I attended Wizard World Ohio Comic Con last weekend and had a fun
time. A week ago, I wasn’t certain I would be well enough to make
the trip to Columbus for the event. I had to take it easy over the
weekend, but I’m glad I went.
The elephant in the room is that this isn’t Mid-Ohio-Con, the show
created by Roger Price decades ago and my personal favorite among
all the shows I’ve attended. That show was a family-type show in
that the promoter and the staff all grew up with the show. We were
family in a real sense of the word and that atmosphere was carried
over to the convention itself.
Mid-Ohio-Con ala Price seemed to attract guests who, for the most
part, checked their egos at the door and who delighted in hanging
out with the fans. The fans were on their best behavior and made
those guests feel safe and welcome. The exhibitors were a pretty
good bunch as well. Yes, there were exceptions, but so few I could
count them on my fingers and end up with a free hand.
Comics and conventions have all hit bumps in the road in the past
decade or so. Mid-Ohio-Con was no exception. Several years back,
Roger retired and sold the show to James Henry, who, to his credit,
tried to maintain the family feel of the show. Two years ago, the
show was sold to Wizard World.
This year’s convention was the first without the involvement of any
prior owners. Although I used to create and manage the programming
for Roger, I haven’t been involved on that level since he sold the
show. In other words, I have no horse in this race.
Ohio Comic Con is not Mid-Ohio-Con, but, as much as my “taking it
easy” allowed, I had a good time there. I got to spend time with
my children, my friends and my fans. I chatted with other guests.
I signed over a hundred autographs on Friday, Saturday and the hour
I was at the show on Sunday. I felt I was treated with respect by
the Wizard World organization and staff. From my viewpoint, there
was no downside to the event, other than it not being Mid-Ohio-Com
and I never expected it would be.
Fans, exhibitors and some of the other guests could very well have
a different perspective on Ohio Comic Con. I didn’t pay to get in
and neither did my kids. I had a complimentary table in Artists
Alley. I did have to pay for my hotel room, but I considered that
expense to be the vacation I never took this year.
Most of the fans I saw were having a great time, though the costume
player I dubbed “Green Bean Loki” looked pretty sad whenever I saw
him following obediently behind a Thor cosplayer. Next time, guy,
look in the mirror first, downplay your package, and, when all else
Here’s my position on cosplay: go for it. This is a fantasy world
for cosplayers and they don’t need to worry about their body shape
on my account. If their costumes aren’t obscene, if they are not
falling out of them too much, it’s all good. I love seeing them.
I love seeing them smile.
While I never heard a contrary word about ticket prices at the con,
one courageously pseudonymous poster to my message board complained
about them. I did some quick checking and found a three-day ticket
to Wizard World cost about the same as a decent single-game ticket
for the Cleveland Indians, Browns, or Cavaliers. For around the
same price as three days of convention fun, you could watch lousy
baseball, lousy football or moderately entertaining basketball. A
couple hours of “entertainment” for your money, Considered in that
manner, the Ohio Comic-Con ticket prices didn’t seem outrageous to
me. Your mileage may vary.
Although I enjoy and respect the work of great actors like Patrick
Stewart, Eliza Dushku and others, I wouldn’t shell out large bucks
to get their autographs, a photo with them or preferred seating at
their panels. But, you know, there’s nothing wrong with the fans
who are grateful for those opportunities even if they do come with
a price tag. I don’t think every aspect of every convention needs
to be about me or for me. It’s a big fan world out there.
About the only guest I did object to was whatever dumb wrestler was
at the show with his eardrum-shattering entrance music. Wrestling
is dumb. Wrestlers are dumb. Wrestling fans are dumb. I’ll never
understand the fascination with these pseudo-athletes and I never
will. I don’t have to get it. I’m fine with Wizard World having
such guests. But, really, cool it with the loud entrance music or
I might have to break a chair over someone’s head.
A friend of my son’s came to the con on Saturday. It was his first
convention and was thrilled to be there. He bought a sketch from
an online cartoonist whose work he liked and got a kick out of the
cosplayers. To him, Wizard World Ohio Comic Con was spending a day
in fan heaven. How can I knock a convention that gets that kind of
reaction from someone?
Wizard World Ohio Comic Con isn’t Mid-Ohio-Con. Judge it on what
it is and not what it isn’t.
The only thing I bought at the show was a Black Lightning t-shirt,
hereafter referred to as “Exhibit A,” so I only talked with a few
exhibitors, mostly old friends of mine from my own retailing days.
Those I spoke with were having good shows and, just from strolling
the hall, I know there were a lot of great bargains for the fans.
I certainly hope the exhibitors all did well.
Digression. After the show, I learned there had been at least two
major thefts of high-priced comic books from exhibitors. That’s a
shame and I think this kind of crime needs to be addressed by both
the exhibitors and the convention.
My off-the-cuff advice would be to exhibit high-priced books in a
manner that prevents a grab-and-dash and to staff your booth with
an eye towards theft-prevention. The expense of an extra employee
is less than that of a thousand-dollar comic book.
An artist was also robbed of his cash bag, which also contained his
wallet and credit cards. Artists are generally a trusting lot, so
they are vulnerable to theft. My advice is to keep your wallet and
credit cards separate from your show cash, to have someone keep an
eye on your table when you leave it for any reason and to always be
aware of your surroundings. Get a good look at anyone hanging out
near your table. If that person is a thief, he’s attempting to get
a good look at you and your setup. End digression.
Ohio Comic Con was fun for me. The Columbus Convention Center is
a clean and wonderful facility that makes New York’s Javitz Center
look like the glorified slum it is. The people who work there are
competent and friendly. Yeah, the cement floors in the convention
hall were hard on my legs and feet, but that’s my problem and one
I should be able to alleviate with new footwear.
I stayed in the Hyatt Regency and it’s one of my favorite hotels.
The rooms were renovated a couple years back and they are among the
nicest I’ve stayed in. The hotel’s “Big Bar on 2" is a very nice
bar. The hotel is connected to the convention center and to a fine
food court. If you’re wondering, I breakfast at Chicken ‘n’ Eggs
and lunch at Siam Express. Both are run by Thais and both serve a
good meal at a reasonable price.
If I have a minor complaint about Ohio Comic-Con, it’s that there
was no private party for guests and staff. I always enjoyed those
and could count on catching old friends and meeting new ones there.
But, again, that’s my problem.
Just about any problem with Ohio Comic Con can be solved with just
a little more forethought and initiative on my part. If the event
doesn’t provide a party, then it’s on me to arrange dinners/drinks
with my friends. I’m long past believing a convention must be all
things to all people.
I didn’t go to Wizard World Comic Con expecting it to be Mid-Ohio-
Con and, as much as my shaky health allowed, I had a good time at
the event. I expect to be in better health next year and have an
even better time. Sure, there’s room for improvement, but there’s
room for improvement in everything.
If you have suggestions, send them to the Wizard World organizers.
They are running a business and they want their customers to enjoy
the products and services they’re selling. No successful business
is so rigid in its policies that it doesn’t listen to and consider
polite suggestions from those customers.
My thanks to the Wizard World fans and staff for helping me have a
nice weekend. I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.
© 2012 Tony Isabella