Next year’s WonderCon tickets are available now, and SDCC goes on sale next week. I noticed something interesting about the WonderCon price, because ten years ago, I compared a lot of convention prices.

How do they stack up a decade later?

  • WonderCon 2018 costs the same as Comic-Con 2008 did: $75. (WonderCon in 2008 was $30 in advance, or $40 onsite.)
  • Comic-Con International has gone waaaay up. They don’t sell full-weekend badges anymore, but if you’re super-lucky you could theoretically buy one-day badges for all 4 1/2 days in 2018 (if you’re really lucky), in which case you’d be spending $45+$63×3+$42 = $276!
  • Wizard World shows in general have gone from $45 in 2008 to $80 for 2018.
  • Flagship Wizard World Chicago has gone from $50 in 2008 to $95 in 2018.

There are some other conventions that need to be on this list today, but weren’t on the 2008 list. Some of them are new, like C2E2. Emerald City and New York Comic Con were around, but hadn’t gotten big enough for me to include on a list that was mostly California conventions plus the big names – which at the time were SDCC and Chicago.

  • C2E2 2018 costs $76.
  • I can’t find the prices for New York Comic Con.
  • Emerald City Comicon 2018 costs $120 for the full event.
  • Long Beach Comic Con started out around the same price as a Wizard World show in 2009, and is currently $60, so a little cheaper than a Wizard World show.
  • Stan Lee’s LA Comic Con launched with super-cheap tickets at something like $11/day to get people to show up (before Stan Lee’s name was attached to it), but by 2016 it was in line with other shows at $35/day. (I can’t find any prices on their website anymore, so I don’t know the full weekend price.)

So over all: comic convention prices have roughly doubled over the last 10 years, except for SDCC, which shows what happens when the demand for tickets goes up and the supply stays static. They can’t add more badges, so raising the prices encourages people to buy tickets for fewer days, freeing up space for other people on those other days. It sucks for those of us who want to buy tickets, but it’s textbook Adam Smith.

But wait! I looked at other fan conventions at the time as well!

  1. GenCon 2017 cost $90 for pre-reg/$120 standard, up from $60/$75 in 2008
  2. DragonCon 2018 cost $105, up from $90 in 2008
  3. WorldCon 2018 (San Jose) has only gone up to $210, compared to $200 for Denver in 2008
  4. WesterCon 2018 (Denver) is $60, same as in 2008!
  5. Loscon 2018 is $35, again, same as in 2008

These have climbed a lot less. GenCon jumped 1.5x instead of 2x, and the more traditional sci-fi/fantasy cons have only increased a little bit, if at all.

It reminds me of a discussion at Chicon 7, the last WorldCon I attended in 2012, about the changing face of fandom. Fan culture has exploded in my lifetime, but traditional sci-fi/fantasy con attendance has stayed static. Fans are interacting online, or going to anime/comic conventions instead. And that lines up very neatly with the prices of the comic conventions vs. the more traditional cons.

In any case, it’s worth noting: WorldCon is now cheaper than SDCC. And you get to vote for the Hugos!

I checked out Wizard World’s new Anaheim Comic Con this past weekend. At only 10-15 minutes away, it seemed like a waste not to go, and with Anaheim courting Comic-Con International, I wanted to get a better sense of the convention center.

So I bought a Saturday ticket, drove out for the afternoon, and had a much better time than I expected.

Photos are at Flickr if you want to jump straight to them.


For those not familiar with the area, the Anaheim Convention Center is literally across the street from Disney’s California Adventure. There isn’t much in the way of public parking in the area that isn’t attached to a shopping center, a hotel, or Disneyland, but there was plenty of room in the convention center parking structure. Of course, it took more than 10 minutes to get into the structure — longer than I spent on the freeway!

There were two events at the convention center this weekend: Anaheim Comic Con in Hall D, and a Specialty Coffee event in Halls B, C and E. I was half-tempted to find out whether the coffee event was open to the public!

Main Floor

The first thing I saw when stepping onto the main floor was the Red Mist car from Kick-Ass (which opened this weekend). The second thing was the Suicide Girls booth. The third was a long line of people waiting for an event.

There was the usual mix of collectibles dealers, comics dealers, artists, celebrities, the ever-present giant T-shirt booth, prop & costume exhibits, fan groups, etc. There was a heavy Star Wars fan presence (more about that later). The one that really surprised me was the bar that had been set up next to the food service area!

The weird thing: There was virtually no industry presence. I’m not sure I saw a single comic publisher booth. In the battle between C2E2 and Wizard, the publishers came down solidly on the side of C2E2, not even bothering to send a token delegation to Anaheim. It can be done. Last year, DC did full-up DC Nation panels at both WonderCon (California) and MegaCon (Florida) the same weekend.


Compared to WonderCon two weeks ago, the main floor seemed bigger, but took less time to explore. Judging by the floor plans, the area actually used looks about the same, but the breakdown was different:

  • Registration was handled at the front of the hall, not in the lobby or another room.
  • The back was blocked off for staging.
  • There were lunch tables at one side near the food service. (This was sorely missing at WonderCon!)
  • Artist’s Alley was quite a bit smaller.
  • The celebrity autograph area was huge.

