This year also drew people into the con who don’t normally attend. People who wanted the autograph of, say, Ted Dansen aren’t typically the people who frequent a con like this. I ran into many first time attendees who balked at the cost of a $3 keychain (seriously) or a $30 handmade plushie. People came in, got their autographs or photo ops, and left. Many of my regulars who visit me at this convention did not attend this year due to the lack of celebrity guests or comic book artists. It was a different crowd of people and you could tell.
Thursday was abysmally slow, Friday was ok, Saturday was ok, and Sunday was the slowest Sunday I have ever been through. I was lucky enough to make a profit still (though my profit was waaaay down from last year) but there were plenty who did not.
The organization of the con and the communication from WW leading up to it was horrible. It was near impossible to get a response to an email heading into the show. At the con, getting checked in was slow and it was discouraging how many empty artist alley tables there were. Several sections were dismantled and put awa because not enough artists signed up and any other open tables were like a free-for-all with artists claiming those in addition to the booth space they paid for. Some very greedily took two and three additional spaces to put their stuff on. But, when tables cost $400+ you can see why people would clamber for more.
The nice thing about this con is its location as well as how close it is to Reading Terminal Market. It is easy to find good food around the convention center!
Honestly, I’m not sure if I will buy an artist alley space next year. I am so discouraged by how this convention went and I’ve lost a lot of faith in this company (and I’ve been losing that for years). Between the high cost to attend and the low profit relative to previous years and the amount of effort I have to put in, I’m thinking I will schedule to do some other shows instead.
I do think WW is making a lot of positive changes within their organization and that will be a boon for the future if they stay this course. Of course, there were some negatives to the show though. I absolutely hated the layout and I am disappointed to hear they are using the same layout for next year. Artist Alley is alllll the way in the back of the venue and the space they rented was smaller than in previous years. However, the number of vendors they took were not, so things were very cramped and the show floor got quite congested at times. Yes, I made my best profit ever at this show, but I still wound up with a pretty significant number of people who were completely out of cash to spend by the time they got to me and that is understandable due to the high cost to enter, the autographs/photo ops, and all the vendors people have to walk through to get to you.
The cost to purchase a table is still exorbitant at $425 minimum - making it one of the most expensive shows in the industry. However, despite that, I still have a great time at the show, met some great people, made a fantastic profit, and (for once) have very little to complain about with their staff. I think they are headed in th right direction. Granted, not every artist I talked to did well for the weekend, but others did fantastic too. If you are an established artist with some comic con experience under your belt, I do encourage you to attend. If you’re a newbie, I’d definitely recommend starting at a smaller convention fist before jumping into a huge commitment like this.
I love the Pennsylvania Convention Center. It's in a great location and the building is massive. Definitely stop at Reading Terminal Market for lunch! As for the layout itself, I loved the extra wide aisles that made it so much easier for people to move. This was much better than the more cramped spaces of years past.
However, the Wizard World staff put a damper on the entire convention experience. I found that staff were oftentimes unhelpful. I'd ask a question (such as where to go to get your badge) and I'd be passed off to different staff members who had no idea what to do. Your table is supposed to come with 2 chairs, a trash can, and a sign, but that almost never happens. I had two chairs but no trash can and, no matter how many times I asked for one, I never got one. They give you a number to text if you have questions or problems, but it's rather useless since they do not answer. This year was especially chaotic as they had many new staffers. Artist Alley had no signage for aisles, so finding your own table on the first day was near impossible and staff were entirely unsure as to where aisles began or ended.
Minus all of that, there is a high degree of buyer engagement and sales were good. I got to chat with a lot of great customers and other artists. That in and of itself made the experience infinitely better and negated all of my irritations with the staff.