I recently attended my first Wizard World comic convention. It was a professional show and well attended. Now that I’ve attended at least one each of the two major comic shows in Chicago, I’d thought I would do a comparison of them in hopes that I can demonstrate how you might pick out conventions to attend for yourself. Not necessarily these conventions, but these *types* of conventions.
First, Wizard World has been up and down in the past few years, but this year seemed a strong show. The show itself is based on featuring big name personalities, like Bruce Campbell, Patrick Stewart and more. This is a good premise in that it will attract a lot of fans. The downside is that a number of fans, who have had to wait on queue for hours to see their favorite star, then bolt for the door as they’ve spent their money and their time just on the personality. This is not the norm, but happened frequently.
The other thing I noticed is that Wizard World (at least this year) did not feature any big name publishers. DC and Marvel were not there. There were plenty of vendors selling comics and collectibles to empty your bank account quickly, but I was curious why no big name publishers at all.
The only complaint I had was that Artist Alley was in the back, as is normal, but the show had little to motivate fans to go back there. By comparison, C2E2 had a line of celebrities against the one wall forcing attendees to walk the entire show floor. This I think is a big plus and I did see a significant increase in traffic at C2E2 earlier this year. I also sold more, but I am ahead of myself a bit.
Another big plus for Wizard World was it was at Rosemont Convention Center near the O’hare Airport. EASY to get in and out of for Artist Alley and they were very relaxed about we artists hauling in our own stuff. C2E2 by contrast is at McCormick Place near the lake and due to it’s design, is not as easily accessed by artists who simply want to haul in their stuff to sell. Also, Wizard World had a parking pass for the entire weekend for one fee that allowed In and Out privileges, something sorely missing at C2E2.
If Wizard World had the layout of C2E2, I think the vibe in Artist Alley would have been much better and we all would have done better. This is a big hint to that show’s organizers. Go walk your competition’s show and learn a few things.
Now, C2E2, by comparison, had major publishers there and a fair amount of big name celebrities. Not the same league as Wizard World, but still respectable. Despite the pains of moving in and parking fees, C2E2 was a well organized show that hit its marks perfectly. For only its second year, this year’s C2E2 was one of my best conventions for sales and I had a larger number of readers come by the booth. This show seems more comic based as opposed to Wizard World that is more celebrity based. As such, I may have been getting to my market better as compared to the celebrity based Wizard World.
I think the main thing here is the *type* of convention it is. It is hard to know until you actually attend or display at a convention. It is not always possible, but it is worth your time to go attend a convention first before buying a table and investing time and money into a show that will not bring you your intended audience. Whether it’s a good show or not, it still may not be your market.
So, Wizard World Chicago 2011 was a good show, as was C2E2’s sophomore outing. But, which one is right for you? Hopefully you can better see with my comparisons!