It was probably comparable to the last Wizard World Los Angeles, except that I remember a lot of empty space at that con, a bigger Artist’s Alley, and a smaller celebrity area. I’d actually guess that the celebrity area at this con took up about 1/4 of the floor space!

One annoying thing: the main floor was at one end of the convention center. The programming rooms were at the opposite end. Because of the coffee con in between, to get to the panels, you had to go outside, then walk along the entire length of the convention center, then go back inside and up to the second level.

Star Wars and Batman

The Star Wars presence was probably a mix of two things: 1. Regional groups aren’t going to Chicago. 2. It’s the 30th anniversary of The Empire Strikes Back.

That included groups such as the 501st Legion, the Saber Guild, LA Jedi, and a group that builds working droids.

The Sabre Guild had a prime spot near the T-shirt booth and had set up a ring to perform mock lightsaber battles and demonstrate other skills. Sort of like a mix of fencing and tall flags with lightsabers. They also had music from the movies playing continuously all day, broken up occasionally by the disco version of the Star Wars theme. There were a couple of really good Aayla Secura costumes in that group, and a little girl wearing a Republic Jedi costume who at one point added a Hit-Girl mask and wig and posed in front of the Kick-Ass car.

The other big costume theme was the 1960s Batman TV series — almost certainly because the con had brought together much of the show’s cast, including Adam West, Burt Ward, Julie Newmar, Yvonne Craig and Lee Meriwether, and the Batmobile.

The Sexy

Because of the light industry presence, there weren’t many in the way of booth babes. The Evil Cheerleaders seem to be everywhere these days, plus there were cheerleaders for a energy drink called Bite Me. I was surprised at how many kids were posing with them, actually. Suicide Girls had a big presence, with at least a dozen models, and there was a dance troupe (the Purrfect Angels) who dressed in skimpy versions of super-heroine and sci-fi costumes and danced on a raised stage next to the lunch area.

Then there was the booth placement in the celebrity area, where a pair of 14-year-old girls who had written a science-fiction novel were placed next to a bikini model. Way to send the kids a message, Wizard.

Gollum vs. Uhura

Late in the day, I was walking by where a man dressed (if you can call it that) as Gollum was crawling around, mewling about “My Precious” and showing off a DVD of an independent film with that title. This was at the corner of the celebrity area, where Nichelle Nichols was doing a signing. He crawled into her booth, jumped up on the table, started showing everyone “My Precious,” then turned toward the Star Trek actress. She yelped and started hitting him with a plastic water bottle, at which point he took a dive off the table and tumbled onto the floor, then scurried off.

He did pretty much the same thing with the judges’ table at the costume contest that evening.

Costume Contest

The costume contest was more organized than the one at the last Wizard World LA, though nowhere near as formal as, say the Comic-Con International Masquerade. Most contestants simply walked in one door, past the judges, and out the other. Actually, a lot of them early on hadn’t been told to pause so that the judges could see! A few had prepared simple routines, or at least speeches — including, as I mentioned, Gollum, who made the biggest impression. Some other stand-outs (some for craftsmanship, some for attitude) included Count Chocula, the Angel of Death from Hellboy II, Doctor Octopus, and Silk Spectre.

As I was going through my photos, I found it interesting that I had actually run into a lot of the winners out on the floor: Doctor Octopus, Gollum, Silk Spectre…

Food in Anaheim

Concession stands line the edges between the exhibit halls: coffee, sandwiches, tacos, etc. I only had the coffee, which was decent, though the clerk warned us to use the swizzle sticks and not the spoons, because they might melt! All of the hotels in the convention complex have their own restaurants ranging from casual dining to somewhat more expensive places like Morton’s. The Hilton also has fast food including a Starbucks, Sbarro, Baja Fresh, and a smoothie place.

Across the street you can find standard fast food like Subway. The Ramada has an Indian restaurant with a lunch buffet. If you walk around Disney’s California Adventure to the west, you can get to the Downtown Disney shopping center. If you walk east along Katella, you can get to the Anaheim Garden Walk, which has a few mid-range chain restaurants (California Pizza Kitchen, P.F. Chang’s, etc.) and a food court that’s currently running at half capacity. Unless your name is Barry, Jay, Wally or Bart, figure on about 20 minutes to get there. The blocks are large and the traffic signals are long.

Tip: If you plan to cross the street, go out to Katella along the convention center first, not out to Harbor through the hotels. It’s just as long, but there are trees and shade.

What If…Comic-Con International?

Assuming the other halls are about the same size as this one, I think the full convention center could probably handle something the size of the Comic-Con International exhibit floor. The main hurdle is that only about 1/3 of the wall between each section is actually removable (the middle section is permanent, holding the concession counters). Sure, it would make it easy to divide the main floor up into themes — one section for comics, one for movies and TV, one for games, etc. — but it would also create bottlenecks.

I didn’t get a good sense of the meeting rooms, since the con only used a couple of rooms, and I don’t remember much from the only other convention I’ve attended since the expansion. (It was a WorldCon, and I experienced the whole thing through the combined haze of a summer cold and Day-Quil.)

