the show other than that Top Ten List, which only babymen really care about.

I'd say save the $$ for Mocca or SPX if I was small press unless i had $$ to burn.

Choisez, I use a Canon A80 which is great despite the slow shutter speed at times.

BGrimm, I think comics have never had more push yet been less aavilable to so many. It's a media darling now, every other movie seems a comic based one. If somebody did happen to find an issue of Spidey or X-men would they even enjoy it since they are so different.

Comics are traditionaly an impluse buy, like chewing gum, People mag and a can of coke.