Last weekend was the
inaugural Wizard World Comic Con taking place at the Anaheim Convention Center. For those of you who have
attended other Wizard World’s which are held around the country, then you probably already knew what to expect.
I have attended San Diego Comic Con for years as well as other local comic book shows but this was my very first Wizard
World. In a word: meh.
First, the Anaheim Convention Center is quite a lovely monster. It’s
frickin huge! Wizard World only took up a small space of it which made it easy to maneuver around, however.
After arriving on Friday and speeding my way through registration (which was nice and easy, as it should be), the first
thing I noticed was the size of the showroom floor. It was a decent size but my first thought was “where
is everybody?” The aisles were wide enough and there was a decent amount of vendors but…no
crowd. Perhaps because the first day was a Friday, and many kids are still in school, were factors here.
Also, I saw very little print advertising prior to the event. Sure, they hyped the hell out of this
on Facebook and on local radio stations but in the local newspaper, the only notices were articles in the Saturday and Sunday
papers detailing what had occurred the previous day. There was nothing in the weeks prior or even in the
Friday paper stating “hey, come on down to Wizard World! Opening today!!!” Nada,
zilch, zip. I would just think that not everyone would know about it online and the newspaper would be
the best place to casually glance at the notice and tell the kids, “Hey, kids, let’s go check this out!”
other thing I noticed was that unless you approached directly from the front entrance, there was no signage pointing your
way. I noticed this as I approached from the side entrance. Being somewhat familiar
with the convention center, I knew I was headed in the right direction but I did encounter some fans that seemed lost until
I saved the day for them.
now I’m inside and I do a quick power walk through the whole thing. Not stopping for a single thing,
I walked through the whole showroom floor in thirty minutes max. That includes the autograph and artist
alleys. (Side note: the panels were being held in an adjacent area but I chose not to attend any panels
once I learned that Irvin Kershner would not be attending due to illness.) Alright, I’ve got my bearings
so let’s walk through this slowly and take it all in. The next thing I noticed was that there were
no major vendors or retailers there. Aside from Kotobukiya and Warner Brothers, there were none of the
major players there. No Marvel, Dark Horse, D.C. or any of the other major movie studios. Now
I’m stunned. This is a comic book convention so where are the comic book industry leaders?
The majority of the vendors were comic and toy vendors, some local and some not. The Warner Bros.
booth was really just a table where one could score free shirts for The Losers and A Nightmare on Elm Street.
Free swag is always a nice thing! Okay, so I’m wandering the floor and come across some women
dressed like various comic book and sci-fi hotties. They are part of a group called Purrfect Angelz.
According to their website, they perform at trade shows and conventions everywhere. First of all,
I’ve never seen anything like this at San Diego Comic Con but more importantly, they don’t do anything except
dance around at random times and clog up the aisles hawking their calendars and photos. When they would
perform, people would surge forward to the stage set up next to their booth and gawk and snap pics. I felt
bad for the vendors on either side of the stage because no one could get to their booths because the aisles would just congest
with people. There should have been convention center employees or volunteers funneling people around to
the front of the staging area and kept the side aisles clear. This was a major nuisance. Also,
these girls were charging money even if I wanted to take a picture of them with my own camera. WTF?!?
It’s my camera, it’s my film, WTF?!? I can understand if I wanted to buy one of their
8x10’s but I have to pay with my own camera? I almost yelled out ‘shenanigans!’
Sadly, this was not the only instance of overcharging that I was to find this weekend. I’ll
get to that in a moment but look, I’m all for hot chicks in hot/skimpy attire but aside from all that, they have no
business being there. Yes, it’s a comic show and they’re dressed like comic book heroines and
villains but still. All they are doing is prancing around and taking money. I’d
rather go somewhere else where I can do the same thing and see way more for my bucks.
I discovered that many celebrities
were charging if you wanted to take a picture with your own camera. I’ve seen very few instances
of this at San Diego Comic Con. Probably the most frustrating was that they actually had the original 60’s
TV Batmobile on display. Did I get to take a picture for this article? Nope, because
I refuse to pay $10 bucks to snap a pic. You have so got to be kidding me. They had
a few other movie vehicles there and even though they also had signs saying you had to pay to take pics, there was no one
there to enforce this policy. Alright, enough of this, onto Day 2.
Saturday didn’t start so well because
of the parking situation. Everyone was being directed to Car Lot 4. The problem was
when we got there; it was full so an attendant was directing everyone back onto the street. Now, there
were no pylons so everyone was just following everyone else hoping it led somewhere. Granted, it did, as
there was another lot right on the other side of Car Lot 4 but I noticed the attendant in front of Car Lot 4 had no radio
to communicate with other parking attendants to maybe tell them, “Hey, stop sending people this way because Lot 4 is
full.” Minor communication malfunction aside, we parked and off we go. Problem
two soon raised its head. We got to the back of the convention center only to be stopped by an attendant
telling us that unless we were there for a different convention that was going on at the same time, we had to go the looooong
way around and cut through a kitchen to get to the main floor. This attendant didn’t even know about
Wizard World. Ok, so we go traipsing around the looooong way but we make it inside and it’s crowded!
Goody, more people are here which makes it feel more like a comic con. Since I was not planning
on attending any panels, all I did was soak it all in today and revisit a few favorite vendors. I wandered
Artist Alley looking for Simon Bisley and while that failed, I did find Bernie Wrightson and got a few autographs from him.
He was one of the highlights as he was quite charming. All this walking around is getting me hungry
so I ventured over to the food court where I was pleasantly surprised to find two things. First, they were
actually serving alcohol. Sure, it was pricy and I didn’t have any but it’s always a nice option
to have after a full day of walking. More importantly, the food court took plastic. I
hate the fact that the vendors at San Diego Comic Con are all cash only. (By the way, I’ve heard
from others that there were very few ATM machines on the premises but I learned that if you looked around and maybe wandered
away a bit from the showroom floor, there were other machines to be found.) Of course the food is going
to be pricy, but again, not having to spend my cash there so I can save it to buy a photo op with the Batmobile was nice to
discover. (BTW, that was sarcasm. Screw you Batmobile!) Other positive notes were that
the few celebrities I did talk to were all very polite and friendly, particularly Joyce DeWitt (from Three’s Company).
She was probably the nicest person I met there and definitely the best memory of a show with few to offer, really.
Day 3, the final day is really not worth mentioning because I was only there for three hours and there was nothing
new to see. I’d seen it all and done it all, panels aside.
Let’s wrap this up:
More signage is needed and the staff needs to be better trained. (I overheard one volunteer tell another, “I
don’t know what I’m doing.”) The pricing for taking pics with your own camera is re-goddam-diculous,
but not needing cash at the food court rocked. There should be more vendors, especially more of the major
players if you know what I mean. There should be more advertising as well. Oh! I just
remembered something. Speaking of advertising, on the facebook page for the Anaheim Comic Con (why wasn’t
it listed as Wizard World?) one of the final entries was “ nd the purrfect angelz (no more proper name spelling from me for them…they were kinda bitchy)
should not be invited back.