Wizard World Philadelphia 2014 Day 1

comic con punch-wwpSpencer: Thursday was a weird day at Philadelphia Comic Con. It was really only a half day — open from 3-8 — and none of the celebrities and hardly any of the more recognizable creators were there yet. While there was a fair amount of people in attendance, it was a far cry from the jam-packed crowds I’m used to seeing in pictures. A part of me almost wonders what the point of having a four-day con is at all, but as a first-time convention goer, I was grateful for the chance to acclimate. When things get busy tomorrow, I’ll be prepared.

Even on a slow day, Cons can be disorienting. The day was two-thirds of the way over before I was even able to find a guidebook, so I wasn’t able to make any panels, and it took my friend and I a good half hour to actually find where we were going — I like to think that I have a pretty good sense of direction, but the convention hall was overwhelmingly gigantic. Navigating the floor isn’t the easiest either — all the booths begin to look the same after a while, especially with Doctor Who and The Walking Dead on every single corner, robbing me of any points of reference.

Once we got settled in things calmed down, though, and here’s where my experience differed from most of the attendees of Wizard World Philadelphia, as I spent a good portion of the day helping my buddy run his booth in Artist’s Alley. That’s a job with its own set of unique challenges and rules to learn — deciding how to attract the attention of guests or whether to speak to an interested guest or instead wait to be spoken to were both questions I fielded, among others. It’s far from all downsides, though; we were able to have a lot of interesting conversations we wouldn’t have had otherwise, plus we can bring in our own food, which will be a huge money saver.

That’s a good thing, because — SPOILER ALERT — Cons cost a lot of money. It’s pretty ridiculous, truthfully (seriously, $3.50 for a bottled water?!). Even worse, though, are the events within the Con itself that you have to spend money to participate in, as if the ticket itself wasn’t expensive enough. I stayed away from most of these due to a moral objection to unnecessary spending, but there was one super-cool money grab I just couldn’t pass up.

batmoble

Yes Commissioner, I’ll be right there!

batmobile bomb

Some days you just can’t get rid of a bomb!

I have a hard time watching Batman 66 as an adult — it’s just too campy for my tastes — but as a child it was my obsession. It was the definitive thing that roped me into superheroes and comic books, and it was also one of the first pieces of media my father and I ever bonded over, so it holds a special place in my heart. I’m not sure whether this is the original Batmobile or a replica, but either way, it’s exact in detail, and sitting inside that thing was a huge rush of nostalgia. Well worth the money.

Other than that, I tried to spend more wisely. There was a crap-load of expensive trinkets that caught my eye that I avoided — although, with three days of this con left to go, I anticipate caving for at least one or two — but the lion’s share of my spending was on trades. I found some sweet deals, and picked up four volumes of Mark Waid’s first Daredevil run as well as a Heinberg/Cheung Young Avengers volume (because I like those characters enough that I’m finally ready to expand beyond Gillen and McKelvie’s interpretation). The only downside was that the booth I bought them from threw in a free copy of Futures End 0 with my purchase, but it’s okay, I forgive them (this time).

Oh, and I also bought this totally rad shirt featuring two of my favorite things, Deadpool and pancakes:

Deadpool shirt

I don’t think I’d eat anything Wade ever laid his hands on, ever

Artist’s Alley is where my interest in this Con mainly lies, but this bizarre Thursday left it in a strange state. At least a third of the guests didn’t show up at all (yet), including basically all of the “big name” creators I wanted to speak to, and I forgot to bring books for most of the more notable artists who were there to sign (Jim Calafiore was free most of the day and of course I left my copy of Leaving Megalopolis at home!). There was a lot of absolutely gorgeous prints and commissions on display, but how many of those can I really buy? I wanted to support some indie writers and artists, but didn’t see a lot of actual comic books for sale (although I was flagged down by a writer to sold me a copy of his book Team Genesis; I don’t know a thing about it and haven’t had a chance to read it yet, but it’s a professional-looking team-book with a cast full of people of color, so I definitely wanted to give it a chance; I hope it’s good!).

