Wizard World Philly

I’ve said it before, I’m not a big Convention guy. I’ve tried more recently to be more open and check out the bigger Conventions. I’m still more comfortable in the small local show setting; but I’m getting more used to the larger scale of the bigger Cons. Trying to build myself up to eventually tackle NYCC.

That said, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to head down to North Carolina to join a lot of the fellas who were at Heroescon. Maybe next time. So living in South Jersey, I figured why not hop over the Ben Franklin Bridge and finally check out Wizard World Philly. I’ve heard a lot about it over the years, so why not see what it’s all about?

 

STAFFING & ORGANIZATION

Everyone I engaged from the staff for the show was very friendly and helpful. Having done a few of these Cons recently I didn’t have many questions. That said, the staff was very attentive and I didn’t feel like I was interrupting someone's downtime by just showing up to gain entry. You know the type I mean. “So sorry to interrupt your game of Candy Crush, but I was just looking for Registration Check In.”

The layout was very easy to navigate. Plenty of space in the aisles, and I never felt overcrowded or stuck. Granted I was there on a Friday afternoon while most other people were at work so the place wasn’t packed to the gills, but still. I was able to get to where I was going with ease.

They had vendors grouped pretty well with comics in certain areas and toys/video games in others. Lots of different types of vendors. More than I am normally used to. I am pretty laser focused on comics so much of that side stuff is wasted on a guy like me. There were only like half a dozen Comic dealers and half of them were people I see all the time.

But there were some cool things around. A nice looking Cobra throne from G.I. Joe and a decked out Impala from Supernatural. I would’ve taken a pic, but it said no photos of it as they wanted my $$$ to take a pic with it, but that just wasn’t something I felt necessary. There was also a pretty cool How To Train Your Dragon set up where you could get your pic riding Toothless. Had my son been with me, he would’ve been all over it.

 

But I’m kind of glad he wasn’t. Is it just me or does Toothless look like he’s about to get caught up in the Me Too movement. Not cool Toothless. All right Max Landis, you’re giving off a Cosby vibe. Too soon?

GUESTS – CELEBS & ARTISTS

So the Guest List for Wizard World is kind of their big selling point. This is more of a Celeb Meet and Greet than say a Comic Convention. To be fair, no one called this a Comic Con, but the Wizard name in my mind still comes with certain implications.

Much like the Magazine ended up being more about Hollywood, so too did this convention. The Celebrity section was dead center at the heart of the convention. Everything else branched off from there. And that’s great if that’s your thing. They had a great lineup of guests over the weekend. Unfortunately I missed the bigger names because I didn’t want to deal with the weekend crowds, but that’s on me. But like I’ve said before, I’m not a huge signature guy and I feel weird paying for a selfie when I’m flying solo at a convention.

But they had a good amount of the Firefly cast there. As much as I would’ve loved to grab a pick with John Casey and ask Adam Baldwin about DC Cab, I didn’t get to see him there.

Hack Saw Jim Duggan was supposed to be there, but he wasn’t at his booth when I made my rounds. Snapped a sneaky pic of Sgt. Slaughter signing something for some fans.

And there were a lot of panels running all weekend, but I didn’t get a chance to check any out. Poor planning on my part but again, I was looking for comics that weren’t really there. But hey, I got to see the Sherminator hanging out at his booth with the Rookie of the Year. Funky Butt Lovin’.

But the highlight of the show for me was getting to meet the crew over at Source Point Press. Bob Salley and the crew were very friendly and extremely helpful. Bob not only signed my copies of the Convention Exclusive for Ogre #1, but he walked me over to Jeremy Clark’s booth to grab the copies I needed for me and a couple of the CBSI guys.

Jeremy was great as well. He chatted with me for a bit and showed me the original artwork for that cover. If I had a few more bucks on me I might’ve considered breaking the seal on my first piece of Original Art. OA is a whole other animal though. Not sure I need to start another hobby at the moment.

But that said, there really isn’t anything like OA. I mean if you could’ve seen the fine detail work Jeremy laid in there that just doesn't translate as clearly on the finished product. As beautiful as the finished piece is, those fine details get lost on the smaller colored finished cover.

