Monday, June 02, 2008

Philly Wizard-Post Babymen Report

Even Batman had had enough on Saturday and walked the rainy streets of Philly back to the Bat Cave.

Feh. That about sums up mine and the opinion of most folks I know attended this past weekend's Wizard Con in Philly. It was just a lame duck show, and both the shows space and crowds were a lot smaller. I knew something was amiss right away on Friday when we showed up to load in, the banner for the con wasn't hanging outside of the convention center as it has always been in previous years, that just seemed to sum it all up. Even the convention being held on the other side of the convention center had their banner clearly hanging up.

Guess they started cutting corners right off the bat.

There might be a lot of factors as to why this show was lame, maybe it was the rain and tornado warnings on Saturday, maybe the NYC show a month earlier stole the juice, maybe Wizards troubles and decline as an organization also factor, add in the shitty economy and gas prices, con fatigue, what have you. I don't know, but the show basically sucked ass. I'm sure if you were drawing 56 or Spider-Dude you were busier, but the crowd was just not there as it has been and instead of this being a turn-around year, this was the year I think that clearly says this show has seen it's best years and even as a reginal it's one I think you can cross off the list. i live 20 minutes away and next year i doubt I'll be back.I am not a fan in the traditional sense, I don't do shows as a fan, I do them as a pro, a guy who makes his living sometimes as comic artist and an educator, I do them to meet some of my fans, press the flesh, promote Draw!, network and meet my fellow pros and friends. So that I think always makes my experience different from the fan who just wants card signed or to get a sketch from Jim lee, or Kevin Smith and that is always the basis of which I make my reports from.

Even the Man of Steel wondered to himself, "Why did I come this year, do I really need anything?"

I really don't care about panels, I never want to do them when asked and really don't ever attend them, that's just not my thing.

Casual Friday Superman
My buddy Scott Cohn

Cons are a way to promote and do some business if possible, or they used to be. Frankly I think most of that can happen with the interwebs now. For me, at this stage of my career and my life I really just enjoy the social angle, to laugh and yak and have a good time with people I know, love and respect that I don't often get to see in person. I don't have a geek list, I am looking to buy nothing really, I see some cool stuff sometimes, but I am trying to unload the crap have, not get more. I do the show also as a businessman, so that said, my objectives are really different than a typical fan.

Traditionally, Friday is the slow day, Sunday too, but even Saturday was slow-- man, I could have watched grass grow as well as a lot of folks. Unlike NYC, where there was a lot of energy, and women, this show has the dank smell of Mel's Comic other words just hardcore Marvel and DC, no manga to speak of or animae, thus not too many gals walking the floor and not a lot of kids either. No Sony, no game stalls, not the huge card gamers like before. Really, it was clear that is this isn't the last show in Philly,(a much rumored rumor) then they will really have to do something amazing to try and save it next year and with it being scheduled the same weekend as Heroes, I think you can stick a fork in it.
The Baroness beats it back from the reading Terminal through the rainy Saturday afternoon.

Black Manta ties to hail a cab.
Venom shops for bargins

A good con today is about numbers. The volume of people. To get that, you need to expand beyond the Babymen, Wizards core demo. In the past I think they were a bit more aggressive in this area, they had Spike TV, and they had a bigger/broader retailer selection. It's clear that manga and animae are the champs with the younger set, so if you were a Narrutto fan, or Bleach or anything else, there was shit for you at the show. I friend of my buddy Scott, who was an animae and manga fan, said there was slim picking to find on the show floor.

Unlike NYC where you had constant Cosplay all weekend and roving groups of girls and much better mix, Philly had zilch. The feeling by nearly everyone was apparent on their face when you'd see them, "I shoulda' stayed home'. It's always been the case that Wizard has never been that supportive of anything beside the most babyman type shit, the Fathom, the Cyber-belly-whore-tranny looking crap. Super-jocks. But a decade ago you could safely do that as there were enough fans to be that selective and make some serious cake. But it''s clear that now the fans have other places to be, and Philly Wizzer isn't one of them. I'm sure they will say they had a bazillion people, they'll count the hair-lipped Amish gals across the street as attendees, but this was just a lame show and there is no way to spin it.

Dinner at Sang Kee Duck House--the best duck I've ever had!
Harley and Ivy shop
Scott Neely works his magic for the kids.

Alberto Ruiz!

As always the show is easy to attend, really maybe the easiest, their staff is cool, nice, efficient, you can get to the floor easy, park easy, load in and out easy, it's cheap, way cheaper than almost any other big show, by far cheaper than NYC or San Diego.but they have everything this show now lacks. Another plus is that Philly has good east within a few blocks, China town and more. So you should think with all of these plus factors that the show would rock?

I was so bored, I'd get up and walk a bit to relieve my ass from those fucking-nazi-designed folding chairs and so many people were sitting behind their tables with no traffic. I made my money back, and then some,and I hung out with my Philly crew and Alberto Ruiz, and Bobby Chu and his great gang from imagination studios, Ivan and Andy from NYC Mech,so on that angle the show is always fun. The Marroitt bar scene was dead, there were a few after parties, but man, compared to 2-4 years ago, it was a ghost town. But the plus is always eating at Sang Kee Duck House, and we also had great Italian Saturday night.

So I think next year I won't be back, or certainly not as a booth or table guy, maybe I'll rove and hang with buddies because for me that's the show's only saving grace.


Brian said...

I totally felt the same way. I paid for a small press booth and found myself sitting across from the washed up Wrestlers just yearning to be on the other side of the curtain with the other small press booths... I live right outside of Philly and I am debating next year.

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