Back in 2004, Wizard World LA made its debut at the Long Beach Convention center and I was an attendee. I have fond memories of that con experience. It was fantastic! It was the first time I met David Mack in person and the first time I got to sit in a Kevin Smith panel- where I remembered laughing the whole hour he was on the microphone.
I went every year after that and it was definitely a favorite convention of mine. I even kept attending when it moved to the LA Convention Center– and to be frank, the con was kind of ‘dead’ by its fourth year. Still, I was disappointed when it didn’t come back in 2009.
I was genuinely excited when the convention returned in 2010 as Wizard World Anaheim. Unlike in 2008, there was a good number of attendees this time around… but it just wasn’t the same. Half the exhibit hall was just tables after tables of celebrities selling their autographs and photo ops. I have nothing against this– in fact, I paid to take a photo with Ted Raimi in my last post! But it was certainly lacking compared to its past year. The vibe was different, I feel like the convention was more concerned about the Hollywood aspect than the comic books.
Maybe it is partly due to the recentÂ controversiesÂ involving the Wizard World franchise, but a lot of creators ditched this convention. The usual artists that I use to see at the artist alley are gone. Not that there weren’t great artists sitting at the alley this year, but it was one of the most sparse artist alley I’ve ever seen at what I presumed to be a comic book convention. I did have the pleasure of finding Doug TenNapel, creator of Earthworm Jim! I bought one of his books and he generously gave me a wonderful Earthworm Jim sketch.
The con this time around did have its moments though. We got to look at the DoLorean car from Back to the Future and even the Batmobile from the TV show. I got to tell one of my childhood favorite voice actress, Jennifer Hale, how much I followed her from way back in the day! I didn’t cry this time, like I did with Rob Paulsen and Jeff Bennett at SDCC09! Which was a miracle, really…Â Miss Hale was a sweetheart.Â William Shatner held a very entertaining Q&A panel, and I loved the panel with the original Batman TV show cast. Mayor Adam West is hilarious and Julie Newmar is fabulous! There were also a lot of fantastic and dedicated cosplayers this time around.
I had fun. I was not disappointed, but I have to admit, I was dissatisfied when I left. There was some thing lacking… something I am missing from the original Wizard World LA. I guess the winds are changing with comic book conventions these days and I’ll just have to see where it ends up…!