Fear And Loathing In Geekdom #16: Wizard World Toronto War Journal
I often feel that covering conventions is a bit like covering a war. Of course never being in an actual war, my comparisons are probably bullshit so I guess it’s more like “covering comic conventions is a bit like covering a war as seen in the movies”.
We usually get dropped off at a kind of landing zone (Union Station for instance) and then hike “in country” for a bit (The Skywalk or Front Street) until we get to the heart of the action where we spend about six hours or so, marching around, trying not to get in the way and scrambling to get someone to talk to.
Which brings us to my time at Wizard World Toronto.
I wasn’t working much as a journalist this time. I had kind of been asked to moderate panels late in the game so I could only attend Sunday. Didn’t plan on doing interviews. Just kind of planned on hanging out a little with Andrew and Mr. Green (who just hate one another… I mean it’s bad. Ken basically stands between them the entire six hours).
At the end of the day, I am exhausted and sore and want to go home. Not that I didn’t have a good time mind you. Other then the occasional near coming to blows, hanging with the Geek Hard crew is always good. My panels (which will be detailed in my Comic Book Daily column on Thursday…INTERWEBS CROSSOVER!) went well and the Wizard World staff were very professional (despite a bit of panel guest confusion).
Despite Greg Horn’s obvious dislike of Rush. Dude, you so need to listen to Snakes and Arrows and Counterparts to see how wrong you are about Rush….
Where was I?
Since I had a lot of downtime, it gave me a lot of time to examine the convention itself.
With Wizard World Toronto, Fan Expo (with at least one or two other Hobbystar event per year if not more) and TCAF, how many comic/sci-fi/etc conventions does the city need/want?
For those who don’t know, Wizard World Toronto used to be a con ran by Paradise Comics, which in many ways was the antithesis of what Fan Expo was; it was comic book driven as opposed to comic book/sci-fi/anime/gaming/etc. Which was a nice difference. This isn’t an attack on Fan Expo or Hobbystar at all.
Fan Expo and Hobbystar are incredibly good at doing what they do. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy Fan Expo but I used to love the Paradise conventions just because of the comic book focus. It was a nice change from the Nerd Everything con that Fan Expo has now become and to be fair, this is not knocking Hobbystar. They have found a formula that works for them. I just think there is room for something different.
When Wizard bought the convention, it tried going after Hobbystar’s market. The first year had some comic artists but it was filled with reality tv stars and wrestlers. It felt like it was trying to do a C2E2 or a San Diego with half the budget.
It was bad enough that I didn’t bother going the second year.
This year however, it really seems like things are changing or at the very least, trying to change. Sure there were a few sci-fi and movie celebs but a lot more comic people who Toronto hasn’t seen in a while or at all. Jock (a favorite of mine from The Losers), Greg Horn, John McCrea and a few others.
But where could this con improve?
1) Stop planning it the same weekend as C2E2. Two years running, Wizard World Toronto runs against one of the longest run and most popular conventions in North America. Quite frankly, it drops your possible talent pull in so many genres/venues. This may be a complete accident or it may be some odd form of counter-programing but a good chunk of the pros I talked to were baffled by this, especially when they heard it was two years running. Change your date.
2) Make yourselves different from the Fan Expo. Fan Expo has a firm foothold in the Toronto market and for good reason. Trying to do exactly the same thing they do is a hard road to run. Appeal to the fans in the areas that Fan Expo is currently lacking in a little. More comic guys, maybe a little more into the anime/manga crowd (maybe not voice actors but instead go for artists and writers and creators). To be fair, this has improved since year one so maybe this is still a work in process.
3) Promotion. Another area that got better but needs work. Promote the hell out of this not just flyers at comic shops.
All and all a worth while trip for me. I imagine you’ll be getting to see the Geek Hard guys interviews and reviews very shortly.
The one with the Dalek is my favorite.
And if you’re gonna geek out, GEEK HARD!