Were you at the Wizard World NYC Experience? Compared to the New York Comic Con, there was hardly anyone there. Actually, compared to the New York Comic Con, there was hardly ANYTHING there.
The NYC Experience was held Friday, June 28th through Sunday, June 30th. I debated on not going because tickets prices were ridiculously high, priced from $40 to $55 per day. Three day passes weren’t available unless you bought an incredibly expensive VIP package. I decided to go for no other reason except I haven’t been to a comic convention in a while and wanted to go to one. I had fun and purchased some cool stuff, but there were some major problems with the convention. Here is my rundown of the 2013 Wizard World NYC Experience:
The event was held at Pier 36 in the Lower East Side. Pier 36 advertises itself as an event center, but seems more like an abandoned warehouse in the middle of no-where. It took me 15 minutes to walk to Wizard World from the nearest train station. Pier 36 consists of one huge room and one small upper mezzanine where they held panels. Outside the “event center” was a bunch of port-a-potties because there were either not enough, or were no bathrooms inside. There was also a big huge air conditioned tent outside for panels and Q&A sessions, as well as a bunch of food trucks (which were very good).
The celebrities were predominantly from the entertainment industry with only a handful from the comic industry. To meet the celebs, you had to pay an arm, a leg, and a few more body parts.
The majority of the celebs were from The Walking Dead (Norman Reedus, Danai Gurira, Michael Rooker, Chandler Riggs, and Laurie Holden). Also in attendance: the original green Power Ranger (Jason David Frank), Pam Grier, the blond Playboy chick from Attack of the Show!(Sara Jean Underwood), CM Punk (dudes a certified comic nerd, but he was only there Friday), Henry Winkler (who is awesome but what the heck does he have to do with comics), Joss Whedon’s brother Wil, and Stan “the Man” Lee himself (notice I did not put him in the comic category). From comics were: Neil Adams, Ken Bald, Humberto Ramos, Danny Fingeroth, Mike Zeck, Larry Lieber (Stan’s bro, also a comic writer, and artist for the The Amazing Spider-Man newspaper strip) and a couple more.
Autographs were priced $20 for Sara Jean Underwood and Jason David Frank, $55 for Stan Lee, $80 for Patrick Stewart, and $30-$45 for most others… DAMN! Photo ops cost even more. Also available were special VIP package deals for between $200 and $425, depending on the celebrity you met. They included an exclusive meet and greet a photo with your celebrity of choice, their autograph and some show exclusives.
Compared to NYCC, where many comic creators attend and interact with fans for free, this sucked. At NYCC, you can meet amazing artists and creators… and still afford to pay your rent.
There were not as many retailors as NYCC but I found some great stuff. Because of the lack of people there, there was a lot of supply but not much demand making it so I was able to haggle for what I bought. I found rare hardcovers and paid waaaaay less then I would have paid online. There was not very much comic paraphernalia though- just some shirts and toys, but nothing cool or out of the ordinary (and no hats!)
I really enjoyed the panels and Q&A sessions. Unlike at a major convention- you didn’t have to wait in line hours to get into a panel and find a good seat. Even though it cost a million dollars to meet the celebrities, there were Q&A sessions with most of the main stars including Stan Lee, Henry Winkler and that dang Power Ranger. Because the audiences were so small, it was easy to get the opportunity to ask the celebs a question.
The panels were very NY focused; my favorites were HIP-HOP & COMICS: CULTURES COMBINING, and WILL EISNER’S A CONTRACT WITH GOD AT 35. At any given time, there were normally two choices of panels, one in the huge freakin’ tent and one in the upstairs mezzanine. Due to the lack of choices, most people attended whatever panel happened to be in session. The audiences often were not incredibly interested in the subject matter, they attended because there was not much else to do.
Luckily, the moderators leading the panels were incredibly invested in their subject matter and you could feel the excitement and enthusiasm from the panel members. Upsettingly, the sound sucked big time, and the members of the panel could hardly hear each other due to the acoustics, making it hard for them to hold conversations. During most, I had to strain my ears to hear what they were talking about.
I was fortunate to be able to meet Jean Grae after the hip hop panel. For those who don’t know, Jean is an underground hip hop artist who grew up above a comic shop, named herself after the Phoenix, and is crazy talented. She also attended a hip hop panel at last year’s NYCC and I love seeing her mixing comics and hip hop.
Everyone with a full paid ticket received an exclusive Walking Dead #1 comic with a variant cover by Neil Adams. Regular attendees received a color variant, while VIP attendees received a black and white variant. The minute you walked in the door, there were dealers trying to purchase the variants from you so they could mark up the price and re-sell them. You could sell the color variant for 10-12 dollars, and sell the B&W variant for between 20 and 75 dollars, depending on its condition.
I can give two craps what cover is on a comic I read, so when I first entered the show, I did not even care that they did not give me a variant. The truth is; I don’t care for Walking Dead, so the issue had no use to me… until I realized I could make some money. With dollar signs in my head, I rushed back to the ticket booth and demanded my variant. I had not paid full price for my ticket, so they stated I did not receive one. I pointed out an error on their website that stated I did get a variant, and they reluctantly handed me my issue. Lucky for me, they accidentally gave me the B&W variant! I immediately sold it for $40 (sadly, I couldn’t sell it for more because they gave me a copy with water damage on it, and if I returned it they may have realized they screwed up).
Wizard pimping variant covers sickens me (even though I’m a hypocrite who made money of the variant). In the 90’s, Wizard used to exaggerated prices of modern comics in their magazine’s price guide; causing collectors to think they were gonna get rich off their new comics. One of the major problems during the 90’s, was the ridiculous amount of “special edition” covers publishers released in order to increase demand and charge more. Marvel and DC sold millions of copies of their comics, and Wizard promoted the issues as collectibles that were worth more than gold. But when millions of people all have the same “collectible” comics, they are essentially worthless. Fans realized their comics were not worth the insane amount Wizard claimed they were, and the industry crashed. It wasn’t all Wizards’ fault, but they are very guilty.
Now they are promoting variant covers that are selling for hundreds of dollars online (again, this is not just Wizards illness, the entire industry is variant crazy, but Wizard is currently massively exploiting this trend). I am already sick of this promotional bull-crap, I fear when this backfires on the industry.
I have to say, even with all my complaints, I had a blast. The panels were great because of the subject matter and the passion of those involved. I also got some great deals on hardcovers. I think I would have been more upset about the negative aspects of the convention if I had not made $40 selling the free variant cover. Overall, the location was not ideal, the guests sucked (other than Stan Lee and the few comic guys), the prices Wizard charged were ludicrous, but I still had fun. Will I attend next year if they hold it again? Sure, as long as there is no other comic convention that month located near me.
Here are more random pics from the event, including some cool cosplay: