Wizard World Philly ’14

Wizard World Philadelphia, a gathering of the nerd
population from all over, right in the “City of Brotherly Love”.  It’s a time to polish up your armor and dust
off your comics, for a weekend full of fun and festivities.  Well, at least that’s what I had hoped it
would be.  What was once fun and exciting
for me, is turning into less and less of a draw with each passing year.  It’s not entirely Wizard World’s fault, but
they definitely had a fair hand into my disappointment.  Not to worry though, it wasn’t an entirely
terrible experience, so let’s get down to the cheers and jeers of Wizard World
This is a show that I’ve been attending for the past four or
five years.  It’s been the most
affordable and the least chaotic show that I’ve been to ever since my
introduction to the comic con scene.  Every
year it seemed that I would meet new people and gain more friends to visit the
following year.  However, as time went
on, it seemed like more and more of these friends started to distance
themselves from the show.  Maybe it just
got too expensive for them to travel, or they had issues with the people
running the show. Who knows?  It just
gets a bit disheartening to drive 4 ½ hours just to, essentially, wander around
a large comic shop by myself for four days. 
Again though, it’s not really anything that can be helped, no one can
force these people to show up to these events. 
However, that’s not really even the worst part. 
Now, one of the things I go to these shows for is to pick up
some back issues to fill out my collection for a decent price.  To my unfortunate surprise, there weren’t
very many vendors selling comics this time around.  If they had any, it was all really old stuff
and not at all what I was looking for. 
The vendors that did have what I sought after, were very disorganized,
or regularly priced items.  I mean, I
really didn’t feel like spending an hour just digging through boxes in hopes of
possibly finding one of the issues I’m looking for.  It’s more of a disappointment than
anything.  Wizard World really needs to
put out a stronger call to all of the area comic shops and get them to sell
their wares.  That’s kind of what the
show is supposed to be about right?  It
seems like every show I go to gets more and more Hollywood and less about the
medium that started this whole trend. 
Which brings me to the celebrity guest aspect of the
show.  It’s great that Wizard World is
able to bring out stars from shows like The Walking Dead, Firefly and Doctor
Who, but the way it’s all handled just makes the whole experience more
frustrating than anything in the end.  Now,
the people at Wizard World should have known that if you’re going to have the
main stars of the most recent Doctor Who series at the show, you’re going to
get a huge response.  From what I could
tell, they definitely oversold autograph and photo-op tickets for the two of
them, which made the lines ridiculously long. 
They really needed to have cut offs and/or sold tickets for specific
time slots instead of the free-for-all that it ended up to be.  I mean, every single celeb there is a class
act in my opinion.  They take their time
and try to talk a bit to each person they meet, which is where the overselling
of the tickets brings the experience to a screeching halt.  I love that they try to connect with everyone
and it’s something I look forward to whenever I go out to meet one of them, but
when I’m waiting in line for hours on end and finally go up to meet these
people, I try to make the conversation as brief as possible so as not to hold
up everyone else behind me.  So, I walk
away feeling overjoyed yet annoyed because I felt like I was being rushed through.  As a result of the excessive line for
autographs and the kindness of the celebs themselves, the photo-ops were
delayed.  Here I find myself in yet
another ridiculously long line waiting for a good hour or so to get my pic
taken with the two Doctor Who stars. 
When it finally comes time for the photo, I’m ushered into the booth
where I’m told to hurry up, not even getting a chance to say anything to the
celebs, or to come up with a pose, or fully process what was going on and sent
back out just a quickly.  So, now I go to
pick up my picture and it’s just mass hysteria. 
The pictures are printed in batches and then laid out on a long table
with number sets which correlate to the ticket that was handed to you after you
got your picture taken.  Instead of huge
signs above the tables saying this batch number blah through bah, they were
printed on little pieces of paper and set down with the photos.  So now you have to fight through every other
person at the show trying to find their pictures as well and the best part is
they weren’t even in any sort of numerical order.  Complete and utter chaos.  Just to make thing clear though, not once do
I blame the celebs for any of these problems.
I decided I would treat myself this year to one of the celeb
VIP experience tickets.  I can tell you
it’s not much of an experience for the money one pays for those.  Everyone was let into the show thirty minutes
ahead of time, so that didn’t matter and I was rushed through every celeb
meeting I was promised with the ticket. 
The only really benefit were the exclusive print and comic that VIP’s
got.  I really wish this whole show was
so much better organized.
One of the few things I did enjoy were the panels, or at
least the ones I was able to get to.  I
like going to the educational ones that give you pointers about putting
together your comic or book, or whatever else you’re working on.  One was called “The Art of Creating Conflict
(In Your Story)”, a very informative and well put together panel that talked
about how to utilize conflict in order to make the story flow.  The panelists were all very knowledgeable and
kept the mood light.  So, of those same
panelists hosted one of the other panels I was able to make called “What’s The
Story?  Creating Stories That
Captivate”.  In this one, I got to learn
about what can be used in order to hold the reader’s attention.  This one was just as great as the other one
and would love to attend more panels like these.  I’m always open to new ways of getting this
stuff done, so I’m glad I was able to make those few.  Going back to the negative though, the
programs that you get at the beginning of the show are pretty much worthless as
they went and changed all of the times of the panels after the thing was
printed.  So, shortly after you get
there, you gotta do a lap around to the different rooms where the programming
is held in order to see the actual times. 
Another annoyance that should have been handled better. 
Artist’s Alley is always a pleasure to wander through.  I love checking out all of the different
styles and picking up a new print, or sketch to add to my ever growing
collection.  Sometimes, I even walk away
with a new friend as I get to talk with a like-minded person for the first time
in forever (no Frozen quote intended). 
The one thing I didn’t like is Wizard World kind of shoved them all way
to very back, with some of the more prominent artists up front, giving the
up-and-comers and web artists very little traffic.  Some of these artists are pretty much going
all in for this show and with poor sales and little exposure, it kind of deters
them from wanting to come back the next year. 
Big name artists should be featured towards the back of Artist’s Alley,
or at least a few of them, so the newbies can get a shot at the spotlight.  I think a restructuring might be in order.

So, all-in-all it was an alright show.  I got my signatures and picture, picked up
some new Doctor Who paraphernalia, a few new trades and some new art.  I pretty much got what I came for.  However, with all of the problems that I
found with the show, I’d be really hard pressed to return next year.  At this point the only things that could get
me to go back would be if a celeb I really want to meet will be there, my
artist friends returned, or changes were made to the overall setup.  I’ve had some great times at this show in the
past, but now it might be time to move on to something different.  

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