(2003) Answer to an Eternal Question?
Wizard World Chicago Fall From Grace?
Ask anyone who has been attending the Chicago ComicCon for the past 8+ years and universally they will tell
you that it was better before Wizard took over. I have to be honest about this review. I don”t really feel
I can be as impartial to Wizard as I have in past years. I have been to San Diego, and San Diego is good.
San Diego makes Wizard seem more like Motor City than the once famed Chicago ComicCon. It”s not really fair to
compare because many of the San Diego dealers also go to Wizard. I didn”t even stop by their booths since
I just checked them out a couple of weeks ago. The Chicago crowd always gets screwed in this fashion, the
big dealers sell their best stuff in San Diego and bring their leftovers to Chicago. Chicago does have some
highlights though. Rowena, Barrington Square and a couple of other dealers made sure that I spent money at
the show. The dealer area is larger in San Diego. . . but it”s also spread out a lot more.
One dealer in particular shocked me a bit. . . He didn”t want to show me some of his cards because I already
looked at them at Motor City. . . well Motor City was months ago, and besides I thought it was the dealers
job to sell stuff to me. . .basically to show me whatever I wanted to see and try to get me to part with my
cash — not argue with me about what I do and don”t want to see. And the guy wasn”t even busy while I was
Ahh well. . . there are other things outside of the dealer area, right? The artist alley. . . frankly it
was a serious disappointment. We stopped to chat with Tom Gianni who is always great, and we love his
work. Tom didn”t have anything new for us to look at, and we cruised through the rest of the artist alley.
Very few other tables even looked remotely interesting. The panels at this show really pale in comparison to
San Diego. . . there isn”t even a comparison. At San Diego there were at least a half dozen panels I wanted
to attend. . . Wizard had 1 — Kevin Smith — who also spoke at San Diego. This isn”t to say other people
didn”t find good panels, I am sure there were panels interesting to someone.
The first and last aspect of a show is always the way the show is run. Wizard World has to be the worst
run show I got to on an anual basis. From the rude guy yelling at random people for waiting by the doors,
to the lines for various contests that made it next to impossible to look at certain booths, and to go
around parts of the show. The folks in San Diego are much nicer in general, and the lines for things are
actually orgainzed instead of just running through the dealer or manufacturer area blocking off aisles, and
It is no longer the great spectacle it used to be. Perhaps Wizard with their multiple shows per year can”t
pay attention to Chicago like it should, or perhaps they are more interested in making money than putting on a
good show. I don”t know what the problem is, but compare the guest list from WW Chicago to Motor City”s
spring show guest list and I think you”ll be surprised to see that Motor City”s list is just about as good
as Wizard Worlds — and Motor City is about 1/4 to 1/3 the size of WW Chicago.
Thankfully I do have Motor City within driving distance. Shows like that and the Non-Sport Card Expo in Tinley
Park are going to pick up the slack left by Wizard World. At this point I am seriously considering skipping
WW Chicago to go to GenCon next year. While there won”t be any cards at GenCon the show is much better put
together and the artist list is incredible. Happy Collecting — see you at Tinley Park!
(2003) Answer to an Eternal Question?
San Diego Comic Con Vs. Wizard World Chicago
Nine months of planning, phone calls and airline reservations all came together last week. For the first time in my
life I clung white knuckled to the arms of my seat as the plane dropped out of the smog filled sky and plopped onto
the runway at SAN at an alarming rate. My first trip to Comic Con International was already exciting, and I hadn”t
even taken a breath of that California air.
At Comic Con excitement comes in short spurts separated by long waits in line. A lesson, which started that
night, preview night — a 3-hour window of opportunity for advance ticket holders to get into the show
before anyone else. To be honest I wasn”t planning on attending the show on Preview night . . . I just
wanted to pick up my show tickets to avoid lines on Thursday. Little did I know the simple transaction of
giving my name and getting a badge was a three-hour ordeal. Perhaps ordeal is a strong word as all I did was
stand in line, but it was for three hours, and there were thousand(s) of people waiting with me.
About a quarter of the Con floor taken from above.
Once I”d passed through the grand halls of Comic Con, and into the dealer area I was lost in a sea of people.
A sea flowing in and around a nearly overwhelming number of aisles and booths. I grabbed Robin and made a
beeline for the dealers. I worked my way from row to row until all of the sudden I was looking at manufacturer
booths. All of the sudden this over whelming number of rows didn”t seem so big anymore. In fact the dealer
area at San Diego seemed to be about the same in size as the one at Wizard World. We hadn”t had anything to
eat except a crappy bag lunch provided by the airlines. . . so we stopped off at a pretzel stand and ordered 2
pretzels and 3 sodas, for a grand total of $18 — OUCH. I made another pass or two
through the dealer area, picked up a few things and headed to the hotel.
Comic Con day two was easy enough. . . although parking was a slight issue, nothing to get concerned about.
Only had to wait about 15 minutes to get in on Thursday so all was going well. I spend the day combing through
the aisles, checking the dealers again, visiting the manufacturers and thumbing through art pages. The number
of manufacturers at San Diego is massive. And while I did talk to a few of them for the most part I walked right
past their booths. I had planned on picking up several convention exclusive toys and things at the show,
but quickly realized that getting said exclusives often required long waits in longer lines — and in some cases
standing in line simply gave you the opportunity win a spot in another line via some sort of lottery.
Stargate SG-1 stars Amanda Tapping (Major Carter) and Don Davis (General Hammond) sign autographs
for the lucky folks who had the patience to stand in line forever to get a ticket for their signatures. We were
trying to park when the tickets were given out.
This is the type of picture you end up with when you don”t get a ticket and try
to take pictures of your favorite stars from across an aisle. At least the staff people weren”t bothering
us like they do at Wizard World.
The artist area was slightly larger than that of Wizard. It was nice to see different artists thought, since as
you may know it is fairly common for the same artists to be at a show year after year.
Saturday would be my final day at the con (I skipped out on Friday since there wasn”t much left to look at).
My conclusions . . .
Comic Con Vs. Wizard World. This had been the key question in my mind for years as I have been able to attend
Wizard World consistently, but never had been able to make it to “the big dance.” Many people had told me
that you simply can”t compare WW to SD, and they are right, but not for the reason I thought they were right.
The truth is it all depends on what you are looking for in a Comic Show. The dealers area at both shows are
comparable so if you are looking to go to buy stuff don”t expect any more than what you find at WW. The artist
alley too is pretty comparable, although seeing different people is a nice change of pace. The SD difference
lies outside of the dealers and artists. The number and star quality of the guests and panels is amazing at
San Diego — WW simply doesn”t compare. There are many times more manufacturers and industry types at San Diego,
and the programming outside of the Con is also extensive.
The downsides to San Diego. Parking . . . there isn”t much of it, and a lot of it isn”t cheap. It fills up VERY
fast on busy days. People . . . tons of people. So many people it is difficult to move around the
convention without getting bumped into. Lines . . . lines everywhere, LONG lines you can”t do hardly any of
the really cool stuff without blowing a substantial amount of time standing in a line — if you even get it.
(We stood in line over an hour just waiting to get into the Masquerade — the line was so long they started the
Masquerade nearly an hour late). Many of the big name stars are still inaccessable. . . Angelina Jolie was at the show,
but her panel was in a room that held 4500 people (they turned people away). Out of those 4500 people less than
100 were chosen to get the opportunity to get Miss Jolie”s autograph. Don”t get me wrong, I don”t fault Angelina
or anyone for this, and I don”t expect her to give out autographs all day, but the reality of the situation
is even if you did get into her panel you probably ended up watching the panel on one of the 4 movie screens
they had set up so the people that weren”t in the front could see what was going on. On the other hand rumors
of other actors being very gracious and siging for hours do happen.
Finally. San Diego Comic Con was a good show. I had a lot of fun, spent some time with great people and really
enjoyed myself. For a guy like me though, who goes to shows to buy stuff, it really isn”t much different
than Wizard World. In fact I now have a greater appreciation for the amount of parking available at Wizard, not
to mention the fact that the panels are small enough you don”t have to watch what is going on via television screen.
Also you actually can get the exclusives at WW, even though there are fewer of them they are obtainable without
spending an entire day in line.
2003 Show Kickoff
Motor City — Spring Edition
Perhaps I am jaded, or even lazy. . . or maybe it is just that I spent 12 hours worth of driving to hang out at a show for 5 hours, I dunno. The show was fun, there were deals to be had, I just didn”t get the charge of excitement I normally get for a show. Has the fact that non-sports cards are at my finger tips 24 hours a day through the internet finally eaten away the excitement of a show??? And this is the first show I”ve been to in over six months.
The layout was typical for Motor City, and there were TONS of media guests. The dealer section was at least as big as it had been in the past, and the artist area was a similar size. The media section does nothing for me, I don”t feel the need to pay people for autographs, not that they should give their autographs away, but it just isn”t my thing. Further more I don”t understand what the parents from Seinfeld, or most of these other guests have to do with a comic book show. What do they add to the show? Artist Dave Aikins and I chatted about it a bit, and he brought up a good point . . . these media guests bring in the press. TV stations were filming, and newspapers” flash bulbs were popping, so these guests do a lot to add exposure to the convention. My question remains: What do they do for the show? Are the comic book dealers selling enough to make the show worth their time or are the convention attendees flocking to these media guests pumping up the attendance numbers while the dealers are having a hard time moving product — pushing the show to a slow death?
The dealer area and artist area were both fairly dead, actually the whole con was pretty quiet, of course I was there on Friday so hopefully attendance picked up for Saturday and Sunday. Some dealers did seem very happy with the day. There were some good card bargains like Crimson boxes for $10, Rebecca Stamos autographs from X-Men for $50, and even a guy selling older sets for $3. The artist alley had several no-shows, and most of the artists there weren”t selling anything, although if you looked you could find some very nice things to buy. I picked up a couple of pieces for Dave, a great sketch by William Stout (who is a super nice guy by the way), and a few other odds and ends out of the artist alley.
For some reason I feel the need to chat more with the card dealers at the show about their views on the show, and various other things. I guess I like to just try to keep my finger closer to the pulse of the industry for the articles I have been writing for NSU. It is nice to be able to go in and get honest answers from people who don”t know who I am or that I write for NSU, I don”t think they”d be as candid if they knew. One dealer jumped to NSU for prices on virtually every card I asked him about, nothing against NSU, for some reason I just don”t feel like I am getting a bargain if he grabs all his prices right out of the guide. A dealer told me he had been set 20-some pounds of promos by Inkworks (Thanks Inkworks!), yet he put a 2 card limit on the promos he was giving away because someone grabbed 12 promos. There had to be at least 6 different promos available and someone grabbed 2 of each, I guess I don”t know what the problem with that is. 20 pounds of cards sounds like a lot to me, I am not sure why he didn”t put them out on the freebie table where all the other con freebies were. 2 of each promo doesn”t sound out of line at all, what if the person was getting one for him and one for a friend? Another dealer expressed that he really would like to see Inkworks get more innovative with their chase card configurations. And most of the dealers expressed disappointment in the Scooby Doo sketches, and out of control odds for the Hulk sketches. All Scooby sketches were priced at $75 at the show, and at least 4 dealers had them and none appeared to be selling. Even bantering with dealers didn”t really get me in the mood to buy.
Could it be that expectations were too high for this show? Perhaps all those media guests just drive up ticket prices, which were jacked up to $18 (single day) this year. Keep in mind a single day pass to Wizard World is only $2 more, and Wizard World is nearly indescribably larger and better in just about every way, except the crowd, and the people running the con. Speaking of the people running the con. . . having volunteers is nice, but none of them knew a thing. I bought advance tickets too late to have them mailed to me, so I had to pick them up at will call anytime after noon (the show opened for advance tickets at 12:30). At 12:15 I had to argue with the first volunteer to be able to go get my tickets, the 2nd and 3rd volunteer didn”t know where the will call window was — I finally spotted the sign, which was hung at waist level myself. The guy at the will call window told me he didn”t do will call, even after I pointed out that he was standing right next to a sign that said “WILL CALL TICKETS.” Not only did he not do will call, but he didn”t know who did, and had to ask the girl sitting next to her who asked someone else, who asked a third person who finally was able to send me to the will call person. I had to argue with the will call person to give me 2 wrist bands even though I had 2 tickets because she didn”t understand why I would need 2 wrist bands — who cares WHY I need 2 wrist bands I paid for 2 so what is the problem? So I finally got my wrist bands, and they made me to go the end of the advance ticket line — BEHIND all the people who were waiting to get their wrist bands?!? I wasn”t in the mood to argue, so when they let people in I just walked up and into the show — even though I got plenty of looks that could kill, but I was already checked in so why take up a spot in line? The bottom line is these conventions need to have at least a couple of people who know what is going on, you can”t blame the volunteers for doing what they are told.
Perhaps Motor City will be bumped off the list for next year so I an attend Gen Con, or some more of the
Chicago area shows. . . at this point I just don”t know. Then again every 2nd show Motor City puts on sucks, so perhaps this was just a down year. . . last year was great, and the trip itself was a lot of fun. . .
too bad the Wings weren”t in the playoffs anymore. . . yeah that”s it. I”ll blame the Red Wings.
The Chicago Non-Sport Classic.
I woke early on show day. . . the anticipation of a good show to end the major show season was
definitely in the air. Sitting around waiting for the minutes to tick away until the 1:00 curtain
call was pretty brutal. I hopped in the car around 11:30. The new venue is probably an hour closer
to my house than the previous one. Even though the Tinley Park facilities are awesome, the location
is rough for most of the people going to that show — especially folks who flew into town. The Ramada
is a great place to have a show, and all the guests I talked to preferred it over the Tinley Park
location. Even though I was only in line for about 15 minutes once the doors opened it seem to take forever to get that
purple entry band wrapped around my wrist. As I walked through those heavy steel doors a landscape
of dealers and cards poured out in front of me. The show seemed comparable in size to last year
(I know the promoter had to turn dealers away due to lack of space, so hopefully the show will
grow next year), but for some reason the hall felt more open. It was a very comfortable way to
go to a show.
First I cruised the dealer area scoping out tables for Marvel sketch cards. . . I came up empty in that
arena, but the dealer selection was excellent with people selling items running the gamut in cards.
I picked up a big stack of boxes from Dave Moulder, and another big stack of boxes from
Barrington Square, plus Dave hooked me up with the only sketch card I would buy at the show –
it”s a cool Conan sketch, thanks Dave! The artists and celebs were mixed in with the dealers –
a strategy I don”t really understand, but they were all very friendly and on Friday at least
there weren”t long lines for anyone. My biggest disappointment in the show was that none of the
fantasy artists had any originals for sale. . . no sketches or anything, bummer, but how many other
people can say then ran into Boris Vallejo in the bathroom, then dined in the same restaurant he did???
The sketch artists kept busy doing custom sketches, and had originals for sale as well so some
great art was available to purchase, but my dream of owning an original Boris would not be
fulfilled. . . actually Dave and Mike (at Barrington Square) pretty much emptied my wallet. After
wandering the aisles for a couple of hours I ran into Tim Cole. . . we chatted and actually traded
some cards in person. He”s a cool guy, and trading cards in person is a totally lost art. It
would be cool if we could like schedule a room to do a trading session. . .
Saturday I didn”t stick around for the show, but I did attend the Card Talk gathering,
which as always was great. The generosity of people donating prizes was astounding,
and there were some great prizes. My only suggestion would be that going forward a prize policy
is implemented that says if you win a prize you can accept that prize or pass on it, but you don”t
get another prize if you pass. No offence to the people who “exchanged” prizes, but hey — it”s a
freebie. . . take it or leave it. Complaining about stuff you won isn”t cool. I did win tickets
to next years show — actually everyone in the room won a prize which was just incredible. I hope
people realize the support that still exists in this hobby. . . it”s a rare find, and while there
are people out there who don”t always do the right thing by collectors non-sport card people are
a very generous folk. Most facets of non-sport card collecting are among a handful of hobbies where
people actually look out for one another.
I would have liked to go to the charity auction on Saturday as I hear there were some excellent
items and I like to support charity, but I didn”t make it. I did have a blast at the show though
and was happy to be able to buy all the things that I brought home. Paul continues to do an
excellent job with this, and I”m guessing he”ll be all over the country again promoting for next
year. If you haven”t thanked Paul for his efforts you need to — it”s really astounding what he
puts into this show. Ohh and Paul — RAISE YOUR PRICES. This show is dirt cheap ($7 one day),
parking was dirt cheap ($4) — the Comic Fest at the same location costs $10 (one day) at the door,
and $8 to park — and that show”s a bargain too. Until next show. . .
2005 National Sportscard Convention
Vintage Collectors Con
Looking back on this show I don”t feel nearly as disappointed as I did after attending. Honestly this show didn”t even pop up on my radar since it is a sports card show, but the rumblings on various web boards indicated it was a show not to be missed, and that is definitively true if you are a collector of vintage non-sports cards. There seemed to be quite a number of them at the show. Recent releases were spotty at best, with only 1 dealer handling a variety of new product. Occasionally a table blanketed with sports cards would yield an odd box or two of something, overall I was expecting more.
I can see now that this show has obvious high points. . . some of the product at the show was available at very good prices, unfortunately since it wasn”t what I expected I didn”t take advantage of any of those buys. Other positives are the size of the show — it”s HUGE. Bigger than Wizard World Chicago (held at the same venue), and it”s mostly dealer tables so there is a ton of product. I did buy some cards at this show, and not surprisingly they were sports cards (Well Fleer Adrenaline Extreme Sports), and the price per box was very competitive. The admission price was also excellent – around $12 if I remember correctly, and the floor wasn’t crowded even though I was there Friday after work. I was told by a few dealers that stock sold out quickly within the first days of the show, so there potentially were more recent non-sport cards to be found.
Undoubtedly this is a great show for people looking to meet celebrities. This show has a wide array of sports stars, but also features a number of entertainment celebrities too. Meeting some of these folks was a blast, and their lines were virtually non-existant. I’ll be heading back to this show next year with different expectations and priorities.
2005 Wizard World
The Convention Manufacturer’s Forgot
I can’t begin to explain the vibe for Wizard World this year. Most card collectors lining up for this shows were disappointed before the doors even opened. For some reason virtually every card manufacturer boycotted this show, any manufacturer that was at the show was solely promoting gaming cards. Many collectors frequented Inkworks awesome booth last year lining up for free sketch cards, or even using their massive booth for a hub for the show. The loss of all manufacturer support for the show was in addition to early warning that fan favorite dealer Barrington Square cards was sold to a UK based company, their mountain of excellently priced boxes was certainly missed at this year”s convention.
Perhaps the vibe could be described as disappointed uncertainty.
My personal vibe was a bit different. Having recently moved back to the Chicago suburbs my interest in non-sport cards was rekindled simply by having access to them again. The beauty of local comic shops! I also was introducing the hobby to the new beauty in my life so my focus wasn’t simply being a card or art consumer – at least not on day one. I opted for fork over the additional dough for the $60 4-day passes that allowed you into Wizard World for a few hours on Thursday. The first time this service was offered at Chicago, and I think it was well received by collectors. I personally enjoyed it a lot as while there were people at the show it wasn’t all that crowded and I was able to move freely around the convention. The downside is that the artist alley was totally empty except for a few folks who were setting up. According to a couple of artists I talked to on Saturday no one told them there would be fans in attendance on Thursday.
The show itself was both bigger and smaller than it has been in previous years. Bigger because it used more of the convention space – the expanded space was for additional artist alley tables and a gaming area. The number of dealers seemed slightly smaller than last year, the amount of exhibitor space, and the size of exhibitor booths seemed much smaller, probably 25% smaller, and the number of celebrities was WAY down. There were probably a total of 6 celebrity specific tables, and while there were celebs scattered around at other tables this is by far the fewest number of celebrity tables I’ve seen at Wizard World. Lines for celebs again were pretty short. In fact I walked by a table in the dealer section where Buffy star Mercedes McNabb was just sitting there with no line to be seen.
The smaller dealer area shouldn’t have been a problem for card collectors as there were many non-sport card dealers at the show. While I did spend some money at most of the dealer tables I spent a lot of time around Dave and Donna Moulder’s table. Generally a single dealer can make a show worthwhile for me, and for the past few shows that has been Dave. I left his table with a bunch of cards for my collection and slew of cheap packs, and a couple of boxes to be opened later – all at competitive to bargain prices. Triangle Cards was my 2nd favorite dealer at the show adding more sketches and a box to my collection – thanks Dave, Donna and Tony! Another notable was newcomer Looky Here who had a nice selection and some decent prices. Other dealers in attendance included K and J Collectibles, Dave’s Collectibles, Gina’s Non-Sports, Oak Leaf Cards (who had one of the Rod Serling Twilight Zone Cut Signatures on display – NICE!), Frank’s Cool Stuff, and Collector’s Comics.
Wizard has never been a great place for me to pick up art, and while this year had some clear highlights it wasn’t an exception. I was disappointed that out of their huge artist alley I ended up only finding art at two tables. The pieces I picked up were exceptional – the awesome Changeling by Paul Phillips pictured above as well as 4 pieces by Alan Dyson. Both of these guys are excellent artists, their prices are reasonable, and they obviously care about their work. Dave Aikins is another guy I’ve purchased a TON of art from over the years, and while I didn’t buy anything from him at the show my being able to reconnect with him at the show lead to the acquisition of a number of great pieces for my collection. I’ll definitely be looking these three guys up at any show I run into them at. Unfortunately beyond these guys the rest of the artist I ran into were either busy when I was around, had very high prices on their art, or weren’t selling art.
Besides adding things to my collection and sharing a decent show with my girlfriend (Amanda) there were a couple of other fun highlights for me at the show. First actor Scott Schwartz must have been bored since he interrupted a conversation Kevin (Card Talk’s Kennywood) and I were having to show us a prank and chat. That was pretty cool. Scott was also really cool the next day when I brought Amanda – he was charismatic, fun and funny – not to mention just generally a good and fun guy.
Finally DreamWorks Pictures held an advance screening of Red Eye. This is the first time I’ve attended such an event at a card show, and I wasn’t disappointed. The organization for the showing was virtually non-existent. Two buses dropped off hundreds of people at this movie theater 2 hours before the start of the movie with NO ONE from the convention or the movie theater around to give direction. We did find our way around, and after moving to the back of the theater because of the rude folks seated behind us we had a really good time. The movie was a blast, and these sorts of previews and panels are definitely something I’m going to look forward to taking part in again.
Concluding . . . despite the shortcomings going into the show I really enjoyed it. The dealers easily filled in the gaps left by manufacturers. The artists selling products I was interested in were few, but I managed to pick up some great items, and the celebrities and movie showing were a blast. The only thing missing was a meeting place to chat with other collectors; as such I only made contact with Kevin. My mood is high for the hobby and I can’t wait for the Non-Sport Card Expo this year!
See you there!
A great final hurrah for the season, but . . .
“Hang on mom” I said as I put the call on hold . . .frantically dialing a second call as I approached the convention center. There was no answer, but it was too late. My tickets sat snugly fastened to the refrigerator for the past 2 months by a business card sized magnet from a local pizza joint. The Wyndam garden whipped past me as I buzzed down the highway looking for a place to eat and grab some cash. I wish I could have said I was running late, but the truth is the show didn’t start until 2:00, a few hours from when I first drove by. Living in the suburbs you assume banks and restaurants are fixtures along basically every road once you pass “County Farm Road.” Unfortunately I found a pocket of suburb that contained virtually nothing. Eventually I happened on a Subway, which was attached to a gas station. Neither proved very satisfying after I threw away most of my 6″ sub in hopes of finding better fare in the mini mart. No such luck.
Minutes later I was walking through the door of the Wyndam garden, luckily I ran into artist Alan Dyson in the parking lot. He was able to confirm I was in the right spot. Once in the door my eyes darted around the monolithic courtyard of the hotel as I started scanning for signs of a convention. I was 2 hours early from the regular admission time and ticket less “Jon?” the silence of my world putting an abrupt stop to my quest for a convention. My head turned and my eyes caught Harris Toser. Conversation started immediately partially because he”s been a friend for the past few years, but also because he”s my production manager at Non-Sport Update. Within minutes of chatting fellow NSU writer Don Norton happened upon our conversation and us grew. The conversation between three true card fans was awesome — this would mark the tone for the entire weekend. Within the first hour of being in the convention — not even passing the gruff fellow sporting the large badge marked “Security” I”d already been welcomed by fellow collectors, and had been invited to dinner. The show was starting off well.
Day One: First Impressions
Instead of waiting for another hour killing time in the lobby I opted to fork out the $25 “early bird” ticket price which got me past the security guard at 1 instead of 2. Not many folks opted for that program, I felt like there were perhaps three others who joined me in the convention at that time, but there must have been more. I jetted through the three aisles at the convention in a matter of minutes. Clearly this show was smaller than last year, and number of card dealers was few. Dave Moulder was unable to attend the show at the last minute pulling one of the bigger dealers from the ranks of folk behind the table. Of course a hole is still left at all Chicago area card convention with the loss of Barrington Square (anyone know why Barrington Square”s inventory seems to have just up a disappeared?). Three big card dealers were up with a decent range of product: Sci-Fi Cards, K and J, and Triangle Cards were the biggest modern card dealers. A number of smaller dealers were there as well including a few in vintage product and several in recent product. Admittedly disappointment set in.
I had five and a half hours to kill before the Card Talk meeting started so I started camping at tables. Starting long conversations with Ed Webb from Sci-Fi cards, the Tosers, Alan Caplan from Inkworks and other fans. I scored 2 Justice League Flash sketches from a dealer whose name escapes me, and 5 nice Family Guy sketches from K and J, but other than that my cash remained firmly in my pocket. I had a great time chatting with folks and didn”t walk away empty handed so I was satisfied in the show by the time I was preparing to head up for the Card Talk gathering. Through out my many laps around the 3 rows of dealers at the convention I found Gotta Have It Collectibles setting up a monster row of corner tables. While they were very helpful and friendly they seemed to be busy setting up every time I walked by on Friday. After realizing I had found some nice cards and would be able to do some shopping at the show my concern turned to attendance. The show was pretty quiet all day Friday. I hate to hazard a guess at attendance on Friday, but it felt like it was under 100 for the day. I could be way off.
Day One: Card Talk Gathering
The Card Talk gathering was rather low key, which was perfectly fine. Attendance was rather low though counting less than 20 Card Talkers and Guests. That number is substantially less than last year’s gathering, but that could have been due to the time slot chosen. Additional show programming pushed the gathering from its usual Saturday pre-show time to Friday during show time. Having the Gathering during show hours kept dealers from participating since they were manning booths, and also kept fans who didn”t come on Friday from attending. Nonetheless the discussion was lively and informative. Non-Sport Update, Inkworks and Rittenhouse archives all joined in the conversation looking for suggestions and just talking about the industry. Inkworks also handed out some promo cards (X-Files Connections P-Foa and Sopranos P-POF), and Rittenhouse gave away packs of Lost in Space and Battlestar Galactica. After the gathering a small trading session took over parts of the room.
Day Two: Rise and Shine
The alarm rang incredibly early on Saturday. For some reason it was especially difficult to roust myself from bed. I was able to make it to the convention in time for the 7:30 Charity Breakfast, unfortunately when I got there I found myself corralled into an odd hallway type room waiting to get into the “tent” where breakfast was being held. Eventually we were let in and seated where again everyone pretty much just hung out until the show promoter (Paul) took the stage to thank us for attending and give us some information on the Treasure Chest Foundation. While Paul and the Treasure Chest Foundation Founder spoke breakfast was served. I sat with my girlfriend, fellow Card Talker Mike (venom5liter) and a dealer named Howie. Lost In Space star Mark Goddard made his way around the breakfast shaking hands with virtually everyone at the breakfast. He chatted with us for a while and eventually settled into a seat at our table to quickly eat before heading off to shake more hands. Mark was very interesting and a true class act, eventually making his way to the stage offering free signed trading cards to any child who stopped by his table at the convention. After most people had finished dining prizes were given out raffle style to several lucky winners at the convention. People had the chance to hang out in the tent with the celebrities for a while, but virtually everyone cleared the tent as soon as they could due to the temperature in the tent being extremely cold. Amanda and I happened to be walking out next to Ray Park — another very friendly guy who chatted with us as we walked into the lobby.
Day Two: Hurry Up and Wait.
Everyone vacated the breakfast as quickly as possible since the room was so cold. Back in the lobby the few collectors mulling around realized they had about 90 minutes to kill in a hotel lobby before the show opened to regular guests at 10:30. Early birds could get at for 9:30, unfortunately my $25 early bird ticket I bought on Friday was only good for one day — I had free regular passes to the show so I can”t complain about that. I spent those minutes mostly hanging out with my writer/card talk friends from Friday. I actually put together a trade with Don Norton as we hung out — that was pretty cool. I”ve traded at each of the past 2 CECE shows, and have to say the experience of trading in person is something that has been lost in the internet age. It is something more people need to do more often. Thankfully for the convention about 45 minutes before regular hours a line started forming. At least 300 folks came into the show in the first half hour of regular admission on day 2. At times the show seemed rather crowded.
The first half hour of the show I spent with Amanda looking to get Ray Park”s autograph and chatting with Allyce Beasley from Moonlighting who was very pleasant and signed photo for us and took a picture with Amanda. Ray Park was a bit late to the show, and when he arrived he had quite a line. Unfortunately Amanda had to leave before we had the chance to get an autograph from Mr. Park. I spent the two hours between Amanda leaving at the Charity Auction preview doing laps around the convention hall again. After passing them by a few times I finally got a chance to really look at the Gotta Have It booth. I chatted with the owner for a few minutes — the boxes he was selling were so cheap I was concerned they had been cherry picked. Once I was assured he was an upstanding dealer I picked out a small stack of VERY reasonably priced boxes. Upon checking out he presented me with a goodie bag that included a pieceworks card and several promo cards — an incredibly nice gesture, I”ll definitely be seeking out his booth at future shows.
No one really knew where the Charity auction was being held and it was approaching preview time at 1:00. The room was easy enough to find — right outside the convention entrance, but the preview wasn”t ready. I decided to leave and come back shortly before the auction started. I spent more time chatting with manufacturers and dealers before heading back to the preview 10 minutes before the auction started. Upon returning to the auction I discovered 2 things: 1 the preview still was not ready, and 2 my Card Talk friends were all mulling around too. Mike, Don, Dave Loosen and I grabbed seats at the front of the auction when we realized we weren”t going to get much of a chance to see a preview. The auction started late and ran very long and very slow. Approximately 55 lots took 2 hours to auction, most folks thought the action could have been greatly improved — see the suggestions section further down the page. All my Card Talk gang picked up some nice items at incredible prices. — see charity auction results further down the page.
A final round of the show produced another sketch — this time a Martineck Conan sketch from K and J.
CECE: Parting Thoughts
I love this show. Paul puts in an awe-inspiring amount of work into this show, and it is obvious he”s trying to put on the best show possible. I had a great time spent lots of money and am very happy with the show. The dealers I spoke with all were happy with the show as well, which was a concern of mine given the seemingly low attendance. In the long term I”m worried about this show though — it seems to be getting smaller in both floor space and attendance. Perhaps that is due to its loss of focus. Initially this was a non-sport card show, but Paul has expanded that into an entertainment show. Unfortunately I’m concerned that there aren”t enough card dealers to draw in collectors from out of town — especially since half the major dealers also set up at Wizard World just a month before this show. I”m not sure about the entertainment collectors, but it seems as though this show doesn”t quite meet their needs either. The Motor City convention gets in much bigger celebrities and is a bigger show in general. . . I”m concerned that by trying to fit the needs of both sets of collectors this show actually just misses hitting both markets. But I”ve learned simply voicing a concern does little to fix things — so I”ve offered up some suggestions to improve this already excellent convention.
Before we get to that though I”d like to take one last minute to thank some folks, first: Paul — the show was awesome, thank you for your conviction to the hobby. The Toser”s — you guys always make me feel like part of the family, getting back in touch with you all is really a highlight of every year for me. Inkworks and Rittenhouse — the only card companies represented at the convention — thanks for showing your support to the Midwest market. . . very happy to have you guys making great products, donating awesome items to the auction (Rittenhouse) and just being available. I”d love to see you both set up at Wizard Chicago next year — what do collectors need to do to make that happen? The dealers — a symbiotic relationship we both enjoy. Guests — all were very gracious and fun to chat with, and last, but certainly not least — the fans. Really the greatest reason to go to a show is to hang out with people that share your interest and enthusiasm.
See you all next year!!!
Suggestions: Things not to change.
This location had plenty of FREE parking!
The show price is still VERY reasonable.
Keep working for Charity — it is very honorable.
There were an impressive number of celebrities at the show.
The programming this year seemed excellent, unfortunately I found out about it too late to be able to attend any of it besides the auction (which I made time for after I found out about it and missed it last year)
This location is nice, and fairly easy to get to. From a travel standpoint this seemed to be a good location.
Stop moving the show! This is the 4th location for this show in about 5 years. . . (although I heard the previous location will no longer be holding conventions so that could be the reason for the latest move).
Start stuff on time. I know it”s a lot of work running a show — I”m sure tons of folks would volunteer to help out, but lots of things were running late, which wore on many collectors.
Update the website. There still isn”t a dealer list posted — and the show has passed. The show programming was posted a few days before the show, and some of the programming went late into the night — give notice of what is available and more people will attend.
For the show opening — have show registration before the convention line so people can be ready for the show before the doors open instead of trying to process 300 people to get them into the show right when the doors open.
Dining options were very limited since there is little around this hotel — attendees were stuck with overpriced hotel food and gift shops. Even selling soda from a cooler and chips and candy bars would be appreciated.
Suggestions: Charity Auction
I hate to be critical, but I felt like the auction could have been handled much differently with much more success. The first issue was that there was virtually no preview. The preview wasn”t ready on time and therefore there was little time for people to see what was up for sale. Once the auction did get rolling items were combined into lots that simply didn”t make sense. Several lots consisted of multiple items signed by the same person — most collectors would rather see either individual lots 1 signed item per lot, or lots consisting of items signed by different people. For example few people really want four different photographs signed by the same person, most people would rather have four photos signed by different people. When signed lots were combined they made little sense — one lot consisted for 3-signed Lou Ferrigno photos and a Ron Santo signed photo. A collector mentioned to me after the auction he would have paid $20 for the Santo by itself, but he had to interest in the Ferrignos. The lot sold for $25, clearly another collector would have paid $10+ for the Ferrigno autographs — the result is a loss for the charity. One combined lot was an art print and a lot of Star Trek prints. A collector asked to have the art print auctioned by itself, but the auctioneer refused — the lot resulted in a $15 bid to a person only interested in the Star Trek Prints. The first collector bought the art print from the lot winner for $10. It was apparent that the Trek prints would have brought $15 by themselves, and the art print would have brought at least $10 by itself. Other odd lots included packages of 6 tickets to the Charity Dinner — an awesome gesture, and the tickets sold VERY cheap — the problem is that VERY few people attended the show in such large groups. In fact the winning bidder of the 6 tickets gave 2 back to be resold. These probably would have sold better in lots of 2, or 4 — or the auctioneer could have asked the audience what they preferred.
The biggest problem in my opinion though was the lack of information about the items being auctioned. At one point the auctioneer held up 2 binders of non-sport cards each containing cards. None of the bidders were ever told what was in the binders. The lot sold fairly well — assuming the contents of each binder was strictly a base set, but no one knows. There was also a very interesting Star Trek piece signed by 3 people — no one knew what it was or who signed it. Ultimately I estimate the auction brought in over $1500, which is very respectable, but with a little tweaking that number could easily have been driven up another 25%. Finally the pace of the auction was so slow that by the time the last items were up for bid many of the bidders had left. The auction was scheduled for 1 hour, but ran for nearly 2.
Suggestions: Charity Breakfast
The breakfast was nice, and the food was good.
Announce who the celebrities in attendance are — a few times people approached table and we did not know who they were.
Ask the celebrities to sit with the attendees, we were lucky enough to eat with Mark Goddard, but saw many tables of celebrities eating together. I thought the idea was to be able to eat and mingle with the celebs, but that”s tough when they are all hanging out in a mob.
Perhaps sell seats at the breakfast based on who you are sitting with — say sell seats to sit with “a star from Star Wars” or “a star from a Bond flick” for $10 more than the cheaper tickets. Charge $5 more for guaranteed seating with celebrities. I have to say some people were put off to spend $20 for this event and then be asked not to bother the celebs with autograph requests. Perhaps if random autographs were inserted on the promos given out that would soften that blow a bit. Or perhaps give each breakfast attendee a random signed celeb picture, or maybe get some celebs to stand around for pictures with fans. Most people left the breakfast without anything tangible to show for it — giving them a picture with a celeb, or an autograph would give them something a bit more to talk about. The bottom line is I thought the breakfast was nice, but just OK from a “celebrity breakfast” standpoint. Some of the above suggestions would move this from the OK column to the “OHH MY GOD everyone has to come to this next year because it was so AWESOME!”
Charity Auction Results:
|lot 1||$10||Terminator 3 Uncut Sheet (Comic Images)|
|lot 2||15||Van Helsing Uncut Sheet|
|lot 3||22||Shrek 2 Uncut Sheet|
|lot 4||25||Star Trek: TNG Uncut Sheet|
|lot 5||15||3x various CECE uncut promo sheets|
|lot 6||20||3x various CECE uncut promo sheets|
|lot 7||60||Buffy Men of Sunnydale Binder w/set + Alias 2(?) binder w/ set|
|lot 8||12||3x various CECE uncut promo sheets|
|lot 9||10||3x various CECE uncut promo sheets|
|lot 10||12||1x CECE Proof sheet + 1 CECE promo sheet|
|lot 11||55||Star Wars Celebration 3 print signed by Cynthia Cummens (Artist”s Proof Edition)|
|lot 12||25||Caddyshack DVD signed by Cindy Morgan|
|lot 13||20||Civil War Scenes Uncut Sheet + Set|
|lot 14||85||Non-Sport Lot boxes/sets inc. boxes: Buffy Photocards, Star Trek Coins, Starship Troopers. Sets: Spike, Wacky Pkgs 2, Spike, etc. 10 items total|
|lot 15||34||Darth Maul Mt. Dew Stand-Up signed Ray Park|
|lot 16||15||R2D2 Stand-Up signed Kenny Baker (condition problems)|
|lot 17||45||Star Trek framed Item w/ 3 unidentified signatures + picture of pentagon w/ plaque to Robin Curtis|
|lot 18||25||Caddyshack DVD signed by Cindy Morgan|
|lot 19||25||Mark Allen Shepard 3x signed cards 2x signed postcards|
|lot 20||35||C. Andrew Nelson signed sticker, signed magazine, calendar signed twice|
|lot 21||10||Non-Sport Update Variant Issue (24 cover story) + CECE proof sheet|
|lot 22||21||Marilyn Monroe Limited Edition Print|
|lot 23||25||Chewbacca stand-up signed (HUGE sig) by Peter Mayhew (condition problems)|
|lot 24||60||Star Wars stand-up lot (Luke, Leia, C-3PO, Boba Fett, Darth Vader)|
|lot 25||20||4 panel Meet the Fockers foam mounted movie poster (HUGE)|
|lot 26||16||Matrix Large Action Figure — Mifune”s Last Stand|
|lot 27||14||Cabbage Patch Kid|
|lot 28||20||Die Another Day cardboard DVD display stand top signed by Lawrence Makoare|
|lot 29||30||4x Bill Blair signed 8x10s + Bill Blair fan club membership|
|lot 30||20||Mark Goddard signed LIS comic + Daniel Logan signed 8×10|
|lot 31||10||Ari Lehman signed print|
|lot 32||22||Charicture done of and for Robin Curtis|
|lot 33||45||Doug Wangler signed 8×10 + large artist proof edition print signed by Wangler and print artist Jan Duursema|
|lot 34||25||NSU 24 variant issue + CECE proof sheet + 3 Bill Blair signed 8x10s|
|lot 35||17||Snow White Double Sided (light box) poster|
|lot 36||10||Cheaper By the Dozen large poster (not paper)|
|lot 37||22||Ari Lehman signed print and signed uncut import DVD of Friday the 13th|
|lot 38||25||3x Lou Ferrigno signed 8x10s + 1 Ron Santo signed 8×10|
|lot 39||27||Bill Blair signed 8×10 + 4x Lou Gerrigno 8x10s + Star Wars comic signed by Doug Wangler and Jan Duursema|
|lot 40||21||Star Trek stand-up (Nerys) + 7 various size and subject sci-fi lenticulars + small C. Andrew Nelson signed photo|
|lot 41||15||2 16×20 Chad Halcom original art pieces (The Ring and Fantastic Four)|
|lot 42||35||The Crow statue San Diego Exclusive Variation statue and box each signed by J.Obarr + Crow print signed by J.Obarr|
|lot 43||39||Daniel Logan (Young Boba Fett) + Jango Fett (Temuera Morrison?) 8×10 signed by both.|
|lot 44||30||Star Trek TNG Graded (9.8) Unnumbered Comic|
|lot 45||15||Star Trek Portfolio + Chris Achilleos signed print|
|lot 46||25||Chewbacca Hallmark Ornament — box signed by Peter Mayhew|
|lot 47||15||Lost In Space reproduction metal dome lunch box signed Mark Goddard|
|lot 48||50||6 CECE Celebrity Dinner tickets (2 were returned and resold)|
|lot 49||60||4 CECE Celebrity Dinner Tickets|
|lot 50||60||4 CECE Celebrity Dinner Tickets|
|lot 51||25||Sketch Card|
|lot 52||30||2 Celebrity dinner tickets|
|lot 53||30||2 Celebrity dinner tickets|
|lot 54||20||Riders of the Silver Screen box + approx 15 wax packs (mostly wrestling) and a celebrity dinner ticket|
|lot 55||80||Star Wars Trilogy DVD release oversized poster (not paper)|
2006 Wizard World
More of the Same
I’ve been neglecting my duties as a reviewer. Paul’s Spring Non-Sport show came and went with no review. Honestly there wasn’t much to review – not that it was a bad show, from all accounts I heard the dealers and collectors in attendance were happy. I found it to be a bit on the small side, but dropped some well spent money at Ed Webb’s SciFi Cards booth. I also attended Hero’s Con in Charlotte. . . a show that was worthy of a review, but it happened to fall on the first day of my week long vacation so I never got around to reviewing it. . . maybe I’ll do a post-show follow-up. Regardless, I’d been neglecting my duties – a fact I was acutely aware of as I raced down the highway as fast as I (*ahem* legally *ahem*) could towards the Rosemont Convention Center.
My bag was packed with card and art protectors, my show badge, and the letter I received two days after my badge arrived telling me due to a technical difficulty my badge had not been shipped. Hmmm. . . my faith in the Wizard Staff didn’t get any stronger with that little misstep . . . but my faith was soon restored after making my $11 ‘donation’ to park I found the lines to get into the con were well set up. . . I quickly zipped through the ticket line and only had about a 10 minute wait before they let us into the con (I was a few minutes early). . .
Then, as if my magic, the curtains parted and a vast wasteland of dealers fell, sprawled out before me. I started quickly scouting the floor in a vertical pattern quickly assessing each table looking for deals, and card dealers. After my first pass it was obvious that there were far fewer cards at this show than there were last year. Most of the ‘usuals’ were there including Dave Moulder, K&J, Derek Woywood, and Looky Here, a few other dealers had small sections of cards. . .but even with a similar number of dealers to last year the size of the stock paled in comparison.
Artists alley was far more fruitful for me, even with a good two-thirds of them skipping out on preview night. I picked up a few sketches and a handful of paintings from Dave Aikins. If you get the chance stop by and check out Dave’s work – his prices are great, and he has published work on his table for everything from Zombies to Dora the Explorer – seriously, once I have all the Age of Empires art that catches my eye I’m moving right on over to Dora. . . er. . .maybe Zombies. . .I dunno, but you gotta check it out.
After leaving Dave’s table I started wandering down the dark aisles, and for the first time in all my convention experience realized, as I walked alone down that dark aisle with all those hungry artists staring me down practically begging me to buy their comic. . . I focused on the floor and thought: “This is why they call in the Artist Alley.” Thankfully and aisle and a half later I found refuge – at sketch artist extraordinaire Steven Miller’s table. Steven may not be the best known sketch artist yet, but his work as already been seen on the X-Men and Xena sets, and the workhorse is finishing up work on Frankenstein, Avengers and Lord of the Rings Masterpieces probably sketching away right now as I write this.
As collectors, fellow artists, dealers, manufacturers, whoever is reading this – there are some things about Steven Miller that are important to know. . . things that don’t appear in the crisp lines produced by his pen. Miller is a collector’s artist. He cares about the product, and cares about producing the best he can for the product. In his words he wants to “take the ‘sketch’ out of sketch cards.” He doesn’t do after-market alterations to cards, which, like it or not, is better for the hobby in the long run. In all my years talking to artists, collectors and industry types I’ve rarely seen the enthusiasm Steven has. Now, I’m not saying other artists don’t do their best, or don’t care about their work – certainly some do. . .but none I’ve met rival Steven in his commitment to the hobby both as a collector and artist.
The first day of the convention quickly came to a close, besides the art I picked up from Dave my bag was little changed from when I walked into the convention, but Friday I’d be hanging out for basically the entire day at the convention.
Friday & Saturday
Another run through the dealer area yielded a few little gems for my collection – a box of X-Men Last stand I picked up for around $50, plus a stack of art portfolios (mostly signed), and a stack of Kitchen Sink sets including Spirit and Clive Barker’s Box of Blood for only $2 per set. I spent of the day chatting with various artists, and walking through the exhibitors. Watching young skate boarders repeatedly fall on the mini-ramp was rather entertaining. . . in a sadistic sort of way. Once home I discovered my X-Men box yielded a Patrick Steward autograph (I was hoping for Kelsey Grammar, or Vinnie Jones, but was still very pleased).
Saturday was more of the same – Except for a debacle with my press pass . . . people with press passes couldn’t get tickets to see Kevin Smith, nor can they get in at 9:00 – which would be fine, except it wasn’t announced anywhere. . . so as you can imagine I was pretty perturbed when I drug my girlfriend out of bed at the crack of dawn to make sure to be at the convention in plenty of time to get Smith tickets. Actually that isn’t totally true. . . apparently the press desk was giving out tickets later in the day if there were any available. . . given only one of us was press, and there was no guarantee of either of us getting a ticket we didn’t wait around. I did find it slightly humorous when I was told “we don’t give the press any advantages over people paying for tickets” given I wasn’t asking for an advantage – just the ability to stand in line with everyone else. Comic events are the only events I’ve ever heard of that actually give the press less access to the convention than everyone else. I nearly walked out of the convention empty handed on Saturday. . . one last stop at Derek Woywood’s booth pried $90 out of my hands for a pair of boxes – Three Stooges and Xena Animated. Not two products high on my want list, but priced well enough I was happy to be getting a good deal. Neither produced spectacular cards, but they were fun to open.
Ultimately I think shows begin to be repetitious after a while. . . and Wizard World for me is starting to feel routine . . . perhaps some new dealers or artists will shake things up next year, but I’m not going to wait that long. . . next weekend with any luck I’m off to Gen Con – see you there!
2006 Gen Con
Humble Art Legends and Pretentious No-Name Dealers
It was a decision I wavered on: Do I make the three and a half hour trek to Indianapolis for Gen Con or not. . . Staring at what would be the last major show of the year I decided to take the plunge and drag my lovely girlfriend and dilapidated checkbook with me on the journey. The drive itself wasn”t bad, and actually took slightly less time than predicted. Parking was a breeze at 11:30, with a $5 a day lot directly across the street from the convention. We were starting the day on a very positive note (except for the gas station I stopped at — some random exit, the bathroom was right out of a horror movie).
At any rate. . . after passing a “period” band and glancing at towers and buildings constructed of no-longer-loved ccg cards we found the registration booths. The line was pretty short, probably about 15 people in front of us, but the pace was excruciating. It took around thirty minutes simply for us to pay our money and get our badges, and there were only a handful of people in front of us! The crowd that built behind us was equally aggravated by the poorest run registration line I”ve seen in over a decade of shows. To add insult to injury I hadn”t researched the cost of this show enough, and upon receiving my credit card receipt was a bit shocked to find that a pair of Saturday ticket to Gen Con cost $90!!! For those counting a pair of Saturday Tickets to either Wizard World Chicago or Comic Con International are $60 or less. . . perhaps if the tickets include a lot of free gaming or something that would be a good value, however someone such as myself simply interested in buying from the dealers and artists should be given a less expensive option to enter the exhibit hall to bring the prices more in line with other cons.
Once inside the convention I was a bit surprised at the dealer/exhibitor area. I hadn”t been to Gen Con in years — clearly the convention was more “commercialized” now with lots of floor space designated to huge exhibitor booths. There were dealers at the show, but the product mix seemed a bit shallow — I didn”t see many dealers selling very varied product. As such while I was able to find some of the individual cards I needed few dealers seemed to carry much beyond mainstream and blowout product. I actually found several of the dealers to be quite pretentious, and was told by multiple dealers that cards on my want list didn”t exist because they didn”t recognize the names. Thankfully in the second to last aisle of the dealer area I found a very friendly dealer who allowed me to page through binders to find the inexpensive cards I needed — most of which were named correctly by the way.
Before tackling the artist alley we decided to break for lunch. The food at the con was slightly better than the average con, and perhaps a bit less expensive: 3 slices of pizza, a salad and two drinks cost $20.The food was decent, but the seating area was quite small. Thankfully we were eating a little later than most people so we were able to find a place to sit.
I knew before walking into the con that the highlight for me would be the artists area — so I saved it for last. The alley was small — only two aisles, but pretty jam packed. Artists at the show ranged from art glass, to artists trying to break into the RPG/CCG biz, to established artists, even an art legend or two pulled up a chair behind a table. The funny thing about buying art — to me, is that it is far more of an art than a science. Like most collectors I have a budget — mine is pretty modest. That budget puts a great many works of art simply out of my price range, the works that remain in my price range go through a very definite trade and barter process in my mind. . . I can afford one of this artists works, or two of that artists. . . or one painting vs four pen and ink pieces vs ten sketches . . . all with the knowledge that any piece I walk away from I may never have the chance to buy again. Mix into that thought process the magic that is art pricing. What determines the price of a piece of art? Anything and everything the artist thinks about when writing the number down on it”s price tag — or whatever pops into their head when asked for a price.
One artist quoted me $60 for a very nice landscape piece that caught my eye. I didn”t want to buy it immediately as I hadn”t even walked the entire artist alley yet. Upon returning later to buy the piece I was quoted $90. . . then was told if I really wanted it I could have it for $80. I simply walked away. Another artist had published pen and ink pieces priced between $15-35, but was doing convention sketches for $50 a pop — and I”m pretty sure he was selling more sketches than published art. Collecting art is very arbitrary, and I”m thankful for that. Since I”m not locked into collecting one type of art I can buy whatever appeals to both my eye and wallet.
Two artists shared my budget for Gen Con. Jeff Easley allowed me to buy two small paintings and several pencil drawings, and Wayne A. Reynolds sold me four really great pen and ink pieces. I did meet a few very nice artists and have some contacts which is so important. My only regret is not buying more art, but I have a feeling that will quickly fade when my next credit card bill arrives — love or hate the Gen Con artist alley system (all payments must be made to Gen Con — not directly to the artist. . . Gen Con then takes a cut of sale) — they make it very easy to pay with a credit card. With funds exhausted and convention wearly legs we made our way to the exit to begin the long ride home.
And the end of the day the question in my mind was simple: Was it worth the money? $90 for tickets, $45 in gas, $20 for convention food, $5 in parking . . . The answer is not so concise. I”m thankful for the opportunity to buy some great art and make some contacts, and while I saved some money since I didn”t have to pay to ship any of the art I purchased I did have to pay taxes, and the savings from the amount of art I purchased didn”t exceed the expense to attend the show. Next year, perhaps it would be prudent to focus more funds on Gen Con than Wizard World. . . then again there”s always hope I”ll make it to San Diego — in which case all bets are off.
Stay tuned to see what happens next year. . . happy collecting!
2007 Chicago Non-Sport Spring Fling
Fun Small Show.
April 2007, the kick off of the convention season would send me southbound to Paul”s spring Non-Sport Card show. The drive was shorter than I thought it would be, the hotel was easy to find, and conveniently located near major highways.
The day started at the Card Talk trading session, which was definitely a highlight of the day. Quite a few people showed up as you can see in the picture. Card Talker Xtime brought a box of random packs that people really enjoyed opening. I was able to get in a couple of trades, and came home with some cards I was really happy with (thanks Dewey, Greg and Rich). It”s great to be able to actually do some trading face to face. Paul graciously handed out uncut sheets of promo cards for the show to the Card Talkers, and a drawing was held to give away prizes (LOTR Evolution Retail packs, Superman Tatoos box, ST:DS9 Complete binder and set) donated by Ed Webb from Sci-Fi Cards. In addition to the prizes and trading it was fun just to catch up with people, and realize again what a great bunch of people we have in the his hobby.
