Thursday, October 4, 2012


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
fails, smile. 

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


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Tony,

    You wrote:

    "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,"

    As a former wrestling fan and current casual observer, I must take exception to your characterization of wrestlers as "pseudo- athletes". While professional wrestling is a choreographed display with a pre-determined outcome, most of the wrestlers would none the less qualify as athletes under any reasonable definition of the term. Whether performed by a gymnast off a balance beam or a wrestler off the top rope, a back flip is an atheletic manuever. Lifting 400 lbs. is lifting 400 lbs. wheher it's a weightliter raising a barbell or Hulk Hogan lifting Andre the Giant for a body slam. While there are professional wrestlers that aren't all that atheletic, there are many in professional sports that aren't all that atheletic either eg, some football offensive linemen, baseball pitchers, or professional golfers.

    As far as wrestling fans being "dumb", I graduated from B.W. with a double major in history and political science, received a J.D. from the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, and am a CPA. I do not consider myself "dumb" for enjoying professional wrestling (at least I did in the late 1980's - early 1990's), any more than I consider myself "dumb" for reading comics or watching monster movies.

    If you replace "wrestling" with "comic books", in the statements "Wrestling is dumb." and "Wrestling fans are dumb.", I belive you will note a refrain I'm sure we both heard many times in our younger days. While I do not dispute your right to dislike professional wrestling, I belive that classifying it and those of us who enjoy it as "dumb" is not fair. If you would have placed "many" or even "most" at the beginning of those sentences, I belive we would be in agreement. (I might say the sentences as modified would be the same for comic books and fans, however.) Of course, I have no knowledge as to whether the wrestlers themselves are dumb or not.

    Again, you are entitled to think professional wrestling sucks. I just don't belive that as a factual matter you should refer to professional wrestlers as "pseudo-athletes."

    If you post this, would you please not identify me by name or email address. Thanks.

  3. I had to post, then delete your comment and then re-post your comment in order to edit your name out. I have approved anonymous non-trollish comments, so you don't have to include your name and address with them.


  4. Bu the way, I was mostly (but not completely) exaggerating for comedic effect above. I do think wrestling is stupid. The rest was pretty much a lead up to the chair gag.

    1. I'm not really that sensitive about professional wrestling, but it does bother me when people say that wrestlers (or "rasslers" as I refer to them) are not athletes. Will you at least stipulate that most wrestlers are athletes so I can sleep better at night?

      Thank you and good afternoon. (to quote Dick Giordano)

    2. Here's the definition of athlete...

      ath·lete [ath-leet]
      a person trained or gifted in exercises or contests involving physical agility, stamina, or strength; a participant in a sport, exercise, or game requiring physical skill.

      Professional wrestling isn't actually a sport or a contest or a game...because it's fake. However, if you want to stipulate to that, I'll give you that wrestlers can distantly be considered athletes because they engage in an exercise, a performance.

    3. OK, a stipulation, a final point and perhaps a compromise position. First, as I stated earlier, professional wrestling matches are choreographed, the outcome is pre-determined, and in that sense they are as phony as a three dollar bill.

      However, I also consider trapeze artists and acrobats to be athletes, even though they do not compete in a sport or game, and would place them in the same class of athletes as rasslers.

      Perhaps we are hung up on semantics. Would saying that rasslers are not athletes but are as athletic as gymnasts, weghtlifters, high divers, etc. be agreeable? It seems to me that someone can be athletic without being an athlete, with atletic being defined as being strong, fast, good reflexes, physical endurance, etc. Could we agree on this? If not, I beleive we have probably given this topic more thought than it deserves. Therefore I propose that we should agree that persons of goodwill can disaagree, shake hands (figuratively speaking) and go on to other businees. (Such as watching the DVD of The Avengers movie that I just received. Yeah Baby!)

  5. Hello Tony. This was my third trip to this convention and I also had a good time. I can see some of the changes you mention in just my short time attending, but it's still a great event and it's awesome to have something in Ohio where the comic fans can come together. Where else can one have the surreal experience of watching "the Joker" eat a plate of nachos at the bar and getting to shake hands with Neal Adams!

    One of the most interesting parts of this hobby for me now is getting chances to spend a few minutes with the men and women, like you, who have worked hard to give us the material we celebrate at the Con. Thanks to you and all the comics professionals who create the words and images that make these worlds come alive.

    I couldn't find you before I had to leave, so I and my copy of Champions #1 will be looking for you in the future. Here's the two questions I wanted to ask then. Do you think the Champions would work in a big-screen movie, and, any chance you can tell us about the team's creation in your Blog?


  6. Hey, Tony. Just a few thoughts about the con. I'd had a good time up there, and felt like the prices weren't too bad (3-day tickets were the way to go, in my opinion. Although I was only going Friday and Saturday, the price tag for the 3-day was still less than individual tickets for those days).

    Got to agree with you on the theme music. Although I'm a wrestling fan, I know I jumped at the sheer volume when they fired up the song. I can only imagine how awkward it would have been to be talking to a con guest and suddenly get cut off like that - especially if you'd paid to get an autograph from someone like Patrick Stewart.

    As far as the thefts - I was actually at a booth when someone informed the vendor that the books had been stolen from another booth. The book had been up at the top of their rear display wall. Still, I wish that WW staff could have notified other vendors and guests as to what was going on (to the best of my knowledge they didn't).

    I didn't know that the artist had been robbed (and that may have happened after I left). Definitely hate to hear that, especially considering that everyone I'd talked to was great and, like you said, I didn't detect any hint of an ego from anyone.

    To be honest, I don't know if I'll come back next year for the simple reason that I need to confine myself to one or two cons a year and might want to hit a different one depending on the guest list. Still, I enjoyed it and it was worth making the trip after promising myself for years that I would.

  7. Bill...Back Issue is running an article on the Champions. Once that comes out, I'll see about writing a bloggy thing on my creation of and involvement with the title.