About five minutes before the floor closed I finally found one of the artists I wanted to speak to: Guillem March. Sitting next to him was a Marvel artist named Paco Diaz; Diaz’s English was limited, and I initially mistook him for recent Nova artist Paco Medina, so much confusion ensued, but he was super friendly and gracious and it was a pleasant experience overall. March seemed a little frustrated to have somebody approach him five minutes before the floor closed, but he happily signed some issues of Talon I brought, as well as Batman Eternal 8I was able to compliment him on the page in Batman Eternal 8 that I absolutely adored (the second image in the article I just linked to), and he showed me that he actually had the original artwork for it on sale. I tell you, I was so tempted to buy it, but $250 was just a little too steep for my blood, so I had to leave it, even though it would look absolutely perfect hanging on my bedroom wall.

Throughout the day I was also able to snap some shots of some truly terrific cosplayers. I actually wanted to take a lot more than I did, but stuff kept coming up; I felt uncomfortable asking kids for pictures (which is how I missed out on this perfect cosplay of Akuma from Street Fighter), and after one awkward situation I stopped calling out to cool cosplayers as they passed our booth. Even worse, the lights at this convention center were everywhere and they were blinding, so half my pictures barely came out. Still, I’m pretty happy with the shots I did get; I’ve been posting most of them on Twitter, but if you missed them, here’s a handy round-up:

Deadpool

He literally danced around artists alley at least four times.

Gambit

Come to think of it, I don’t think he had any playing cards on him!

Minecraft

That mask has to be a furnace by the end of the day

The Ood

Con of the Ood

True to form, he didn't say one word the entire time I talked to him. I reminded him that, per Askew-verse rules he has to talk at least once during the con. He nodded in agreement.

True to form, ol’ Silent Bob didn’t say one word the entire time I talked to him. I reminded him that, per Askew-verse rules, he has to talk at least once during the con. He nodded in agreement.

Red Hood

These guys make short films, and with props that good, I’ll have to check ’em out

Overall I had a lot of fun today, but was also a little underwhelmed by the low turn-out, and perhaps even a bit discouraged by the crass commercialization of it (and Wizard World’s a pretty commercial Con; I think I’d be happier at a more creator-focused Con). Still, tomorrow people will come back, and in greater numbers; I’m prepared to handle it, and I’m prepared to have a blast.

4 comments on “Wizard World Philadelphia 2014 Day 1

  1. I’m always disappointed at the commercialism of cons. As much as they’re pitched as a celebration of fans. creators, and the medium at large, I think pros — and especially publishers — see them as a trade show. It’s a chance to sell stuff, whether it’s copies of your self-published series at your artist alley booth, or this summer’s big crossover event. Patrick and I have dreams of one day doing a Retcomicon that actually celebrates the medium, where this kind of commercialism is off-limits, but for now, picking and choosing which parts of which cons you want to attend will have to do.

    • I would love a con like this, Drew, but I don’t think we can get rid of commercialism completely. In the “Superstar Artist” panel this weekend, J.G. Jones talked about how he’s had to cut down on the amount of cons he attends because he just misses so much work when he goes to them, so I think artists have to be able to sell stuff just to be able to afford to come to the con. And I think giving up-and-coming indie creators a place to sell their wares is a pretty large part of celebrating the medium in its own right.

      The overtop commercialization that gets me is the zillion-dollar tickets to events after you’ve already paid to get into the door and the cheap money grabs on the floor. I like having merch and comics available to buy, but even they get a little ridiculous — there were two separate Stylin’ Online booths on the Wizard World floor, and they were only three or four rows apart, not even on opposite sides of the floor.

      I definitely like this idea, though.

  2. Spencer, this is a common piece of advice, if you wait until the last day, a lot of the prices on those expensive trinkets drop. Artists and Vendors pretty quickly determine that selling something at a lower cost sure beats packing it back up and taking it home. That Deadpool shirt is clearly a lock at any remotely reasonable price, but if you see something you like, maybe loop back around on Sunday.

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