Monday, June 18, 2007

Wizard World Philly 2007 Wrap

Well another WWP Babyman Spectacular 2007 is in the books. It seems these shows wizz by so fast when you're busy, or kinda' drag, like yesterday when I wasn't busy at all. As a result I walked the floor a lot talking to fellow artists and snapping some pics. I don't know how Wizard will spin it but I'd give the attendence at about 12-15,000 tops, and I think I'm being gracious.

Batman getting a sketch of himself.
This show was better than the last Philly show, but far off the mark from the previous years. Much smaller retailer presence, mostly guys selling toys it seems, and less guys selling comics...I think they were burned last year and chose either to not come or to do Heroes Con.

I can safely say I think this is a one day show. If you could do just one day, then do Saturday. Sunday and Friday are dead really, at least in artist alley. Also I'd say you'd do good as an artist tom sell prints as both Scotts (Neely and Cohn) sold a bunch of prints. I always thought people would rather have a sketch, but I think at $75 for a weekend pass, not including parking or food, the standard $40 a sketch is maybe just too much for the average fan. Also I think with both Heroes and Philly being on the same day and it also being Father's day Weekend this show was definitely effected. Why do comics people insist on splitting the ticket?
Hey, a Darkhawk Hero Click--I gotta get one!

I think what we need in this hobby is co-operation, not con promoters gunning for each other, trying to put the other guy out of biz. I think you can clearly see that this doesn't work. I'm sure people remember the battles Fred Greenberg had with that other con promoter back in the 90's, and where are they now....

There were several deatlers selling a lot of asian doll, fans, swords etc.
I also noticed the busiest areas were the gaming areas, not the booths for Marvel, DC, etc, or certainly Artist Alley. Kids are more into the games, the fast greying fanbase is what we have left and I know many of the deeper pocket art buyers were obviously in Charolette this weekend.

A guy drawing a big FF mural.

Two of my favorite people, Louise and Walt Simonson.

The always stylish Jim Steranko.

The eternal Joe Kubert!

Who knows if Wizard will keep this show going past what I hear was the booked date of next year. I'd set this show up very different and I would really try promoting on local radio shows like WXPN's Kid's Corner, run ads on cartoon network, Nic, etc. Take a page from successful retailers like Blue Hen's Joe Murry success with free Comic book day in his store. Get familes involved, find a way to make it like going to a theme park. They cleaned out the porn chicks from the show which is a great move. I have nothing against porn, but porn and comics just is a bad mix.

Camera shy Burt Ward.

Star Wars was big, lots of Jedi's walking around, in fact when we entered the show Sunday Scott and i were flanked by two rows of Storm troopers, funny. It's clear Geroge Lucas will never starve with this type of dedicated fanbase.

There were really serious people here practicing with their light sabers, holding mock Jedi training events. i think things like this are great because they are for a lack of a better word, "wholesome'. I have felt for a long time the hobby of comics was taken down the drak path, the grim, gritty, catwoman is a whore/stripper slut path. There was probably less of that at this show that I've seen in a long time. If i was a parent i would have been happier at this show because of this alone. No worries about taking my kids past Aria Giovani's fisting DVD's booth.

However the fact is that you need great numbers of people which Wizard has been very poor at getting for the show. Much was made about them firing the old staff and hiring new people to run the shows. I didn't see any difference. I don't think the running of the show for me was ever an issue. The staff is always great, the show is easy to load into and out of. The issue is getting people in the Tri-Stae Area to know about the con and come. If you are a mainstream guy drawing a mainstrean book, you might do ok, but the fact is the heat is gone for this show, and frankly I don't think they can get it back based on what I've seen. Maybe in the overall sceme of things it won't matter, Wizard will leave Philly and maybe another local guy will step up to run a slighlty smaller, just regional show. This will certainly drop costs for tables etc. The bottom line as a business man is $$$. If I don't make $$$ I don't want to come back.

Clearly Captain America is not dead.

DC's booth

A Dr. Strange Sketch I did.

As always I had fun hanging with my comic buddies and meeting soke new artists. I chatted with Steranko a bit, Mike Carlin, Bob Wayne and a few others. We ate our annual last night dinner at Sang Kee Duckhouse in China town. Overall I had a good time, wish I made more $$. but I did OK. much bettervthan the last Philly show. if next year the heroes con and Philly are two seperate dates I'll probably do both as Philly is so easy to do.

A Guy Gardner sketch I drew for a fan.

The guys from Imagination studios had a nice booth and brisk sales. I'll be covering them in an upcoming issue of DRAW!

Scott and the Iron Avenger.

Starbuck AKA Dirk Benedict.

Jamar on the move...

And no event in Philly is done without a good cheese steak! And Rick's in The Reading Terminal across from the convention ceter fits the bill.

Scott Neely does some Scooby Business.


rob! said...

was Burt Ward trying to be funny by hiding his face or was he being an a-hole and trying not to "give something away for free"?

Mike Manley said...

A-Hole D list I think :-)
I had to laugh as I could have snapped a pic by just walking and isle over and zooming in.

Richard Marcej said...


I didn't either attend or get a booth in Artist Alley this year at the Philly Show. I did it several years ago and had a miserable time. The staff I dealt with then were horrible to do with, lost my table (stuck me waay afar way from the rest of my group, etc...).

Also I agree that WWP is really mainstream. Nothing more. It's too bad since there's such a large artist/cartoonist comminity in this area. WWp always felt like an outside group that threw darts at a map, picked cities for shows and that's it. Forgetting that each city has it's own uniquness and not playing up to that or promoting it (the mainstream fans will come no matter what).

IMO Wizard feels that their name should be enough to draw huge crowds, but I believe they lost that cache long ago.

I think most of these shows should be strictly Saturday & Sunday. Unless you're SDCC, trying to squeeze in a week day is fruitless.

Personally I'm looking forward to doing MoCCA this weekend. I haven't done that show since they expanded to two days.


Yvon Doubey said...

Oh Lord I wish I was here... Unfortunately, I didn't...

You know what ? Actually, I work for a french editor, preparing a new magazine for children. If this magazine will see the day soon (whe are testing it for the moment), I want to go to Philly for the next issue of Wizard Wolrd... So I can do a paper call "The place where superheroes are true", Or "The town where youcan meet Spiderman and all the other..."

Good idea. What do think about ?

Mike Manley said...

Rich, I'd like to do Mocca but I'm afarid I'll have to pass. is the whole Philly crew going? I enjoyed it last year but i am not set up, so i guess I'll pass till 2008.

i do think Wizard was more than a bit arrogant in thinking they could just torpedo anyone and treat anyone anyway they felt. If you were a hotlist artist, well you got OK treatment, but those shows also survive by retailers buying tables. Treat them poorly and you are cutting your throat. I had no issue with the staff as they were all very nice, great to deal with, the issue is Wizards poor promotion and not getting the locals to turn out.

Yvon, I think I'd do either San Diego or the NYC Javitz show, I think you'd get more bang for your buck than Philly.

DamnedYankee said...

Well, as an attendee I gotta say that it was a pleasure to meet both you and Echo on Saturday. I'm sorry to hear that the con is turning into such a bum rap for attending artists, because they're the ones whom I normally come to see and meet.

Given my limited budget, I really can't travel out past the Greater Philadelphia Area for a con, so I guess I'll just have to, like the song says, hope that something better comes along.