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Review: 2011 Mid-Ohio Comic-Con

 Jim Lauwers Review: 2011 Mid-Ohio Comic-Con
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This weekend, thousands of comic book fan -boys, -girls, and -kids descended upon the Greater Columbus Convention Center for the Wizard World 2011 Mid-Ohio Comics Convention. A celebration of all things “comics,” Mid-Ohio Comic-Con wasn’t limited to serialized graphic novels. Webcomics, movies, and television were all represented by both fan groups who attended en masse and by celebrities who ply their trade in those media.

While the star-power of the assembled non-comics celebrities makes for a good headline, the focus was clearly on the books themselves. This reporter was personally shocked at the amount of slipcase’d “used” comics had been lugged into booths on the trade floor, in their ubiquitous long white cardboard boxes. A collector or casual fan could spend days sorting through them all, and not even make it to the tables hosting the artists and writers of new books.

Although Mid-Ohio Comic-Con has been running for over 30 years (giving it a storied history in company with conventions like San Diego Comic-Con and Tokyo’s Comiket), this is the first year in which the con was organized and run by New York-based Wizard World. Wizard World has recently altered its business model, eschewing magazine publishing in order to focus solely on comics conventions. Their “con tour” now handles the production of seven comic-cons in the U.S. and Canada, with Mid-Ohio being the most recent acquisition.

Because of the change in management, this year’s convention was–perhaps–a little smaller and more restrained compared to events like Marcon. In fact, it seemed like quite a few vendors and attendees were “testing the waters” to see whether Wizard World would be able to run a smooth show. There were only a handful of events (e.g. themed costume contests and screenings) and lectures (including celebrity panels and instructional workshops), with the main focus being the trade booths in the second-hall Battelle Grand room.

Unfortunately, the end result was that the con felt dwarfed by the enormous footprint of the Premier Beauty Classic trade-show (which took up almost the entire northern section of the convention center and pushed the Comic-Con’s panels into the GCCC corporate boardrooms) and the legion of uniformed cheerleaders competing in the regional Cheersport championship (who swarmed the food court like jaded, midriff-revealing bees.) (…you know, if insects had midriffs. And lensed eyes. And cheeks. And mammalian ge–actually, you know what, never mind. Forget the bees thing.)

However, the momentum definitely seems to be on an upward swing. Vendors with whom I spoke made specific reference to the organizational improvements made by Wizard World, and even during the “dead hours” of Sunday morning, costumed attendees enthusiastically prowled the merchandise area while other con-goers snapped photos.

My guess is that next year’s con will be larger both in terms of attendance and scheduling, once word disseminates through the tight-knit world of comics fandom. As a friend noted, Columbus is a huge center for Information Technology companies. The 400lb gorillas Marcon and Ohayocon are clear proof that this translates to an enormous comics/sci-fi/horror-loving demographic. As large as the show was, the vendors, collectors, cosplayers and panel-attendees were only a small representation of the local nerds comic-appreciating community–each of whom is a potential attendee or volunteer. And if anyone can mobilize the locals into rebuilding Mid-Ohio Comic Con into a huge pan-fandom event, it’s probably the people who manage conventions all over the country.

As Mid-Ohio Comic Con 2011 proved: It’s a great time to be a comics fan!

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  • I think one of the reasons vendors were nervous was the 50-60% bump across the board on tickets, artist alley tables and vendor booths. Artist Alley tables, for example, jumped from $125 to $200. Plus there’s a well-earned stigma behind Wizard.
    read about Superfly Comic’s experience here. It makes it sound like Wizard was scrambling for vendors right up till showtime.
    I’m happy it was well attended and everyone that I know that tabled there did well.

  • biodtl916

    You are insulting cheerleaders while at the same time attending a comic book convention and reporting on costume wearing attendees? Maybe you could stick to reporting your event and leave the insults out of you article.

  • jpizzow

    Would be cool if this event could grow to rival some of the juggernauts, most notably SDCC and New York CC, although that’s quite a tall order…..never know though…..I wouldn’t mind seeing a few Avengers assembling in our towns’ hot spots.

  • Nitsud Regnifloh

    I am with bidtl916 on their comment.  No reason to make fun of girls in competition in costumes when there were plenty of pimply-faced, overweight men dressed in costumes as well.
    I am happy we went, but no way in Hell would I pay full price for tickets.  We got ours on Groupon for cheap.

  • Cheerleaders have been picked on by nerds practically since the beginning of time. When are they finally going to be left alone so that they can lead cheers in peace?

  • Well…the cheerleaders were like swarms in the food court.  Not sure how that’s really making fun of them.  They were definitely doing their share of gawking at costumed folks like they were strange…so I think a bit of ribbing back is excuseable.

    I was not a fan of how they crammed so many tables into the aisles and made the aisles hard to get through.  When you have 1-2 people deep stopped at table fronts on both sides, it only left space enough for 1 person to move in the middle…wherein folks were trying to move in both directions and share the space in the middle at the same time.

  • Jim Lauwers

    “You are insulting cheerleaders while at the same time attending a comic book convention and reporting on costume wearing attendees?”
    I was not trying to insult anyone.
    Sir/Madam, I have reported on comics conventions, anime conventions, and horror movie marathons. I was a drum major in high school, a teetotaler in college, and an IT professional in my career. And since puberty I have had a thick beard, thick glasses, and almost no arm hair.
    So believe me: If I start insulting cheerleaders, they’ll have to burn down this site and start over.

  • Asch

    I thought about going because I have collect fandom obsessions like they are stamps, but I didn’t see enough of my fandoms of choice represented. I would love for this to grow and bring in more stuff for younger (…not necessarily Twilight age either) sci-fi fans who aren’t into comic books.

  • I would have went had i known about it before hand, didnt find out until Monday :( Maybe next year they can pay for some billboards or something, i don’t read comics any more but i would have went just to check it out.

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