This past weekend, I hit Wizard World Portland to scope out the show…
Mostly, I did too, although I didn’t end up buying much (I got David Chelsea’s first perspective book straight from the man). I did get the chance to talk to a few artists that I know, and that’s always good. But I also find that, for limited shopping opportunities for myself, the admission price is absurd. I couponed and grouponed my admission down to around $18, but that’s from a $45 starting point. I keep thinking that I could have hit up Powell’s or any of the local comic shops in the area and snagged a new TPB for what it cost me to step foot in the convention center (and that all I got was a snazzy admission wristband, not even a program or a lanyard or anything else).
One thing that seemed different this time around was the sheer verticality of the artist alley. Speaking as a part-time resident of convention artist alleys, I’d never seen a convention where literally everyone was backdropped by 10′ or 15′ high walls of their “prints” (I’m also an honest-to-goodness printmaker, and don’t regard color photocopies to be worth the honorific of “print”), creating a series of claustrophobic hallways of punching and screaming superheroes. That sort of display isn’t uncommon, but seemed required at Wizard World, and I didn’t find it welcoming AT ALL. I was constantly overwhelmed, being towered over, and this situation caused me to surely miss out on the work of artists I may have otherwise been interested in because every time I set foot into one of these halls of muscles (and boobage, to be fair), I just want to successfully navigate my way back out without stampeding one or more people.
The consensus I got from other artists was that it was a borderline show, it terms of setting up at it. Seeing as how I don’t really do “prints” or much superhero work, it seems unlikely that I’ll be setting up at WWPDX any time soon. But hey, the attendees were universally nice, no one got mad when I accidentally bumped into them (any of the twenty or thirty times that happened), and there are worse ways to blow an afternoon. But for the love of God, get a Groupon (or Living Social) deal if you’re going next year, and spend your savings on the work of an unknown (and likely appreciative) cartoonist instead of admission.