Wizard World 2018

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Wizard World comic con returned to St. Louis this past weekend. It boasted big name celebrities such as John Barrowman and Sebastian Stan (note Stan Lee was supposed to attend but canceled after being rushed to the emergency room.) But despite some of the star power, Wizard World 2018 overall was rather lackluster.

The past couple of years the con has been shrinking, fewer vendors, fewer celebrity guests, and fewer panels, all of which contributed to lower attendance numbers. And the fact that it was Super Bowl weekend didn’t help either. (Hey Wizard World, comic con attendees like football too! Just saying.) While Wizard World brought in some guests that had never been to St. Louis before, the con itself lacked its usual excitement. Even the vendors seemed concerned about lack of attendance. That said, the cosplayers yet again came out in force and did not disappoint.

Something else that was new to Wizard World this year was the metal detectors. While I’m sure con attendees appreciated the increased security, the line to get in (and line management in general at the con) was not well thought out. Fans after entering the convention center were redirected back outside into a courtyard where they waited in 20 degree weather for over 30 minutes just get back inside. And lines for autograph signings were not handled well either. I know volunteers work hard and cons and aren’t paid to be there, but it was like none of them had any instruction on how to manage a line that was spilling outside the taped off areas. In other areas it felt like fans were being rushed through signing lines and not getting more than half a second with the guest as he or she signed a photo and moved onto the next person.

I think the one saving grace of this con was John Barrowman. He did not disappoint in the least. He spent time with every fan in his signing line, was genuinely happy to see everyone and put on a great panel. (see that panel here)

But all in all when the weekend was over, I wasn’t as sad as I normally am to see Wizard World go. It didn’t feel much like a con, it felt more like a chore. And while Wizard World says they’ll be back again next year (February 1-3, 2019 -- yes, that’s Super Bowl weekend yet again!) I don’t know how many fans will be. Unless there’s some serious forethought into the guest list, adding additional vendors, and boosting the con atmosphere in general, I’m not sure I’ll be there next year either.