Con Wars: Big Apple was unarmed

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IMG 2008 Con Wars: Big Apple was unarmed
While everyone we know is in a tizzy getting ready for New York Comic Con — and the certain to be epic drinking fest surrounding NYCC — the Wizard Big Apple Comic-Con was held this weekend, and nobody really noticed. You may recall that there was outrage and anxiety last year when Wizard announced it would hold the show the very same weekend as New York Comic Con. However, in the spring it was announced the Wizard show would move to the week ahead of NYCC, and also change venues from the huge Pier 94 facility to the much smaller Penn Plaza Pavilion, traditional site of the Big Apple Con.

We stopped by for a few hours on Saturday, mostly to catch the panel with Mark Millar, Bill Jemas, Leinil Yu and JG Jones. This show was exactly like every other Penn Plaza Pavilion show we have been to, although the seating plan had been adjusted somewhat: dealers were on the top floor, nerdlebrities were on the main floor, and comics folks were moved down to the basement. Take that as a metaphor for whatever you will.

Post-con wrap-ups were mixed. This fellow had a horrible time:

I got through the vendor in under 1 hour.(Leisurely I might add)
I was able to walk through the star area (Again, Leisurely) in under 20 mins.
The entire artist area was visible from where you walked in (really,walking through the areas without stopping would take you like 5 mins if even that)
Signage was CRAP; unless you were told you did not even know there was a bottom floor.
Not sure you can decipher, but I have to say they did a horrible job with the show.
There were no major or minor companies at the show that would warrant your attendance.
Opinion: Big Fail; Would not attend ever again.
The VIP did get me 4 autographed lithos, but I’m really not into them.
Did get a limited edition Michael Turner Fathom comic, but not that impressed with that either.
I’m going back on Sunday to see what kind of deals I can get at the close of the show.

This fellow had a FINE time:

So this past weekend I had the pleasure of attending the 2010 Wizard Big Apple Comic Con as a member of the press… yeah, I know, I can not believe it either! They should have never let us in the door, cause we used this full on access to interview tons of celebrities, comic book artists, and living legends that we look up to as idols and inspirations. It was so great to see them welcome us in and gladly allow us access into the world of real press coverage!!! I am super excited to share all the pics, videos, and swag that we acquired over the weekend all week this week, so I hope you are ready!!! Enjoy all the great content, and a special THANK YOU goes out to Jerry Milani, PR genius from Wizard and man that made our access possible… hope the posts we make this week do you proud and not regret letting us in!!!!

And this guy kind of split the difference:

At it’s core (see what I did there? ) the Big Apple Comic Con desperately WANTS to be this. But Wizard keeps telling everyone it’s bigger than that. It keeps telling everyone it’s AN IMPORTANT NOT TO BE MISSED EVENT; when in reality; it’s just a comic book show.

IMG 2010 Con Wars: Big Apple was unarmed
We tweeted some of the quotes from the panel, but the one that stuck with us was Mark Millar saying that it’s desperation that creates innovation in any medium, and he’d like to see comics more innovative. I don’t see the industry as being anywhere near desperation — yet. I had a really nice talk with Jemas, who is considering getting back into comics in some capacity. I also met his wife, Jane Milrod, who is an ADHD coach and she told me some very alarming stuff about how it’s been proven that using the internet mimics the brain functions of people with ADHD. “Is there any hope?” I asked. She suggests walks, fresh air and books, advice which I hope to put into practice one of these years.

I also caught up with Billy Tucci, Rob Liefeld and Chuck Rozanski — this was a low-key show where you could have nice long conversations, provided the ADHD didn’t kick in.

IMG 2014 Con Wars: Big Apple was unarmed

Unfortunately, the Penn Plaza hotel itself is just…..nasty! The place looks so bedbug-y I was afraid to put down my bags on the floor. The carpet in the basement room must have been a livestock pen at one point, and one professional creator told me that his room was so skanky that he had been putting his luggage on the TV. I hate to agree that a Stanford White building should be torn down, but this one is in such a state of disrepair that it’s a scandal.

No one we talked to thought that Wizard Big Apple was going to impinge on NYCC. And despite the people standing outside yelling “Comic-Con!” I don’t think attendees were persuaded much, either. While last year’s show at the vast, drafty Pier 94 had a novelty factor, local comics fans and autograph hounds know all about Penn Plaza Pavilion. When they saw the show was being held there they knew exactly what kind of show they would experience. There was dealer support but many held out for next week’s big show at the Javits.

IMG 2009 Con Wars: Big Apple was unarmed

The Big Apple show is traditionally a throwback to the olden days of comics, and this show was so old skool that even Chuck Rozanski, the head of the huge online retailer Mile High, was back behind the counter selling $1 books. Chuck told me that his business had slowed a great deal, and he says it isn’t price point or anything of the kind — it’s just that “When people don’t have any expendable income, they can’t buy anything.” Chuck was full of fascinating opinions and insights– I’m hoping to get him to share a few of them here at The Beat,

In the end we don’t begrudge anyone who had a good time at Big Apple. But trying to compete head to head with a real comic-con is just out of the question.