Before I had to jump, Jeremy was cool enough to grab a photo with me and my hand-numbered copies of the exclusive.

I’m not quite sure what I’m doing there with my right hand. It’s like I couldn’t find my pocket. Think I was too concerned about sucking in the gut to pay attention to my pose.

But again, they were a great couple of guys so give Bob and Jeremy a follow on IG.

DEALERS

After this I decided to dive into some digging, but I was coming up empty. I just wasn’t feeling it. There were literally only like 7 comic dealers. Saw a couple dealers I had just seen at East Coast Comic Con a few weeks back. Saw my local LCS Stormwatch set up on the floor. Said hello to Bob and kept moving around the joint. I also saw Welcome Back Comics set up. I was about to dig, but figured I would wait until their sale at the end of next month to dig in earnest.

So I came up empty as far as purchases go, aside from the Ogre books I picked up from Source Point Press and the Exclusives I grabbed from Jeremy Clark.

I just wasn’t in that zone I needed to be in to dig properly. I was just going through the motions, aimlessly flipping through the boxes. That said, I did stop at a shop on my way home to dig in some dollar bins. If you follow my IG you would’ve seen my pick-ups from this weekend. Nothing huge, but a few fun things.

COSPLAY

Cosplay was plentiful. I think they even had a few professional Cosplayers there. I am not in the know on such things so I couldn’t tell you if any of them were there on Friday or wouldn’t be arriving until later in the show.

I always mean to get more pics, but I always forget. This is why you shouldn’t do a show solo. I’m sure I would’ve had a much different experience, had I gone with at least a digging buddy. I needed you out there Keith.

That said, I did manage to grab one shot of a Joker on stilts, because well, it was the Joker, and he was on stilts. Don’t see that everyday.

That’s a Wrap

To sum up, it wasn’t quite what I was expecting with regards to the comic selection, but the show had its charms. Lots of interesting celebs there. I didn’t even get into Kevin Conroy or John Glover. Lionel Luther is just awesome, and well, is there a better Batman than Kevin Conroy?

Anyway, it was my first time at this con, and I only stayed a short while. I imagine next year will be better if I bring a buddy. However, I hate it when I think of something I should’ve thought of then. I should’ve asked Jeremy about a possible commission. Definitely want to try to do more of that if I keep going to more of these shows. Oh well, maybe next time. And that’s all the time we have with this Con Recon. Later this week though, Donny Cates Silver Surfer Black. Weird. Until then, this is Peter Renna saying…

11 comments

  • A. J. Diesel

    My man, you hit the nail on the head. Wizard World Philly use to have some class and stones. Now it is pop culture fest. Very few comic books, a lot of pompous dealers.

    And I mean c’mon, even the guest list is sad. 5 years ago they had the cast of the Avengers, and now they’ve got, you called it, The Sherminator haha.

    This was a long standing tradition of mine, and I ended that tradition. In the South Jersey area, you’re much better off hitting CHUD or Frankenstein’s comics!

    Great article bud!!

    • Avatar

      Wizard World in general has shifted entirely to pop culture instead of comics.

      I went to Wizard World Tulsa last year and there were literally two comic dealers in the entire show. One only had several long boxes and while the other had 40-50, they weren’t organized and unpriced. I spent about 5 minutes on the floor before leaving. Thankfully the people running it were really cool about it and offered me a complete refund for my tickets.

      Though the Wizard World show runners insisted that they didn’t understand why comic dealers weren’t coming to their shows anymore (even claiming he offered them free floor space), from my conversations with some dealers, Wizard World is basically pricing them out of ever coming to them the show, making it almost impossible to turn a profit.

      But the trip was still worth it, since I hit up all the LCS in Tulsa and ended up finding quite a bit.

      Same thing happened at O Comic Con in Omaha back in 2017. Only a half dozen dealers, but the trip became worth it to just drive around to the LCS instead.