There is room to spill over into the nearby hotels, though. There are at least four in the same complex, and I know at least two of them have a good supply of meeting rooms and ballrooms. They’re closer to the center than anything in San Diego other than the Marriott, and they don’t require you to cross a busy street or railroad tracks.

Check out my full set of photos on Flickr.

So, a few years back (2004), Wizard World Los Angeles launched at the Long Beach Convention Center. People liked it. After a couple of years it moved to the Los Angeles Convention Center. Consensus is that it went downhill (I only saw it after the move, in 2007 and 2008), and in fact the 2009 convention was abruptly canceled just two months before its scheduled date.

A group decided to step in and fill the void by launching the Long Beach Comic Con. The first convention is this weekend…at the Long Beach Convention Center.

Tonight I drove past a billboard and found out what’s going on this weekend at the LA Convention Center, where Wizard World would have been:


Given some of the opinions I’ve seen expressed about Wizard, I suspect there will be people wondering, “What’s the difference?” 😉

You may have noticed I’ve been thinking about fan conventions lately. 🙂

It started after last year’s Comic-Con, when I decided I wanted to go to something a bit less…intense. 😯 Last year’s Wizard World LA was nice, but a bit sparse, so I went looking for more comic and general sci-fi/fantasy cons within driving distance of the LA/OC area. Surprisingly, I didn’t find much. Gaming conventions, costuming conventions, Anime Expo, sure, but sci-fi? Pretty much just Loscon, which we both gave up on after 2002 (and from what I’ve heard, hasn’t picked up again). I asked around a bit on some forums, and someone on either the Comic Bloc or Newsarama forums suggested WonderCon, and suggested considering the city as a vacation destination, not just a place to find a hotel for the con.

Since WonderCon worked out so well, I’m looking at what else might be fun. That’s part of why I did my price comparison last month, and Kevin Standlee’s comments got me looking at WorldCons and the like again. Not for this year, but maybe a few years out.

Looking at all these cons, I realized that beyond a certain threshold, distance doesn’t matter. Only the destination. If it’s far enough away that you have to fly, the only thing that distance impacts is the cost of your plane ticket. Whether your flight is 5 hours or 10 hours*, it’s still going to take up most of a day or night when you factor in dealing with the airports. Everything else, from hotel prices to whether you need a passport, a phrasebook, or currency exchange, is a factor of the destination.

WonderCon, I think, was at the boundary of driving distance from here. We could make the trip out in one day, but it was a lot more fun to break it into stages and make it a road trip. San Diego is at the boundary of commuting distance. We could drive out there in the morning and drive back at night (and I did that with my parents for over a decade), but it’s not practical to do for more than one day. Whereas if I wanted to, I could easily commute to Wizard World Los Angeles 2 or even 3 days. (As it was, we only went for Saturday.)

With two cons in Q1, and San Diego coming up in July, any traveling we do later this year is probably not going to be convention-related. As it is, we’ve talked seriously about three possible non-con vacation spots. But it might be worth casting a wider net for cons in 2009 or 2010.

*Katie and I were talking about this, and realized that it’s probably different if you have kids. In that case, a 5-hour flight probably would be significantly harder to manage than a 3-hour flight.

Wizard World Los Angeles 2008Wizard World Los Angeles turned out to be a surprisingly good con. Originally I was planning to go on my own, but when they announced the addition of Milo Ventimiglia (Peter Petrelli) to the Heroes panel, Katie decided to go as well. So we drove into LA Saturday morning, and arrived at the con around 11:00 AM. I was expecting a much sparser crowd based on my experience last year, but that had been a Sunday. This Saturday was a full-fledged con.

Update: The photo gallery is up!

The Floor

I put on my robe and wizard hat.I spent most of the time on the main floor, hunting down back-issues, bargains and autographs. A lot of dealers had brought their bargain bins (some of them, thankfully, alphabetized!), and a lot of them had trades and hardcovers for half-off or close to it. There were also the booths selling high-grade Silver-Age and Golden-Age books, toys and collectibles, and at least two booths selling swords. Yes, swords.

At one point, I overheard two comic-book dealers discussing whether the show was worth it. One of them said that people here tended to be looking for bargains, so it was hard to sell anything else. They agreed San Diego was a better bet.

Marvel Cars: Iron Man and Punisher SUVsI’ve been joking that the logo design for this year’s con (see above) was inspired by the gigantic auto show that shared the convention center witl last year’s con. So I was surprised to find a mini-auto show here: Marvel-themed cars, including Iron Man and Punisher SUVs.

There was a stage set up for Guitar Hero. At one point, I noticed the music was Metallica’s “Enter Sandman.” It seemed appropriate.


Darth Vader and his entourage march though the food court.There weren’t quite as many people in costume as I saw at WonderCon last month (also a Saturday). But there was a large contingent of people in Jedi costumes, some of whom seemed to be sparring with lightsabers every time I walked down the right edge of the dealers’ room. And there were Imperial Stormtroopers directing traffic, making sure people could find the one large panel room that was half-way to the other end of the convention center.

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