From the gathering we went to the convention. . . Anna and I stood in line for a short time, gathering promos/giveaways (a strip of Breygent Marilyn Monroe Promos, other random promos, and packs of Vintage Posters — one of which yielded an autograph). Parking was free, and entrance to the show was only $6. Early birds could get in an hour early on Saturday for an extra $6 — a good price, I”m sure some people took advantage of. . . I was in the gathering so I”m not sure how many partook. The dealer room was packed with a lot of new faces, and some of the regular dealers too. There was a really good selection of cards, I split my small budget between Ed Webb and Laura from Wandering Rebel. Money was a little tight having to pay for my hotel and air fare to San Diego so early.
I spent a bit of time chatting with the artists at the show. Cynthia Cummens is always insightful and a delight to chat with. Katie Cook, Renae De Liz, Ray Dillion and Brent Engstrom were all very friendly as well. I didn”t get a chance to chat with Dave Dorman, and I forgot to take his picture — oops! Moving from the artists to the delaers we realized the aisles were a bit tight, I would definitely recommend trying to widen them a bit for the next show — Anna stepped outside having had enough of the elbow to elbow aisles, and nearly immediately won a box of Spider-man 2 in a raffle.
At that point I wrapped up my last few transactions and hit the road. It was a great show, a lot of fun, and I think the pictures show that. . . I thought about scanning some of my purchases, but opted to go for a picture of the Card Talk gathering, as really I think that is what these shows are all about — reconnecting with friends who share a common bond. Thanks to Paul for the show, and thanks to the Card Talkers, dealers and artists for a great experience.
Next show: Pulp and Paper. . .
2007 Motor City Spring Convention
It was a last minute dash started by an eBay win . . . two playoff tickets to see the Red Wings on a Friday morning. After work a flurry of activity started. . . pack the car, feed the pets, take care of some bills and get on the road. The drive was pretty uneventful, but long. . . nearly 5 hours arriving in Novi at about one o”clock in the morning.
The hotel was nice enough. . . well at least the 2nd room was. The first room had some evil sounding buzz – as if Mothra were flying around in the adjoining room. Not sure what the issue was with the buzz, but after alerting the front desk (who moved us across the hall) clerks were in and out of both rooms. . . by morning Godzilla must have finished Mothra off as it was quiet.
The Rock Showcase center was only a short drive away, and parking was only $5. We arrived right around 10:25 on Saturday – advance tickets were allowed in at 10, regular admission was at 10:30. The line was HUGE, and once inside there was an even longer line, but luckily it moved pretty quickly. I was a bit stunned to drop $40 for the two of use to walk through the doors. . . last time I was at this show (probably 5 years ago) ticket prices were about half that cost, I think.
At any rate the show was very large, and I’d say nearly comparable with Wizard World Chicago in many aspects. Motor City has a much larger guest lists, and a nearly comparable dealer area. What Wizard lacks in guests they try to make up for in programming and exhibitors, which is better depends on what you prefer in a show. Attendance is much larger at Wizard though.
The dealer area was interesting, lots of people I’ve never seen at a show before, or haven’t seen since the last time I was at Motor City. It felt over all like there was less art available at the show than I remember, but many random dealers had pockets of current non-sport cards. That’s something I haven’t seen in years, and it’s very exciting. In addition to those pockets of cards regular non-sport dealers Dave Moulder, Ed Webb and K & J had booths. All of the dealers had great stocks, but nearly all my show money went to Dave as he had some great stuff and I hadn’t seen his booth since Wizard Chicago 2006.
The artist area was packed, but there wasn’t a lot of art for sale. A throng of sketch card artists were scattered in just about every aisle at the convention, none of them seemed particularly busy, which is unfortunate. Disappointingly Jay Lynch’s booth was empty when I went by – it didn’t seem like he had made it to the convention, but over all the tables were full. In the past cancellations have plagued this show, and while there were some cancellations it seemed like less of an issue than I remembered.
I only really stopped at a couple of artist booths as I had already spent more than I planned to. Dave Aikins is always a blast to chat with, although he didn’t have any art for me (which was probably good since I was over budget!). I also stopped by Ken Kelly”s table – even though I forgot to bring the prelim I wanted him to sign. Ken was an extremely nice guy, and I really hope to see him at another convention soon. He had some great art for sale (mostly pencil or ink pieces from about $50 to about $200), as well as lots of prints. Oddly there was far more interest in his prints than his originals.
That about wrapped up the show for me, except for stopping to check out some of the Star Wars, Dukes of Hazzard and other displays that were set up, and were very cool. Unfortunately my scanner is on the fritz, so I don’t have scans of the great swag I picked up at the moment – perhaps later. In the meantime enjoy the pics from the show, as for me. . . This is always a fun show – I just wish it were less than 5 hours away. On the bright side hotels and food are much cheaper in Detroit than they are in the Chicago area. Next stop – San Diego !?! Jon
A Look Back . . .
Well, it’s October. . . Comic-Con and Wizard World have long since passed, and as I return home today from the Chicago Non-Sport Expo I thought I should give these two shows a little send off before wrapping up my show season with my thoughts on the CECE.
San Diego is insanity. Hotels and airlines jack up their rates for the weekend that the city is overrun by comic fans. Thankfully most of the Sandiegans, as they call themselves, are quite pleased with the millions of dollars injected into their economy over that week in July. Comic-Con basically defies description for those you have never been there. It doesn’t compare at all to the next largest comic show, but that’s not because of the merchandise. The dealer area – especially for art and non-sport cards – isn’t much larger than most other large shows. There were about six card dealers there; many were local to the area, which is a nice change of scenery. Some of the dealers are the same ones you see at other shows. For me there were four dealers I haven’t seen at the other shows I attend. The art selection from dealers was a disappointment for me, but the artist alley and artists set up in the show were great. . . I picked up some nice pieces from Gabe and Chachi Hernandez – great guys, and awesome art.
The manufacturers and exhibitors set Comic-Con apart from any other show. Manufacturers pull out all the stops. . . Inkworks, Artbox and Topps had massive exhibits; even Upper Deck had a corner of their high booth dedicated to non-sport cards. All the manufacturers had various sorts of exclusives, from Artbox’s now legendary grab bags, to the constant stream of celebrities and artists hanging out at the Inkworks booth. Speaking of celebrities – if they are your ‘thing’ San Diego is a must see show, you can barely turn around without bumping into a celebrity out there, which is very cool. The panels at San Diego are second to none, but keep in mind world class panels bring world class crowds, and you’ll need to be in line well beforehand to attend the most popular panels, of course depending on what room the panel is held in they do allow you to camp out, and it can be advisable to sit in on the panel before to get great seats for the panel you really want to see.
Unfortunately the crowds build in the convention center as well as in the panel areas. At times it can be maddening to just try to move through the convention hall – people have no qualms stopping right in front of you for no apparent reason and stopping the massive line of people trying to follow behind you. Other folks are more than happy to attempt to push or run through the convention center . . . The other big negative to Comic-Con is the cost. . . nearly everything about the convention is expensive. . . our hotel, which was a 20+ minute trolley ride from the convention center was $600 for four nights. . .it took weeks of hunting to find something that cheap. Combine that with a flight, convention tickets and food (which is very pricey at the convention) and it gets crazy expensive. Thankfully I was able to split a hotel room; otherwise it would have been very tough to go.
Ultimately I was glad I went to San Diego, but I stuck around for a week after the con vacationing . . . it is an amazing city. Had I not stayed it would be tough to justify the expense.
A few San Diego tips for you . . . find a hotel on the trolley line. . . it’s not as convenient, but can save you a lot of money on a hotel. Plan what panels you are interested in and make a list with times. . . get there early! The program and guide they hand you when you get to Comic Con are literally hundreds of pages. . . you’re not going to be able to read all that, but if you don’t plan out your time you will miss stuff. Find a place away from the convention center and buy some portable snacks or food. Plan on walking a lot. . . A LOT. By the middle of the convention my feet and legs were TORN up from all the walking. Bandages were of little help on my blistered feet because they’d fall off quickly. I did find that medical tape held up very well, and saved me from a lot of additional pain. For my legs – spandex biker shorts were a godsend. Not only did they keep my legs from rubbing together, but they actually kept me cooler (I wore them under my clothes). Unfortunately I didn’t think of this until the end of the convention and I had to find a place that actually sold them, but next time I won’t leave my house without those things. Hmm. . . well I can’t finish this review with that thougth in your mind. . . uhh. . . I met Jennifer Love Hewitt and Teryl Rothery out there. . . yes, that’s better.
2007 Wizard World Chicago
A Look Back . . .
Well, it’s October. . . Comic-Con and Wizard World have long since passed, and as I return home today from the Chicago Non-Sport Expo I thought I should give these two shows a little send off before wrapping up my show season with my thoughts on the CECE.
