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Scenes from Wizard World Chicago ‘08: Sex, Violence and an Ugly Rumor

Wizard World Chicago ’08 has come and gone. A strange time, to be sure. Strange you say? Oh, very strange.

On the way out, I heard a rumor over in artist’s alley that DC and Marvel were ready to pull out of the show. What was going around was that they didn’t think it was worth the trouble shipping their booths and they’d rather just buy some tables in artist’s alley for creators they want to hype. Yes, that ought to send a chill down your spine if this is your home-base show. On the other hand, much like last year, it seemed to me there was more commotion in artist’s alley than there was in the publisher’s area. Well, with the exception of when Marvel would do a giveaway and you’d quickly have a screaming mob.

Couple the shift in activity to artist’s alley with the seeming lack of major announcements from DC and Marvel, factor in that nobody on the pro side seems to like the idea of the show going back to early August (if I’ve got the San Diego dates correct for 2009, it would be a return to 2 weeks after Comicon) and I think you’d have to take that rumor seriously.

Back to the daily log, I stayed home Saturday, but it was generally agreed that the crowd level was about what it was last year. Sunday, it looked to be similar to last year as well. It might even have been a hair higher, but with the crowd being more dispersed throughout the room, it’s harder to say for certain.

The horror convention across the street was handing out flyers and trying to drag people over. I can’t speak to how effective that was for them, but does make for an interesting sideshow.

It looks like the weekend passed without any trouble at the strip club booth. Indeed, instead of having angry moms raising hell, as I walked by, there was a fellow in his 30s having his picture taken with two of the young ladies from the Admiral. Who was taking his picture? A little boy who’s age I’d put between 6 and 8. Yes, that’s fun for the whole family. I wonder if he told mom?

I suppose if you were an out-of-towner and didn’t recognize the name, their “Burlesque and Beyond” poster might have you thinking it was a different type of theater. I was curious enough to ask if they had a booth at a lot of conventions. I was told this was the first time they’d done it, and they’d found everyone very friendly. Methinks the ladies may be used to drooling fanboys. If you cared to give them your e-mail address, they’d send you some free admission passes. Seems to me, with their laptop right there for collecting said addresses, they were more business savvy than a lot of publishers. Is this really what you want going on for “Kid’s Day?” Well, it was happening. And I wonder what the business rationale for testing the booth at a comic convention was? This wasn’t just thrown together at the last minute.

If you were wondering what a strip club booth looks like, here’s a picture. 

The convention booth for The Admiral Theater

Click over to the Comic Mix and the bottom photo (Red PVC in front of the “Buns until 6am” sign) is a picture of an Admiral girl. She doesn’t look out of place in that mix, does she? So strange.Then there’s the other new booth contingent: The Military.

The Army was there recruiting.

And so were the Marines.

The Marines recruiting at Wizard World

The Army had a better booth.

If you wanted cheap graphic novels, Sunday saw the prices dip as low as $3 (and for that price I picked up the Jim Starlin Kid Kosmos graphic novel). One fellow was selling last Wednesday’s new books for $1 each (perfect time to sample Madame Xanadu), and I heard reports of Marvel Essentials going for 6 for $25. Bargains to be had.

Over at Graham Cracker Comics, the trades went down to $5 each on Sunday and at the same time produced the worst “bargain” at the show. Cowboys & Aliens for $5. That’s actually an increase in price for that book. If I recall correctly, they were trying to dump that in their stores for as low as $1 and I was told it was also a Free Comic Book giveaway that nobody wanted. Maybe it will have value if the movie comes out?

If you consider the massive amount of events going on this weekend in Chicago (Cubs-White Sox cross-town classic, Taste of Chicago, horror convention across the street, tattoo convention, and Gay Pride Parade/festival), I’m mildly impressed they were able to roughly keep pace with last year. Has it bottomed out or is not trying to steal thunder from San Diego somewhat compensating for an over-booked weekend?

And not to leave on a down note, let us consider the weekend of one David (Mouse Guard) Petersen. By Friday, he’d sold out of his hard covers. For Saturday, his wife drove in from Michigan with two more boxes… and he sold those out. On Sunday he was selling copies from dealers on the convention floor. And all this after his spot in artist alley was moved on Saturday. The convention as a whole may be a mixed bag of nuts, but there were a few winners.

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  1. Actually, a lot of graphic novels were going for $5.00 on Saturday. This seemed to be the year to pick up trades at the con and that’s just what I did. I usually stick to the InStockTrades booth who sell everything for 35% off but this year I did a lot more bargain hunting and made out like a bandit.

    I actually wouldn’t mind Marvel and DC skipping the booths. I prefer the alley and the signings they sponsor seem to pull the artists I want to see away from there. That’s the real draw for me at the con anyway.

    This con is going to die in a few years anyway unless Wizard turns it over to someone else. They’re pretty much run it into the ground at this point and with New York growing as fast as it is, it’s only a matter of time before we go back to being a regional con. We used to be the 2nd largest in the country and were the place to go after San Diego. I don’t think that’s been the case for a couple of years now.

  2. Todd, Thanks for reporting on this con. I missed it this year because I am still working on the next Silly Daddy trade paperback. Your article however fulfilled my question, “I wonder how Wizard World Chicago went this year.”

    It’s sad to see the level of confusion that has entered into this poor bloated Chicago convention — especially since I remember as an exhibitor years and years ago when it was simply all about comics and it was great.

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