      • Ilovecomicbooks
        Avatar

        I went there last weekend. I was thinking about the same thing. How do dealers make money? There was a mom/daughter running a comic book booth. All they have was back issues for sale and some used toys. They have 50-100 boxes ( I didn’t count and didn’t remember) of comic book. They didn’t have any high-end books. I was thinking how are they able to make rent? If they have free space, that would make sense.

    • Peter Renna

      @AJ – Yeah, I was warned that WW had gone this route, but I figured I would check it out anyway. You are right though that a full Avengers cast is a far cry from the celebs they had this past weekend. That said, I liked plenty of the celebs on their guest list, but that stuff just isn’t my deal. I’m fine just walking past the booth saying to myself,” Hey, There’s Dean Cain.” I don’t need to drop a few bucks for a sig or a selfie.

      But I do hit up the CHUD shows in the area. I actually used to live in a condo complex right down the street from Frankenstein’s years ago before we bought our house.

      @Fricknmaniac – Yeah, I liked the dealers that were at WW but I see them all the time. Just didn’t inspire me to roll up my sleeves and start digging when I know I can just swing by their shop or a smaller show in a few weeks and do it there. But you have to be right on about the pricing for the dealers. I was at ECCC a few weeks ago and the entry fee for that was less than half the WW ticket and that show had tons of dealers and comic creators.

      Glad you made the best of the trip. I hit up an LCS after the show on my way home and got my digging done there outside that Con atmosphere where my parking rate was rising every minute I was there. haha

  • Dan Piercy

    Suck in that gut, Peter! 😂 I went to Wizard World Philly, in 2012, and it was really fun. The Spartacus show was all the rage, the cast was there and I ended up sitting next to Katrina Law and her boyfriend at the bar at El Vez in Philly. Really cool people.

    Unfortunately, Wizard Worlds just have a horrible stigma about them, they always have, but it’s gotten much worse in recent years.

    • Peter Renna

      Haha. I swear sucking in the gut was the only thing on my mind because Jeremy made a joke about sucking in his gut, and I was like, “You? Look at mine buddy.” That’s cool about seeing peeps outside of the show. That’s more my interest in celeb sightings.

      I think WW could rebound if they just embraced comics a bit more. Instead of grabbing a few more lower tiered celebs, maybe get some decent comic creators to come fill out artist alley and some of the prime booths. That in turn could bring out more dealers with more comics, and by extension more guests. Most hardcore comics people I know think WW is a joke. They can change that by luring some top comic talent IMO.

  • Ben C

    Really enjoyed this read Peter, thanks for sharing your perspective. It seems a lot of the “bigger” shows are turning into pop culture festivals, tho I think it actually makes shows like Baltimore and on a much smaller scale(but growing!) the Little Giant Old School Comic show and others like this that are popping up just to do comics.

    • Peter Renna

      Agreed Ben. And it’s fine for the big shows to embrace pop culture, but hopefully they don’t do it at the expense of what got them there, in this case, comics. That said, Wizard World linked the article on their page so hopefully it brings some new readers over who remember comics and don’t just want photo ops with the cast from Once Upon a Time.

  • Avatar

    Great article. Very similar to my experience at WW St. Louis.

  • Avatar

    When I saw your pic I thought to myself “he’s totally sucking in his gut” then you owned up to it. I know because I do it too. Lol.

    I saw the lineup and couldn’t help but think “Wow this sure has gone downhill”. I was only there once but back then they had most of the Avengers and people were everywhere waiting in lines. I didn’t meet them btw.

    Wizard World is circling the drain. They keep losing money and I expect they aren’t going to make it.

    For me personally I love Baltimore Comic Con. It’s a true comic con with just a few celebrities sprinkled in rather than the other way around. I sure do miss the days of the old Pittsburgh Comic Con. I was just really getting into comics then and totally took it for granted. I used to whine about the same guests year after year…you know shlubs like George Perez and Herb Trimpe. Sigh. I need a time machine to go back and undo all the stupid decisions I’ve made.

    • Ilovecomicbooks
      Avatar

      Now, I don’t work for Wizard World but I thought I share this information with everyone. Seems like might doing okay. This year, they have 10 shows. Next year they are doing 13 shows. I got this information in the back of the program.

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