Every year for the past few years I have taken off from work for Wizard World. This multi-genre fan event spans a full three days (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday). The recent Convention Center expansion on Arch Street allowed the convention to take place in a new part of the building this year. This felt unusual. As cons go, I don’t wish to say I was disappointed but I can’t say I was thrilled either. I wonder if having to report on this event has jaded my eyes slightly. The place was packed with celebrity signings, artists, vendors, CGC, and fans; the problem: it was small.

The main event took place on the second floor as it has in past years. The panels however took place on the first, as well as some card games. As with all conventions, I go for the comic books and that obscure collectible (or two) that catches my eye. I entered on Friday an hour before the event opened and had the distinct pleasure of walking around the floor with Nick C. It had an eerie feel, most likely the calm before the storm. As the ten o’clock hour approached, we waited for the masses to enter and at ten they did….for thirty seconds.

In years past, there was this one security guy there that worked for the convention center. To me he seems like the guy that likes to control things and tell people what to do, being inside already I could still imagine what the fans were saying out there noticing the time ticked past noon.  As with last year, the convention opened late. Fifteen minutes late. The same guy was there.  I remember this because I was there last year.  This was by no means the fault of Wizard World but of the Convention Center itself. I wonder if Nick and I would have been able to enter with our press credentials in hand (or on-wrist) or if he would have made us wait.

The first interview I had set up was located in artist alley which spanned most of the right hand side of the room.  I walked over there departing with Nick C to start my day. I had the joy of interviewing Brad Guigar of Evil Inc. on opening. I see this man every year because his stuff is just that good, and I purchase whatever trade he has out along with an original piece of artwork. I am also pleased with the way the interview went. Other than my recent CGC interview, well honestly, this is a first for me. I more or less write Op-eds and this was an opportunity I could not pass up. I will be working on the interview portion later in the week.

The second artist I had arranged for an interview was none other than Mike Grell, I felt no one else was as big a name in the comic industry (that was in attendance). This is for a few reasons; primarily that he had a career for over 40 years. In past conventions, the artists had the main part of the floor for meet and greets, now the movie and television stars have that honor while the artists are pushed to the side, but not Mike Grell. He stood among the best and shone.  An interview with him will follow in these pages along with articles by Jordan DesJardins, Kyle Black (who unfortunately I did not get to meet), and Nick C, as the four of us not only covered the event but spent our money(I think I spent more than the others combined).

I have been writing for Comic Booked for a while now, and I have touched base on reviews and my views, but none as much as CGC. I met two of the graders, Paul Lynch and Shawn Caffrey. Both were as approachable as the really cute girl at the end of the bar after a few beers and a couple shots.  The only thing is I didn’t get shot down when I talked to them, nor did I have to drink.  They met me a day before the convention because they knew how busy they would be (and they were). I felt honored that they took the time to do so.  And most likely they took their time to do the interview because as they said themselves, they are fans first. My interview with them will follow as well.

Jerry Milani, Wizard World’s director of PR was polite enough to allow Comic Booked the amount of time we had to cover the event. I even had the chance to thank him myself when I saw him Friday afternoon. He was very pleasant and wouldn’t so much accept my thank you as he was to insistent to  thank me for covering the event. So when I say this next thing I hope he does not take offense- I do wish that Wizard would go back to their roots and promote a primarily good comic con. I am not saying this was not a good con, just not a good comic book con. It was more of a mass media frenzy thrown in between comic book dealers.

Even though Wizard World is a three day event I feel that one day is enough to get everything out of the way. If you love signatures and cosplay, the day to go is Saturday. If you want really cheap books and deals galore that day is Sunday. If you want to walk through the event unimpeded or being bumped into then that would be Friday. This is nothing against Wizard World because it is an event that I think should be visited by fans and non-fans alike, and Jerry if you are reading this (and I hope you are), I would love to interview you as well for a future article and to find out what is going on for June 1, 2, and 3 of next year, because I was happy to know that Wizard World was to be back in 2012 before the 2011 convention even started.

Was Wizard World 2011 a success? I would have to say yes, after all they are coming back next year with guests like Mike Deodato Jr., Ariel Olivetti, Greg Hildebrandt, Mike Golden, Mark Texeira and newly announced Batman artist Greg Capullo, who have all committed early for Wizard World Philadelphia 2012. I would love to see Marvel and DC at this event, as well as more dealers that I have seen in the past. Sideshow collectibles was sadly absent. A few artwork studios from which I had purchased some high end gyclee’s were also absent. I will go next year (all three days and I hope to still be able to cover the event rather than just participate) but if I am lucky, I mean very lucky, I will also be going to San Diego and checking out the media circus there and then I will have something to compare Wizard World too, but who knows what other Wizard World’s I can go to, with them happening all over the place, or which ones you can go to too.

 

Thanks for Reading

 

CGC Lee