I’m not even sure what to say about Wizard World. . . it seems as though this show continues to defy odds, and be able to slide even further away from the great show it once was. Attendance at various times was abysmal. . . I have no idea what the attendance figures were, but at one point in the middle of the show I was walking through the exhibitor area and there literally were 5-8 exhibitors for every attendee in the area. Gaming areas were totally empty and celebrities were sitting staring at each other wondering where the fans were.
The art selection at this show wasn’t very interesting for me, although there were a lot of artists and a few art dealers. Speaking of art, a throng of sketch artists were at this show, I’d guess close to 30 artists who had worked on various sets, for folks looking at commissions this had to be awesome . . . Like San Diego about a half dozen card dealers were set up, many of them I had seen in prior weeks/months at other shows so I only managed to pick up a few cards. One dealer had a great box of animation drawings and cels that I raided, and I did buy several nice little paintings from Dave Aikins. Other than that Wizard World wasn’t very interesting for me. . . At least I did manage to pick up a few nice things.
Hopefully next year the downward slide of this show starts to reverse.
2007 Chicago Non-Sport Show
Fun send off to the season.
I left work early on Friday to have the opportunity to peruse the aisles at the new location for the CECE. It dawned on me that you never know what to expect from the Chicagoland shows, in the past the location, events and focus of the show has wobbled from a big extravaganza in the far south suburbs to a small one-room show in a north suburban hotel.
This year marked a trend of stability for the Chicagoland show as Paul has announced Carol Stream as the home base for the show for the next several years. The location was nice, and convenient enough, and I didn’t hear any grumbling about the location, except perhaps that the room was a bit tight. I definitely applaud sticking to one location, and this one seems to be a pretty good compromise.
The room layout was a bit odd, it was a mostly square room with tables around the outside. There were tables along the inside as well, but instead of being in a square as one might expect there were various points the tables jutted in and out creating little alcoves and cubby holes for dealers and celebrities. . . This layout did make the room feel rather tight, especially when they had a huge tripod with a video camera set up at various locations. There seemed to be a decent number of tables, but there didn’t seem to be all that many card dealers. . . the one thing I did hear from virtually everyone I talked to is that it would be nice to see more cards at this card show. . . again I’d say there were six or seven people who dealt primarily in cards, which was a bit light. One person counted half the tables as dealers and the other half as guests. . . Everyone I talked to would like to see more dealers and fewer guests. . . if you agree, please email Paul. . . his contact information can be found on the show’s website (www.nonsportcardexpo.com).
I never felt that the celebrity guests at these shows were a big draw for fans, but I never had any sort of evidence of that until this year. The most current celebrity at the show was Corin Nemec, who played a main cast member for a season on the long running sci-fi show, Stargate. Nemec introduced an episode of Stargate he came up with the story for, and starred in at the convention’s screening room. Being a huge fan of Stargate I thought it would be cool to check this event out, but as I waited in the room I became slightly embarrassed to find that I was the only fan in the room. When Nemec came in to introduce the show I was sitting in the theater while two convention staffers hung out in the back. Nemec was cool, and we had a fun little conversation about Stargate, but it made me realize the interest level for celebrities may not be huge at these types of shows.
The screening room also held the years charity auction, which went much smoother than previous years. The items were much better organized, advertised, and available for preview before the auction. The pace of the auction was good, and they even had a good idea of what items should sell for so they could make sure to get a decent amount of money for the charity. Paul bid on a couple of the items he was auctioning, which was slightly odd, but I understood why he did it. The cashier seemed a bit brash, which at times was distracting from the auction. Ultimately I think they did a great job with the auction this year – auction results will be posted after the review. A couple of suggestions would be to ask people if they’d like to see certain items auctioned individually. . . I know one fellow who was interested in a few of the prints, but ended up not bidding on anything because the prints were bundled in lots with other items he already had. . . Perhaps this would make the auction run a bit longer, but I think that’s fine as long as the pace for the auction is good.
After the auction I headed back to the dealer room to take one last walk through the convention. At the end of the show I had only make two purchases – a pair of copies of the special NSU version printed for the show, and a handful of boxes that Ed Webb made me a deal on. Unfortunately the boxes didn’t yield much interesting for me (Have you seen the Ryan Waterhouse sketches from Halo? Seriously – WTF, in all the cards I’ve ever pulled it has been the only card I’ve ever wanted to put in my shredder immediately after finding it).
Saving the best for last I’d like to point out the trading session. It was a small portion of the weekend, but has been a highlight for me the last few shows. It was mostly Card Talk members who gathered in a hallway chatting and trading. I certainly hope to see more of these, and am thinking about asking to have them announce it on their website to extend the trading group beyond Card Talk. . . I think a healthy trading session would be a huge draw for collectors attending the show. Personally I traded some chase and autographs I had little interest in for some sketches that other collectors had little interest in. It was a lot of fun.
Finally. . . I had a lot of fun at this show. . . the only major thing I’d change would be MORE DEALERS! Other than that, I think it would be awesome to have a bigger focus on a trading session, and think a couple more tweaks on the auction will lead to more money for the charity.
Sadly this is my last convention for the season. . . until next year!
Charity Auction Results:
|Lot 1||$10||1983 Topps Superman Proof Card featuring Richard Pryor.|
|Lot 2||50||5 signed Jason (Friday the 13th) signed (Kane Hodder) costume cards.|
|Lot 3||100||Xena Dangerous Liaisons #QC1 2-case Quad costume card.|
|Lot 4||60||Xena Dangerous Liaisons #DA9 3-case Lawless/Sorbo dual auto.|
|Lot 5||60||Stargate Season 9 #DA4 2-case Shanks/Browder dual auto.|
|Lot 6||70*||Leah Mangue Salacious Crumb sketch signed by actor/artist.|
|Lot 7||70*||Leah Mangue Salacious Crumb sketch signed by actor/artist.|
|Lot 8||90||2-sheets of signed 2007 CECE promos featuring 24 total signed cards.|
|Lot 9||20||Noel Neill Signed 2005 CECE Promo.|
|Lot 10||55||2 different books written by Alan Alda, both signed.|
|Lot 11||25||1 signed Alan Alda book.|
|Lot 12||25||Soupy Sales: 2x signed 8x10s and a signed VHS tape.|
|Lot 13||30||Signed 8x10s: Mike Edmunds, Soupy Sales, Noel Neill, Margo Apostolos.|
|Lot 14||35||Signed 8x10s: Lou Ferrigno, David Harris, Debbie Lee Carrington.|
|Lot 15||30||Signed 8x10s: Jeremy Bulloch, Felix Silla, Margo Apostolos.|
|Lot 16||60||Signed 8x10s: Dean Mitchell, Erin Moran, D.L.Carrington, Larry Storch.|
|Lot 17||25||Signed 8x10s: D.L.Carrington, E. Moran, D. Harris, Signed S.Sales VHS.|
|Lot 18||35||Signed 8x10s: L. Ferrigno, D.L.Carrington, E. Moran, L. Storch.|
|Lot 19||45||Signed 8x10s: Doug Wangler, M.Edmunds, J.Bulloch, M.Apostolos.|
|Lot 20||30||Dom DeLouise lot (all signed): Sketch, 8×10, Apron, Post Card.|
|Lot 21||40||Catherine Lee Scott** Signed VHS, Soupy Sales DVD set.|
|Lot 22||65||3 Star Wars prints, signed: Grant Gould, Katie Cook, Cynthia Cummens|
|Lot 23||35||CECE Cover + NSU Variant cover proof lot.|
|Lot 24||35||Original Welcome Back Kotter script.|
|Lot 25||75||Signed 8x10s: Carrie Fisher, M.Edmunds, M.Apostolos, J.Bulloch.|
|Lot 26||35||Signed prints: Connie Persampieri, Cynthia Cummens.|
|Lot 27||35||Large Clayburn Moore statue: Invincible.|
|Lot 28||45||Heroclix: Fin Fang Foom HUGE Wizard World exclusive.|
|Lot 29||100||Anthony Kosar make-up job (Purchased by three bidders for use on Paul).|
|Lot 30||30||2 Dick Tracy comic strip reproductions.|
|Lot 31||150*||Mark McHaley fairy painting.|
|Lot 32||69||Signed 11×14: J.Bulloch, Signed 8×10: D.L.Carrington, Gould/Cook print|
|Lot 33||35||Animation drawing: Marge Simpson (creased, eyes closed), 2 model kits|
|Lot 34||45||Signed 8x10s:Apostolos,Bulloch,Carrington, Cummens Print, Neill promo|
|Lot 35||50||Alda signed book, Signed 8x10s: J.Bulloch, D.L. Carrington|
|Lot 36||30||Alda signed book, J.Bulloch signed 8×10|
|Lot 37||130||NSU Variant Cover printing plantes|
|Lot 39!||50||Ricou Browning Vintage Movie Posters (Creature) autograph card|
|Lot 40!||25||Revenge of the Sith T-Shirt|
*Obviously bought back by the auctioneer
**Not sure this is the right name – I did the best I could.
!(Lots 38-40) These items were brought out after the auction ended. The bids are approximate, as I wasn’t writing the items/bids down at this point.