Comments

  1. William Gatevackes says:

    Yeah, I was there too on Saturday. It was kinda like the old Big Apple on Steroids. But just a wee tiny bit of steroids. Not enough to make it hit 70 home runs or anything. Maybe just enough to have it beat out a close throw to first on an infield grounder.

    Kind of disturbing to see that one of the vendors was a Hispanic man trying to get people’s information for something connected to Home Depot. I know comic cons are getting away from comics more and more, but that might just be a little too far.

  2. It’s worth noting that the one person quoted as loving the show seemed to be glowing more about the “holy crap, I’m press now” moment than the show itself.

  3. I didn’t have an especially good time. My blog post sums the experience up nicely:

    “How I Spent My First Night At Wizard World NY

    Well, maybe it’s best explained by means of this e-mail I just sent to the head of Wizard PR, who personally stepped in at a crucial moment to say “We’re not taking an interest in this, goodbye.”

    Mr. [redacted],

    A recounting of last night’s events is very simply as follows:

    I was asked by the attendants at press check-in to present them with my photo i.d., which I did. They strapped the wrist-band around me and directed me to various pamphlets, which I perused and took. I left, got in a cab and immediately realized that they had not returned my i.d. to me, and I turned my cab around. I was back at press check-in inside 15 minutes.

    At no time was my i.d. ever out of my wallet except to hand it to the attendant. I was never anywhere else with my i.d. in the 15 minutes between the time I presented it at check-in and the 5 minutes it took me to get a cab. My memory is quite clear. The i.d. was not returned. Your attendants refused to acknowledge that they could possibly have failed to return my i.d. and Wizard World staff effectively chased me out of check-in and onto the street, sans one driver’s license.

    That’s a fairly big deal. Proof of citizenship and such. It wasn’t stolen per se, but it wasn’t lost. Not by me. It was misplaced by the staff at press check-in, who refused to aid me and acknowledge the possibility of this error, and in so doing effectively robbed me of my proof of citizenship, an i.d. i need to present at doctor’s offices, security checkpoints, to travel, to drive, or to attend conventions.

    To say this was upsetting would be something of an understatement.

    Matt Sager”

    For the record nobody at Wizard ever responded, and although a very prominent comics journalist e-mailed me to say he had Wizard’s top brass investigating, I wrote him back with more details and never heard from him again. So, I’m not exactly big on Big Apple Comic-Con or Wizard’s PR Chief Jerry Milani.

  4. Drew Hart says:

    Would love to hear some of Mr. Rozanski’s thoughts on the current state of the industry and cons in general. I very much miss his column in CBR.

  5. Alan Tyler says:

    They stole your ID? And your citizenship? Did you call the police?

  6. Alan, the police wanted to storm the joint. I explained that it was just a case of institutionslized incompetence, but it was, to them, a case of robbery. I spared myself and Wizard World the embarrassment, although faced with their continued refusal to even investigate the incident or respond to the e-mail I sent, and looking at a 10-hour day at the DMV to get a replacement, I do sort of regret my decision to be the bigger man. And no, that’s not a short dig although Mr. Milani is a classic short-man-with-authority.

  7. Wow, I don’t follow the Con wars all that much since I am based in San Diego and have s massive SDCC loyalty based partly in convenience but mostly on awesomeness. I do peek in on it and as a passing observer it does seem like Gareb Shameless does seem to specialize in the Dick Move. All the talk here did get me to look a little closer and actually picked up a copy of the horribly-named Wizard Magazine and I got dumbfounded there too. Wow, it really stunk. A year or so it was still kinda good.

    Did I miss something? Has he decided to specialize in mediocrity?

  8. Kid Kyoto says:

    “That’s a fairly big deal. Proof of citizenship and such. …effectively robbed me of my proof of citizenship”

    Sounds really crumby but I gotta correct one thing.

    A driver’s licence is proof of ID and your ability to drive. They can be issued to foreign students, green card holders even illegal immigrants. Your passport is proof of citizenship, not your driver’s licence.

  9. Baby FOOMer says:

    It was a fine show, but the venue really needs to be cleaned up. I overheard one vendor point to the wall behind him and say, “See that piece of masking tape? I stuck that up there five years ago.”

  10. So it’s official.

    The baton of corporate-Convention-mining-of-Nerd-$$$s has now been passed from WIZARD—
    Big Apple, WIZARD WORLDs: Chicago, Philadephia, Anaheim, Mars— to REED POP GROUP— NYCC, C2E2, PAX Prime/East, Star Wars Celebration, Singapore…

    Yay Team REED?!

  11. Snikt Snakt says:

    Comics Cavern/Matt, was going to this crappy con as a member of the press worth losing your I.D. for?

    IMO as soon as you walked away from the check-in table, much less left the venue and were in a CAB, the con’s culpability is ZERO. Who knows what could have happened when you walked away, your ID could have fallen out of your pocket on your way outside. You sound like you’re not even sure of anything…

    You know better for next time, right? NEVER walk away until you know you have everything you need back, on you. Double/Triple check if you have to. Make them wait if you have too…

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