Tuesday, October 25, 2011


No one, especially me, knew what to expect from Wizard World Mid-
Ohio Comic-Con
, the first such event since Wizard World bought the
third longest continuously-running American comic convention from
James Henry who had, a few years earlier, bought the show from its
founder, Roger Price. I have often called Mid-Ohio-Con my favorite
convention.  I’ve only missed two of them over the decades the show
has existed.  Heck, for more than half of the convention’s life, I
was its panel programming director.  So many years, so many great
Mid-Ohio-Con memories and, after this year’s show, I have even more
great Mid-Ohio memories.

Wizard World did an outstanding job.  I watched their staff handle
several problems in swift satisfying manner the afternoon before
the show and several times during the show.  I confess I was one of
those problems - a revised floor plan had my Artist Alley table so
far back in the hall that I was barely in the convention - but they
resolved the situation efficiently.  I thanked them then for their
kind consideration and I thank them again here.

This year’s event was held in the Grand Battelle Grand Ballroom of
the Greater Columbus Convention Center.  Several years back, Roger
Price used this ballroom for one of his Mid-Ohio-Con.  Back then,
it was a big cold room also used for basketball games with a very
unsightly scoreboard hanging overhead.  The floors were concrete.
The overhead lights didn’t quite make the place look as bright as
the fans, the guests, and the show deserved.  It was still a great
show because Price was a master of putting on great shows.

This year, we saw Battelle after over a year of extreme renovation.
At the far end of the wall were enormous floor-to-ceiling windows
that made the convention look as bright as I’ve ever seen a comics
convention look.  Sure, some guests and fans burst into flames when
the sun’s rays touched them, but is that such a high price to pay
for such an airy feel?

The overhead ceiling is an array of changing colored lights.  It’s
got a cool Logan’s Run feel to it.  Thankfully, my palm crystal
hasn’t started to glow yet.

The floor of the hall was carpeted from stem to stern.  My feet and
the feet of the large crowd of comics professionals, media guests,
and fans owe thanks to the Convention Center for this upgrade.  My
feet might still have hurt a bit at the end of the day, but it was
nowhere near as bad as the burning-leg sensations of the New York
Comic-Con I’d attended last weekend.  I’d rate the new Battelle one
of the most comfortable convention venues of them all.

Sticking to the physical layout of Mid-Ohio, the Batmobile and the
media guests were all at the front of the hall.  This might need a
bit of rethinking for next year as this sometimes caused gridlock
when people were trying to enter or exit the hall.  However, most
of the time this wasn’t a huge problem.

The retail exhibitors came next.  There was lots of comics dealers
and a variety of other exhibitors.  There were also insane bargains
to be found at nearly every booth.  I thanked Godzilla - my scaly
lord who protects us with his fiery atomic love - that I am years
away from being able to put together a want list.  So much terrific
stuff at truly eye-popping low prices.

There were nearly 200 artists, writers, and organizations heading
back towards the floor-to-ceiling windows.  I don’t think I managed
to see more than a quarter of them and, often, it was a quick “Hi!
How are you?” so as to not get in the way of the paying customers.
There was an astonishing array of talent and just as much variety
in the work they were doing.  Impressive.

By way of suggestion, Artists Alley could use some rethinking next
year.  It could get cramped behind those tables, especially when a
rude neighbor would take more than half the width behind their own
table...or block the entrances to the rows by stacking their things
in said entrances.  We’re all in this together, my friends, so let
us be respectful of one another. 

Attendance?  Even the Wizard World folks were caught by surprise by
how many people came to the show and the kind of distances they had
traveled to get there.  Mid-Ohio has never been just an Ohio event.
It draws people from several states in every direction.

The Battelle Grand hall was packed all day Saturday and still drew
a good crowd on Sunday.  Several dealers told me they had already
hit their target goals for the entire convention within two hours
of the show opening on Saturday. A number of artists told me this
was their best show of the year and that was certainly true in my
own case. 

Though smaller than New York’s Javitz Center, the home of the New
York Comic Con, the Greater Columbus Convention Center is way more
user-friendly.  For one thing, there were plenty of clean and well-
maintained restrooms.  Even given that guys are essentially slobs,
the center workers kept the restrooms functional and cleaner than
most other venues of this nature.

The Javitz Center has too few food choices and way too few places
to sit once you bought your food.  Not so the Greater Columbus
Convention Center.  Besides the restaurants at the connected Hyatt
Regency Hotel, the center has a large food court with a dozen or so
different restaurants.  The prices are reasonable, the food is good
to excellent, and the seating is sufficient for most times of the
day.  Indeed, the chicken fried rice is so good at one of the food
court restaurants that, in years past, I’d buy extra to take home
and reheat.  Yummy!

A quick word about the Hyatt.  The hotel also underwent renovation
recently.  My room was one of the nicest I’d ever had in a hotel of
this level.  And, unlike the hotel where I stayed in New York and
where more than half of the workers were surly creeps, the Hyatt’s
employees are always friendly and efficient.

In tomorrow’s blog, I’ll give you more details on my Wizard World
Mid-Ohio Comic-Con experience.  For now, I’ll just say that it was
a wonderful convention in the tradition of past Mid-Ohio-Cons and
I’d recommend it to any and all of you for next year. 

If Wizard invites me for next year, I’ll be back next year.  And,
if their other shows are this good, I’ll do as many of them as they
ask me to do.  I had a blast!

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2011 Tony Isabella


  1. Obviously a bit late for this year's show, and as I wasn't there I can't comment on the show itself, but since you mentioned eating options there are a number of tasty options within walking distance of the convention center. You mention B.D.'s in your next post, and I'll second the recommendation. There's also Barley's Brewery (food and several excellent in-house beers), as well as the options available if one ventures deeper into the Short North. I'm partial to Surly Grrl, though finding a seat on a weekend evening can be an epic feet, as well as the pizza available at Circus (there's also a marketplace a block or two behind Barley's that has various foodcourt options etc.). The prices can range from not-unreasonable to "You want how much?", and the crowd won't be to everyone's taste, but there are plenty of neighborhood options.

  2. I've eaten at Barley's and it's a fine place. And Short North has lots of interesting looking places that make me want to spend some time there. All in all, a much nicer venue for a convention than the Javits Sewage Plant.