Wizard World Toronto Comic Con: Worst show ever

I’d like to leave it at the title but will expand just a little.  Wizard World purchased the ailing Paradise Toronto Comic Con last year.  The Paradise show was a comic show, pure and simple.  Comic dealers and comic creators in the same hall for comic fans.  Wizard World was able to change all that, poorly.

Let’s start with the guest list and show information; I’ll wait while you peruse.  If you’re having trouble finding any comic people keep looking; they’re listed with toy creators.  The shows comic headliners are Adi Granov, Phil Jimenez and Gail Simone.  They’re good solid comic creators but not headliner material.  Still I’m a fan of their work and eagerly entered the show after paying $12 in parking and a $30 one day entrance fee.  Rushing to artist alley I found almost no one.  Our “big name” headliners weren’t there.  It was noon, the earliest I’ve seen a show open on Friday and maybe they were running late.  12:30 PM and not there; 1:00 PM and 1:30 PM pass and still no headliners.  A line for Dale Keown; he’s a local and takes a while to knock out a sketch but he’s charging $50 for a headshot and $100 for a full body.  Leonard Kirk sits alone at his table, much like the rest of those who showed up on time.  Otherwise the half empty artist alley is a ghost town.

Walking around the show was an odd experience.  About a third of the show floor was comic dealers; they all seemed to be focusing on silver and golden age books, with little to no bargain books, trade paperbacks or hardcovers.  Dealers I see at every Toronto show weren’t there; those who were seemed to have a more moderate set up, related to the fact  I heard table prices for this show were the highest we’ve seen.  I searched in vain for trade paperback and hardcover deals but none were to be found.  Came home with one DC Archives.

The rest of the show floor was former wrestlers, former television stars and former reality TV personalities, with about half not at their booths.  As you saw in the program information above these guests dominate the show list.  I saw lots of overweight men and aging women with very low tight tops amongst these guests; I especially enjoyed the very pregnant former wrestling star.  What exactly do any of these people have to do with a comic show?

A fairly large convention company brings a new show to Canada and for the opening day they have empty floor space, missing guests and a lack of focus.  I’ll admit my view is slanted towards comics; perhaps Wizard should drop the comic con off the title and just call it Wizard World, then the entire show can be former whatevers.  If the show starts with a whimper where does it have to go from here?

7 Comments

  1. [aside – it always amazes me that to comment on these things you have to leave your name but the poster does not have to]

    I have not been to the show yet, so i cannot pass any judgement. Obviously this person was left with a very bad taste in his/her mouth.

    In defence of dealers: Trades sell very well now in our stores and it does not make sense to discount them at shows as people buy them all the time.

    I chose not to do the show for a number of reasons. Foremost is my ailing health. Had I been operating on all 8 cylinders I probably would have still foregone doing the show as I am not doing shows period right now.

    I plan on going on Sunday to check out the show. I want to see some of my faves including Ken Lashley and Dale Keown.

    Of course I hope the show does well as I want all my fellow dealers to walk out knowing that they did not lose money as a result of the endeavour.

    Also a point re: the cost of the booth – the booths are 10 feet by 10 feet. That is 100 square feet. The Hobbystar show – a very good show I might add with a few glitches still to be dealt with – has booths that are 8 feet by 8 feet – that is 64 square feet. On a square foot basis, the Wizard show is cheaper.

    PLEASE be aware that I did not come in here to cause any problems or raise a ruckus, so if you feel the need to take pot shots at me, please count to 10 and foregoe the experience. I just wanted to point out a few facts that may have been lost to the person who went and was left wanting.

  2. I apologize for the delay, we were ready on time but the shuttle was late late late and finally canceled, so we got in over an hour late.

    I hope the rest of the con made up for it!

  3. you’re judging the whole show on a few hours the first day??? hope you returned on Saturday…

  4. I agree with Jerry-NJ, hope you went back on Saturday. Admittedly, Friday was a little slow, but I think the Wizard folks deserve some slack. It’s their first time putting on a show here in Toronto and Friday is Friday. Although I was lucky enough to get the day off and attend, most people are working on Friday until at least 4:30pm.

    Saturday was a much, much greater experience with loads of people, loads of guests and dealers and nothing but happy, smiling faces. Oh, and lines. There were next to no lines and the crowd was manageable.

    Many thanks to Wizard and everyone involved in putting on the Toronto show.

  5. Thanks for the comments. A few mentions of trade paperback and hardcover deals; since we can order anything from Amazon.ca for 37% off cover I consider more than that a deal. I chose not to return to the show because I didn’t think there would be better deals or more dealers, plus I already have sketches from Phil Jimenez, Adi Granov and Dale Keown. Take a peek at my art site art.ebabble.net.

    Charles; great idea about the parking. Adi is a great artist and is one of the few still doing free sketches.

    Michael; glad you enjoyed the show.

    Gail; very gracious of you to post.

    Daryl; the whole site is mine so all information can be found on the About page. Thanks for the dealer perspective from 3rd Quadrant.

    I really should rename the post to worst opening ever. While it’s Wizard’s first show in Toronto they’ve been putting on very big shows for a good number of years now. Plus they purchased an existing show from Pete of Paradise Comics who had the show at that same location for a while. Excellent infrastructure for this show exists but it didn’t seem to be in place.

    If guests are running late why not put a sign up. In fact why don’t they have a sign indicating guest information as they do in Chicago. Opening at 3:00 PM would have solved any lateness issue; I’m not sure we need a show to be open that early on opening day. It’s great that by Saturday the show was rolling and everything was clicking; unfortunately I had already spent the time, money and energy to attend the show on Friday.

  6. I had a good time at the show – and while I did notice a number of silver/bronze age comic dealers, and did not purchase any, Paradise Comics was selling a number of TPB titles, with a great discount.

    As far as the guests – while I am not a wrestling fan – pure comics for me please – I am a huge fan of Adi Gravnov, and thought he was a great addition to the show as a headliner – plus he was doing free sketches!

    As this was Wizard’s first time in Toronto, I am looking forward to seeing next year’s show (though a free parking pass with a 3 day ticket would be a great idea for next year… just saying…)

  7. Good comments by all!

    I am one of those aging males who doesn’t attend shows any more. I love comics and use to attend shows when they were “comic” shows not “fan” shows.

    As for “discounts” they were never the reason I attended shows, I attended them to fill that space that was missing in my run of books… With the advent of Ebay and trade collections this isn’t such a problem any more…

    ArrrOOooo!

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